Friday, May 23, 2014

Her Father's Daughter

The most well-known authors generally have a gem or two that are not so well known. John Buchan, for instance, can be recognized for his 39 Steps, and Charles Dickens for Oliver Twist. But some of their best works, likes Buchan's Prester John and Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit, have been all but left behind on dusty old library shelves.

The same holds true for Gene Stratton Porter. Freckles is dearly beloved. (If you love the Irish, that is.) A Girl of the Limberlost probably edges out Freckles as far as fame and fortune go. Even Laddie and The Keeper of the Bees are fairly familiar to people who love her works.

But one of her dearest works, and best done, is one that I can't say I ever hear discussed. It's called Her Father's Daughter, set in post-WWI California; and if I could own only one of Porter's works, I think I might choose this over Freckles.

Good thing I can own more than one. :)

The Book
Linda Strong is passionate about carrying on her father's love for nature. Whenever highschool seniors tease her about the shoes she wears, or she takes her friend Donald out in her Bear Cat so they can talk about how to beat the Japanese student in his class, something her father taught her is sure to come up the conversation. 

Before her daddy died, he took her tramping all over the Californian deserts near their house, and taught her to know and love the plants and wildlife there. Now, in honor of him, she continues her work alone, and writes anonymously for a well-known newspaper, with articles about how to find and prepare the foods they discovered in the wild. She's missed her father deeply, in the years since the car brakes malfunctioned and he and her mother died in a crash with her best friend's parents. With a big older sister siphoning most of the household allowance for personal use, and her friend Marian selling her place and moving away, Linda Strong has a lot on her eighteen-year-old shoulders, and she figures it's about time for a change. A fair allowance, for a start, so she can start dressing like a young woman instead of a lanky adolescent; and enough money to renovate a room in their house for a decent workspace of her own.

Then Peter Morris comes to town, a friend of Eileen's fiancé, with the intention of building his first house. Linda likes him; he's an author, and he seems to be a thinker as well. As she helps him choose a spot for his house and designs the gardens and grounds around it, their friendship blossoms into a beautiful camaraderie of two dominion-minded souls, and she starts becoming the beautiful woman her father wanted her to be.

But Linda's youthful naivety coupled with her knack for writing doesn't always turn out to be the wisest combination. She starts writing 'friendship' letters based off of Peter Morris, and sending them as an anonymous admirer in an endeavor to cheer Marian up. Things get worse when Marian is disqualified in an architecture design competition because her plans are almost duplicates of the winner's, and she turns heavily to the letters for comfort. Linda, knowing that the design was Marian's own, sets out to prove someone stole it from her, and finds evidence that leads her to suspect that Peter Morris took the plans.

As Linda gets nearer and nearer her eighteenth birthday, Eileen grows more secretive about the household affairs, and when the day of reckoning comes, doesn't show up to divide their income evenly. And Donald, Linda's best friend in highschool, discovers that the Japanese student he's competing with is more serious about leading the class than they at first supposed, and will do anything to stop him from coming out first.

My Thoughts
By far, what I love most about this book is Linda's love for her father. Even after his death she honors his preferences, values his work, and seeks to grow in a way that would be pleasing to him. As she interacts with other men and women, her father's legacy is implanted firmly in her heart, and cannot be dimmed or forgotten. Even in the tension with her sister, Linda keeps in mind what her father would have wanted.
Porter doesn't pit one sister against the other and make one triumph in a power-grabbing kind of way; they each are faced with choices on how to interact with the other, and Linda's behavior is a powerful example of how to stand up against manipulation with integrity and graciousness. Without giving away the story, Porter is big on reconciliation and family unity, and Linda finds a way to declare truce so that she's not constantly at war.
The only negative elements in the story are several instances of profanity, and elements of racial prejudice against the Japanese. Some people hate this book because of Linda and Donald's fierce desire to get the Japs out of their school. That plotline never occurred to me as a problem until I started reading all the negative reviews on Amazon. But I think the prejudice against Japan is an honest portrayal of the pain Americans felt after the recent war, and a valuable part of the story. Linda and Donald are passionate about keeping America free, and protecting her from subtle invasions as well as open ones, and that affects their view of the enemies who had so recently fought against their country.
Another element I love is how Linda, though tragedy has deprived her of her parents, still has many wise counselors around her. From her elderly Irish cook Katie, to her new author friend Peter, to her wise young friend Marian, Linda doesn't lack for good advice; and though she's young and makes mistakes, she has a tender heart towards good counsel and isn't too proud to admit when she's wrong. Another refreshing aspect of this book is Linda's relationship with young men. Constantly contrasted throughout the book are her older sister's choices to flirt and manipulate, and her choice to work alongside, dialogue with, and build them up.
Linda is a wonderful example to young women of how they can be entrepreneurial and have a heart for the home. From beginning to end, her deepest desire is to see families rise up and grow into strong and healthy American citizens. She's a proponent for houses full of babies, and making cozy homes. But within that context, she uses both her writing and her love of nature to work for the betterment of every family who reads her articles. She combines family and dominion in a grand and glorious way that is a trademark of Porter's novels.

