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Tales of Ancient Egypt

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A Review Featuring Bit, Age 7

I can hardly believe we are almost halfway through second grade. Four more weeks and we are done with the term. We are well into our study of ancient cultures that is focusing on Ancient Egypt, and these next four weeks find us immersed in the Middle Kingdom. We have been reading Roger Lancelyn Green's Tales of Ancient Egypt to give Bit some background and understanding of the religious system.

The Story
Tales of Ancient Egypt is a collection of tales and myths from Ancient Egypt. Go figure. The book is divided into three sections: Tales of the Gods, Tales of Magic, and Tales of Adventure.There are 20 tales in all.

Bit's Thoughts
I like Tales of Ancient Egypt because it will help me understand history more. I also like it because like Egypt. My favorite story was "The Story of the Greek Princess". I like this tale because the people are so clever in it. It is also the story of Troy which I know about from reading The Trojan Horse. This probably isn't going to be my favorite book this year but I think you should read it.

My Thoughts
This is certainly a great resource to have about if you want a book on Egyptian mythology. We are going to be reading several novels in the second term that take place in Ancient Egypt (plus Bit is dying to read the Theodosia books) and I wanted her to have some background knowledge as the religion was extremely important in the life of the people. This book gives you a great basic knowledge of the gods and the system of worship. It is older so the language is rather dry. I wouldn't recommend trying to read it aloud unless you are used to reading lengthy novels aloud or you practice first. It should also be noted that several of the tales, unlike most religious stories, actually reward criminal behavior such as treason, theft, fratricide. It sparked some interesting conversations around here for sure. (And isn't that the whole point of good literature?)

What Bit and I are reading next: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Oh the excitement that is ensuing.)

Originally posted here.

Favorite Book to Movie Adaptations

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I was inspired to write this by the series of posts Redeemed Reader did a couple of weeks ago on making movies from books. It got me thinking and my thoughts led me to decide that it would make a wonderful installment of My Favorite Things. Turning books into movies is a tricky business because there is already a loyal fan base that will have firm opinions on what is being done. Most of the time my reaction is somewhere along the lines of "that was good but the book is better". Sometimes I become enraged by what they have done to a beloved book. (See the  most recent The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Miserables. Actually don't see them, but those are examples.) There are times when Iactually like the movie better than the book, where the movie becomes what I want to experience again. These are my absolute favorite adaptations.


How to Train Your Dragon, alsoone of my favorite animated movies in recent memory, is just wonderful. The writing is top notch and rhythmic, there is a sympathetic, inventive, likable hero, a capable and daring heroine, dragons who are fierce and dangerous, witty dialogue, and an engrossing story. The book has none of these things.

Stardust: I have a complicated relationship with Niel Gaiman's writing. This is one of his books that I enjoyed, but I ended up loving the movie. It is one of my favorites. I watch it regularly. The movie has more humor, the pacing is better, the chemistry between Tristan and Yvaine sparks more. And because I am a sap I am better satisfied with the movie's ending.

The Princess Bride This one might be because I had seen the movie a million times before I ever tried to read the book. I was in grade school when I saw it in the theater. Although I have heard so many others who agree with this one that I know it isn't just me.

Peter Pan This live action one, not the insipid Disney version. I am not a big fan of Barrie's prose, but I like the concept and story he came up with. I think this version has done the best job capturing the spirit of his vision and themes. Also, Jason Isaacs is BRILLIANT. It was a stroke of genius to have him play both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling.

The Lord of the Rings
I know. I know. You can't say anything to me about this choice that my husband, who rereads the books every year, hasn't already said. Me? I read the books. Yes, before I saw the movies. Am I ever going to reread them? Not if I can help it. I enjoyed them alright, and I feel proper indebtedness to Tolkien for what he did for fantasy as a genre, but I never want to read them again. I like the movies lots though.

And here are the movies that I am willing to substitute for their books when I want to relax my brain:
Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 BBC version)
Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson one)
Emma
Strong Poison
(but not Gaudy Night)
The Secret Garden

Charlotte's Web (the new one)
I have conflicted feelings about the Harry Potter movies, but they belong on this list too.

Sibling Stories

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I have been thinking a lot about stories with strong sets of siblings lately. I have been reading The Penderwicks to Bit, rereading Harry Potter, and we recently checked out the Ramona and Beezus movie to watch so it is not hard to see why it has been coming to my mind. I love stories where the siblings are different yet incredibly close. I only have one sibling myself, my sister (who is awesome). She is my best friend yet we are very different. She is the extroverted, sensitive, artistic, flighty, dramatic one. I am the introverted, practical, nerdy, sensible, bossy and controlling one. And if I just made us sound like Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, that is not too far off the mark. I am enjoying watching my children's sibling relationship evolve too. It is fascinating to think about the bonds brothers and sisters share. My sister and I can fight like cats and dogs one minute and be laughing together like mad women the next. My husband, an only child, was completely freaked out the first time he witnessed this. There are some books that I have loved over the years that have awesome examples of siblings and I thought I would share my favorites.

The Ingalls Sisters
I wore out my childhood copies of the Little House books. I can't tell you how many times I have read them and  the draw for me was largely the relationship between the girls. The way they fought with and loved each other, they way they depended on and supported each other. It is awesome.

The Murrys
A Wrinkle in Time and company were my next beg obsession after the Little House books. I love how the Murry family operates and how the relationships between the different Murry children are portrayed. Siblings facing major hardships show how strong their relationships truly are, and when your hardships are of the fantastical kind it makes for an even more awesome story.
I don't know how they could miss anyone's list of great sibling tales. They are the ultimate example of the power of the sibling bond. I think is even interesting to see their interactions with each other in A Horse and His Boy when they are adults in Narnia as it is to watch their interactions as children.

The Weasleys
I really love them in ways that  can not be numbered. My only small quibble with the way they are written is that Fred and George are almost a little too much alike at times, but I like the way the work in sync so it doesn't bother me that much.

The Penderwicks
I love how the Penderwicks are all so different and yet can work together as a unit so well. I am also impressed by the way Birdsall is growing them all up so well, changing them and their relationships in a way that is natural and believable.

Honorable MentionsCollapse )

The Story of the Treasure Seekers

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A review featuring Bit (Bibliophile in Training), age 6

It has been a while since we finished reading The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.  It has taken us quite some time to finish The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit because Bit was not enchanted by it, and things have been rather busy.  You can see Bit's short yet descriptive opinion below.  This was definitely not her thing.
 
The Story
The Ancient  and Noble House of Bastable has fallen on hard times.  Things are not as they used to be.  There is no more silver, nice dinners, pocket money, or even school.  The six Bastable children decide that is it  up to them to restore the family fortunes and become treasure seekers.  They come up with a variety of ways to seek treasure from digging in the back yard to selling poetry to using a divining rod. 

Bit's Thoughts
I didn't like it because it was boring.  I only liked a couple things.  The ending was good.  I like the way they hunt for treasure, but I didn't like that there was no magic.

My Thoughts
I like this book, but I concede it is a terrible read aloud.  I love books about siblings who work together to accomplish a common goal.  The Bastables are a delightful group of children to read about and I enjoy how they stand by each other, squabble, and get into trouble.  They also have a generosity of spirit that is nice to read about.  They are imaginative children and reading their story is in many ways nostalgic. Looking back on it, I think I had the same reaction as Bit when I read this story as a child.  I like it better as an adult.    

What Bit and I are reading next:  Kat Incorrigible by Sephanie Burgis (Bit has been salivating over this one since it arrived in the mail.  It has magic, so the result should be more favorable.)