I’ve got a backlog of books to share since I’ve missed so many of Jessica’s Wednesday book posts, so here are a few quick reviews.
“This is what it took for us to believe God loves us.”
That’s what our priest said at Mass on Sunday, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. That’s also a good summary of the book I read this summer with my homeschool mom’s book group: The ‘One Thing’ is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything, by Fr. Michael Gaitley.
I loved this book and can’t recommend it enough for spiritual reading. Bottom line: the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the basis for every single Christian truth. Fr. Gaitley explains the significance of the Holy Trinity for worship, for family life, for devotion to Mary & the saints, even for culture and politics. It’s amazing.
I talked about this one last time, but now I’ve finished it. The tagline of the book is The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. There’s so much fascinating research in here about ADHD medications, synthetic estrogens in plastic water bottles, video games, changes in education, and the loss of strong communities of men. Required reading for parents and teachers.
By the Great Horn Spoon!, by Sid Fleischman
William is enjoying this one right now. I haven’t read it, but Nathaniel’s teaching it and just finished reading it. Thumbs up from both of them for a funny, fast-paced story about the California Gold Rush.
Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for The Whipping Boy, which we read a few years ago. William has also enjoyed the McBroom books by Fleischman too; they are shorter than this one, not historical, and very entertaining.
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
As I mentioned already, we listened to this one in the car. William needed to read it for our homeschool group’s middle school book club. I was into this story for the first 100 pages. The premise was intriguing, the main character Reynie was likable, the Problem (how to pass a puzzling test in order to join a special group of gifted children) was compelling. But, once Reynie passed the test and joined the Mysterious Benedict Society, the book got old fast. The villain isn’t terribly frightening, and his plan for world domination isn’t compelling. Except for one initial chess riddle (which apparently inspired the series), the puzzles are too easy to figure out. And at 495 pages, the book is in need of some serious editing.
But I think what nailed it for my children was that I started to complain that I wasn’t really enjoying the book, and that I wanted William to finish reading it on his own so we could listen to something else in the car. From that moment on, The Mysterious Benedict Society was the absolute best story any of them had ever heard. Also, they thought it was neat to point out how this part was exactly like A Wrinkle in Time, and this part reminded them of Harry Potter. I thought it was annoying.
They hung on every word towards the end and have been studying Morse code (used in the book) daily since we finished it.
But I think the mark of a truly great children’s novel is that the parents can’t put it down either.