Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blue bird living quarters

My sister-in-law and mother love watching blue birds nest in their two blue bird boxes, one in the front yard and one in the back yard. Every spring blue bird parents raise two or three sets of baby blue birds.

Recently, my brother attached a box to a beam on the back porch. Promptly, a blue bird couple moved in! They (my family) tell me that it is most unlikely for blue birds to build where humans frequent. My brother was testing the hypothesis. The photo shows the location of the house. Unfortunately, no blue birds posed for the photo, but they're there!

The quote to the right applies to my family, as well. When sparrows tried to occupy the back-yard box last year, the adults brought out the air rifle and fired shots, not at the sparrows, but around them to chase them off. The blue birds got in!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The books of Robert Cormier

I'm a big fan of Robert Cormier books--and, yes, I have favorites.  However, "favorites" might be an odd word to use concerning Cormier books. He does not write typical stories for young adult readers. In fact, his themes are always mature and his stories dark, sometimes quite dark.

Case in point: "After the First Death" is a novel about a multitude of serious themes, all carefully woven into an unforgettable novel. Do you read books and promptly forget them? But there are those you never forget. "After the First Death" is one of these. Although the publication date is 1979, terrorists of some unnamed, occupied country (Palestine?) plot the takeover of a school-bus filled with kindergarten children with ransom as their plan. I'm not sure if total explosion was part of the plan at the end.

The title refers to the death of the first victim because of candy laced with medication to make the children calm and sleep. Once that first death happens, they are in deep. The main assistant is just a young boy, 15 or so, who has been trained, along with his brother, now deceased, since childhood. Artkin takes them and trains them to be terrorists, to serve his will at his pleasure. The point of the takeover, despite ransom threatenings, is to decimate a special forces service buried deep in secrecy. The general's son is used as bait, with the general quite cognizant that his son will be tortured. The substitute bus driver, a girl who is also young, is the last key player.

People die in Cormier books or they are destroyed in some way, but I was hoping for better in this one. Cormier never plays safe or by the heart: he plays by reality and so it is in this book. This is a story that lingers....

The next book is "In the Middle of the Night." Quietly laced in the midst of the terror is a pleasing, unexpected love story. When Denny's father was just 16, he was involved in a theater fire that killed several children and maimed several others. The fire was an accident, the young boy was declared innocent, but tell that to a warped mind intent on revenge. Every year during the week of the anniversary of the fire, he receives a phone call in the middle of the night. Newspapers publish stories about the fire and Denny's father must move again. He never reacts except to forbid his son NEVER EVER answer the phone. During the anniversary week when he is 16, he answers the phone. That's when he learns his father's story. Research in the library answers further questions. However, the main problem is that he is drawn into a telephone romance with this woman, who sounds so delicious to him. Figure the math--he does and discards--no one with a voice like this can be as old as his father. Remember, she is out for revenge. That's as far as I will tell. I liked this book but not as much as the first one reviewed.

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.