2015

Family Read-alouds
Li Lun: Lad of Courage by Carolyn Treffinger
Set in China, this book tells the story of a young boy too scared to go to sea, who has to survive on a barren mountainside alone for four months while he tries to grow a crop of rice.

The Tanglewood’s Secret by Patricia St John
“Could you please read one more chapter” is the mark of a great book in our family! This one delivered each time we cracked it open to read.

Peacock Pie by Walter de la Mare

Poems by Walter de la Mare

A Boy Named Giotto by Paolo Guarnieri
Fabulous picture book telling the story of Giotto’s probably meeting with Cimabue and subsequent training. Interestingly the illustrations are more towards the style that Giotto broke away *from* (not too lifelike, fairly flat and stylised) rather than including the emotion and sense of movement that he experimented with.

Mario’s Angels by Mary Arrrigan
This one captures the movement and emotion in a fanciful fictional story that includes elements of truth.

The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L’Engle
Some theological hiccups in the retelling marred this for me, but the use of Giotto’s frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua almost redeemed it!

Giotto by Mark Venezia
As usual, Venezia in a short book manages to pack in lots of information about the life and times of Giotto – his place in history and his contributions to art are clearly explained. As usual, whimsical illustrations are interspersed with copies of the real thing.

Giotto and Medieval Art by Lucia Corrain
Only skimmed, not read aloud , but this book contains a wealth of information in a style we have become used to associating with Dorling-Kindersley.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
It’s not quite so funny when you have to explain the word plays, but by the middle of the book the kids were starting to “get it”. Funny funny funny. Inspirational. Clever. An especially good book for any kids who claims to be bored.

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
Accessible gripping account of the Trojan War.

Christina Rossetti by Christina Rossetti

Run, Hare Run!: the story of a drawing by John Winch
The author imagines the back-story to a painting by Albrecht Duerer, introducing the reader to the time he was living and the process of creating.

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson
Daring adventure held everyone’s attention from the first page to the last. Set in the time of the Judges, the mention of Biblical people and places brought a new life to stories previously read in the Good Book.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
I have read this aloud to the older children, but it was different reading it with the y9ounger ones (even though they are similar ages as the others were) These kids keep their own quote journals and it was a lovely surprise to discover them finding plenty of snippets of wisdom to record.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Any book that prompts you to go out and buy to doughnuts to eat while reading is going to be a winner!

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning
Illustrated by Kate Greenaway, this cloth-bound hardcover edition is always a pleasure to pull out and digest in one sitting.

share! edited by Alison Oakervee
Recipes to try, stories from those helped out of poverty by Women to Women International, inspirational quotes – this is a book we savoured a little of each day for a few months. Some of the statistics are inaccurate (for example percentages adding up to a number greater than 100 on more than one occasion) which is disappointing as it brings into question the credibility of the book. But I made that a point of discussion and then we went on to learn a lot from the book all the same. We tried a fair few of the recipes too.

Can You Count in Greek? by Judy Leimbach and Kathy Leimbach
What a fun way to discover ancient number systems!

I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman
This beautifully illustrated book takes you right into Antonio Vivaldi’s world.
A handy page at the back of the book describes what is fact and what is fiction in the story. There is also some music to play – and you could play what is on the endpapers too!

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Anna Harwell Celenza
A story, the sonnets, a CD, whimsical pictures, a note from the author – this book has all you need to introduce children to this engaging piece of music.

Pierre Auguste Renoir by Mike Venezia
Another in the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series. Same standard, same format.

Child Rhymes by James Whitcomb Riley
Interesting poet – we loved some and did not *get* others. These would ideally be read by someone who knows the accent – I’m sure they could be brought to life much better than my attempts achieved!

Down Under by Bill Bryson
We listened to this audio book and rolled around laughing more than once. Ended up borrowing the print version just so we could go back and easily savour the best bits like the snoring and the cricket match. Humour aside, he did a good deal of research (even if he won’t remember any Australian Prime Ministers if you were to ask him about them today), making this a fabulous “real book” for “geography studies”. Admittedly there were a couple of posts I might have skipped over if I’d been reading aloud, but the kids won’t be scarred for life. Raised lots of good discussions about town planning, the size of Australia, aboriginal issues, getting drunk, road trips, wonderful turns of phrase.
We’ve ordered another from the library! Off to Africa next.

