100 Chapter Books Read-Along: The Diamond in the Window

One thing about the 100 Best list is that a lot of the books at the bottom made it onto the list by the smallest of margins over books that didn’t. Submissions were done as 1-10 lists and then were weighted by those placement numbers. So, at #97, The Diamond in the Window (1962) by Jane Langton is a book that could have easily been left off the list with another one taking its place. It’s hard to tell sometimes if this means the book is simply less-widely read or if it’s one that only appeals to a specific audience. Looking at a few mentions, some readers seem mesmerized by this story, others call it their favorite book of childhood but I thought it was just okay.

Eddy and Eleanor Hall live with their Aunt Lily and Uncle Fred (brother and sister) in Concord, Massachusetts in a home that is nothing like the staid, white blocks of their neighbors. Though somewhat down-at-the-heel, their home has turrets and stained glass and, unfortunately, hundreds of dollars in unpaid back taxes. If Aunt Lily can’t come up with the money soon, they will all be out in the cold. But there’s a chance that there could be a treasure hidden in the house and Eddy and Eleanor are going to have to solve decades old riddles to find it.

I had mixed feelings while reading this book. I don’t know if it was the heavy focus on the Transcendentalists of Concord (I am *not* a fan of Thoreau) and their philosophies but the story felt somewhat lecture-y in parts. I also didn’t really understand where the magic was supposed to come from. It was implied that people in India can do magic but I don’t know why that was. Still, this book was redeemed by having really great characters who were smart, resourceful and emotionally complex. They were ordinary and extraordinary at the same time, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I don’t see this book appealing universally to kids today but I’m sure it could still find a few fans.

Verdict: Borrow (it’s out of print anyway so you’re going to have to find it at a library!)

I’m not sure if I will continue with this series. I wasn’t totally in love with the writing or the plot but, then again, the characters were fantastic. Have any of you read the rest of this series? Are the other books worth reading?

Next up is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Z and I have been reading it together at bedtime for about the last month. I know a few of you are doing the big HP read-along and have recently finished this one so head on over and chat about it on March 15th!


Schedule – March through June

note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

March 15 – #12 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (1999) — 3rd in a series
March 31 – #83 Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1907) — 3rd in a series
April 15 – #33 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)
April 30 – #9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)
May 15 – #17 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
May 31 – #38 Frindle by Andrew Clements (1996)
June 15 – #58 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930) — 1st in a series
June 30 – #100 Love that Dog by Sharon Creech (2001)

Introducing…The Estella Project

projectIn my and Andi’s attempts to come up with some community-based projects, one thing stuck out in my mind. A reading challenge! One of the first community-based projects I ever saw, almost 8 years ago (!), reading challenges have done more to bring our little community together than anything I can think of.

But, then, what reading challenge hasn’t been done before? There are genre challenges, there are TBR challenges, there are classics, and summer, and fall, and winter, and spring, and weekend, and even one-day challenges (Readathon! Holla!). What could we possibly do?

Then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. We could get YOU to challenge everyone else!

So, basically, what we’re asking for is this: tell us The Book. THE BOOK you would (if you could) put into the hands of every reader, every non-reader, every man, woman, and child on this planet, in this universe, to read. Hopefully, we’ll get hundreds. Actually, hopefully, we’ll get at least 10, since for 2013, we will run this challenge from March to December. For every book you read and review (and it DOES NOT have to be one per month..some months you might knock out none, and other times you might tackle three!), you will be put into the drawing for… well… we don’t actually KNOW yet, but something pretty damn cool. Sometime in December, we’ll draw out a couple of names. And then we’ll start all over again.

Just link your post to the Page we’re going to make here. Soon. Ish.

So, please, fill out this form. Tell us The Book. And WHY. Make a good case for it, because if we pick your book, we’re going to say why they need to read it. Keep it short, like a Twitter Tweet, though, please.

Look for the list on or around March 1st!

Heather & Andi