Friday, January 20, 2012


I enjoyed this classic story but did feel a little like the last few chapters were sped up in order to bring the inevitable ending together. But I certainly don't hold that against this wonderful story of an innocent and thankful little girl-soul bringing joy to those around her. Pollyanna learned gratitude from her father, a poor missionary pastor who clearly spent time nurturing his daughter's character and leading by example.
She ends up with a distant aunt who sees her care of Pollyanna as a duty not to be neglected but certainly not to be enjoyed. Transformation comes through Pollyanna's innocent acts of kindness and love but at a certain cost even unknown to her.
Pollyanna Grows Up tells the rest of her story and is next in line for me to read.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Phoenix and the Carpet

Any book that starts off with a scene of four British siblings deciding to test their small supply of Guy Fawkes fireworks so that they are not shamed in front of their neighborhood friends should tell you what kind of story you are about to read.
It will be the kind of story written long before children's play was all about safety and security. Of course, being a mother myself, I can understand that children need to be kept safe but if the resurgence in the popularity of books like The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls says anything, than maybe we have gone too far in protecting children from adventure.
That said, once the magic carpet and the phoenix show up, the story becomes one hair-raising adventure after another and even the children recognize at some point that perhaps a break in their magic-carpeting sprees would be in order.
This book is a sequel to the Five Children and It and as I have not read that yet, I can imagine that that story prepares you for the hazards present in this story.
As is the case of any British stories, I find myself longing for tea cakes and seaside holidays, shillings and drawing room fires.
Railway Children is still my favorite Nesbit novel, but I could be convinced to read this again with little difficulty.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The English Air

I think I found this lovely older British novel on the front lawn of someone's yard sale late last summer. I had recognized the Scottish author, D.E. Stevenson from Lanier's lovely summer post. (Btw, her site is one of the most beautiful places on the web. If you want to learn how to cultivate beauty, go, read and do likewise. smile.)

I started to read The English Air on Sunday, New Year's Day afternoon and read it at every chance until I was done sometime on Tuesday. It was written in 1940 and it takes place starting one year before that which was, of course the official beginning of World War 2. I checked the publisher's date after I finished the book and I was struck by how insightful her writing seemed since the war had only just begun. The novel is about a half-German, half-English young man who comes to England to visit family friends of his deceased English mother. And without sounding too cliche, nothing is what it really seems. The characters come across very shallow and trivial, but as the story progresses, they are given depth and interest. I have not read a novel in a long time that held my attention and captured my thoughts even after I was finished reading it. It was a great way to start my new reading year.