Category Archives: Reading

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill

This is one of my all time favorite books, but it’s probably one that most people don’t know.

In The Pushcart War, we journey back in time to the early 1900’s. Cities are bustling and filling with cars and trucks. Still, there are vendors selling out of pushcarts – kind of like large wheelbarrows and similar to a food vendor’s cart.

The times are in transition, and there is conflict between the pushcarts, that have controlled the streets for years, and the new trucks, who think they own the road. There is war.

The lighthearted way that commerce and unions are used in this book is what makes it so fascinating. And the fact that instead of guns, the pushcart people resort to … well, I’ll let you find out.

This may be a surprise hit with the kids. It’s engaging and whimsical. It may seem a bit outdated, but it doesn’t lose  any of the storytelling.

Appropriate for all ages.

The below link will take you to Amazon if you would like to get this one.

The Pushcart War – Jean Merrill

Sizzle book cover

Sizzle – Lee Mclain

First, full disclosure – I met Lee McClain several years ago. She and another author were talking books. I didn’t know either of them were authors and jumped in with my 2 cents. 🙂 Anyway, found out she writes christian romance, which isn’t a genre I like to read, but she said she had written this one Middle Grade book. Ok, that I would give a try to.

Now, as you may know, my favorite genre is fantasy. Sizzle is definitely not fantasy. I felt for the girl, Linda, because she really had a hard time. What she really wanted to do was cook, but seemed to be thwarted at every turn.

I know a lot of kids aren’t into fantasy, and that’s fine because there are so many books out there to meet any of their tastes (ha ha, I used tastes with a book about cooking.) This is a very clean book, but it takes kids to a world they may not be familiar with as there is a lot of focus on the main characters Mexican background. There is quite a bit of talk about the food she learned to cook. Maybe it would inspire kids to try foods from other countries, that’s great.

I also loved the Aunt that had a TV show called Cooking with Cans! That is so great – why don’t we have a real show like that. But I can really appreciate Linda wanting to cook with fresh ingredients. That’s how I grew up, and I think more kids should experience that but don’t get the chance to do so.

If you’re looking for a good book that your child can relate to, this is a great choice. If they are at all interested in cooking they can probably relate to the main character quite a bit.

The below link takes you to Amazon if you are interested in the book.

Sizzle on Amazon

Call of the Wild – Jack London

Let’s take a journey back in time, to the gold rush of the late 1800’s. Let’s go, not to warm California like you may think, but further up north. In “Call of the Wild” you’ll visit the frozen area’s around Alaska and Canada, almost up to the north pole.
Our hero is a dog named Buck and we follow him as his journey takes him from his warm comfortable home to become a sled dog. Life isn’t easy and there is much he has to learn on the way, but he taps into the savagery of his ancestors and learns to survive.
This book presents many aspects to the days and life of prospectors. The dog sled team is charged with delivering supplies and mail. They are owned by incompetent people and cruel people, but also loving and kind people.
Join Buck on his journey from domesticated dog to wild animal.

Parents – I love Jack London and read this book when I was much younger. It may actually be less exciting for some kids in today’s world, so you might want to check it out a bit first, lest your child gets bored. This book would probably appeal to boys more than girls, though that by no means is saying girls won’t like it. The book is clean as far as adult situations and words go, but there is some savagery and brutality, so be aware. It is a reflection of the situation and times, but you may need to judge if that is something you want your kids exposed to.

Enjoy
SA Schneider – The Travel Guide

If you would like to order the book, the image below takes you to the paperback on Amazon. If you have a Kindle, you can get the Kindle version for free. There is also a link to the Gutenberg Project free version of the book. If you don’t know what the Gutenberg Project is, you can read a bit here.(Note: the Amazon link is an affiliate link.)

Call of the Wild

Scary stories free in the public domain

I hope those of you reading this blog also like to read other stories. Why would you follow an author if you didn’t like to read, right? 🙂

Through the years I have read quite a few books and one of my favorite genres is horror. Ever since I was a kid I loved to read scary ghost stories. I still have most of the books I had when I was younger and have been reading some of them over – still good stuff.

One of the benefits of the internet at this time in history is that quite a few of the classic stories we think of as scary are now free. Their copyright has expired and the works are now in the public domain, meaning anyone can get them to read for free. I’m not talking about illegal, pirated books.

