Don’t Be…Curious?

May 1, 2011

Do you recall reading (or having read to you) the original “Curious George” storybook?  Well, we recently obtained a copy and I was, to say the least, quite surprised.

George comes into the possession of his “friend” — the Man with the Yellow Hat — under less than auspicious circumstances.  Poaching, it would seem.  (Though I looked up the definition, and it would have to be the illegal acquisition of the animal…and maybe it wasn’t illegal?)

Then, on his second day here, after accidentally calling the fire department, George is locked up in a stone prison cell.  No due process, no Miranda rights.  Where’s his friend now?

The “happy ending” is George’s residence in the Zoo.  Ahh, bliss.

Well, he is my son’s favorite character — “George Monkey” — and even these somewhat disturbing themes do not deter us from reading it…hourly.

What is going on in this picture??

Book Report II

April 20, 2011

Who doesn’t love Chaim Potok?  Every time I finish one of his works, I have a slight yearning to be a Hasidic Jew.  What I really mean, though, is that there is something very appealing about the order, place, regularity, and ritual we see displayed in the close-knit (or at least closed-off) communities Mr. Potok writes of.

My Name is Asher Lev was seriously one of the best “coming of age” novels I can remember reading in a long time.  Mr. Potok might not classify his work as such, but by the term “coming of age” I mean a novel that follows the protagonist from childhood to young adulthood, with a major emphasis on how that person became, well, who he is.

The novel chronicles an artist whose daily struggle is between the art he must create and the community he belongs to — a community that is deeply confused by his gift.  What is so beautiful about this story — and I think I can say this without revealing too much of the book — is the way (most of) the people in Asher Lev’s life do try to understand him and his art, in their own way.  A good deal of grace and accommodation are shown; so uncharacteristic of this type of storyline.

Furthermore, it was so refreshing to read a novel that spends the majority of its time in the mind of a young man (can you sense a theme in my reading material of late?), but is devoid of lust.  Not only that, but I cannot recall a single curse word.  The hardest part of the novel for me was simply reconciling my understanding of a child’s thought processes with those of Asher Lev’s; he seemed, perhaps, unnaturally astute and observant at various points in his young life.

An excellent book!

Book Report

April 4, 2011

Not too long ago, I put out a plea on everyone’s favorite social networking site, asking for book recommendations.  My request was simple: fiction, substantive and engaging but light enough to be read during nighttime feedings (of the nursing variety…not midnight snacks for me!).

Well, it turns out that I don’t really need to read much at night (thank you, Baby A!), and my lamp bothered my husband too much.  Yet despite being only able to read during the day (and sporadically at that), I could not put this book down:

 

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I won’t attempt to review this book (plenty of others have and will do so), but I’ll just say it was a page-turner.  The plot creatively and seamlessly flitted between the protagonist’s present and past, and the setting — Depression-era circus life — was truly unique.  It was clear that the author had thoroughly researched her subject matter, and the book did what I hoped: kept me engaged and opened my eyes to a pocket of American cultural history I was completely unfamiliar with.  The amount of graphic sexuality (predominantly of a mental variety) provokes me to recommend it with caution to a mature reader.

Thanks for the recommendations, friends!