Kids Book Corner

  • Goose Girl
  • Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH
  • Peter and The Shadow Thieves
  • Peter and The Star Catchers
  • Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper
  • Stella Brite and The Dark Matter Myster
  • The Island of The Blue Dolphins
  • The Phantom Toll Booth
  • The School Library Journal
  • The Sisters Grimm
  • Tuck Everlasting


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Reading Again...

This book created a surprising amount of anxiety for me as a read through the politics involved with several dissident Tories collaborating with Labour and Liberal party members to remove Neville Chamberlain shortly after the start of WWII. It was akin to watching a movie where you know the ending, but somehow the outcome might be different. Lynne Olson does a fabulous job explaining the social and psychological aspects that underlay the decision making machinations in British politics. There is the system of peerage, what school you attended, and ties through marriage to consider when making any decision. It is rather dizzying and frustrating. It was this same peerage system, the separating of the classes, that led to several in the upper classes to be sympathetic to Hitler's cause and allowed the reports of Germany ramping up its military to be left unheeded. There was also a distinct hatred of communism over fascism. The press was censored and largely a government machine, as well.
I was surprised to learn that even though Churchill wanted to be Prime Minister and get things ramped up for the war effort early on he did not get directly involved with the men who eventually put him in to power. He, in fact, thought of them negatively. By the time all the wrangling for a confidence vote came around the British were being hit hard by the Germans and Churchill was Lord of the Admiralty. He felt loyalty to Chamberlain, even when Chamberlain was always for appeasement to the Germans. Chamberlain was always certain that Hitler could be reasoned with some how. Once Churchill became the Prime Minister he kept many of Chamberlain's people in positions of power surprising, and disheartening, the Tory rebels. Churchill saw them as conniving and traitorous. He did give out a few posts in government, but not the welcoming positions the rebels expected. Ultimately assigning one of the rebels, Harold Macmillan, to Algiers as Minister in Resident allowed Macmillan to become an integral part of negotiations with the U.S. Eventually Macmillan returned to acclaim in Britain and later became the Prime Minister during a period of severe economic downturn. Macmillan turned things around during his tenure.
I was thoroughly fascinated and awed reading this book. I was counting my blessings to not have the upbringing in a classed society. I find the machinations, back biting, palm greasing, and politics in general a distasteful business. I suppose I'm a history gawker, or rubbernecker though. I still want to read and find out what happened and why. Lynne Olson has an engaging writing style that brings history alive. I look forward to reading some of her other work, as well.

An Atlanta family decides that they can downsize their lives and sell their mansion and take half of the proceeds and donate it charity. Hannah Selwan's parents already had a history of giving through Habitat for Humanity and other charitable work, but through Hannah's desire to do more the family made some changes. Realizing that the collecting of stuff was not what they wanted to teach their two children the Selwan's got behind their daughter's push to do more. Every person in their family had a voice when making decisions, which was a vital aspect to a life long change.
The family was criticized for some of their choices. Many were upset that they chose to donate their funds to The Hunger Project, with the money going to Ghana not doing something in their community, or the U.S. Many thought they were showboating because of their wealth.
As I was reading I found a family who sincerely wanted to give service, which they did through Cafe 458 (a place for feeding the homeless), Habitat for Humanity, blood donations, and The Hunger Project. They weren't putting on hairshirts. They maintained their affluent lifestyle, but not to the extent they had before. There were several setbacks to funding their charitable desires with being unable to sell their house in a timely manner due to the economic downturn.
This book is great for families and teens who want ideas on how they can contribute to a better world. One of the key things I learned in the was the negative impact that mission and service trips have in communities, "Mission and service trips often have a negative long-term impact on the very people they are aiming to serve- not positive, not even neutral, but negative. It may be hard to believe that people of goodwill aspiring to help those in need can have a deleterious effect. But they do."
The problem is the fostering of dependence as opposed to self reliance. The best efforts are when supporting the work that their community is doing. A very eye-opening and well thought out book.

A series of vignettes about summer vacations with a sturdy, independent grandmother and two city grand kids from Chicago. The children never seem to move past their grandmother's veneer. They do get glimpses that there is a compassionate and clever woman who feels safe behind her gruff exterior. Never straight forward, but rather enjoying machinations and manipulations of the vanity of others the grandmother achieves her purposes. I realized in each chapter there was a little gem that the kids could take away, but the ending was book felt rather flat with a surprising uptick at the end with the touching farewell.

::::::::::Drama Camp and Twilight Camp:::
Yesterday Rachel started Drama Camp and Noah is doing Twilight Camp with the Cub Scouts. Both kids came home tuckered out, but had a good time. I'm looking forward to the drama performance the kids will have together on Thursday.



Michael Taylor said...

We need to have a Family Home Evening to discuss how we as a family can apply what you learned from "The Power of Half".

Thanks for the reviews.

marcus said...

Twilight camp? Is that where the dress up like sparkly vampires?

Michael Taylor said...

...and learn to brude and talk with your eyebrows.

Sue H. said...

You give such well thoughtout reviews of the books you enjoy. I look forward to each one.

klonghall said...

Peck won the Newbery for the sequel, "A Year Down Yonder." Both books kind of run together in my mind, so I can't remember which stories are in which book. Love them both. Granma Dowdel reminds me a bit of my grandpa, my mother's father. He always sat around and talked about the "idiots" in his small town. Yet, when one of them brought him an engine to fix, he'd help them out and not charge them a dime. It took me a lot of years to realize he was really an old softy on the inside.