If you have a Kindle, or a Kindle app on your laptop, you can pick up a no-frills version of Her Father's Daughter for free on Amazon. I highly recommend getting a copy.

I'm going to take a break from blogging next week to rest up and enjoy reading some vintage novels. I will see you all back on the 3rd of June!

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Around the Vendor Hall

We all had a grand time at our state homeschool convention this weekend; talking with friends, listening to speakers, refreshing the vision, and of course--walking around the vendor hall. You wouldn't believe it, but there were quite a few books in there, and you wouldn't believe it, but we came home with some of them. ;) So today, I'd like to take you on a little tour of what we got, and if you're in need of book inspiration, or a fresh title to look up, then perhaps you'll find a suggestion or two here.

I will start off with the disclaimer that I have not read all of these books, and so cannot vouch for their complete comment. However, we got them expecting them to be resources and books our family lines up with, so I feel pretty safe mentioning them here. You will hopefully see book reviews in future with some of these books featured more in depth!

The Great Books Reader
I only bought one book this time, but I was excited to pieces about it (still am, in fact). It's called The Great Books Reader edited by John Mark Reynolds, a book with 'excerpts and essays on the most influential books in Western Civilization'. Containing excerpts from twenty-eight influential authors, this 600 page tome teaches you how to objectively critique them to sharpen your thinking, and ultimately leads you to a deeper understanding of Christ. Not all of the authors are Christian, nor does Reynolds claim that all of them are good--at least three are not at all Christian--but the majority of them are Bible-believing men and women (Isaac Newton, Edmond Spenser, John Wesley, Jane Austen, John Calvin). They are all divided into chapters with excerpts and essays to guide both questions and conclusions. The purpose of looking at these authors is to see why they influenced society, and then in turn compare that influence with the truth of God's Word. This book  doesn't dictate what you should think about these authors. Its goal is to help the reader be discerning for themselves. But it offers necessary guidance, and the introduction I've read so far is smashing.

I'll admit that this book excites and scares me at the same time, but I'm looking forward to seeing if it is as good as it seems promising. I might select read at first with the authors I trust, and then see how it goes from there, praying for discernment and that God would guard and guide my thinking as I do. It's an experiment, but it looked to be one worth trying.

H. Rider Haggard--Selected Novels
We love Haggard novels. Old historical fiction, romance, action, deep food for thought, heart-pounding excitement. All the ingredients for a wonderful reading experience. I've already reviewed Lysbeth, Pearl Maiden, and The Brethren, but Christian Liberty Press has re-written others as well. This weekend they had knock-down deals at the convention, and we added Queen Sheba's Ring (an African adventure novel), King Solomon's Mines (another African adventure novel), and The Lady of Blossholme (set in the time of Henry VIII) to our collection.
That in itself was exciting--but I also got to speak with the man who edited the Haggard novels, Mr. Michael J. McHugh. A well-read and thoughtful man, we talked for a while about the books and Haggard in general. He told me his favorite Haggard book was Lysbeth--because it illustrates what
happens when a nation does not have religious freedom. That was surprising to me, but I could see his point, and when he asked me what my favorite novel was, I told him out of the three I read I thought most likely it would be The Brethren.
Mr. McHugh also told me a little about Haggard from a biography he was reading (and I fear I neglected to get the title, so please forgive me.) Apparently, Haggard vacillated a great deal in his life between orthodox theology and some disturbing side paths. You see this reflected throughout his literature. Some of it is splendid--other novels are highly disturbing, including She and the sequel Ayesha which we also discussed together. Mr. McHugh said that he has gone through Haggard's novels, and the ones that Christian Liberty Press currently carries are probably the last he will be able to glean from Haggard's works.

