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Book reviews Articles


The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

By Elspeth C. Young

The Enchanted April is as magical as its name implies.  Not merely a description of an idyllic Easter vacation in a medieval castle (San Salvatore), the work's pace, its poetic language, and its cleverness create a rest cure for the reader as well as its heroines.  Von Arnim transplants four women, sporting archetypal women's woes, from their dreary London existence, between the wars, to a little stay in Heaven.

The reader meets self-righteous Rose Arbuthnot, who has sought wearisome toil as a means of compensating for lack of conjugal felicity; socially awkward Lottie Wilkins, whose love of beauty has been all but smothered by her gloomy Hampstead life; wealthy and widowed Mrs... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 14 No. 3, 2014, Book reviews


Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

By Elspeth C. Young

If you love Jane Austen, read Framley Parsonage.  Its principal heroine, Lucy Robarts, is as witty, winning, and utterly lovable as Elizabeth Bennett, and on a scale of one to Mr. Darcy, the male romantic lead, Lord Lufton, rates at least a solid nine.

Set in Trollope's West Barsetshire, this fourth book in the Barsetshire Chronicles is my personal favorite.  Readers watch the rise and fall (and rise again) of Framley's young parson, Mark Robarts, and rejoice in the constancy of his beloved wife and best champion, Fanny... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 13 No. 3, 2014, Book reviews


Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Elspeth Young

When Elizabeth Gaskell first subtitled Wives and Daughters "An Everyday Story," she was, I believe, laughing at (or perhaps with) society and her readers.  At first meeting, little twelve-year-old Molly Gibson — daughter of the village surgeon in a bygone era — is, indeed "everyday." She is a young slip of a girl fretting over and eagerly anticipating her first visit to the Towers — the local seat of political power and fashion. She looks quaint in her plain white frock and straw bonnet, only to find out how disappointing society life can be... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 5 No. 6, 2013, Book reviews


Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Elspeth Young

Doctor Thorne, Anthony Trollope's third novel in the Barchester series, is the story of devoted fatherhood. The innovative Greshamsbury physician, Henry Thorne, has always done the right and decent thing since his youth; no more so than when, despite his bachelorhood, he offers to take in the unwanted, illegitimate offspring of his older brother, to raise as his own child. At once, little Mary's hopes are his hopes, her dreams his dreams. Her sorrow is his sorrow, her triumph his own... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 13 No. 3, 2013, Book reviews


Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Eight Cousins, and its sequel Rose in Bloom, by Louisa May Alcott tell the sweet story of Rose Campbell, an orphaned heiress who lives with her two maiden Aunts, Peace and Plenty, and her guardian Uncle Alec. The eight cousins refer to herself and the seven boy cousins who all live within a happy — and sometimes not-so-happy — distance from one another.
Eight Cousins commences at Rose's first coming to live at "Aunt Hill", and chronicles the ensuing year of her growth from a somewhat indulged and self-centered thirteen-year-old to an active and thoughtful young woman... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews


An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

By Nancy Young

In Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl, countrified Polly Milton comes to visit the rich and elegant Shaw family in the city. Fanny, Tom, and Maud Shaw are all indulged, selfish children oblivious to a world beyond fashion and frippery. Mrs. Shaw is equally vain, but Mr. Shaw, the hard-working provider of their excesses, is sensible and considerate. He and his mother, who resides with them, are the only members of the family who seem to recognize the value of Polly's unaffected, trustworthy goodness... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews


A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the world of Sara Crewe is all tenderness and love. Alone in the center of her father's affections, she has the comfort of his companionship and all that wealth can do to insulate her from every form of coldness in the world. Her story is the story of character, of sterling quality within that responds to abrasion with luster, and keeps its shape whether tarnished or bright.
In this well-loved story, the unsuspecting Captain Crewe leaves his daughter in the icy care of Miss Minchin's London boarding school for young ladies... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 2, 2010, Book reviews


Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the lovable story of an innocent, tender-hearted boy who goes from virtual poverty to the riches of English aristocracy without losing his innocence or his kindness. It is perhaps the least read of Frances Hodgson Burnett's famous triumvirate of children's stories, and yet it readily deserves as much attention as its sisters -- A Little Princess and The Secret Garden.
Burnett's world leans toward the feminine and is somewhat affected, but this is a splendid read-aloud book because those few cloying aspects (such as the many references to his lovelocks) can be quietly omitted by a quick-witted mother –- leaving the book warm and pertinent This is a truly feel-good tale of a young loving widow who trusts her young loving son to his curmudgeonly grandfather's keeping because she believes her Cedric (based on Burnett's own son) will do good with his wealth and position... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 6 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Published in 1910 and generally considered Frances Hodgson Burnett's best work, The Secret Garden is well known and loved throughout the world. This story of a girl's awakening to strength, goodness, and love through tending a garden--kept secret to everyone else--deserve high ranking on anyone's must-read list.
Burnett makes Nature vibrant and magical, and even makes weeding an act akin to Divinity. While the story is often thought of as a girl's book, its richness of detail and its accuracy and richness of characterization make it a book for everyone... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 3 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews


Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Death Comes for the Archbishop is Willa Cather's sensitive, semihistorical novel recounting the life of Father Jean LaTour, the Catholic Bishop charged with the vast western diocese of New Mexico. Told with reverence for the West itself, as well as genuine veneration for the New World and its original inhabitants alike, Cather's tale glows like a desert sunset.
It's a teen and older read, not so much for its two or three earthy sentences, but more because young children may simply find much of it dull... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge, Dr. Carr, Katy's father, wishes Katy and Clover to have some of the freedom and educational opportunities of other young women; so in the second Katy installment they are hustled off to an Eastern boarding school. The girls, now well into their teens, try to be model students, but there are many delightful temptations for "black marks" -- generally concocted by their mischievous friend, Rosamund Redding (Rose Red), the most popular girl at "Hillsover... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 10 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews


What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

The final Katy saga--What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge--did not appear until 13 years after the publication of What Katy Did at School, even though only three years elapse in the story.
Katy is off to Europe as a companion to warm, though delicate, Mrs. Ashe and her little daughter, Amy. What Coolidge did for boarding schools in What Katy Did at School, she does for Victorian European tours in What Katy Did Next... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 5 No. 2, Vol. 10 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews


What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Even though Susan Coolidge was an American author, she is better known in England. Periodically, however, her series of Katy books comes back into print in the U.S. The first in the series, What Katy Did, is especially nice for any child confined or bedridden.
The story is a bit ambling in its beginning, but grows into a very tender, delightful story of patience, quiet heroism, and fun. Katy Carr, the eldest of the vast, motherless Carr brood, begins the story as a good-hearted, though somewhat reckless girl of twelve... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 10 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews


Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In one of the rare instances of a book based on the movie, this little story is as enchanting as the 1947 film on which it is based. Whether or not you've seen the movie before you read the book, the enchantment of Valentine Davies' Miracle on 34th Street is much the same.
Is Kris Kringle, the ageless and white-bearded star of this story, the one and only Santa Claus or is he just another nice old man with whiskers? The cast of characters in this story line up on both sides of this pivotal question... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is a highly religious book that explores self-discovery and self-mastery. Crusoe's innovative approaches to settling the island and his journey toward God are poetically captured in Elizabethan prose.... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Somehow, I can't quite get through Christmas without a quick reading of Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge. This tale of the patient and loving Brinker children, long-suffering Dame Brinker, generous Hilda Van Gleck, good-hearted Peter Van Holp, and scowling Dr. Boekman, set against the bright, frozen world of 19th century Holland, is the kind of spark that ignites all the true flames of Christmas cheer.
The story is familiar to most of us. Hans and Gretel Brinker's father was seriously injured ten years before the action of the story commences... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews


The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

No summer reading list would be complete without Alexandre Dumas' epic tale, The Count of Monte Cristo. It is high adventure at its best. After terrible injustice and odreal, the former Edmond Dantès comes into an immense fortune buried on the Mediterranean island of Monte Cristo. His subsequent quest for justice leads the reader through a thrilling and dynamic tale.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is featured in Vol 6 No 6 of The Storybook Home Journal... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 6 No. 6, 2010, Book reviews


