Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Reading Series

I highly recommend this book! It is the simple story of an influential Muslim woman becoming a Christian through dreams and the help of some (very astonished) missionaries.  Bilquis became a woman of amazing faith partly because she was from a society that is particularly sensitive to the spiritual. She could feel when the presence of the Lord was receding and through that learned how she was to walk as a Christian--through obedience and in community. Her trust in God through adversity has certainly been a witness to me lately!

We are studying the solar system as part of our science this year at home. We've drawn the planets on a huge piece of paper and hung them high in the kids' room (and since the two readers both sleep on top bunks, they have a great view of it in the night light before they fall asleep). We've been talking of star dust and supernovas and the amazing properties of our sun. Crazy thing we learned today: Mercury (closest planet to the sun) may actually have ice on its surface in deep craters. It is amazing how scientists can even write of things such as our planets being formed without saying, "Wow! There must have been a Creator!" It is an undercurrent in every book we've read but never stated. We've said it a lot though. Our God is truly amazing!

The kids never tire of pouring over a new Calvin and Hobbes treasury. I just picked up a new one at a used bookstore and it's already missing pages because they were fighting over it. (It's put away for a few days while they cool down a bit!) They love the wry humor and the fact that Calvin is so like the boy in our house. They love how Hobbes comes to life and the adventures that he and Calvin share. They love the exasperation of his parents that is so clearly also love for their "different" son. And I love to see my two readers sharing a book and giggling together!

I picked up The Invention of Hugo Cabret at the library after seeing a trailer for it at the theater. I wondered what kind of story it was exactly and if the kids might be able to see it when it comes out. {edit: we did see it and liked it, but not as much as the book. Though I did feel like this book was meant to be a movie; it is definitely as much about the images as it is about the words.}
It also is a tried and true story of the friendless orphan who uses his skills and ingenuity to survive. Throughout the story is woven a beautiful and not very subtle theme of living life out to one's purpose. Oh! And reading the book is like taking an early film class! The kids and I learned a lot through the fact that is woven in with Selznick's fiction. We even watched some of the old films that the book mentions (and I'm sure some of the scenes from those will make it into the movie). The kids loved it, and I give it highest marks for beauty of language, ingenuity of illustration, and a great message. By the way, it is quite thick, but half of its pages are illustration, as if you are watching actions transpire on a screen without sound.

The Hobbit is the prequel to the hubby's favorite books ever. He was a bit skeptical when I suggested that he read it to the kids, but once he got started, we've all loved it. He often reads it while I'm cooking dinner and everyone hangs out in the kitchen, and it is definitely extra motivation to get those showers and pjs done quickly so that he can read more before bedtime.
I'm sure you know the story--the unlikely hero, the fearsome and wily dragon, the cocky and greedy dwarves, the wise and mysterious guide. To me, it is only more poignant knowing that the small trinket that the dear Hobbit so innocently finds becomes the trilogy of all trilogies. Tolkien wrote the Hobbit for children (of all ages) and out of the Hobbit was born something bigger than he ever expected. That makes reading his lovely children's fantasy more beautiful to me.


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