This was one of my favorite conversations in the vendor hall. Mr. McHugh was very kind, especially when we found out my mom and I had bought the same books within minutes of each other, and I took one set back. I felt badly after our conversation, but Mr. McHugh suggested we buy The Lady of Blossholme to make up for it. We were very easily persuaded. :)

Todd Wilson's Homeschool Comic Books
Ok, so actually I've read all four of these books in their entirety. It takes less than ten minutes and you're just roaring with laughter the entire time. These probably won't make sense unless you homeschool, but for all you homeschoolers out there, these are a must-have on your shelf. For the day the kids are screaming, one math problem takes a whole hour, and you feel like you have the messiest, most unorganized life of the lot. You're not alone, and you can laugh about it. You really can. We quote these comics on a regular basis, and if you're wondering what kind of redeemable value they have, they've diffused more than one tense moment--and that's worth getting them for. Need persuasion?

You can find more on Pinterest. :)

Israel Wayne--Questions God Asks
While I haven't read this book yet either, we did hear Israel's spoken messages on this topic, and they were wonderful. I'm sure the book will be as well. A lot of times we ask God questions--but how many times do we stop to note the questions God asks people in Scripture? And why does He ask humans questions in the first place if he already knows all things? Well, God asks questions for our benefit, and there are several key questions of His that expand our knowledge of the Bible, God's character, and ourselves. The questions asked to such people as Cain, Job, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others are sure to make you think of Scripture in a way you hadn't thought before. Israel Wayne is refreshingly real, biblical, and honest. He makes you think, but he also makes thinking accessible, and we were quite excited to get this book. I think he's like the men of Issachar. He understands the times in which he lives.

Todd Friel--It's (Not) Greek to Me
If you've never watched Todd Friel's Wretched show or listened to his radio show, you've missed a treat. The first time we heard him, we thought "He's actually speaking the truth!" (He was on one of our liberal Christian television channels, hence our skepticism.) As we looked into who he was, we found he actually does speak the truth--and speaks it well. A stand-up comedian until he was saved, Todd mixes a fantastic dose of satire in with his theological teachings and church commentary. How excited we were to find that he has a Greek study, because when you can have fun learning, then you're much more likely to remember things. We've watched two lessons, and already laughed and learned. Biblical Greek is important for any Christian to know--because that's the language God gave us his Word in, and the English words don't always give the original intended meaning. This DVD seems to be an easy and non-threatening learning format so far.

These are our finds at the vendor hall this weekend, and if you've read any of these books, I would love to know what you think of them! Fun, informative, and food for thought--the best of all worlds.

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Legends of Finn MacCool

“I saw a house by a river’s shore,
famed through Erin in days of yore,
I saw to the south a bright-faced queen,
With couch of crystal and robe of green.”

I have some writing friends who are very nice to keep me supplied with stories. They've introduced me to Sutcliff, and very recently, lover of all things Irish that I am, one of them introduced me to Finn MacCool. He's the Robin Hood of Ireland, the King Arthur of Eire, and his Fianna can equal the Knights of the Round Table--or perhaps edge them out. Because as fine and grand as English legend is, the Irish fuse legend with soul-glory in a way that the British simply can't touch. Finn MacCool and his Fianna (the band of warriors) star in a collection mighty exploits, none of which are real, but which have been handed down through Ireland's generations and re-written time and time again.

What better way to meet this epic hero than through Rosemary Sutcliff's beautiful retellings?

I'm new to the whole realm of legends and myths. I didn't read a lot of them growing up, and I'm still rather wary of them. So when I review this book today, I'm actually still thinking about it, and I haven't reached a conclusion one way or another. But I think it's sometimes fruitful to review books and clarify my thoughts by explaining them to others, and that's what I hope to do today. If you love Ireland and old legends, you'll probably love Sutcliff's Legends of Finn MacCool. If you don't love legends in the first place--well, this book probably won't be the one to make you fall in love with them. 