The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs is spellbinding notwithstanding the fact that it is the gentlest of novels. Its plot is hardly discernible, and yet it is almost as difficult to put down as a whodunit.
Jewett captures with enrapturing detail the book's warm and humane characters in a first-person narrative that relates the story of small town, coastal Maine with its beauty, grace, and eccentricities intact. As we see through the narrator's keen eye and feel with her sensitive soul, we make steadfast friends and encounter quiet people of remarkable strength... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews


Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

For action on the home front, few books match the wit and fun of Erich Kastner's, Emil and the Detectives. Published between World Wars, this witty tale of young boys tracking a thief won Kastner immediate and lasting fame in Germany, and eventual international fame as well.
Emil Tischbein is off on a small-scale adventure to visit relatives in Berlin. In the train, however, the money he is carrying to give his grandmother is stolen while he sleeps... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 9 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Lisa and Lottie by Erich Kastner

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

While many scholars rightly feel that learning German is worth the time if only to read Goethe in the original, we go a step farther with the justification: Learning German would be worthwhile simply to be able to read Kastner in the original.
His crafty wit sparkles in his native tongue. Fortunately, however, Lisa and Lottie (Das Doppelte Lottchen) translates well and very enjoyably.
Set in postwar Austria and Germany, it tells the story of twin girls, Lisa Palfy and Lottie Horn, separated as toddlers by their divorcing parents... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


Carney's House Party by Maud Hart Lovelace

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Anyone familiar with Maud Hart Lovelace's recently reprinted Betsy-Tacy books is aware of how delightful it is to visit her fictional Deep Valley, Minnesota any time of the year. Particularly good for summer reading, however, is Carney's House Party.
Carney Sibley, a Deep Valley regular, gets top billing in a book relating the story of her engagement. Opening at the end of her Junior year at Vassar, and closing at the beginning of her Senior year, this is a sweetheart of a summer vacation story that is as well-ordered, winning, and bright as Carney herself... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 9 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Inasmuch as Emily of Deep Valley, by Maud Hart Lovelace, begins at Memorial Day (Decoration Day as it was then), we like to take it on in late spring.
Of the three Maud Hart Lovelace books that include, but do not feature Betsy Ray (of the Betsy-Tacy series), Emily of Deep Valley probably stands best as an independent read. While members of "the crowd" periodically appear as comfortably familiar landmarks within Emily's world, this is definitely Emily's book... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books are like perpetual summer. They are innocent, tender, and delightful. Difficulties arise, but never overpower the residents of Deep Valley, Minnesota. Particularly not the Ray family, one of childhood literature's few intact and fully functional families.
Based loosely on Maud Hart Lovelace's own childhood in Mankato, Minnesota, the series follows Betsy Ray (Maud), Tacy Kelly, and, later, Tib Mueller, from kindergarten through marriage, and grows delightfully with both the characters and the reader... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 1 No. 6, Vol. 4 No. 4, Vol. 5 No. 1, Vol. 9 No. 4, Vol. 11 No. 2, Vol. 12 No. 6, 2010, Book reviews


The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi), considered by many the greatest of all Italian novels, is almost wholly unfamiliar to most American readers. While the great French novel, Les Miserables, is more frequently read -- though rarely fully pronounced these days – Alessandro Manzoni's masterpiece has at least as much spectacle, sweeping vistas, plot twists, and complex characters and is, to my mind, more satisfying... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 6, 2010, Book reviews


East of the Sun and West of the Moon by Mercer Mayer

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

This commentary refers to Mercer Meyer's retelling of the old Norwegian tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Specific reference to Meyer's work is made here because of the beauty of his illustrations and the lyrical elegance of the text. The story has been around a long time, but Meyer's retelling renews it just as anything is made new and more enduring by beauty.
As with all folk tales, this story involves symbolism if only because such tales serve to convey wisdom from one generation to another... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