Perrault’s Fairy Tales by Peraault
Never too old for a fairy tale well told.
Never tire of fantastically detailed black-and-white illustrations either.

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda
Excellent as-true-as-possible tale of a young boy’s multi-year refugee journey from Afghanistan to Italy. Cleverly written in his voice. The content makes it unsuitable (in my opinion) for anyone under seven or eight or so.

The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
This changeling story is so real it must be real!

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Intrigue, suspense and mystery….for the nine-year-old anyway! Still loved by the older kids who did the reading.

Journey to Jo’Berg by Beverley Naidoo
Quick read. Opens eyes to apartheid.

The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
The story we know accompanied by illustrations from Ancient Egypt.

Cezanne and the Apple Boy by Laurence Anholt

Peril and Peace by Mindy and Brandon Withrow
3BC to 550AD…stories of real life people

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Forever favourite. This time particularly enjoyed by boys who have hit their teens. Lots of laughs.

….other poets unrecorded (Walter de la Mare, some Edgar Albert Guest etc) and other historical novels and picture books

Mama’s Reads
A Long Walk South by Sean Rothery
My goal in reading this book was to discover what I could about the GR5, but the story written outside of the actual trekking was what made the book particularly interesting.

Terrapin by Wendell Berry
Found some new favourite poems in this volume, ranging from fun to thoughtful.

Along the Templar Trail by Brandon Wilson
Dijon to Jerusalem, why to choose your walking partner carefully, peace, good writing
This is the kind of long-distance walking that calls to me.

Everything That Remains: a memoir by the minimalists by Joshua Fields Milburn
Important book for every 15-35 year old to read! Challenges consumerism in a very readable way.
Disclaimer: I do not believe minimalism provides salvation

Minimalism by Joshua Fields Milburn
The how-to book that goes with the previous one. In fact, if you’re only going to read one, make it this one.

Blisters, Bugs and Abandoned Underwear: a solo trek of New Zealand by Stuart Fleming
A kiwi bloke sets out to see if he can hike NZ’s longest trail, Te Araroa. No spoilers as to whether or not he makes it;-) Showed me if you really want to do this trail you DO need to take a tent.

A Long Walk in the Himalaya by Gary Weare
Confession: I didn’t finish it. Interestingly enough written, but I was reading to see if I’d like to do this kind of trekking and my mind was made up fairly early on in the book. A guided trip to Everest Base Camp – yes. Finding my own way across mountains with big drops and lots of scrambling and snow – no.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Generally speaking sci-fi is not my genre, but the further I went into this book, the more captivated I became. By the time I got to the end I just wanted to turn round and read it all again.  A rich deep thought-provoking multi-layered book.

Who Do You Think You Are?
Stories of Friends and Enemies selected by Hazel Rochman and Darlene Z. McCampbell
This compact collection of short stories (and excerpts from longer works) deals with the question of friendship and the toher side of the same coin, enmity. A range of authors from Maya Angelou to Ray Bradbury are represented in this volume which is particularly suitable for a young adult audience. It’s a book I’d want to discuss with a young person who had read it, and not just leave them grappling with the themes (which include traumatic ones such as rape and bullying) on their own.

Europe @ 2.4km/h by Ken Haley
Perceptive portrayal of what the author discovered when he went searching for the soul of Europe, from the very north to the very south, and east to west, covering over 25,000km, many of them self-propelled in his wheelchair. Witty, clever, critical, Australian.

Things You Get For Free by Michael McGirr
An Australian Jesuit priest takes him mum on a second honeymoon to Europe. For real! Family history and faith are effortlessly combined with the modern-day trip to produce a very readable memoir.

Tracks by Robin Davidson
It’s one determined lass who decides to walk halfway across Australia with camels when she knows next to nothing about both!

emails from the edge by Ken Haley
part travelogue documenting two journeys a decade apart, part emotional journey towards suicide……a very illuminating insightful account

A Journey Into Russia by Jens Muehling
Exactly what the title says. A German journalist sets out to discover the truth in something he has been told: that the real stories of Russia are more unbelievable than anything that could be invented. Certainly his account of situations he happens into is at times hard to believe!

