Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Emily of New Moon by L.M.Montgomery

I really enjoyed Emily of New Moon because I can empathise with her ambitions, hopes and dreams, I felt in her the same kindred spirit and desire to succeed that is in my all time favourite Anne Shirley. L. M. Montgomery creates people and places that will stay with you whatever age you are and if you're like me she will make you cry buckets so make sure you keep some tissues nearby!

Emily is a passionate head strong dreamer with a stroke of Murray pride. I find her very easy to sympathise with because she is by no means perfect, in fact she is headstrong at times as well as being occasionally unforgiving. There are four of them in the gang Perry, Isle, Teddy and Emily, all of them have big dreams. Perry dreams of being a member of parliament, Ilse wants to be a public speaker, Teddy wants to paint and Emily wants to write. The only problem is Perry is a farm help, Teddy's mother doesn't want him to paint, Ilse's father doesn't love her and Emily is forbidden to write, so they each have to go the long route up the 'alpine path.'

I would strongly advise reading Emily of New Moon as well as Anne of Green Gables even though it is very similar because it is aimed at slightly older children. Emily is really easy to empathise with throughout the book as she struggles to fulfil her potential.  Her character is realistic and as someone who's currently fighting their way through the maze of full time education as well as juggling a million and one extra curriculum activities I can find myself stuck with the same kind of problems Emily gets stuck in, the most common, doubting myself. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Secret Henhouse Theatre by Helen Peters

All they need is a theatre, they have a play, actors everything, but a theatre and that is what they need to enter, then they find the henhouse. Hannah and Lottie are best friends, Hannah helps Lottie with her spelling and Lottie helps Hannah with maths everything seems perfect until... A strange man in a black suite keeps turning up at Hannah's farm, her poem doesn't win and then just as she thinks things can't possibly get any worse their rent blows up, literally. Hannah decides its time for her to take the stage.

Helen Peters creates realistic characters that the readers can empathise with and connect with throughout the book. I felt especially connected to Hannah because I'm very similar to her, I like story writing and acting but I'm awful at maths. The best thing about this book is that it is so realistic and that different characters can relate and appeal to readers in an inspirational way. I have only read this once but I would defiantly read it again.

There is nothing more that I can say about this book without spoiling it for you but it is worth reading. Helen Peters has a beautiful style of writing that makes you feel part of the story, experiencing all of Hannah's troubles and joys.

Little Lord Fauntelroy by Frances Hodgson

Little Lord Fauntleroy is a classic and is well worth reading. At first it might seem a bit 'old fashioned' or maybe even 'dull' but it does get a lot better and it is worth persevering for the ending.

An American boy wakes up one morning and finds out he's an English earl. This comes as a shock because he spends every morning talking to a grocery shop owner who hates earls and England. His grandfather, who hates all American's, finally sends for him to come to England when both of his older sons die leaving Cedric the rightful heir. At first the old earl tries to spoil Little Lord Fauntleroy but he soon discovers that it isn't possible. Not only is Little Lord Fauntleroy the only person to have ever loved the earl but the earl finds himself loving the little boy back. Slowly his heart begins to warm up and all the little things he does for everyone at Cedric's request become things he enjoys and
things he thinks of himself.

When I read this book I was struck at Little Lord Fauntleroy's innocence and love. He was spoilt and petted but that didn't ruin him, he still remembered his mother and the other people around him. He never seems to be cross, or tried, or want his own way, even when his mother is taken away from him and he is forced to live with his grumpy grandfather he doesn't notice but instead looks up to the old man as a father.

One thing that irritated me about this book is that Cedric is so extraordinarily good. He is a perfect child, never getting cross or throwing tantrums, loving everyone he meets. The same sort of character is portrayed in many of the old classics although perhaps not as dramatically. For example Pollyanna, even though she does get into trouble occasionally it's never really her fault, she is usually trying to help someone else. This character can be annoying because 7 year olds aren't usually going to turn down a whole nursery full of toys and give to the poor instead etc.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Little Men by Louisa M. Alcott

Little Men is the third book in a series by Louisa M. Alcott about the March Family. It would
spoil it if I told too much about Little Men so instead I will start with Little Women. Little
Women is a classic and you should ignore anyone who tells you not to read it. You might find the
beginning a little bit dull but stick at it because it really does get better! My mum read me
little Women as a read aloud and we both really enjoyed it. Louisa M. Alcott really manages to
bring the reader into the family, so that you feel you are one of the March family.

There is a film called Little Women that goes through the first two books mainly focusing on the
second book and the love life of the March girls. So if you would like to watch the film and are
also planning to read the book read the book first so that the film doesn't spoil everything.
Because once you have watched the film you won't be able to make up how the characters look or
act any more you will imagine them the way that the film director imagined them.

