Book Review: Pinocchio

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
The Adventures of Pinocchio 
by Carlo Collodi

1 out of 5 stars

This is NOT Disney’s Pinocchio. It’s all violence, disaster, cut-throat assassins, hangings, imprisonment, thieves, bullies, greed, murder, more violence, and one ungrateful little puppet. Pinocchio really is a heartless scoundrel. He steals and lies and cheats, and then cries “Woe is me!” when someone steals from him, or lies to him, or cheats him. Well, you got what you deserved, puppet! Continue reading

Book Review: Strawberry Girl

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
Strawberry Girl 
by Lois Lenski

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

I liked this book about a family who moves to a new farm in Florida, during the pioneer days, determined to make the farm a success with a beautiful orchard and strawberry grove.
Birdie is excited to become a Strawberry Girl, but is worried that the disgruntled neighbors will make trouble for her family. When the neighbor’s pigs and cows trample over the new strawberry plants, Birdie’s father is outraged and vows to fence in his property to keep them out. This begins a feud between the two farmers, but the farmer’s children are eager to make friends. Only Birdie and her forgiving mother can make peace between the warring neighbors, and make both farms a success! Continue reading

Book Review: Marvelous Land of Oz

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Marvelous Land of Oz (Oz, #2) 
by L. Frank Baum

2 out of 5 stars on GoodREads
 Tip is a young boy living in Oz, servant to a nasty witch. He fashions a pumpkin head that comes to life, and they travel to the Emerald City to meet the Scarecrow and Tin Man, falling into the middle of a revolution along the way.
I didn’t really enjoy this book, maybe because I listened to it as an audiobook, and I didn’t like the narrator. Usually I love the Oz books, but this one fell flat. The characters are so dry, the jokes aren’t funny, and even the imaginative setting of Oz felt like a rehash of the same old things from every Oz book. Maybe it was the narrator. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this book. Maybe because I’ve been reading the Oz books out of order, so I already knew some of the plot points. It’s a good story, but I somehow couldn’t enjoy reading it.

Book Review: Nurse Matilda

Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

The Brown children are the most ill-behaved, mischievous, naughty little children in all the world, and the only nanny who can possibly control them or teach them any manners is Nurse Matilda. With her magical walking stick, Nurse Matilda teaches important lessons like going to bed when you’re told, not chomping your food, closing doors after yourself, and putting on your best clothes when you’re told. Only the insane magical situations the children find themselves in could possibly teach them to say please and thank you!

I started rereading this one as a way to de-stress and help me fall asleep at night, but then I got so interested in the story that I stayed up late reading it!

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Book Review: On the Far Side of the Mountain

On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
On the Far Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #2) 
by Jean Craighead George

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Sam and his sister Alice are living alone on the mountain, away from the turmoil of civilization. They hike and fish and forage for forest berries and roots, and of course Sam has his falcon, Frightful, to do the hunting. But their peaceful life is thrown into chaos when Frightful is confiscated by government conservation authorities, and Alice disappears into the forest with her pet pig. Sam, heartbroken over the loss of his bird, must lay aside his grief in order to track down his little sister through the treacherous Catskill Mountains.

I loved reading about how Sam and Alice build a plumping mill to make acorn flour, and how they built a dam by watching the beavers. All the little details of their forest life are so interesting and well-described! Continue reading

Book Review: Granny’s Wonderful Chair

Granny's Wonderful Chair by Frances Browne
Granny’s Wonderful Chair 
by Frances Browne

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This is one of my favorite books from when I was a young girl. Fairy tales at their best!

Young Snowflower’s grandmother leaves her alone in the cottage with only an enchanted chair for company. The chair tells wonderful stories and takes Snowflower on a journey to the court of King Winwealth. Each evening Snowflower is called to the court after their feasting, and she asks her magical chair to tell the company a story. The King rewards Snowflower for each story that is told.

In each chapter a different fairytale story is told, and although they follow the classic fairytale structure, they are not common or well-known. Each one is a delight to read!

