Uncle Tom's Cabin

I have been trying to work classic books into my reading list and my latest read was, Uncle Tom's Cabin. A friend of mine had read it and highly recommended it. We also had it in our bookcase so I figured it was meant to be. This book is heart wrenching, absolutely heart wrenching. It sickens me when people treat other people like a piece of property. 

The story takes place during the height of slavery in the United States. Uncle Tom is a good and honest man. He has a wife and children and he quite loves his master. His Master becomes short on money and decides to sell Tom and Eliza's son. Eliza works on the same farm with Tom and her son is so adorable that a slave trader knows that he can get a lot of money for him. Eliza accidentally overhears her Master tell the Mrs. that his hand has been forced and he has to sell those two to cover his debts. As you can manage, Eliza is beside herself and doesn't quite know what to do save her son. 

The story mainly follows Eliza and her escape with her son and Tom, who ends up being sold onto a plantation down south.

The story is easy to follow, but the speech was often hard to understand. When any slave spoke they spoke in very broken english and at times I struggled to know exactly what was going on. Also, if you are going to have your child read it, you will need to make sure they are mature enough to read the "N" word throughout the whole book.

One of the interesting aspects of this book was that it talked about some people who thought slavery was wrong, but still owned them. The man who purchased Tom thought slavery was terrible, but nonetheless he had slaves. He justified that he did it to give them a better life and to be able to take care of them. Tom said he would still rather be a poor, free man than a slave with a cushy life.

I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to adults or mature kids. A few of my kids tried to read it and had a hard time following the story. However, some of their friends read it and enjoyed it. Also, you can download the book for free on Amazon.

The Hiding Place

I had the great idea of having my kids write a book review of all the books that they read. It would take care of two things. 1st, I would have a killer blog post completely done and 2nd, it would give my kids a chance to do a book report. Win, win, right? Nope, I couldn't have been more wrong. My daughter read The Hiding Place, a book that luckily I have read before, and wrote me her book review. "The Hiding Place is a really good book." Seriously?!? That was it. The funny thing is that she really loved the book and she is great with details and writing, so I think I had unrealistic expectations when I asked her to whip out a book review with little, ok let's be honest, no instruction.

Have you read The Hiding Place? You should. It is heartbreaking and it is beautiful. It is one of those books that has the ability to change you; to make you want to be a better person, to love more, to forgive more. It made me feel like my little problems are not that big compared to what others have gone through.

The Hiding Place is the story of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie was a watch maker living in Holland. The story starts in 1937 where the family was getting ready to celebrate the 100th birthday of the family shop and a lot of the conversation revolves around the Jews that are fleeing to Holland.

Corrie and her family were not Jewish, they were Christian, but they knew that no one should be treated the way the Jewish people were being treated. They became involved in an underground movement during WWII. They risked their lives to help these people. Her sister, Betsie, had the most positive attitude about having faith and moving forward. I would love to have her courage.

The sisters eventually get sent to a concentration camp for their involvement. Their train ride still haunts me. When you sit and think about the logistics of being shoved in a train with so many people for so many hours. I honestly get a little choked up when I think how those people were treated like they weren't people at all. 

After the war Corrie went around and spoke to several groups of people. One of them happened to be a German who had persecuted the people in the camp. Can you imagine the hate you would probably feel when you saw someone who had been so cruel? This is what Corrie thought as she had to talk to this man:

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him....Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness....And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.” 

I can't recommend this book enough. My kids have read it when they have been in 5th or 6th grade. It has given us some great discussions! It is probably too deep of a topic for anyone under the 5th, 6th grade level, but if you feel like your kid is more mature then don't delay and have them read this!

Penrod

I just finished reading Penrod to my kids. To say that we loved this book is an understatement, we LOVED this book!! It is so odd and so funny.

Penrod is written by Booth Tarkington, published in 1914. Penrod is an 11 year old boy, living in Indiana, who gets into a lot of trouble. It is seriously hilarious with some of his misfortunes. 

My husband remembered this book when he was kid, so I tried to read it to our kids years ago, but I felt like I was reading a foreign language and decided not to read it. My husband kept telling me how much he loved this book, so I decided to try it again. I am so glad that I did!

 My sister in law said they read it with a dictionary to look up some of the big words he used. Once you start reading it, it becomes easier and easier to get through. Here is an example of some of his writing: "Penrod sat morosely upon the back fence and gazed with envy at Duke, his wistful dog. A bitter soul dominated the various curved and angular surfaces known by a careless world as the face of Penrod Schofield."

Here are my disclaimers: Penrod writes a story, and in his story he uses curse words. Except he doesn't dare write them so he puts in a dash. Here is an example (he spells the words incorrectly while Penrod is writing), "Mr. Wilson stagerd back vile oaths soilin his lips for he was in pain Why you --- --- you sneered he I will get you yet --- --- you Harold Ramorez" I would say "bleep" when I read it to the kids, they thought it was very comical. Also, an African American family move in by them. Penrod really likes the kids and they are friends, but they use the "N" word a few times in the book. I simply skipped over that.

There are a few more books in the series, but I heard they weren't as good. I am still on the fence whether or not to read the other ones.

Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I have finished another book for the awesome club. This one is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

It is the story of Mr. Utterson becoming suspicious of his friend Dr. Jekyll who has been doing some strange things. He also learns of Mr. Hyde and tries to find out who he is and why his good friend Dr. Jekyll would be friends with such a loathsome person.

I read this book because one of my sons was reading it, and I tried to read what they are reading so we can talk about the book. He is 10 and told me it was really hard to get into the book, but once he did he liked it, but it is not one of his favorites.

My opinion of the book, well, to be honest I found it quite boring. Maybe because I already know the basic story of this book, or maybe because it was a little dark, I don't know, but it definitely wasn't one of my favorites. 

My one positive thing to say about this book, is the vocabulary he uses. He used a lot of big words. I honestly hadn't heard some of the words before, which isn't too surprising, but I really enjoyed his large vocabulary. 

Also it is free on Amazon, so that is also a nice bonus too. 

Book Review: Ender's Game

A lot of people kept recommending Ender's Game for my son to read, so my husband surprised him and bought him the book. I should have read it first to make sure it was a clean book, but because I am the world's worst parent, I didn't. Also, I believe it is physically impossible to read as fast as my son can, so he read it before me.

BIG MISTAKE!!!


I personally didn't care for the storyline of this book, but that is not my beef with this book. This book was FULL of bad language. It had more swearing in it than any other book I have ever read. Not only did it have swearing it was crude. I asked my son about the swearing, and he said he just tried to skip over those parts, and luckily he is too innocent to catch the crude comments.

I think the thing I am most disappointed about with the book is that it was written by a Christian author. I just assumed that it would be clean; I won't make that mistake again.

Now in the book's defense, my son loved the story. It has a lot of battles and some exciting stuff for boys. There was no mushy love scene, nothing girly, just tough young boys saving the world. My son found that part very exciting, and has since come to me and told me how he would like to be a hero.

I think it would have been an exciting book for young boys, but because of the language I would not recommend it.

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

First, and most importantly, do not get this book confused with 50 Shades of Gray! I know someone who accidentally did, they were not happy.

OK, now to the book. Between Shades of Gray is a historical fiction, which is slowly becoming my favorite genre to read. It is the story of a family from Lithuania and their trials as Stalin is taking over their country. The story is told from the perspective of the daughter, Lina.

The family is taken in the night and forced onto a truck where they are taken to a train depot. Eventually the train takes them to a work camp, and later they are taken to Siberia and forced to work there for several years.

This book is actually a teen novel, so it is an easy read, but there are some upsetting scenes in the book. I was hesitant to have any of my kids read it, but sometimes history isn't pretty, so I allowed my 12 year old to read it, and he loved the book too. He was shocked at how cruel other people can be, and we talked about the beauty of Lina's mother and how she was so kind no matter what, and that she is someone we can try to emulate. 

The author of the book really did her research and everything that happened in the book really happened to someone, which makes it all the more heartbreaking. I absolutely loved the book and ended up finishing it in one night, because I am a reading addict. 

To me, it was a beautiful story of hope, and how no matter how awful of a situation we are in, we can always choose to be happy.

Here are some spoilers, so you know what some of the questionable parts of the book are, in case you want your children to read it:

* A baby dies, and it is rotting in the train car with them, and they have to eventually throw it down a hole to get rid of the body
* The mother of the baby is shot
* Some of the girls are groped by Russian soldiers when they were allowed to shower
* One of the ladies sleeps with Russian soldiers to save her son's life
* A lot of people die

 

Book Review A Little Princess

I decided I wanted to attempt being awesome and I am trying to join The Awesome Club. I wasn't quite sure which book to start with but we read an excerpt of A Little Princess in grammar and it piqued my interest enough that I figured I would start there.

The full book title is actually, A Little Princess; being the whole story of Sara Crewe now told for the first time by Frances Hodgson Burnett. That is seriously the longest book title ever, but it doesn't matter because it has now become one of my most favorite books EVER! It is a very easy read and only has 266 pages. 

I don't know what rock I was living under to not even know the storyline of this book, and I didn't know there was a movie about it too. So, if you are like me and have no idea what this book is about I will give you a quick run down.

This book is about Sara Crewe, a little girl growing up in India with her father. Her father is wealthy and Sara lives a very comfortable lifestyle. He decides it is best to send her to London to attend a boarding school. The head Mistress, Miss Minchin doesn't care much for her much, but likes to show off her rich student to others.

Sara is a wonderfully odd child, I really liked that about her. She uses her imagination quite well and is a fantastic story teller. The girls at the school either love her or are jealous of her. Sara even starts to pretend she is a princess, and she acts the part too. Which doesn't help with the girls that don't like her.

SPOILER - Stop here if you don't want to know more of the story.


Sara's father ends up dying back in India and has left her no money. Miss Minchin is now responsible for her. She makes Sara one of the servants and allows her to sleep up in the cold attic. Sara loses all of her beautiful clothing and her comfortable surroundings. She truly has to discover what kind of a person she is. It was easy to be nice when she had everything, but now she has to choose to be nice even when others are so cruel to her.

I won't give away anymore of the storyline, because it is written so well that I just can't do it justice. This book has really become one of my most favorite books ever, I even cried at the end.

This book is great for boys and girls 8+. My son thought it was just average but my daughter and I absolutely loved it!! Because it is a classic you can get it free on Amazon.