SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT by Donald Miller: A Review

This is a book I read during Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and finished the next day.

In an effort to read more non-fiction this year, I turned to inspirational books.

This author lists seven inspirational .books they enjoyed, and I thought I’d do the same.

Searching is the first of seven books I hope to read by the end of 2021 that could be classified as “inspirational.” The author declares that “…small-minded, boxed-in formulas of modern religion…” may not be the TRUTH. In a dozen-to-earth, frank manner, Miller addresses the reader who may have “felt that Jesus is someone you respect and admire–but Christianity is something that repels you.” Using strong words as “repel,” and sometimes outrageous language, Miller’s creativity in presenting his version of Christianity mirrors that of Anne Lamott or other non-traditional inspirational writers. The book has been called “one of the evangelical book market’s most creative works” by Christianity Today.

My favorite chapter (as a Lit major) is “The Gospel of Jesus: Why William Shakespeare Was a Prophet.” Miller presents the concept of salvation through a careful analysis and comparison to the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. His parallels are outstanding and his originality of thought and pen are amazing. This is definitely an author I’ll read again!

A NEW CHALLENGE: More New York Interest

MY MARCH (VIRTUAL) TRIP TO NYC CAUSED ME TO FALL IN LIVE WITH THE BIG APPLE.

Many thanks to those of you who went along on my virtual four-day-trip to NYC (Virginia, that means you, dear.) and to Jay of This is My Truth Now, one of my favorite bloggers, who “played along” and met me at the New York Public Library one of those days. I had a glorious time taking virtual tours and looking at pictures of all New York has to offer.

The Big Apple

Specifically, I fell in love with the city and my delight with it was enhanced by reading a gift book from Deb Nance of Readerbuzz, who lives in the same town as I and started me on the path to blogging back in 2016.

This tiny book contains the “…finest portrait ever painted of the city at the height of its glory,” according to Russell Baker.
E.B. White, one of my writing gurus, whose writing manual, Elements of Style, I have used over the past 50 years as a textbook, both for myself and for my students.

This tiny volume has a big impact on understanding New Yorkers and what New York means to them. It covers the summer of 1948 and is a “perceptive, funny, nostalgic” essay that speaks “eloquently about what lasts and really matters…” The New York Times awarded it the honor of being “one of the 10 best books ever written about [NYC].” This edition was published on the 100th anniversary of E.B.White’s birth, 1999. His style is AMAZING, something I, as a writing teacher, have often attempted to emulate. The introduction by Roger Angell is, alone, worth the cost of the book for anyone interested in New York.

Reading Here is New York made me want to read more about the fabulous city, so this summer, I will take on the “New York Summer Challenge”, attempting to read four books either set in or about New York. This may turn out to be a real feat considering that I will be teaching summer school (online) and the regular fall semester begins after the middle of August. I am excited and hope you are too. Join in with me; agree to read four New York Books by August 31st.

THE BOOK CHARMER by Karen Hawkins: A Review

This 2019 publication is an “unforgettable story about a sleepy southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.” When I saw this “teaser,” I definitely wanted to read the book. Anything that is about the magic of books is right up my alley.

Sarah Dove is the librarian of Dove Pond, North Carolina’s public library, a member of the town’s founding family, The Doves, and the “charmer” mentioned in the title. Dove Pond “has seen better days,” in fact, is dying, and Sarah is looking for someone to save it. The books, who have “spoken” to her since childhood, tell her that savior has arrived.

Enter Grace Wheeler, a “displaced city girl.” Is she the savior that Dove Pond so desperately needs? Can Grace rescue Dove Pond? Does she even want to? Known to some as “The Dragon Lady,” Grace moves into town with her foster mother, “Mama G” and her niece, Daisy in tow, on the same block as Sarah, and right next door to Trav, an unlikely love interest. With this mix and the town’s resentment of Grace as city manager, fireworks are bound to happen!

LISTENING FOR MADELINE by Leonard S. Marcus: A Review

In January, 2021, I started a personal project to read “all things by and related to Madeline L’Engle. So far I have reread and reviewed on PWR what I thought of as “the Wrinkle in Time trilogy,” only to discover there were two more books about the Wallace family. Also I read a biography by L’Engle’s granddaughters and reviewed it as well (Becoming Madeline).

