Saturday, July 7, 2018

Reading for children, or reading for the child in me?

My mum was delighted to have her first great-granddaughter present at her 90th birthday celebrations, and the rest of us were delighted to occasionally hold the baby... well, except for my sons who much preferred cuddling the dogs. In honor of said small child, and using her and all those wonderful celebrations as my excuse for being so late posting book reviews, here are a few reviews of children's books... or books that appeal to the child in me. (I wonder what's the difference--kids books flow fast, are instantly relatable, inform while entertaining, make me think but not too much... What appeals to the child in you?)

First is Gifts of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Demi, a beautiful picture book with clear, readable text, appropriately honest history, and a beautiful blend of simplicity and opulence. It tells the story of the Patroness of Latin America, familiar to many but new to others, with pleasing cultural wisdom and well-researched history--appealing to the child in me for its gorgeous images and for the fact that I'm not actually familiar with the tale. Enjoy it with some well-balanced three-star coffee, and know it's a book to keep returning to as the child reader grows older.

Then there's the Land without Color and The Great Sugar war by Benjamin Ellefson, and the Wizard of Tut Tut Bun and Becoming the Wizard of... by John McCarrick. Enjoy these light reads (as I am doing--they appeal to the child in me by being quick easy reads with few complications) with some light crisp one-star coffee.

For somewhat older kids (or rather, young adults), The Gryphon Saga by L. E. Horn, containing Freeform and Freefight, takes characters from modern-day earth and transplants them far away among fascinating aliens with strange physical forms and characters nicely derived from backstory and type. Ideas from modern genetics are included too, and the characters change very convincingly while staying essentially the same--leading to interesting questions, of course, of what makes us, human or alien, who we are (now there's a question for the child in anyone!). The boxed set is still in pre-release; watch for it coming soon! Tales from the Gryphon Saga: The Fang War will probably release at the same time. And all can be accompanied by elegant, complex four-star coffee.

Finally, because  the history and excitment appeal without any question to the child in me,The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell begins the author's Saxon Chronicles (adult fiction) and vividly recreates a well-researched Britain long before it became in any way United. Inviting readers to support both sides in a war is an intriguing task, well executed, as Uhtred son of Uhtred grows up among the Danes, fights for the Kingdom of Wessex, and finds himself battling for the constantly shifting ground of the future England. I love the characters; I love the honest, unmythical depictions of competing religions, and, of course, I love the historical England (present day... that's a different story as we break up what we fought so hard to unite). Enjoy this one with some more elegant complex four-star coffee.

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