The Book

It was told of [Finn] that his sense of justice was so sure and so unbreakable that if he had to give judgment in a quarrel between a stranger and his own son, he would be as fair to the stranger as to his son--and as fair to his son as to the stranger. It was told of him that he was so generous that if the leaves falling from the trees in autumn were gold and the foam on the salt sea waves was silver, Finn would give it all away to any who asked him. It was told of him also that he had another side, a dark-of-the-moon side, and could forgive an injury, laughing, but knew also how to nurse an old hate through the years, to the death of the man he hated.
~The Legends of Finn MacCool, Sutcliff

 When the great Irish warrior Cumhaill, captain of the Irish Fianna warriors, was killed in battle, his enemies took over the leadership of his men, and his wife fled to raise his baby son in the safety of the wilderness. The baby's name was Finn, and in our English way of writing Irish names, he is now called Finn Mac Cool instead of Finn Mac Cumhaill.

Finn grew up in the wilderness learning the art of war and leadership; and when he had grown and was ready to win back the position that rightfully belonged to him, he journeyed to the High King at Tara and demanded his birthright of Captain of the Fianna. Goll mac Morna, his father's killer, endeavored to laugh him off, but the king heard his plea and gave him a test.

For twenty-three years, an evil enemy of Tara, Aillen, had lulled the assembled guests to sleep and then burned the castle to the ground once a year. The Fianna could not stand against his music, and the High King set the price that if Finn could keep the thatch on Tara on the night of her impending destruction, then he could have back the leadership of the men his father led so many years ago.

Eager for his heritage, vowing to conquer, Finn took up his father's shield and spear to stand watch, and killed Aillen, so that Tara stood unscathed throughout the night. Goll mac Morna, his father's slayer, was forced to make way and join the ranks of the men under Finn.

It was thus that Finn Mac Cool won back his heritage. But that was only the beginning, for then he had to make good on his word to keep his beloved Ireland free from invaders without and treachery within.

And it would truly cost this Captain of the Fianna everything he held dear to remain faithful to his trust.

My Thoughts

via Pinterest

"I have kept the thatch on Tara," Finn said.

There are many stories of Finn's exploits, just like there are many stories of the Knights of the Round Table. My favorite excerpts from Sutcliff's retellings were the tale of Diarmid and Grania, (about Finn's feud with his most loyal warrior over a beautiful princess) the Tale of Finn's Boyhood (how he kept the thatch on Tara all night. Glorious stuff.)  and the Hostel of the Quicken Trees. I loved the Hostel of the Quicken Trees most of all. When Finn and several of his warriors were imprisoned, about to be surrounded by a horde of men, and unable to call for help, his two sons held the ford against the enemy and laid down their lives for their father most valiantly.

But by far, the most glorious, epic story of them all was the Battle of Gavra, the last stand of Finn and his Fianna. Don't read that one until you've read a few others. You want to be fully acquainted with Finn first. And most of all, don't read ahead. The story is deeply moving when read in its proper sequence

Diarmid O'Dyna was my favorite man of the Fianna. Brave, strong, principled, the essence of sacrificial love and loyalty, he's definitely a warrior you want on your side. Oisin, Finn's son, was another favorite, along with warm-hearted Osca, his grandson.
Now for legends in general.

If you're comfortable with King Arthur, you'll love Finn. If you're a little leery of King Arthur, you'll find the exact same things to be leery about here.

Finn's stories have pathos and love, sacrifice and friendship, fostering and family and hearth fires. They have battle and glory and dedication, hard work, brotherhood, undying loyalty, and affection. These are themes that any Christian can take delight in and see as good things from God. All good stories, or all good elements in stories, come from God himself, for He is the source of all good.

But Sutcliff's retellings also include other things that aren't so glorious. Some things are just plain odd. This is one of those books where selective reading is probably the best way to handle it--pick out the good, read it, rejoice in it, and let your soul glow with the last stand of the men of the Fianna. And then when you come to the pages about fairies dancing spells around pools of water--it's up to your personal convictions whether you'd prefer to skim or whether you'd like to read those parts too. There is no explicit magic detail; Sutcliff tells it gently and thoughtfully. But you can't get away from the fairy detail altogether.

If anything, the legends of Finn are like any other author--Tolkien, Lewis, Spenser--they have elements that make you laugh and cry with sheer wonder, and others that leave you with a raised eyebrow wondering "Why did they put that in?"