Recently, I finished Listening for Madeline, which was written in a format I’d not encountered before, a collection of interviews.

People’s thoughts about children’s writer Madeline Engle

Marcus has gathered a “series of incisive interviews with people who know her most intimately…family, colleagues, and friends.” Subtitled “A Portrait of Madeline L’Engle in Many Voices,” this unusual book helps the reader understand the many facets of this outstanding woman/writer. After reading all the comments about her from those who knew her and dealt with her every day, I determined she was a strong woman, somewhat larger-than-life, and one who had her own eccentricities. The people quoted in Listening to Madeline knew her as ” an inspiring mentor, a strong-willed matriarch, a spiritual guide, and a rare friend.” How one woman could be so many things to such diverse individuals is a conundrum I wish to solve as I continue my “project.”

MAY 12-18 IS NATIONAL ‘READING IS FUN’ WEEK

READ A BOOK JUST FOR FUN!

Reading is Fun Week has been around since 1979, a time when I was teaching seventh graders who ranged from loving to read to hating it. Since they had a forty-five minute English class to cover grammar, composition, and literature, my forty-five minute class’s purpose was to motivate and encourage students to read. We dealt with basic skills like finding the main idea, recognizing supporting details, using context clues, making inferences and drawing conclusions; in other words everything that made up comprehension. At that time my biggest goal was to make reading fun, so everything else would fall into place.

We had a bi-weekly magazine from Scholastic titled, Read, which had cool jokes, skits, articles, puzzles, and craziness for pre-teens and teens. I only received 30 copies every other week, so I guarded them with my life! Some of the activities and articles I still use when I want to insert a little humor or fun into my university curriculum. When I left junior high (then, grades 7 and 8) to teach 6th graders in an elementary setting, I packed the magazines in the boxes they were shipped in, labeled them according to month, and stacked them in the teachers closet for my replacement. She said she hardly had to make a lesson plan; she just unpacked a box each first and fifteenth of the month.

The main thing we did for fun was free reading. At first the students took this as an opportunity to goof off or take a little snooze. However, I did nothing during that time myself except read, and often we would take the whole forty-five minutes, leaving those who were not reading bored out of their minds; soon they joined in. We had a “Top Ten” bulletin board, which listed titles and authors on cardboard strips according to popularity, and students loved to see if a book they were reading had placed or moved place each week. Also, these titles provided recommendations from their peers. I was kept busy making trips to Half-Price Books to buy copies for the classroom library. There were no discipline problems; all I had to do was threaten to take the time away, and peer pressure solved the situation. Several times I had enough “points” from book orders from Scholastic to buy a classroom set of the same title. We read S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Where the Red Fern Grows this way. When I introduced a class book, I would read to the first cliffhanger then pass out the books for silent reading. NO ONE was ever asked to read aloud.

My years of teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were some of the “funnest” years of my teaching career, and it was all because reading was FUN!

BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PEDRA LUNA by Alda P. Dobbs: A Review

The true story of the author’s great grandmother’s journey to a new country and a new life during the Mexican Revolution

Up front, let me say that the copy I read was provided by the author with absolutely no strings attached. The opinions voiced here are strictly my own.

Twelve-year-old Petra Luna was happy living with her abuela in a small town in Mexico. Although her mother had died, things were going right in her life–until her father was conscripted by Los Federales to fight in the Mexican Revolution. Petra had to grow up fast, becoming the sole provider for her grandmother, sister, and baby brother. Eventually the Federales came to her town, burning it to the ground, causing Petra and her little family to become refugees, walking through the burning desert and all the horrors that awaited them there.

When they reached a resting place, the met up with Pancho Villa’s soldiers, including a tough, dedicated female general who encouraged Petra to join the army of guerrillas and fight the Federales.

Petra is torn between family and freedom to be herself and become a strong, independent woman. The decision she makes, and the event that happens afterwards brings tragedy and suffering into her life. Dobbs’ action-packed, fast-paced ending had me breathing hard and my heart pumping rapidly as I read. It is a real page-turner with many twists and turns, which actually happened to Dobbs’ great-grandmother.

I highly recommend it for fans of historical adventure who want a darned good read. It will be published in September.

TUESDAY TEASER

This meme, hosted by the Purple Booker can be a lot of fun.