This is absolutely wonderful, as some of these are great stories. Keep in mind that stories from 100+ years ago can be quite a bit different from today’s stories. There is more of an atmosphere about them. They seem to play on the senses or scare through subtleties in perception. Plus a lot of them aren’t scary stories so much as a statement on the day and age.

There is a site I love – The Gutenberg Project. This site has been trying to collect as many books and stories that are in the public domain as they possibly can. They want to preserve these books and stories and offer them for download on the website in various formats. If you’ve never been there, check it out.

We especially love to take trips to strange lands and frightening places at Halloween. A couple that may be of interest during Halloween time:

Frankenstein – not only is this arguably the first science fiction story it is also written by a woman, which is pretty fantastic for the time period. Take a trip back to a time when science was still very  much like magic. While you may be familiar with the various movies, the story is much more than that. Like many classic, Victorian-era stories, the true monster isn’t who we think. It is also a commentary on the new science that was evolving at this time and how man thinks they can play god. My kids have been reading and studying this in school, it really is worth a read if you never have.

Dracula – again, not what you would think. If you think you’re getting an action vampire movie of a story, think again. This is a pretty hefty book, but its very good. It is actually more of a love story than a scary ghost story, but I love the Victorian atmosphere, gothic in every sense, and how the story is so much more than we think of it today. Parents – this one is especially dark and may be a bit difficult for many kids to read. For the older teen and advanced reader, it may really spark their interest and imagination.

The Vampyre, a tale – not as well known, but may be the first vampire story. It’s short but a little harder to get through than some others. Worth reading if for no other reason than it’s the start of our modern vampire story. This one may especially be difficult for kids. Only recommended for the more advanced and older teen.

And if you think Nightmare Before Christmas is part Halloween and part Christmas, check out A Christmas Carol. Yup, the classic with Scrooge and the three ghosts. Did you ever wonder about ghosts in a Christmas story? It’s really a ghost story! I have read this story every year at Christmas as a tradition, but it fits equally well in October.

There are a few to get you started. If you like to read and want to travel to many distant lands, check this site out. There are so many good books you may be there a while and suddenly find your Kindle full.

Get to reading – the Great American Read

Have you heard of the Great American Read?

Sponsored by PBS, this documentary special is a celebration of reading. There are 100 books on the list, and you can vote for your favorite. There will be 1 winner based on these votes.

http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/

It’s pretty cool and exciting, go check out the list. Going through, there are many I have read and there are many that are surprising. Tom Sawyer is on the list, of course. But so is Ready Player One, which was interesting. So it’s not just a list of books that are more than 100 years old, though many of those are pretty good.

There are some books I’d still like to read, but here are the ones that I’ve actually read:

1984

Adventures of Tom Sawyer (personal recommendation)

Alex Cross

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (personal recommendation)

Call of the Wild (personal recommendation)

Charlotte’s Web (I like the overall theme of this one)

Chronicles of Narnia

Count of Monte Cristo

DaVinci Code

Dune

Flowers in the Attic

Frankenstein

Giver

Gone with the Wind

Grapes of Wrath

Gulliver’s Travels

Harry Potter (recommended, well duh)

Hatchet

Hunt for Red October

Jurassic Park (one of my top 3 books ever)

Little Women

Moby Dick

Ready Player One

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (highly recommended)

Hunger Games

Lord of the Rings

Martian (one of my all-time favorites)

Outsiders

Stand

Watchers

Where the Red Fern Grows (recommended)

 

Thirty-one out of 100 – not great, but not bad. There are a couple still on my list to read, so that will bring it up. Likewise, there are a couple that I’ve tried to read but couldn’t get into and didn’t care for. That’s ok, you’re allowed to not like a book.

Parents, if you are looking for a good summer read for the kids:

Charlotte’s Web, Tom Sawyer, Where the Red Fern Grows, Hatchet would be good ones. Alice’s Adventures is a good one to read together, it’s trippy and is great with a discussion.

For the older kids, try: Outsiders, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Call of the Wild and Harry Potter.

How many have you read? Go vote!

http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/vote/

 

UPDATE: I left the article above as originally posted, but they have finished their voting. Check out the page to see their list.