100 Chapter Books Project: Anne of Green Gables

anneofgreengables

Of all of the books that I regret not reading as a child that show up on the Top 100 Chapter Books list (and that existed when I was a kid), Anne of Green Gables (1908) by L.M. Montgomery is possibly the one at the top of the list. I actually read it once before this time, about six or seven years ago, but I didn’t remember much about it except that I really did love it. This reading is definitely the one that will stick with me forever.

What it’s about: Anne Shirley is an orphan who is accidentally brought to Prince Edward Island to be adopted by the Cuthbert siblings, Matthew and Marilla. The accident was that they had asked for a boy to help Matthew work the land and so they intend to send her back but, after a day or two of experiencing Anne’s unique way of speaking and of looking at the world, they decide to keep her with them at Green Gables after all. What follows is the growth of an unconventional family, centered around a very unconventional girl.

Age level: Grades 4-7

Best part: Oh, everything. The beautiful descriptions of the land and the seasons of Prince Edward Island, the bosom friendships, the softening of Marilla’s heart — it’s all so lovely.

Worst part: That thing that happens right before the end, you know, the thing that makes you sob and sob? I truly wish that hadn’t happened. I know why it had to but I wish it didn’t.

Verdict: Buy

I really should read the rest of this series and the other ones that Montgomery wrote. There’s part of me, though, that doesn’t like seeing child characters grow up. It’s why I didn’t read The Cursed Child. I know that Anne doesn’t have the easiest path in life and I’m not sure I want to read about it. If you have read the rest of the series or one of the others and you love them, please try and convince me to read them!

One more book to go … #1 on the list, Charlotte’s Web. This is one I have read so many times in my life that it’s probably part of my DNA now. What a pleasant way to end this project!

*****
Schedule – March
March 15 – #1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!

100 Chapter Books Project: Pippi Longstocking

Pippi_Långstrump

I just realized that only two books on the Top 100 Chapter Books list were translated from other languages — The Little Prince and this one, Pippi Longstocking (1950) by Astrid Lindgren.

What it’s about: Pippi is a possible orphan (her mother died and her father washed overboard his ship) so she goes to live in the house her father bought in Sweden, Villa Villekulla. She brings along a suitcase full of gold and Mr. Nilsson, a monkey. She quickly meets the children next door–Tommy and Annika–and they all begin having adventures together.

Age level: Grades 1-3

Best part: Pippi is the best. She does what she wants, she’s generous, she’s strong, and she has her own horse and monkey. She doesn’t think or act like other kids and everyone eventually accepts that. She is fully her own person.

Worst part: There’s some light stereotyping of cultures from around the world but Pippi also admittedly lies about those cultures so kids will likely just group everything into the “lie” category.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

I loved this book as a kid (and the others in the series), I loved it when Z and I read it together a decade ago, and I loved it now. Pippi just makes me smile. She seems simple but she outsmarts everyone who means to do her harm. This isn’t a must-read for any reason but it’s a should read just for fun. It might even help neuro-atypical kids feel empowered.

I’ll be reading Anne of Green Gables for only the second time so I look forward to that next!

*****
Schedule – February through March
February 28 – #8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
March 15 – #1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!

100 Chapter Books Project: The Tale of Despereaux

The_Tale_of_Despereaux

The last modern book that I’m reading from the Top 100 Chapter Books list is The Tale of Despereaux (2003) by Kate DiCamillo. It was originally released with a very long subtitle–Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread–that seems to have been lost with time. The subtitle isn’t even mentioned in Wikipedia or on DiCamillo’s own webpage.

What it’s about: If you happen to get a copy with the subtitle intact, you will automatically know at least some of what this book is about. Despereaux Tilling is a very tiny mouse, born to a French mama in a castle, home to a Princess who lost her mother when a rat fell into her soup and gave her a heart attack. The King subsequently hates rats, bans soup, and makes the castle a rather gloomy place. Also in the castle are rats, a dungeon, and servants, some of whom really miss soup.

Age level: Grades 2-4

Best part: I love how Despereaux can read and is therefore the kindest, gentlest, and most loving of the mice.

Worst part: I just didn’t really like the way things went for Miggery Sow, the servant girl who used to be a slave, sold by her own father for a tablecloth and some other odds and ends. She is made ugly and deaf by repeated hits upside the head but I don’t see why this had to make her dumb and mean. She is somewhat redeemed by the end but even that was a mixed blessing as she ends up back with the father who sold her.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

I thought the book was okay but there was a certain something that was missing, perhaps because the story moves focus between the various characters and so you never get to know any of them very well. Still, there are a lot of good morals to pull out of the story and I think a teacher could really bring the story to life in a classroom.

I am so excited to be reading Pippi Longstocking again! The last time I read it was when Z was a preschooler. Since I’ll be pulling out my big collection volume, I might read more than just the first story.

*****
Schedule – February through March
February 15 – #91 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1950)
February 28 – #8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
March 15 – #1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952)
March 31 – Project Wrap-Up!