Burroughs Book Picks of the Week - 3/15/12
The Burroughs Book Picks of the Week will return on Thursday, April 5, during the short week of our return from the spring break. Have a wonderfully restful time with your boys!
Dead End in Norvelt
I’m always looking for a Newbery Medal Award book to put in my literary bookbag for vacations, for every winning novel I’ve read has been well written, thoughtful, and completely appropriate for our boys. The award has been around since 1922 and annually honors the most distinguished children’s book of the year. This year’s winner is Jack Gantos’s Dead End in Norvelt
, and the one review I’ve read from a most reliable source has made this my Class VI-Q book I’m going to read for the vacation. The young protagonist is sandwiched between two feuding parents and decides to go on a long vacation. Unfortunately his escape from his parents is thwarted because he is grounded, so he decides to make the best of a bad situation by volunteering to assist some older neighbors. Apparently, he gets embroiled in a long-forgotten murder. I suspect that my own vacation aside from books will be a little calmer than that! Read more on Amazon.
Death Comes to Pemberley
I’m not especially a fan of murder mysteries---life is fraught with enough emotional danger not to need that vicarious experience for me!---but I have read a couple of the P.D. James oeuvre to know that she is a fine writer, and I have seen enough glowing reviews of this novel from The New York Times Book Review
, The Washington Post
, and the Wall Street Journal
to know that I should toss this in the bookbag for a dark night over vacation. The novel is written in the style of Jane Austen and continues the story of that English writer’s Pride and Prejudice
, first published in 1813, about the mercurial relationship of the protected Elizabeth Bennett and the proud gentleman, Mr. Darcy. Ms. James picks up the narrative after the marriage of the two protagonists, but their happiness in finding each other and bearing two children is threatened by a dead body found in their parlor. There have been several take-offs of the original Austen novel, but according to the critics, Death Comes to Pemberley
seems to be the best of them and is a wonderful read in its own right. Read more on Amazon.
In the Garden of Beasts
In 1939, my young parents, having spent a strangely idyllic vacation overseas, managed through connections to get on the last passenger ship to escape from Europe as Nazi Germany was starting its destructive march through the continent. Although they had heard rumblings of danger for years, my parents were not as aware as they should have been of how serious was the threat, sentiments that were fairly ubiquitous during that time. As a result of their understandable naivete, I have always been interested in the events before and during the Second World War. Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts
has been in my literary bookbag waiting for the vacation, for it has received universal praise, as did his previous The Devil in the White City
. Larson’s most recent non-fiction starts in 1933 Berlin and concerns America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, William Dowd. The Dowd family is at first caught up in the pomp and parties of the Third Reich, intent upon making a break from the gloom of Germany’s defeat in the recent war. Daughter Martha Dowd romances several members of the Gestapo. The ambassador begins to pick up ominous signs of the Reich’s evil intentions and telegraphs his concerns to the State Department, which denies the threats upon the world. The book apparently gives remarkable personal accounts of the horror that lay beneath the glamour of that time period and “speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat…of Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.” I suspect that parents and the Class IX boys, who are now studying this time period, will be as edified as will I by this wonderful book. Read more on Amazon.