Good-Bye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton

This is one of those rare times when I must say that the film far outgoes the book, in fact Good-bye Mr. Chips is one of those exceedingly frustrating books that takes only an hour or so to read but when you've finished it you still don't know much about the characters. James Hilton gives only the most important facts of Mr Chips life so that you get a broad overlook but it is so to the point that there is no real emotion. This differs greatly from the film, which dwells more on his teaching days and the loses Mr Chips faces enhancing the emotional value.

I don't want to put you completely off the book, it is worth reading, however, I didn't enjoy it very much and found it a struggle to get through, possibly this was because I had watched the film first and consequently was expecting the same level of emotions.

Good-Bye, Mr Chips is about an old retired teacher who spends much of his time recalling previous events throughout his life in front of the fire. Although the story is continually jumping from past to present showing snippets of his life as a teacher at Brookfield Grammar School and his time in retirement James Hilton manages to display clearly whether it is a memory or Mr Chips in the present. The story is based around World War I with many teachers and students falling on the battle field, whilst, the main character himself remains at the school out living many of his students. The main emotion in this book is when Mr Chips reads out the list of those who died on the battlefield many of whom he remembers personally whilst other younger students and masters have no clue.

James Hilton leaves a lot of room for imagination in his book. He gives the main structure and outline of his story but leaves room for you to fill the gaps with your own imagination. I particularly noticed this when Mr Chips talks about 'his boys' and reads the lists of those who went to war. James Hilton doesn't describe each of the boys and what they did instead he lets us do that bit, all we know is that they are Mr Chips' boys and he remembers every single one of them!

 Looking back at the book now I am glad that I read it but whilst reading it, it can seem a bit dull. All I can say is persevere- it is worth it and I defiantly advise to watch it afterwards because it gives you a better sense of what the book is all about and fills in the gaps of Mr Chips life.

Tennis Shoes by Noel Streatfield

If you read the title and think of shoes, STOP! This book is nothing to do with shoes! You can take it for granted that everyone in this book will be wearing shoes at some point or other but a whole book describing people wearing shoes would be quite boring. No! This book is about tennis! So maybe a better title would be Tennis Racket but this is a good example of not judging a book by its title/ cover.

When I read this book I did not find it as exciting as Noel Streatfields other books, perhaps because tennis is not my thing or maybe because this story isn't as captivating as Noel Streatfields other books but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth reading. The things that happen to Susan, John, David and Nicky are funny, emotional and inspiring, all of which are needed for a believable book.

Susan works hard, John swims, David sings and Nicky doesn't seem to do anything but all of them can play tennis. It all started with a tennis house, not an actual house, a piggybank shaped like a house which they called the tennis house. The money saved up in the tennis house was used for everything the children needed to do with tennis, rackets, tournaments, lessons, etc. and everyone was meant to donate a certain amount per week, even David.

After just recently having got back from Wimbledon I  have a slightly different view of this book and understand why it ends as it does. Competition is hard and to win players need to have a talent, a passion and a will to work hard all three need to go together to be a champion, of course good players can be made from just two or even one of these attributes but to really succeed you need all three. For me tennis was first made exciting when I went to watch it live in Wimbledon, the excitment of the crowds, the fact that the players were only meters away from you and even the silence and the sound of the ball as it moved across the court was exhilarating.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton books are easy to understand and have nice simple vocabulary so if you find reading difficult then these are great to get you started. There are a lot of other books similar to Malory towers for example: Chalet School by Elinor M. Brent- Dyer and St. Claire's also by Enid Blyton. All of these novels are easy reads and are great to read in between reading harder books.  Another reason these are so good to have around is because they can be read in any order which means you don't have to wait until you have all of them to read them, you could pick them up in a charity shop or the library.

Out of all of these Chalet School is probably my favourite because a lot more happens. Unlike any of the other schools the Chalet School is a boarding school up on a mountain and instead of other 'normal' subjects they do things like skiing, ice skating and long walks in the snow. Of course all the schools have their accidents, quarrels and pranks but I think overall Chalet school is the more interesting story.

Enid Blyton has written a lot of mystery, fantasy and action books but she is just as good at writing about a nice settled school. Malory towers has its thieves, bullies and invalideds but this doesn't stop the girls from having fun. Jokes are extremely popular and Alicia, the clown, is always playing new pranks. Midnight feasts occur regularly and a midnight swim seems a good idea, until it ends in complete disaster. St Claire's is very  similar to Malory towers so I don't think I need to say much about it except, watch out for the twins!