100 Chapter Books Project: My Side of the Mountain

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My Side of the Mountain (1959) by Jean Craighead George, unlike my last read, fully deserves its spot on the Top 100 Chapter Books list. I’m very glad too that I read it in the same summer as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

What it’s about: Ten-year-old Sam Gribley can’t stand the city and his crowded apartment (mom, dad and eight siblings) in New York one moment longer and so he runs away to an old family property in the Catskill Mountains. He uses lots of knowledge, a knife, an axe, and some string, and ends up building a home for himself.

Age level: Grades 4-6

Best part: I absolutely loved the way that Sam made the most of his surroundings. He interacted with nature in a most admirable way, using every part of each animal that he trapped and not striking out at any of them in fear or anger. He tried new things and was very brave. I also enjoyed his relationships with the various adults and children he met while in the wild.

Worst part: This book would have been a total “Buy” for me except for the last two pages, where Sam’s parents ruin everything. Though he has been successful in the wild for just almost a year, his parents come and despoil the peaceful natural surroundings just because of what they think other people *might* think about them (not that those people wouldn’t have already been thinking it for the past year!).

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

This book was a pleasure to read. It was so different and yet strangely still similar to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, with children who run away from home, two to the city and one to the woods. It was strange to feel like Sam was safer in the forest than Claudia and Jamie were in New York City. But with a lovely falcon and a surly badger as friends, Sam was quite well taken care of!

I am very excited to finally be reading a book by Avi. I probably wouldn’t have chosen a book with an ocean voyage but I’m in the mood for a historical fiction and I hear his are great!

*****
Schedule – September through November
September 15 – #46 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
September 30 – #55 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
October 15 – #23 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)
October 31 – #36 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
November 15 – #88 The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982)
November 30 – #64 The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois (1947)

Announcing The Dog Days of Summer Readathon!

There are few things Andi and I love more than a great readathon. We host Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon two times a year for that reason! However, we have a hard time getting a lot of actual READING done during Dewey. So, we wanted to have a readathon where we actually get to read with everyone. No strings, no work, just sitting down, all weekend, to relax and read. And what time of year is better than during the Dog Days of Summer? One of the things I miss the absolute MOST about my childhood is setting up camp outside in a cool spot and reading the day away. Summer vacation is made for it!

So, here we go. A whole weekend of reading, the last weekend of summer, to sit and read read read. Hope you’ll join us! Sign up below and let us know if you can! It doesn’t matter if you can camp out with us the whole time or for only an hour!

100 Chapter Books Project: Jacob Have I Loved

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There have only been two of the 63 books that I’ve read so far for the Top 100 Chapter Books list that I disliked enough that I didn’t want to recommend them at all. The first was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Jacob Have I Loved (1980) by Katherine Paterson is the second. I’m happy to see in the comments on the post about this book on A Fuse 8 Production that someone else hated it too. I think those who voted on this book either didn’t remember it well or they could look past the absolutely horrid ending message — not to mention the fact that I really think this is a YA book and not a middle grade chapter book as it dances around the topic of sex a few different times.

What it’s about: Louise is a very angry girl, mad that her twin sister Caroline is talented and pretty and, seemingly, loved more than her.

Age level: Grades 6+

Best part: The writing about the small island in Chesapeake Bay was quite good.

Worst part: Everything else — the characters, the messages, the fact that the main character is probably the worst of the bunch. None of it sat well with me.

Verdict: Skip

So you’re probably wondering what the horrible message was. Louise finally stops being a whiny brat and decides to get her butt off the island and become a doctor. Yet, once she’s in college, she lets some jerky professor tell her that women should be nurses instead and she immediately changes course. Argh! This made me so mad! I already wasn’t enjoying the book but then this was a million times worse than anything else that happened in the story. Blech. What a way to completely ruin a character that was finally being redeemed.

Well, thankfully, I get to move on to a new book! I’ve heard good things about My Side of the Mountain but I honestly don’t know what it’s even about. I hope it really is good!

*****
Schedule – August through November
 
August 31 – #77 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)
September 15 – #46 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
September 30 – #55 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
October 15 – #23 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)
October 31 – #36 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
November 15 – #88 The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982)