The Avion My Uncle Flew

I am a boy mama. I love boys. I especially love middle school and teenage boys. I love their curiosity, their creativity, their love of humor, and their sense of adventure. Finding books that speak to the virtues of boyhood is hard these days – but it wasn’t always so. In the golden age of…

The Strange Intruder

As a boy mom, a small part of my regular reading diet includes previewing books that come from trustworthy sources as possible reads for the often difficult-to-please 8-14-year-old boy niche. In this book list article, Diane and I mention that, in our experience as teachers, boy moms, and encouragers of readers, we have learned that…

Leepike Ridge

The podcast version of this book review can be found here. “What poetry does is represent nature.  That can be handy because nature is big and changing and various and hard to look at.  Whereas with somebody with a great eye and a big soul, they could explain it to you.” I heard Dr. Larry…

Last of the Mohicans

This is part of Diane’s Literature Course I Series This summer, about six weeks before school was going to start, I was asked to teach a literature class for a small group of teen girls. “Literature” is a dauntingly broad subject. Where to focus? Based on what some of the students had already read, I decided…

A Tree for Peter

“…Some of you have steady jobs now. Most of you work off and on…there is not one among you who is not a man after me own heart. Kicked around by life you were, sure. Only, I am the cop on the beat and I know that there is not one among you who has…

David and the Phoenix

“You never know what you will find when you climb a mountain…” While he was a student at Berkeley in the 1940s, Edward Ormondroyd had a vision of a “large pompous bird diving out of a window, tripping on the sill, and crashing into a rose arbor below” (from the author’s letter in the Purple…

The Wilderking Trilogy

This spring my family fell in love with The Wilderking trilogy. Much like Narnia or the Shire, the Wilderking books are set in a place that feels romantic and a bit heaven-kissed. Corenwald is a place of physical beauty, vibrant community, traditional values, exotic intrigue, relative peace, and the possibility of high adventure. The fictional…

Books Boys Love

Moms often ask us for book recommendations for their 8-12 year old sons. This particular gender and age reader combination can be challenging for many families. Even if the boys are reading independently, many do not just dive into novels the way that girls seem to. Keeping in mind that boys tend to love “real” things,…

The Mad Scientists’ Club

Bertrand R. Brinley lived a fascinating life. I suggest that readers read this article (written by his son) before proceeding. I think that it will help give some insight into the things that I must say. In short, Brinley’s early life was not dissimilar to that of Louisa May Alcott’s. After a peripatetic childhood (I…

Kavik the Wolf Dog

Kavik the Wolf Dog, by Walt Morey I see by the listing of several of our addresses on the flyleaf in my immature handwriting, that I loved this book between the ages of about 10 and 14.  As I reread it this week, I was struck by how familiar the beginning scenes were.  I wish I…

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer

John Grisham is one of my favorite living authors. He’s one of the few for whom I’ll take a two or three day break from other reading when I hear he’s come out with a new book. He doesn’t exactly qualify, to me, as brain candy, but he’s definitely a brain vacation. Years ago I…

The Black Stallion

What is it about gorgeous black horses that draw men in, set their imaginations on fire, and steal a bit of their hearts? As a child, I knew that horses were regal creatures. Because they are gorgeous, capable of intelligence, posses affection, and have a certain nobility, I was always smitten with horses. Nearly all…

Charlie the Lonesome Cougar

I have been packing around a paperback copy of Charlie the Lonesome Cougar for almost 50 years now.  The title is from a Disney movie that came out in 1967.  I may have watched the movie on a Sunday evening “Wonderful World of Disney.”  Perhaps at a drive-in theater!  In 1968, Scholastic Books published a…

The Incredible Journey

The podcast version of the review can be found here. Today I am bawling into my laundry. My son read The Incredible Journey by Shelia Bunford a few weeks ago and begged me to read it. As I am writing this, I am ignoring the stack of notes I have from ten other books which…

Henry Reed, Inc.

“According to Uncle Al the Princeton area is filled with all sorts of research centers. I didn’t know that the big companies had separate buildings and places where their scientists developed new products, but apparently they do. I guess that’s an example of free enterprise, and I am going to learn more about these research…