Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Emerald City of Oz

by L. Frank Baum

This is one of the Oz books--I don't know where it falls in the series and I've been told that after the first three, it doesn't matter. It's essentially a couple of travelogues. One is the journey of the general of the Nome King, who ventures to odd lands to recruit troops to conquer and destroy the Land of Oz. The other trip is that taken by Dorothy and assorted companions, who, oblivious to the growing threat, are touring some unvisited corners in Oz's vast realm. As plots go, this one's pretty simplistic and, well, dull. The imaginative stops on the respective journeys make up for it a bit, though they vary in quality. Nothing of the book raises it from the realm of waiting room material.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance

by Frances Cavanah

One week before we leave China and I am reduced to reading the extra books my kids have brought from home. The English library on campus is closed; all the books we've been able to borrow from friends have been returned. We certainly don't want to buy any of the simplistic tomes we can obtain in our town here, because we have quite enough to pack. So I'm reading books like this one. I should say rereading, because I actually first read this back around when I was in grade school. (I grew up in Illinois, where one can't avoid reading about Lincoln.) I had pretty much forgotten everything about it except for the footprint incident, so I could approach it afresh. It was nice enough to read, for a kids' book. It focuses mostly on Lincoln's childhood and young adulthood. Once he gets to Springfield the book picks up the pace and starts to skim over his political career, ending when he heads to the White House. I don't know how accurate it is, but instead of the biography of a great man, it comes across more like the biography of a likable fellow who just manages to become President. But as far as waiting room material is concerned, you could do a lot worse.
LibraryThing link


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Exploring Creation With Physical Science

by Dr. Jay L. Wile

When I was a freshman in high school I took a course called "Earth Science". It was a contender for my favorite science course. This book is the analogous course for my daughter's schooling. I enjoyed reading it, remembering lessons I had all those many years ago and picking up a few tidbits of information I had either forgotten or never learned before. Like its predecessor, Exploring Creation With General Science, this text is very readable, has a good variety of experiments and a companion CD-ROM. 'Tis well worth checking out . Like the other books in the series, it also has a creationist worldview and occasionally slips in some propaganda. In fact, Dr. Wile committed one of my pet peeves in that respect. At one point he talks about James Clerk Maxwell, the physicist who demonstrated that electricity and magnetism are the same force. Dr. Wile states that Maxwell was one of the three most important figures in the history of science, along with Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. He makes sure to point out that Maxwell was a Christian, something Dr. Wile also did with Newton in a previous chapter. About Einstein's beliefs, however, nary a word is said. C'mon, Doc. If a scientist's religious convictions are relevant to the study of the history of science, you should cover all the scientists in question. It doesn't take any glory from God to admit that unbelievers can be smart, too. .... Um, okay, end of rant.
LibraryThing link

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

by C. S. Lewis

First read in the Summer of 2002.
Still want it on my shelf. If anything, I like it better than the first time I read it.
LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Painless Poetry

by Mary Elizabeth

Poetry is something I sort of grew into. When I was in school, it was a nuisance that kept turning up in Reading and English classes. The only poem I ever liked was "Jabberwocky". (Though somehow I managed to get bits of poems stuck in my memory.) The rest was boring confusion--iambic pentameters and all that. In my adult years, however, I grew to appreciate the poetic word as I let hymn lyrics and psalms sink into my heart and mind. So when I picked up this book as part of my homeschooling reading, I was delighted. "If you think poetry is dull and difficult," the cover claims, "open this book -- and think again!" I thought that if I only had this book in high school, I would have had a much higher opinion of poetry. Well, I then opened the book... and had to think again. the book isn't bad. You really should check it out. But while it's clear writing and light hearted illustrations do a good job of presenting the world of poetry, it is a textbook after all. Eventually Ms. Elizabeth gets to the iambic part and my eyes glazed over. Oh, well. I'm trusting that all the good poems packed into the book will help my kids get over all the analysis sections. And if not, well, I can always hope that they'll grow to appreciate poetry, just like I did.
LibraryThing link


Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Entropy Effect

by Vonda N. McIntyre

When we got a donation to the English library many months ago, imagine my surprise to find this one among the books given. I remember purchasing a copy many years ago, enticed by the cover illustration of Kirk, Spock and Sulu dressed in uniforms from Star Trek:The Motion Picture. I was a bit disappointed to discover that the story was not set after the events of the movie, but was one that fits in better with the series chronology. Ah, well. I decided to give the book another reading and found it to be standard Star Trek fare--waiting room material to while away a few hours. It does seem to be a bit longer than the Trek novels I've read recently, or at least the type is set in a smaller point size. In the story, the Enterprise is summoned away from observing a singularity for the seeming routine task of transporting a convicted murderer across a solar system. Of course, the prisoner escapes (or does he?) and wreaks havoc on the ship. The book has all the standard Trek novel features: a new character with emotional involvement with one of the regular crew, alien crew members that would never have made it on screen in the TV series, the meddling bureaucrat and a neat, happy ending. Since I didn't have high expectations, my only real complaint is that I don't care for Ms. McIntyre's take on Scotty. She makes him far more thin skinned than I think is appropriate for his character.
LibraryThing link

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Secret of Platform 13

by Eva Ibbotson

In London, under Platform 13 in King's Cross Railway Station is a gump--a doorway to a mystical land. It's a doorway that opens only for nine days every nine years. Nine years ago the infant prince of this mystical land was taken to the World Above (our world, that is) and was snatched from his poor nanny. So now, nine years later, the king of the realm is sending out an undercover rescue team: an old wizard, a gentle fey, an invisible ogre and a young hag. Can they rescue the prince? Is the prince worth rescuing, after living nine years in the World Above? This book is an enjoyable tale of the mystical meeting the mundane. The characters are quite appealing, though I wish the story had made better use of them. But even if the book isn't a masterpiece, I am glad I checked it out.
LibraryThing link


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