Monday, November 30, 2009

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizibeth Goerge Speare

Matt has been left with a big job: taking care of the cabin while his dad gets Mom, the new baby, and Matt's little sister. This historical fiction novel starts off with slightly resigned goodbye when Matt's dad leaves Matt with two gifts: a rifle, that gets stolen by a stranger after Matt's dad leaves, and a watch. When a bear steals Matt's honey maybe two weeks after the parting, Matt climbs a bee-tree and gets stung, only to be saved from drowning in a pond by an Native American, an old man who makes a deal with Matt in return for saving him. Matt teaches the man's grandson who is around the same age as Matt how to read English! They don't really become friends until Matt saves the dog that Attean (the boy) owns, winning Attean's grandmother's respect too, but they go hunting and learning (on Matt's part) together. But then they part for a time while Attean goes out to find his "manitou", the spirit that comes to inhabit him to make him a man and a hunter that Attean believes in.

But the worst is when they say they have to leave. Matt is so sad he almost accepts they're offer to come with and be a brother of Attean, an honor so high for a white boy he can barely believe it, but he has faith that his family will come, so he has to stay. His strength paid off when his family really does come back, minus the baby. It died three days into the journey.

I think this is kind of a morbid ending but it all pretty much ends well, with Matt's family back, and I think the tribe will eventually check on Matt, perhaps three months after the book ends. The entire book spanned for a little less than a year, but three months seems pretty much like when they would come. I just feel like that tribe really is sort of the kind of tribe that would do that.

~Condensed story 2

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman

The Whipping Boy starts off with Prince Horace, fairly aliased 'Prince Brat' by by almost everyone in the kingdom, gluing the wigs of many different nobles to the backs of their chairs. This act prompted the 'whipping boy' to be sent in, a boy who, because it was illegal to whip a prince, got whipped instead. Many months later, the prince, this rebel who is truly a brat, decides to run away. He takes the Whipping boy with him. When they get caught by cutthroats, Jemmy-from-the-streets, the whipping boy, saves both of them. When they escape to the town and go down to the sewers, Jemmy leads the prince. The first time, Prince Brat doesn't even say thanks. But by the escape to the sewers, they are almost friends. Both of them change, both for the better. And though this is kind of cliched, yes, they lived happily ever after.

~Condensed tale 1.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Fledgling

Reading The Fledgling has been a great experience. The characters are deep, believable and quirky and the settings are beautiful and rich. Jane Langton did a great job. I have a definite connection to a character in the story, Georgie: I've always wanted to fly like a bird too. I know this is a Just Right book because I got some of the deepest connections, but I don't think all, though I wouldn't know 'cause I haven't gotten them! Also, there was one word I didn't know, "piebald" which I now know and have mastered use of via the all-powerful college dictionary.

The book starts out with Goergie trying to fly down the stairs. She, in the beginning of the story, can only think about one thing. I think she is a very straight-minded and a "one thing at a time that should be at this time now" kind of person. She really is very delicate but her wanting to fly really over-powers how serious she takes things. Then she meets the mysterious goose who can talk to her. In exchange for friendship, she starts flying, leaving out the window every night and flying with what she calls the "Goose Prince." He (I can't say it) is a really nice person and she learns a lot from him. He is very special to her and she becomes more happy since she really wished she could fly and found she couldn't. But now, she learns how to fly from him. But the plot twisted here. Two specific neighbors are getting suspicious. They are Madam Prawn and her boss, Mr. Preek. The devout and hard-working Prawn thinks she is either a devil or a saint, and is always cautious but trying to find out which, and Preek, only seeing her at night while flying, thinks she is a duck. Eventually he injures her arm with birdshot and her family makes sure that she is not going to go out flying again. Then something terrible happens that changes Goergie completely. Mr. Preek the bank manager kills the Goose Prince. The only thing left to Goergie is a little glittering thing. And she loses it in the confusion.

The solution of this story takes place in a bush. Actually, I find this setting quite satisfying, because in fact she first saw the geese in this very same bush. While playing dols in the little hollow area under the bush she finds a little glittering ball. She immediately knows it's the Goose's 'present' that she never got to see very clearly before. Then at night she looks at it and it turns into a little image of the earth. The book ends with Goergie remembering the last words of the dying Goose Prince. I think I should end my reading response with them too.
"Take care of it..."