Book Review: Pigeon Post

Pigeon Post by Arthur Ransome
Pigeon Post (Swallows and Amazons, #6) 
by Arthur Ransome

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Swallows, Amazons, and “the D’s” (Dick and Dorothea) are determined to find gold in the hills above their lake before Captain Flint returns from South America. The young mining company begin camping up in the fells and searching old caves for gold, while a severe drought has the locals worried about potential fires. The children have three homing pigeons that are trained to take messages from their camp back to Mrs. Blackett, letting her know the progress of the fledgling mining company. The Swallows are dismayed to discover that a rival miner, dubbed “Squashy Hat”, is creeping about the fells, spying on their expedition and generally being a nuisance. It becomes a race to find the gold and stake their claim before Squashy Hat can ruin all their plans! But in the end, it will be the pigeons that make all the difference. Continue reading

Book Review: Coot Club

Coot Club by Arthur Ransome
Coot Club (Swallows and Amazons, #5) 
by Arthur Ransome

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads
Dick and Dorothea are determined to learn how to sail on the Norfolk Broads while they are visiting a family friend with a small yacht. Since local boy Tom is getting into trouble with a shipful of rude “Hullabaloos”, they invite him to join them on a journey to southern rivers and teach them to sail on the way. The friends are kept busy dodging the Hullabaloos, racing against the tides, exploring through the broads and rivers, and protecting the delicate birds’ nests that the Hullabaloos are threatening.

Even better the second time (or third time) you read it! Somehow I always come back to this book as one of my favorites; although in this series, they are ALL my favorite really. Every time I read it, I can barely put it down, because there’s always something interesting happening in the plot.

I just adore Dick and Dorothea, and the addition of the intrepid Tom makes for an exciting adventure, along with the redoubtable twin girls, Port and Starboard, and a host of young Coot Club members dedicated to protecting the local bird population. I love every character so much! They are each so original and likeable, and I enjoy seeing how they meet and make friends and immediately plunge into adventures together.

Book Review: Winter Holiday

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome
Winter Holiday (Swallows and Amazons, #4) 
by Arthur Ransome

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads
The Swallows and Amazons are planning a Polar Expedition to the north end of the lake, along with their new friends, Dick and Dorothea. While waiting for the lake to freeze over so they can skate, the explorers spend their time building an “igloo”, climbing the fells to “Greenland”, and sailing the “Fram” through the polar ice. But when it comes time for the great Polar Expedition, a snowstorm threatens to ruin all their plans, and only the intrepid Swallows and Amazons can make it through to the North Pole!

I loved reading this for the second time just as much as the first! I am so in love with the delightful Dick and Dorothea, especially because they are not at all nautical like the Swallows. The D’s have to learn how to tie knots and build campfires, but they have their own strengths too, and their own useful knowledge that makes the Swallows and Amazons appreciate them as friends.

I love the Dorothea is constantly writing stories in her head, and I love that Dick gets so focused on whatever sciencey thing he is analyzing that he forgets all about everything else. Best of all, they fit in well with the rest of the crew, while still retaining their own original personalities.

Brilliant writing, wonderful setting, and lovable characters!

Book Review: Peter Duck

Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome
5 out of 5 stars

The Swallows and Amazons are preparing for a peaceful sail down the Channel, with Captain Flint and their new Able-Seaman Peter Duck, when they are followed and attacked by real life pirates! The pirate captain, Black Jake, is determined to kidnap Peter Duck, who knows the location of a long-lost treasure, buried on Crab Island in the Caribbean Sea. Only the brave Swallows and Amazons, with all their sailing know-how, can bring their ship safely across the Atlantic to search for buried treasure with the evil pirates at their heels.

Just as wonderful reading it the second or third time! There is so much action and adventure, I couldn’t put it down! I love how the story guides you gradually from the everyday business of the ship into the fantastical plot twists, so that you barely notice that the story has taken a wild turn at the end. It all seems so perfectly plausible by the time you get there. Truly brilliant story-telling!

As always, I am completely in love with each and every character! The Walker family are so close to my heart, and the Amazon girls are deliciously full of moxie.
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