A. A. Milne made more than one foray into the world of adult fiction, but of course, he is ever associated with children's literature because of the international and enduring success of Winnie-the-Pooh. This particular attempt at an adult market is, I believe, the most readily available of his non-Pooh books.
It hails from the "golden age" of mystery writing, and while it is no Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers, it is a fun escape into both the whodunit and howdunit genres... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, an idyllic home life is shattered before the story hardly starts. An unspeakable dread befalls a family's loving father when he is spirited away from home and children in a cloak of secrecy. Adaptable, as children almost always are, they find delight in impoverished circumstances imposed on the family by the father's absence.
Living in an English country cottage not far from a railway station, the children befriend everyone with whom they come in contact in the little community... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 2 No. 3, Vol. 8 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews


The Borrowers by Mary Norton

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

The Borrowers by Mary Norton is a book for the child in everyone who wishes for magic in the midst of everyday life. We include it in our late-winter reading list if only to imbue the indoors with more than usual magic.
Borrowers are miniature people who live by borrowing what they need and want from the world of us giants. They live by snitching and by ingenuity.
The concept almost demands a moment of silence in respect for the genius able to formulate so delightful an explanation for something as mundane as the disappearance of socks in the laundry or the host of household things we spend a lifetime losing and replacing... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


Just David by Eleanor H. Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In Just David by Eleanor H. Porter, David is no ordinary boy. Orphaned and wandering, he falls asleep in the barn of a farm to which his travel takes him. The farmer and his wife, bereft of their own son, take David in and raise him. The adjustment on both sides supplies much of the tension in the narrative, and a good bit of humor. David's talents and disposition also set him apart from his new-found home and from the community as a whole... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 11 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

I am a bit defensive about Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Perhaps it is the beautiful, antique cloth-bound volume my father proudly brought home to me when I was a little girl. Perhaps it is the pressed and faded four-leaf clover that I found tucked inside, or the tissue-thin page-protectors over the black-and-white illustrations. (I wish I had been more defensive of the actual book because these latter features no longer exist.) Perhaps it is because through that copy I began an appreciation of things that were aged, gentle and lengthy, rather than colorful, slick, and new... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews


Six Star Ranch by Eleanor H. Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Six Star Ranch by Eleanor H. Porter is deservedly less renowned than Eleanor Porter's earlier work, Pollyanna; however, it still makes a pleasing summer romp. Five New Hampshire girls follow their Texan friend, Genevieve Hartley, home for the summer to "Six Star Ranch," where Genevieve can breathe free air and kick up her heels before returning to New Hampshire to finish her schooling and behave herself beautifully.
Because the book is out of print, look for it at the library or Internet sellers... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Strictly speaking, A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, is not a sequel to Freckles; however, any faithful Gene Stratton Porter fan will tell you to read Freckles before you embark on A Girl of the Limberlost. Shared characters and places make them more enjoyable when read in sequence. There is the delicious sense of revisiting old friends when the Bird Woman, Freckles, and the Angel reappear. We must admit, however, that we prefer A Girl of the Limberlost to Freckles, and, in fact, to any of the author's other works... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 1 No. 3, Vol. 7 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

A humid climate would not be our first choice of habitat. We like the look of the landscape in such climates, but definitely prefer arid air. Above all, we abhor snakes. Consequently, swamps are not our idea of dream locales for either recreation or residence. That being said, we find Gene Stratton Porter's ability to spin a yarn one of the finest we've ever encountered. She is a writer among writers, who very nearly convinces us that a swamp teaming with lethal wildlife is a paradise on earth... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Gene Stratton Porter's Laddie is a beautifully written and heart-warming tale of rural America. With characteristic skill, Porter puts the reader into the setting and feelings of the characters. Suspense is more than sufficient, and there is ample humor.
However, more than any of the books by Porter that we've listed, Laddie's plot toward the end takes what seems a perilous turn from which the recovery of the characters seems doubtful. We list the book because there may be enough enjoyment "along the way" to enable a reader to overlook the far-fetched ending... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Al R. Young

