Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PS: Merry Christmas!

Most of the family has seen or has a copy of this picture now, but just to make it official, yes, Christmas did come for the Kobersteins this year. Xochitl really enjoyed the wrapping paper, Dawna and Larry love their new tunnel and tent combo. All three of them have enjoyed their new Christmas outfits from Nana Severson. My kids inform me that the goose is a member of the family also, so he found his way into the pictue :)

Labels: , ,

Dad's Book Club: The Help

In the tradition of Dad's greatness, he gave this book to me for Christmas, it having been recommended by JoAnn and Co. Historical Fiction is not usually my favorite, but this book masterfully portrayed vernacular speech (and attitude) and told a very engaging story (not to mention, one of the main characters does what I've always dreamed of doing—[and I was going to write it here, but realized that would spoil most of the book])

In a point-of-view-shifting first person account, I found myself intensely wrapped up in a part of history —and believe me, keeping my attention and interest on historical events is a Herculean feat, so well done, Kathryn Stockett! Instead of dryly discussing the events and feelings about desegregation in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi, Stockett places us in the shoes of Aibileen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter. Aibileen's motherly love for seventeen white babies (plus one boy of her own) that she raised gives strength to her resolve to...make the teacups stop rattling? Yes, that's right. And Minny, who has broken every rule of proper behavior to the white lady begins to discover that those very rules she thought forced upon her by the white ladies may only have force because of her own self-perception. Finally, Miss Skeeter...a true to life, true to herself lady out, at first, to make a name for herself decides that giving a voice to the voiceless (to use a cliché), may best be done anonymously.

Unfortunately, because of the subject matter, there are incidents of violence, hatred, and fear; nonetheless, Stockett handles them well—producing the desired disdain for the acts with minimal gore. I think even mom could handle it. :) What a beautiful piece of work! I was very moved and even found myself a little teary-eyed at the end. A must read for all adults in the family (but proceed with caution for younger readers). Excellent pick for Dad's Book Club!


Dad's Book Club: The Mysterious Benedict Society

This book was recommended by a junior high school teacher friend of mine. Apparently it's all the rage for seventh and eighth graders. (I think Levi would like it a lot--if he hasn't already read it) It looks to be the start of a series, but I believe this is the only one currently published.

The book is an enjoyable light read, definitely adolescent literature genre. Sticky, Constance, Kate, and Reynie, despite their unfortunate upbringing with no reasonable families to speak of, are all children of remarkable skill and intelligence. They all must pass tests and prove their unique abilities in order to take on a challenge to save the world. The beginning of the book is particularly fun to read. As the kids are presented with riddles and questions, the author doesn't reveal the answer, leaving the reader to try to figure it all out before the kids do. After a fun opening, it turns a little hokey and apocalyptic... “If you fail in this quest, All is LOST!” explains Mr. Benedict as they are embarking... no pressure... Once the kids are in the process of working on their quest, the books reads a little like molasses: slow going and not exactly sweet to the taste. However, in spite of a slow middle development of plot, the ending pulls through to be interesting and fun once more— thanks to the Gemini and three candles. Clever.

Overall, I'd give it a high recommendation for youth readers, and a middle recommendation for adult readers. Relaxing, delightful read, but don't plan to be particularly moved or inspired to save the world... especially since you have to be an orphan genius to do so. Too late for me.