I chose to read Sutcliff's stories of Finn for several reasons. First of all, her version does not contain gods and goddesses; that would have been farther than I was comfortable taking it at present. It had some fantasy elements, definitely, but they were within my boundary line. Actually, part of the thing to realize about Finn is that he lives with his men in pre-Christian Ireland, and therefore, lives in a culture of bondage. They believe in superstition because the gospel has not yet reached their land, and they have darkness, yet time and again you see God's law of right and wrong written on their hearts, and the Fianna are blessed or destroyed as they keep or break that law.

Second, I wanted to get a basic introduction to Irish culture. It seemed appropriate, as part of their history, just like it's appropriate to be familiar with Arthur and Robin Hood, who have so fundamentally shaped British culture. These stories wouldn't endure for so long if there wasn't a reason to make them last, and it is through the legends or stories of a people that you learn what they love and value most. In the legends of Finn MacCool, I see a culture longing desperately for a mighty king and savior. Oftentimes authors create in their stories what they are missing in real life, and these unevangelized Irish people were writing stories about a Captain who could lead them to peace and happiness. Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation and the King of Kings, but they didn't know that, and so they created a misty shadow of what they needed until Patrick came with the real Gospel and the real King to set them free.

And thirdly, I wanted to use it as a springboard to start the conversation with friends of how Christians should view legends. For the purposes of today's post, I'm defining legends and myth as ancient stories of mighty deeds, that may contain some fantasy elements.  The discussions have been fruitful, and I'm glad for them. Not everyone may get the same benefit out of Finn MacCool; some may get much more than I did. That's for you to wrestle out for yourself, looking to Scripture for guidance.

Legends still exist because we long to be creators. Many people write stories about the world that already exists, but legends allow humans to make something new. Taking the material that God places in our minds and hearts that is fresh and awe-inspiring and goes straight to the heart and soul. We want to imitate our Father--and even those who don't know their Heavenly Father still are created in his Image with some of the same characteristics. Creation is something imprinted on everyone's heart, an inescapable part of humanity. Granted, those who don't know God can only create flawed legends at best, and even those who do know the Lord still are subject to error. And that is why we must sift and sort and evaluate that which is good and that which is not according to our foundation, the Word of God.

I could go to greater length into the nitty-gritty of reading legends. But there are others who can cover legends much better than I can, and I hope to be revisiting the knotty whys and wherefores of this subject in future. For now, this was my second introduction to Sutcliff and my first introduction to some ancient Irish culture. Both were beautiful; and someday I want to read them again.

And Finn turned about and saw them all round him, closing in with spears raised to strike; and he knew that the end was come. He let his shield that could not face five ways at once drop to his feet, and stood straight and unmoving as a pillar-stone....~The Legends of Finn MacCool, Sutcliff

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Place of Quiet Rest

Every afternoon we read together for half an hour. It's a tradition we've kept up ever since my siblings and I were wee things, and we've read everything from Dickens to Montgomery to Stevenson to Milne. We've read swashbucklers, theology, biographies--even Economics in One Lesson. Most of the books were treasures. A few didn't quite hit the mark. But we've enjoyed this time, and guarded it fiercely over the years.

The book we just read would definitely make it to my top ten favorites. It's a non-fiction, actually. And it's a book about how to have a devotional life: A Place of Quiet Rest, by Nancy Leigh Demoss. Whether you're busy and skip devotions half the time, or whether you've done them every day of your life and they've become rather mundane, this book was written with both types in mind.

And it is my great pleasure to share it with all of you today.

The Book
From the back cover:
The God of the universe created us for fellowship with Himself! We realize this and even long for that sweet intimacy with God, but it often seems so out of reach. Yet even in the busyness of daily life, we hear those whispers calling us, drawing us to sit at Jesus' feet.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss demystifies the process of coming to know God intimately. In A Place of Quiet Rest she shares from her heart and life how a daily devotional time can forever change your relationship with Jesus. She addresses the common frustrations and pitfalls most of us encounter in our devotional life, and makes practical suggestions for overcoming them. Nancy gives us the encouragement--and tools--to seek after God for a lifetime.

My Thoughts
Nancy's teachings, whether written or spoken, are always like a drink that quenches soul-thirst. She feeds women spiritually through her ministry, and doesn't offer sugary, watered down teaching. It's true bread and true water, because it comes straight from the Bread and Water of Life, and it reaches to the very hungriest, thirstiest corners of women's souls. This book about true devotional life was no exception. Some of it was challenging--the section about God using devotions to convict concerning sin was hard to face. But the challenging was truthful challenging, and grace and love permeated every section, whether convicting or comforting.

