Masterpiece
*****
Excellent
**** 1/2
Very good
****
Good
**** 1/2
Just okay
***
Not for me
**
Definitely not for me
*

Independent People

independentpeople.JPGBjartur of Summerhouses has one goal: total independence. After being a servant for 18 years, he finally obtains his own land, and while ever seeking the land’s improvements, Bjartur and his extreme self-reliance costs his family dearly. He mistreats his own wife and children, not overtly, but through his unwillingness to accept help of any kind from neighbors. His independence, his dog, and his sheep are of primary and utmost importance. But is it possible to be too independent? What happens to Bjartur when his own children demand independence from him?

Reading a book set in Iceland in January really set the mood for this story. The cold, the coffee, the sheep, and the stubbornness of one man against the world are what I will remember about this book. With themes of materialism, socialism, war, and politics, Independent People by Nobel laureate Halldor Laxness is more than relevant for today.

1934-35 , 482 pp.
Nobel prize-winning author
Rating: 4

Pippi Longstocking

pippi.JPG I first read Pippi over 30 years ago, and it has always had a special place in my childhood reading memories. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t hold up when read as an adult, at least for me anyway. I still enjoyed it (rated it a 4), and if I had a daughter, I would love for her to read it. I love how it shows Pippi’s independence and the way she’s mature but childish at the same time. I love her interaction with Tommy, Annika, and Mr. Nilsson. But, it just didn’t live up to my childhood memory of it. I adored this book as a youngster and wanted to adore it again. I liked it very much but didn’t love it. Perhaps some books are best left in our childhood.

1945, 116 pp.
Rating: 4

Gossamer

gossamer.JPGI read this during the read-a-thon in the late night hours, and it was a perfect fit. I love Lois Lowry. I haven’t found a book yet by her that I didn’t like, and she is the author I’ve read the most of this year.

This is a tale about dream-givers, nightmare-givers, a little boy, his mother, a puppy, and an older female caretaker. It’s difficult to say more without spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. It was a wonderful book.

2006, 140 pp.

Rating: 4.5

Messenger by Lois Lowry

Messenger
by Lois Lowry

2004, 167 pp.

Rating: 4

It’s very hard to describe Messenger without giving away parts of The Giver and Gathering Blue. This is the third book in that trilogy. So I’m not going to say anything about the book, other than I enjoyed it very much but consider it to be the weakest of the three. It was nice to have a sequel that wrapped up (somewhat) the other two titles.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue
by Lois Lowry

2000, 215 pp.

Rating: 4.5

This book is the second in the trilogy which also includes The Giver and Messenger. I read The Giver, a Newbery book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. This book doesn’t really continue where The Giver left off, but Messenger takes place after both stories and with characters from each.

Kira is a girl who has just lost her mother to sickness. She is very distraught as it has been her mother who has protected her from the community. Kira has a bad leg, and everyone in the village with any kind of defect or deformity must leave the protected area and contend with “the beasts” outside of it.

As she goes back to her small house, the women around her make it known that they want her property as a place for their own children and animals. A legal proceeding takes place which decides the matter. Will she have to leave the community and contend with “the beasts”, or will an exception be made?

Recommended highly, but make sure you read The Giver before you read Messenger.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

1989, 144 pp.

Newbery Medal

Rating: 4.5

This was an excellent children’s book. I read it in a couple of hours while the rest of my family was at the movie theatre.

Annemarie Johansen and Ellen Rosen live in Copenhagen. They are neighbors and best friends. Ellen and her family are Jewish and World War II is going on; consequently they are in very real danger and Annemarie’s family does everything they can to help them.

I can’t really say much more without giving the whole story line away. This book fascinated me because many of the details are based on factual evidence. Books like these truly make history come alive and make the reader eager to do more research on the subject.

Highly recommended.

Lisa – June 19, 2007
I read this one this week as well. I thought it was good but didn’t love it. I think this is in part because I recently read The Book Thief which overshadows this one. I posted a short review this morning.
Trish – June 19, 2007
I loved loved loved this book as a kid (I think we read it in 4th or 5th grade) and I re-read it again as a YA. I guess I should now read it as an adult!As a side-tid-bit: I learned the word disdain from this book. ) I can still remember how the babysister disdained her fish shoes. Quite an impression.