Thursday, July 29, 2010

I’ve neglected my blog for too long. That is not to say that I haven’t been relishing a delicious work of historical fiction: New York: the novel by Edward Rutherfurd.

As I read I was held captive by the engrossing saga of the events that shaped the city of New York. Rutherfurd’s style of relating the political and cultural development of a place through the lives of families captures the imagination and breathes life into his history lessons. He incorporates the tales of rich and poor, Native American, African, and European folk from the first Dutch settlers on into the 21st century. It might be a good idea if all New York high school students were assigned this book as required reading. I daresay that their interest in the history and the future of their city would be nurtured far better than through their history textbooks.

On the downside of this experience, I discovered at the conclusion of this audiobook version that I had been listening to the abridged edition. That would certainly explain the leaps in time and the confusion I had felt between chapters when trying to pick up the threads of the story. Now I need to get hold of the complete book… and also add more of Rutherfurd’s novels to my reading list.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is the coming-of-age story of an eleven year old girl at the turn of the 20th century. “Callie Vee” as her brothers call her, is the only daughter in a fairly wealthy rural Texas household. She has six brothers and rebels inwardly at the notion that she must put aside her natural curiosity so she can learn to sew, cook and become a “lady”. While her brothers are allowed to be somewhat wild and free, Callie quietly follows her grandfather who teaches her things her mother and teachers have never considered necessary (or desirable) for girls’ education. Quite accurately, Calpurnia’s mother fears that “a diet of Darwin, Dickens, and her grandfather’s influence will make Callie unsatisfied with her life”.

This book won a Newbery Honor for 2010 and it is clear to see why. It is an entertaining historical fiction novel that shows women how far our gender has come in the past century! I would recommend it for girls 10-15 (grades 5-8) and all my grown-up friends who like historical fiction.

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