Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Literary Adventures With Daddy

Reading to my boys every night proved such a blessing, for years. So many moments with children count as icing on the cake, but nighttime reading? It's my all-time favorite.

When my husband started working days a few months ago, arriving home at 7 PM, he took over the nighttime novel readings, allowing me more time with the girls at their tuck-in time.

How I miss that time with Peter and Paul, but since Daddy only gets a couple hours per day with the children, sharing great books together has been so rich for all three of my men. However, when Beth is finished nursing, I definitely want to switch back and forth with husband on the tuck-ins.

In these last months my men enjoyed Pippi Longstocking, Pippi in the South SeasChitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Wheel On The School. Included as well were a few Eleanor Estes picks--Pinky Pye, The Middle Moffatt, and Ruphus M.--books the boys enjoyed so much, they reread them during the day, after Daddy finished them.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Wheel on the School cover.jpg

The Moffats   -     
        By: Eleanor Estes

All these books were recommended in Honey For A Child's Heart.

Needing a new book for them, I perused the Newbery shelf at the library yesterday, finding Rascal, by Sterling North, which is also recommended in Honey For A Child's Heart. Though I had a truckload of groceries to put away after all were in bed, plus dishes, I sat on the floor with this book, thinking I'd just give it a quick peek before tackling the kitchen.

It was so good, I stayed on the floor from 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM, not wanting to put it down (or realizing how long I'd been there). Miss Beth awoke at 11:30, which is better than most nights, but it broke my literary dream bubble.

Oh, how you'll love Rascal! Autobiographical, it details one year in an 11-year-old boy's Wisconsin life (set in 1918), featuring his heartwarming friendship with a raccoon, whom he named Rascal and raised from a nursling. The main character, Sterling, lost his mother at age 7. During his eleventh year he was quite lonely, what with his distant though kind, absent-minded father often on business trips, his brother fighting in France in WW1, and his two beloved sisters off as adults, living their lives.

I didn't read it word for word, but I gave a good skim to most chapters. How wholesome, heartwarming, and enchanting this story proved to be! And beautifully written, I tell you. While probably best for boys, I must say that as a girl, I still found it a can't-put-down read.

There are perhaps two paragraphs Christian parents might want to leave out (confirmed by a Christian site I checked). One details how Sterling's biologist mother reconciled her Christian beliefs with evolution (common among Christians at this time), and the other being a few sentences about Sterling asking a Methodist preacher why his mother had to die, and then deeming the answer unsatisfactory. He does have faith, as evidenced in other parts, but it isn't yet mature.

Still, most books written in the early 1900's depict a Christian lifestyle, and this one is no exception. The Bible is read in the story, for example. Sterling is very sweet and innocent and his adventures prove exciting and endearing. The relationship he develops with Rascal, his raccoon, is very special, to say the least. Kids will understand his love for Rascal and they'll never want this book to end.

I didn't.

Especially when I looked up and remembered my kitchen.

Unless you have a teenager on your hands, the book is best as a read-aloud. Here are the specifics below, from Scholastic's site. Their grade level equivalents are different from Accelerated Reading levels:

Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 6

Grade Level Equivalent: 7.8

Lexile® measure: 1080L

Guided Reading: NR

Biography and Autobiography
Young Adult

Find other books by Sterling North at this site:

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