The Tuesday Teaser “game” asks readers to copy a couple of sentences from their current read to “tease” other readers to read the same book. Today’s T T is from Alda B. Dobbs’ Barefoot Dreams.

An exciting true story

WHOOPS! I placed it in my Little Free Library after lunch, not remembering I hadn’t copied my “lines” for TT, and although it is only four o’clock now, the book has already been taken! Stay tuned tomorrow for a full review. How’s THAT for a Tuesday Teaser? LOL

MONDAY GROUCH

I don’t know if it was the Dewey’s 19 hours of reading I did or what, but I have no desire to read anything. I didn’t even post my Sunday Summary

even though I had a brand new header for it, as you can see.

So, to catch up, I’ll steal a page (or image) from Carla at Carla Loves to Read and do a quick Monday Summary,

RECENTLY REVIEWED ON PWR

TO BE REVIEWED SOON ON PWR

If You Were a Writer (kids book–to be reviewed on PWR soon)

To be reviewed here soon

Searching for God Knows What to be reviewed here soon

Begun the day after Dewey’s for The Classics Club

Mindfulness finished during Dewey’s

Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Listening to Madeline begun during Dewey’s

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek begun during Deweys’

I think I will concentrate on finishing what I’ve started, reading Simon, the Fiddler for my book club, and even take a break from reading blogs until I shepherd those last four students through the end of the semester. Come on, kids, get those papers in!

I think I just discovered the source of my grump! Humph!

SATURDAY MORNING FOR KIDS/ THE CLASSIC CLUB

Just as Saturday morning TV programing was reserved for kids, Saturday mornings on PWR bring recommendations for kids’ reading.

Saturday mornings in the 50s and 60s brought cartoons for kid’s viewing.

Today’s recommendation also happens to be my April selection for The Classics Club, a kid’s classic, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

This is the first month of The Classics Club selections for me. I am going to read a classic every other month for the rest of 2021 with the goal to read 5 classics by Jan. 31, 2022.
Why I never read this book before is a mystery to me. After reading it, I watched a great video version of it as well.

After a young girl’s parents are killed in India, she is sent to live with a reclusive uncle (her mother’s sister’s husband) in a gloomy, old Victorian mansion. There she meets her invalid cousin, her uncle’s son, and later a local boy who runs unsupervised among the property. Left to her own devices to entertain herself, the girl finds a door in the overgrown, neglected garden wall that leads to a glorious, wild and beautiful garden which has been untouched for years and years. Convinced the garden has healing qualities, she convinces her cousin to come and see. The three children begin to cultivate and improve the garden, and as the garden improves so does the cousin.

In an exciting, almost tragic ending, the old Biblical lesson, “…and a little child shall lead them.” comes to fruition as the girl restores beauty and joy to the house and the characters themselves. It is a lovely, uplifting story that is bound to improve anyone’s mood and spirit. I highly recommend it. Perhaps it is better approached as a read-together novel by parent or grandparent and child, since the wording is a bit old-fashioned, and some words may need explaining.

A FAREWELL TO NATIONAL POETRY MONTH, APRIL 2021

National Poetry Month in April. Poster with handwritten lettering. Poetry Festival in the United States and Canada. Literary events and celebration. Greeting card, invitation, poster, banner or background. Vector

I have enjoyed being more aware of and reading more poetry this year than ever before. Although I miss celebrating in person with my students during April classes, I did enjoy holding the poetry contest for my online students, and I am happy to report that all three winners were mailed their copies of home body and a nice journal to write their poems in for their winning efforts in the contest.

I did not finish my goal of completing Margaret Atwood’s new poem collection, Dearly (I have not finished digesting the wonderful poems included.), I will keep the signed book and refer to it from time to time when one of the poems surfaces from my subconscious. It was a wonderful gift, a perfect one for a book lover and collector such as I.

I began with a parody, and will end with a lighthearted parody from the same source, Chris Harris’s I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grownups:

“Jack Sprat (Updated)”

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.

His wife could eat no lean.

He lived to be one hundred three;

She died at seventeen.”

Poetry is so many things.

It has been fun, and hopefully you will recommend in the responses poems and collections that have impressed, intrigued, and informed you.

Goodbye, April 2021