Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Reviews Part One

A couple of weeks ago I posted a list of the 50 books that I've read so far in 2010. Ali asked for reviews and recommendations, and I am happy to oblige! I couldn't narrow it down to a list that could fit in one post, so I'm going to do three or four posts over the next couple of weeks broken down by category. Today's category: children's books!

I adored this book! It's a kind of a tribute to the work of Edward Eager (Snyder talks about his influence here), which was a big part of my childhood. The wonderful thing about this book is the simple, everyday quality of the magic that the children discover. Plus, the town the book is set in, Quiet Falls, is based on Iowa City--an area of the country that is very dear to my heart. This story is, to a certain extent, about the way that the modern world (cell phones, the internet, TV) tends to rob life of its magic. This is a good book to read in a hammock on a summer day, and a good reminder to pay attention to the world around you.

This book is about Calpurnia Tate, the only girl in a family of boisterous boys living on a pecan plantation in Texas in 1899. Calpurnia, over the course of the book, develops a close relationship with her grandfather, who is an armchair scientist and a devotee of Charles Darwin. In many ways, Calpurnia is who I want to grow up to be. She is endlessly curious, rebellious, and passionately intellectual (even if she is only 12). This book is heartbreaking at times, since much of it deals with Calpurnia's desire to be taken seriously and to be able to go to college and become a scientist which was nearly impossible for a girl at that period in time. Without giving anything away, I'll say that by the end of the book I was hopeful that Calpurnia would one day reach her goals.

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