Our family doesn't often sit down and discuss a book with just the girls, and this was a new experience for us, but we loved it. Sometimes it's good just to have a heart-to-heart women's talk, and every day when we answered the study questions we enjoyed looking at them from that perspective. Mother-daughter question and answer times are wonderful for sharing hearts with each other. The structure already in the book made us feel safe, and I would highly recommend reading and discussing this book with a sister, a mom, or someone else in your family.

I've done consistent devotions for the last 13 years. (Don't be overwhelmed. Our family is strongly built on routine and habit.) But the difference between doing devotions and having fellowship with the Lord is huge. I knew there were lots of other people who missed many more days than I did, but who used the time they did manage to get to seek God's heart instead of check another thing off a list. I craved that, and this book helped me to better understand how I could develop that mindset too.

The thing that most awed me in reading A Place of Quiet Rest was that, yes, God wants me to desire fellowship with Him, but He also desires fellowship with me. The thought had never occurred to me before--that He wanted to know my heart as well as to have me seek out His. Devotions had always been about me giving the right things and saying the right words, and I never understood that it's a two-way street, and God wants to give to me during that time as well.

You cannot have intimate fellowship with someone if you don't think they take a concurrent interest in you likewise. For instance, when you meet a CEO of a corporation or a famous ministry leader, and talk with them, very likely you're not having fellowship. You're trying to act smart and carry on a conversation that you hope will impress them. But when you get together with close friends, you're secure in the knowledge that they love and take an interest in you, and you're not so keen about putting on an impressive façade. The same holds true in fellowship with God. We can't have fellowship with Him if we only see Him as a far-removed, Infinite Being, and forget to see Him as our Savior, our Bridegroom, and our Refuge.

The difference between Christianity and other religions is that our God is a personal God. He cares about people individually as well as corporately, and He is our Friend and our Shepherd as well as our Lord and our Ruler. And the beauty and wonder of Christianity is that God's fellowship with frail and sinful humans doesn't diminish His holiness or supremacy one jot.

Once I understood this concept--well, perhaps not understood; I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it--once I heard this concept from Nancy's book, I felt my devotions slowly changing. I wanted to talk to the Lord instead of considering it a duty. I felt my heart seeking Him more throughout the day, just to be with Him. I was more honest with Him, instead of giving carefully worded requests that were pretty basic and generic. And in His Word, day after day, I found fresh verses that said the Lord desired me. Confirmation after confirmation.

Perhaps this sounds incredibly selfish on paper--but I think those who know what it's like to look at our relationship with God mainly as what we can give to Him will get what I'm trying to say. It's the stunning realization that God doesn't just want a percentage increase out of us to make his Son's life worthwhile--but that he thought the investment was good and worthwhile in the first place, and He deeply loves the souls he invested in.

A wonderful and awe-inspiring truth.

If you want to breathe fresh life into your devotional time with the Lord, or if you just want a little bit of soul nourishment, check out A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh Demoss. It will explain, convict, challenge, and encourage, and it's worth owning your own copy. A five star book.

We ladies have been deeply blessed by Nancy Leigh Demoss's Revive Our Hearts ministry. Check out her website where you'll find her newest radio show series called The Wonder of His Name--31 Names of Jesus. Whether you're familiar with her, or new to her teaching, I hope you enjoy these resources.

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, May 9, 2014

Literary Vlog Tag! (Part 2)

Hello, folks!
We are pleased to present parts three and four of this literary vlog tag. We had great fun shooting it together, and we hope it proves amusing! Special thanks to Junior B for taking time to help me with this project. :)

Lady Bibliophile

Monday, May 5, 2014

Literary Vlog Tag! (Part 1)

Hi friends and fellow bibliophiles!
I am getting up very early tomorrow to work elections, so I am posting my blog post tonight. :) You are welcome to read it early or save it for the usual day.

