Last months booklist looks a little lopsided. I normally gravitate to nonfiction titles. But other than Bob Goff’s Dream Big and a spiral volume of sudoku puzzles, all the books I read in August were novels.
The majority of these selections, our family read aloud together. Some for the third or fourth or fifth time. Fortunately, one can learn a lot reading fiction — my husband convinced me of that fact years ago.
Dream Big by Bob Goff
If you’re already a fan, however, you’ll undoubtedly want to add Dream Big to your library along with its predecessors. This offering seems more instructional in nature than Bob’s earlier books. You might even call it a How-To book of sorts. Personally, I have no shortage of big goals and lofty dreams — only a shortage of time in which to pursue them. So that part of the book felt wasted on me.
Nevertheless, once you get past the first few chapters, Bob’s wonderful gift for storytelling is again on full display. And it’s his wild and amazing tales of adventure that keep me coming back for more. If you feel the same way, you won’t want to miss the stories he shares in Dream Big.
The Bears of Hemlock Mountain by Alic Dalgliesh
Set in Northern Pennsylvania, this tale is a short one — only 64 pages. It gives the account of a young boy named Jonathan who is sent by his mother on an errand. Although Jonathan is only eight years old, the errand forces him to cross Hemlock Mountain alone.
All his life, Jonathan has been told there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain. But on this trip, he discovers differently. Some quick thinking keeps him safe, and he lives to tell the story to his large family, who come searching for him when he doesn’t make it home by dark.
Our family enjoyed Jonathan’s story very much. We, too, have a large family, including a son named Jonathan. And our son Jonathan himself has a son who is eight years old. Imagining our own eight-year-old being sent on such an errand — alone — made the tale that just much more thrilling.
The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis
I’m tempted to say this is my favorite book in the series. Yet I’m pretty sure I said the same thing about The Magician’s Nephew a few months ago. The truth of the matter is that each of the Narnia stories is so engaging, I feel fondest of whichever one I’m reading at the time and would be hard-pressed to pick a singular favorite.
In this volume, we read the story of a talking horse, a runaway boy, and a lion who forces them onto the same path as two other fugitives. The action is fast-paced and suspenseful and the heroes brave and honorable, despite being oft plagued by doubts and uncertainties.
The Drackenburg Adventure by Lloyd Alexander
I was sad to see that The Drackenburg Adventure is now out of print. So you’ll likely need to borrow a copy from your local library. It’s a fun read, but probably not worth the $680.34 price tag I’m seeing on Amazon right now. 😉
In The Drackenburg Adventure, Vesper must again match wits with her arch-nemesis, Dr. Helvetius. Only this time, Helvetius has kidnapped Vesper’s beloved Aunt Mary. Can she find her aunt in time to thwart the villain’s maniacal plan to take over the small country of Drackenburg?
Although Lloyd Alexander’s Vesper Holly Adventures are admittedly not on the same literary level as his masterfully written Chronicles of Prydain, they’ve been a great series for strengthening the reading skills of some of my more reluctant readers. The writing is straight forward and easy to read, but the storylines have enough intrigue and twists to keep them turning the pages.
Big Print Sudoku (red) by Brain Games
I’ve finished lots of Sudoku books over the years. I start with the first puzzle and work one-by-one in order to the very end.
But I prefer the format of these Brain Game editions to any others I’ve seen. The spiral binding allows the pages to lie flat as I work them, and the large print means I can see the numbers, even without my reading glasses!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I’ll admit I was skeptical when, years ago, our daughter Bethany first recommended that her dad read The Hunger Games aloud to the family. An opressive government sending children into the arena to fight to the death? I know that sort of thing happened in ancient Rome, but do we really want to hear about it happening again? And at bedtime, no less?
Well, when the story is woven as masterfully as Suzanne Collins has crafted this one, the answer is a resounding yes. The arena of the future is a world unto itself. A world in which participants learn invaluable lessons about life, love, dignity, and survival.
Bethany convinced us to read it then. And we’ve gone through the series again a couple more times since. But after reading the new prequel, Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, last month, we were ready to read the entire series again. (Incidentally, Amazon has lots of bestselling children’s and young adult titles on sale right now, buy 2 get 1 free. I’m not sure how long this sale will last, but now would be a good time to pick up this trilogy at a great price)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
In Catching Fire, victor Katniss Everdeen learns her true enemies are not the other contestants in arena. Christians will note a parallel to this concept in Scripture. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
That may be why the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy is my favorite. I like the fact that so many of the tributes join forces to help one another and to fight against the Capital.
The writing is tight and the action riveting. Our children begged to hear chapter after chapter, sometimes keeping their father reading three to four hours at a stretch. Fellow book-loving families will not want to miss this riveting tale.
And that’s it for August. How about you? Have you read any great books lately? Tell me about them in the comment section below!
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