Lysis Goes to the Play by Caroline Dale Snedeker
Rave reviess had perhaps heightened my expectations for this book and I ended up a little disappointed. Yes, it’s written for kids and so may not have the complexity of an adult novel, and yes, it does give a fair amount of detail about Greek life, but it was poorly written. The events were predictable – almost formulaic. The language was simplistic. The action moved very quickly with little development. That said, it makes a fine “early reader”.

Walking Home from Mongolia by Rob Lilwall
One of those books that makes me think “I would do that!”

First Pass Under Heaven: a 4,000km walk along the Great Wall of China by Nathan Hoturoa Gray
A book that made me think “Maybe I couldn’t manage that!”
Nice to read a kiwi writer.

Storybook Travels by Colleen Dunn Bates and Susan la Tempa
A book that made me think “I could have written that!”
Only I didn’t. The format is exactly one of the dreams in my head, but with a few different book titles. Such favourite books as Paddington, Madeline and Little House on the Prairie are the springboard for family vacation suggestions. My one little quibble would be that the authors underestimate children’s interest in museums and art galleries – even these locations can be engaging to a child if not overdone and approached in a child-friendly way.

The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley
The science behind intermittent fasting is fascinating. To a black-n-white chic like me, his 500-calories-a-day fasting seems *cheating* !! But if it has the same results as complete fasting and is so easy that it becomes doable over the long haul, then this is not a bad thing. I’m not so keen on the “diet” label, considering the fact the whole idea of this is to start a lifelong habit…..but again, if it gets someone started, then i’m not going to complain about a few words.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
NOT a get rich quick scheme. Just hard work to get out of debt (if you’re not already) and then make money grow. I appreciate the focus that money will not make you happy and that money is for giving away (among other things)! This is a plan that would certainly work if someone had the discipline to put it into action. Some of the examples are not relevant to a New Zealand context, but overall the principles cannot sanely be argued with.
For those who like anecdotal personal stories, there are lots of those too.

My Camino, My Way by Bill Bennett
In Movement There Is Peace by Elaine Orabona Foster and Joseph Wilbred Foster III
I think I’ve read too many camino books. As much as I like walking, and as much as I enjoy hearing people’s stories when I meet them along the way, I have tired of books about the camino. Neither of these books is bad, but they didn’t grip me like the early reading I did on long-distance walking. Perhaps I fail to be inspired because so many of them set up the Camino to be a massive undertaking (and there is no doubting that for many it is an extreme adventure) and that has just not been my experience – for me, it’s a rewarding walk, so I find myself sighing when the climbs are exaggerated, and in my jaded state I don’t even cheer when personal obstacles are overcome. Time for something different!

There Are Other Rivers by Alastair Humphreys
LOVED this one. Bought my own copy after reading the library’s so that I could scribble notes in the margin and underline the many passages that spoke to me. Loved the structure and insights and multiple The Ends.

The Pilgrimage to ?? by??

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
A classic, they say. I expected amazing. The plot was sad. The characters broken. A few insightful passages towards the end made the book worth reading.

Pilgrimages by John Ure
A primer on medieval pilgrimage practices. Interesting stories of people. Inspirational routes.

Overrated by Eugene Cho
The challenge of the year.

The Long Walk by Robert Muirhead
From Canterbury to Rome. Completed in three sittings. Practical detail.

I Walked to Jerusalem by Anthony de Lyon
One of the better walking books – includes a captivating story rather than blow by blow account. Englishman. Never walked before.

Urban Halo by Craig Greenfield
Excellent….review pending on Amazon!

The Biblical Role of the Outsider by Craig Greenfield
Remainers, Returners and Outsiders – room for them all. A short theological basis for each.

On Which Side of the Road do the Flowers Grow by Wendell E Mettey
Cameos of various people this pastor met throughout his life.

Outcry by John Steinbeck
Compelling story of one Jewish boy’s life before and in concentration camps of World War II.

Death by Sarcasm by Dan Ames
Light crime fiction. Well titled, but I won’t be looking for more by this author.

Skimmed:
The Great Conversation by Norman Melchert
Excellent historical (chronological) introduction to philosophy – mostly commentary on works, but a little original source reading. Could be read/thought about/discussed “shallowly” in a year.

The Great Conversation by Robert Maynard Hutchins (Editor)
Includes ten year reading plan and essays about the great ideas. Have bought an updated edition.

 

Currently reading:
Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsk

Books returned to the library without finishing, but might borrow again:
Hormegeddon by Bill Bonner

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