Junior B and I are back with a vlog interview, taken from the 55 questions literary blog tag. Because there are so many questions, we've split the interview into four parts, and are posting two parts today and two parts Friday. This time, instead of putting the bloopers at the end we are presenting it as it was originally shot. We hope it makes you smile! :)

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Magic Pudding (Guest Post)

Today it is my pleasure to host a book review by Junior Bibliophile! I enjoyed her article, and I know that all of you will as well. She is discussing Norman Lindsay's Australian book, The Magic Pudding, which offered our family great amusement. So without further ado, I will hand it over to Junior B! :)
Hello, my fellow bibliophiles! I haven't posted around here since September, except for a vlog with Lady B. *gasp* And to make sure every bibliophile does not remember me as a Shameless Blogger Hacker right up there with Spotted and Herbaceous Backsons, I suppose I should come on again for a nice, amusing book review.
A book review, my dear friends, about a pudding.
The Book
The Puddin'-Owners Anthem
"The solemn word is plighted,

The solemn tale is told,

We swear to stand united,
Three Puddin'-owners bold.
"When we with rage assemble,
Let puddin'-snatchers groan;
Let puddin'-burglars tremble,
They'll ne'er our puddin' own.
"Hurrah for puddin'-owning,
Hurrah for Friendship's hand,
The puddin'-thieves are groaning

To see our noble band.
"Hurrah, we'll stick together,
And always bear in mind
To eat our puddin' gallantly,
Whenever we're inclined."
Bunyip Bluegum, the koala bear, lives with his Uncle Wattleberry in a little tree house. Bunyip is a fine, round, splendid fellow, while his uncle has red whiskers and that's all you can see of him. Any polite gifts of razors or boxes of matches to burn the whiskers off will just make Uncle Wattleberry go off on a long rant about how noble whiskers dignify the face. The whiskers are really a big nuisance--especially at dinner time when Bunyip has to sit outside on a branch and share his lunch with the lizards.
So if you can't fix your problems, the best thing to do is to run away.
And Bunyip takes his uncle's walking stick and sets off to see the world. All is going well, as Bunyip is a graceful bear, and loved by everyone he meets, but, alas! One cannot enjoy life if one did not have the foresight to bring any food along.
"No joy it brings

To have indeed

A lot of things

One does not need.
Observe my doleful plight.
For here am I without a crumb
To satisfy a raging tum----
O what an oversight!"
Fortunately for Bunyip and the rest of the story, he meets up with Bill Barnacle, the sailor, and Sam Sawnoff, the penguin, eating Puddin'.  But this is not just an ordinary Puddin'. It's a cut-an'-come again Puddin'. A Christmas steak and apple-dumpling Puddin'. A Puddin' that is soothed when you call him Albert. A Magic Puddin'.
But greedy pudding thieves, in the form of a Wombat and a Possum, are always lurking near and pulling tricks to capture Puddin’. After several rousing escapades they manage to get the law involved, in which case, Puddin’ may be lost forever.
My Thoughts
Magic Pudding Statue in Melbourne--Photo Credit
I loved the illustrations in this book-they really made the story. And since they were by the author himself, he knew exactly what he wanted the characters to look like. It's an Australian book so it has all the Aussie humor in it to make it have a wonderful zip. I enjoyed meeting the different Australian animals that are not so common around here (after all, we do not have kangaroos eating from our gardens! :-O) Also, rousing rounds of “Ho, Aboard the Salt Junk Sarah”  were quite amusing.
The funny thing is, even though this is a book for children, adults might do better with it because of a great deal of situational ethics.

But the author handled them brilliantly.
Not for the situational ethics themselves, but, my fellow bibliophiles, for the simple fact of a kangaroo court.

Definition of a Kangaroo Court
1. a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted
Norman Lindsay did a good job of incorporating this idea into his story. When Puddin’ gets arrested, the Puddin’ owners decide to hold their own mock trial complete with witnesses and criminals (naturally the Puddin’ thieves.) I’ll admit, Bill Barnacle does make a pretty good judge. :) And when you read the story with a kangaroo court in mind, you’ll see why the author handled it so well.
My personal favorite character was Bunyip, even though I'd have to say Puddin' ranked up there too. Bunyip always had a speech ready to console his friends and stir them on to avenge themselves on the Puddin' thieves. He also was very smoothed-tongued in a court of law. Ahem. But I'll let you read the book to find out how that turned out.
I enjoyed a lovely couple of days chasing pudding thieves with Bunyip and Co. and Lady B and I thought it was so funny that we read it out-loud together with Mother B and laughed uproariously. If you have just read a Very Long and Boring book or are recovering from a Very Sad and Tragic book, I highly recommend that you get The Magic Pudding. It is a soothing balm for such wounds.  
Ho aboard the Salt Junk Sarah!
Junior B.
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