Jane Porter's The Scottish Chiefs is the gripping tale of the Scottish hero, William Wallace. It is a story of valor, faith, and integrity, whose heroes measure up to the stature of N. C. Wyeth's illustrations.
Of course, if you're deeply dependant upon conventionally happy endings, you may want to find out what happened to Wallace and the cause to which he gave his life, before you embark on Porter's telling of the tale. Even so, the book and the characters are, like life, larger than life, and the heroism to which the story introduces youth has a way of lingering into manhood... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Howard Pyle's magical tale, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights was written in 1903. It is a compelling, artful, and poetic telling of the Arthurian Legend. Arthur's courage and good will, Merlin's wit and sagacity, and the valor of the knights of the Round Table are captured in this beautifully written (and illustrated) work.
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle is featured in Vol 5 No 5 of The Storybook Home Journal... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 5 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Arthur Ransome's 1930s Swallows and Amazons series is really less a group of novels, and more a multi-volumed set of instructions on how to properly conduct summer (and occasionally winter) vacations.
These British get-inside-a-kid's-head books span both genders, and, although sometimes bogged-down in tedious detail, are full of innocent childhood independence, adventure, and wit. Think of them as a cerebral, and lengthy, Boxcar Children series... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Heidi by Johanna Soyri

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

The folklore of Switzerland is riddled with tales and ballads of Swiss natives, parted from their homeland, who die from no less a cause than pure home-sickness. Out of this fictional fray and straight into the heart comes Johanna Spyri's Heidi, to convince us not only that these tales are true, but to explain why.
The charm of alpine meadows and sunsets, of sleeping in a loft of hay, of the curative powers of goat's milk and black bread all come alive in this wonderful book... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 2 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling is another book of high adventure, as well as a story of the difference between adulthood and manhood. This tale of an indulged young man, forced by circumstances to learn the true worth of others as well as the nobility of hard work, is a rather quick read for families, or children over the age of 12.
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling is featured in Vol 10 No 5 of The Storybook Home Journal... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 10 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped begins with David Balfour's departure from the small home of his late father. The story is not yet two pages old before the reader finds himself standing with Master Davie on the road, in the cool of the early morning, listening to the ominous words of Mr. Campbell, minister of Essendean.
David is to make his way to the House of Shaws, known throughout the countryside as a dark and dreadful place. To David's surprise, he finds he is not merely David Balfour, but David Balfour of Shaws... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 8 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Al R. Young

What can be said in a book review of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson beyond, "Read it!" If possible, read it to a child. Find out what it's like to be tethered to a child's can't-put-it-down attitude toward a gripping tale. Whatever there may be of lesson and moral in the story, the book should at least be read with the kind of swashbuckling popcorn mentality appropriate to a Saturday matinee. It's a romp. If there's a clock in the room, unplug it or turn its face to the wall... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 1 No. 4, Vol. 8 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is a wonderful book about unknown possibilities. Just as children struggle to discover their own identity, and to be content with the discovery, so the characters in Ballet Shoes embark on their journey through life with precious little of self awareness and only Heaven's gifts and a loving home to help them make a place for themselves.
Gum, the endearing term for Great Uncle Matthew, is an impulsive and eccentric scientist... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 2, 2010, Book reviews


Movie Shoes (or The Painted Garden) by Noel Streatfeild

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In Movie Shoes (earlier entitled The Painted Garden) by Noel Streatfeild, the Winter family is invited by their fussy Aunt Cora to spend the winter with her in California. Mr. Winter's world has been shattered since a car accident, which, though not his fault, resulted in the death of a child. The family, including Peaseblossom, their faithful housekeeper, head to America as the last hope for his health.
The children's hopes are dashed by the trip, however, because pretty 12-year-old Rachel had just secured a dancing engagement in a play... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Al R. Young

My experience with the stories of J. R. R. Tolkien began when I happened upon a copy of The Hobbit in the school library. I devoured its story of the finding of the ring, then read the epic trilogy, and went on in the hope that Smith of Wooten Major and Farmer Giles of Ham would somehow be seamless extensions of the story. I read The Silmarillion as soon as it was published, and have continued with only modest voracity to pursue the genius and artistry of Tolkien's work through a few of the many volumes published by his son... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope is the last in a 6-volume series set in Barchester. It brings together the throng of clerics whose stories have been woven in and out of the Barchester series. By all means, read each volume in the set if possible; however, this gripping installment stands well enough on its own for readers who do not have time for several thousand pages of Trollope's England.
As with other stories by Anthony Trollope, the suspense in the plot emerges harmlessly enough out of some seemingly trivial occurrence... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 3 No. 4, 2010, Book reviews


