Monday, November 07, 2011

The Week in Review (7): Awash in the Victorian Era (Sherlock Holmes, Secret Garden, Emily Dickinson and More)

If you read my last post, you'll be all prepped for the ongoing "week in review" posts which I hope to start putting here regularly again. You'll also know this one is cheating a bit, since I'm actually catching up on most of the month of October and just putting it all here. Here are some of the choice picks from the month gathered in one place.

My review for the banned-books write-off this year was of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Not the first time I'd read the book, but it had been a lot of years. Still just as powerful -- and disturbing -- as I remembered.

The sweet girl and I continued to wend our way through the Civil War and Lincoln. Two good reads for the elementary age crowd, the chapter book My Brother's Keeper and the picture book Lincoln Tells a Joke. My Brother's Keeper is by Mary Pope Osborne of Magic Treehouse Fame. It's a fictional diary by a nine year old girl living in Gettysburg at the time of the battle. Lincoln Tells a Joke is a lively, clever (but still respectful) picture book biography of our sixteenth president. Wonderful illustrations.

I don't write many reviews in travel, but from time to time I'll review an historic site we've visited. We loved our visit to the Frick Estate in Pittsburgh (thanks to the free RAD Days in October) which includes a Victorian era home, car & carriage museum, and art museum. Here's my enthusiastic take on the Frick Car and Carriage Museum.

My fascination with all things Emily continues. We enjoyed Jane Yolen's picture book My Uncle Emily. This was one of those books that I discovered I liked even more than I realized when I sat down to review it. Sometimes the careful looking and thinking you do about a book when you review it helps you uncover things you missed the first time through when you just approached it as a reader ready to enjoy.

Just in time for the sequel (which I know I won't see in the theater anyway) we finally watched and enjoyed the "new" Sherlock Holmes film. meaning it came out in 2009. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law give great performances in this oddly contemporary telling of Sherlock Holmes -- still set in Victorian Era London, but not quite the Holmes and Watson you're used to. I liked it a lot.

Even in our family read-alouds we kept up the Victorian theme. Two classics during October, both lovely: Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and the Mowgli Stories from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. Nicola Bayley's illustrations in the Candlewick Press edition (the one I reviewed) are stunning.

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