If Eyes are the Windows to the Soul...

If eyes are the windows to the soul, what are bionic eyes, or cataract-free eyes with replacement lenses - hey, they even gave me the guarantee card that goes with it when they fixed my eye earlier this week.

My soul feels lighter, I must admit; it's easier to see. I can type. I can drink coffee while I type (is that good for the keyboard?). I can read and I can write. So maybe my eyes are smiling brighter now. Who knows? Meanwhile the windows to my home are cleaner, brighter and warmer too - we've just got double-glazing, at last!

Are glasses double-glazing for the eyes?

And why don't kids like to wear glasses? I loved mine because they made it easier to avoid catching the wrong bus and being late to school. I thought they made me special, because my Mum wore glasses. Then I learned to hate them over time, wishing I wasn't always wearing breakable stuff on my face, with weighted arms over my ears, and general inconvenience. So now I'm typing these reviews without glasses - hurray! I can only see one of each letter (a huge improvement over life before cataract removal), and I'm happy!

So... let me happily give you some children's book reviews, and ponder which children are or are not wearing glasses in these books.

I'll start with Kiboko, by Amelia De Mello, a gorgeous picture book which combines wonderful original art (from African artist Edward Kimambo) with a pleasingly lyrical story, simply told and filled with sweet wise lessons. Enjoy this tale of a hippopotamus following his dreams, while you dream of of lively easy-drinking coffee. No eyewear on hippo and friends, but you have to see those pink flamingos, and read those color-coded Kiswahili words!

Another book for small readers is Three Monkeys Welcome to Treehouse Lane. The text offers intriguing questions and multiple choice answers concerning how you view a new house, make friends, and deal with everyday childrens' problems. It's a nicely thought-out, intriguing tale for small kids, and reminds them that friends can look very different from yourself. (They might even wear glasses). Enjoy with some well-balanced smooth three-star coffee.

For older readers (middle grade and above), The Bettanys on the Home Front by Helen Barber is an excellent introduction to a timeless girls series - one my mother enjoyed as a child, and I enjoyed following her. The original Chalet School books by Eleanor M Brent-Dyer were set post-WWI and featured an adult sister starting a school which her younger sister attended. The Bettanys on the Home Front introduces the older siblings aged around 14, while baby sister's still a baby and the casualties from world war have just begun to take effect. If you like Downton Abbey, old girls' school stories, or especially the Chalet School, or if you just want something clean and fun for a girl to read, this is the one for you. Drink some well-balanced full-flavored coffee and enjoy. (And yes, some of the girls do wear glasses.)

How I Met The Beatles (and how they broke my heart) by Barbara J Guardino is another good book for middle-grade girls, teaching lessons for everyday from the convincing story of a girl who worshiped the Beatles. How little life has changed! Enjoy a lively easy-drinking two-star coffee with this lively easy-reading book, and, if you were a Beatles fan, enjoy the authentic sense of time and place - small-town America with a touch of Liverpool!

White Swans by Annamaria Bazzi might be aimed at slightly older or maturer readers. Nicely lowkey romance blends with a regency world, a touch of science fiction and magic, and some fascinating questions of duty, love, and how to treat people as people. For anyone who loves regency romances or magic, this might be the perfect choice. Enjoy with some elegantly complex four-star coffee.

Then, for the guys - possibly mature middle-grade, but certainly young adult and adult - there's Camouflaged Encounters by David Englund. It's not the first in the series, but it represents a step forward from everyman the wannabe Superman to everyman the savior of the world, and it's surprisingly good fun. What if aliens were among us, manufacturing our wars, our politics and more, just for the sake of winning a game? What would you do if you a) knew they were there, and b) were possibly, purely by accident, the only person who could do anything about them? Enjoy some bright lively easy-drinking coffee, and gaze into the windows of an alien's soul.


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