The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Al R. Young

The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope is part of our family's "required reading" list. In it, Anthony Trollope masterfully spins a tale in which the choices of three young men, made at the headwaters of their lives, unfold into consequences that place them poles apart in after years.
This is vintage Trollope: Sumptuous characterization and mounting suspense with the inexorable weaving of consequences into the weft of everyday life.... Read more »

Tags: 2010, Book reviews


Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Every boy should read Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman. In fact, every father should read it, too, and have the privilege of reading it to his son.
Rudi Matt's father was the finest mountaineer in the Alps, but while Rudi was still an infant, his father died attempting to save the life of a man who had hired him to be his guide. Fearing the same fate for her only son, Rudi's mother refuses him his destiny, and so Rudi washes dishes in the village hotel... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

In Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs, Jerusha Abbot is an orphan with a "wicked" pen and penetrating insight. Lately of the John Grier Home for orphans – of which too little good cannot be said – Miss Abbott embarks upon a course of college study funded by an anonymous benefactor. This epistolary story contains her charming letters to her unknown Daddy-Long-Legs, named by Miss Abbott because only once at the orphanage did she see his shadow drawn out in the headlights of the car toward which he walked... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 2 No. 6, 2010, Book reviews


When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster is a lovable, laugh-aloud book full of energy and wit. Largely anecdotal, it is the sequal to Just Patty, and tells the story of Patty Wyatt's senior year at a women's college. Patty is quick, irrepressible, and ultimately good-hearted; and the romps that she and her friends have make for delightful reading.
Each chapter is its own tale, and can be read as such, or you can read it sequentially and follow the plot through the episodic events of the school year... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 8 No. 6, 2010, Book reviews


Mother Carey's Chickens by Kate Douglas Wiggin

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Kate Douglas Wiggins' Mother Carey's Chickens may not be as widely read as some of Wiggin's other favorites, such as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Bird's Christmas Carol, but Mother Carey's Chickens is arguably her most delightful book.
Wiggin draws on concepts in Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies (published in 1863), in which old beasts are turned to new, and in which stormy petrels (i.e., chickens) rescue good birds and show them the way home... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 1 No. 2, Vol. 8 No. 1, Vol. 12 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Dougle Wiggin

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Just as Kate Douglas Wiggin's life was full of compassion and creativity, so is the life of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This charming and delightful novel introduces the reader to seven-year-old Rebecca Rowena Randall and follows her journey through childhood and adolescene.
At the outset, Rebecca goes to help her Aunt Miranda at the Brick House, even though Rebecca's older sister was actually the sister Miranda wanted. Despite the circumstances, even cold-hearted and efficient Aunt Miranda begins to see that Rebecca, though more prone to daydreaming and reading than cooking and cleaning, is just as wonderful... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 3 No. 5, Vol. 8 No. 1, Vol. 12 No. 5, 2010, Book reviews


The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin is a tender, sentimental Christmas story about the Bird family. They are a wealthy, but caring family, who would seem to have all that could be wished. Their daughter, Carol, however, is an invalid. The family secures for her all the best care and they lavish upon her truly thoughtful attentions, but she is dying. The story recounts her final Christmas wish to give a poor family, in the neighborhood, a sense of Christmas magic... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 8 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews, Christmas


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

By Al R. Young Reviewed by Nancy Young

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott's chronicles of the four March sisters, is sometimes joined into one large tome, or divided into the two original books: Little Women and Good Wives. The wonderful sense of period and the magic of simple pleasures is woven into the story of a family impoverished as a result of their father's absence during the Civil War. The joys they find in a loving and creative family life, as well as the individual growth each experiences through small trials and large, comprises one of the major pieces of American juvenile literature... Read more »

Tags: Vol. 1 No. 1, Vol. 7 No. 1, 2010, Book reviews