Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

I’ve read this books so many times and really don’t have much to add for this time around except:

This was my first time listening to it on an audiobook. The voices didn’t sound like they do in my head, but frankly that’s too be expected. This book is part of my very being. I feel like it’s an integral part of me, read so many times in my childhood. I was very excited this time to be listening to it with my daughter (sneaky: I’ve been desperate for her to read it and this was the only way to make it happen! Fortunately she liked it.)

What I said this time still holds true.

This remains a perfect book to me.

Son by Lois Lowry

heavy sigh…… Well, we just finished listening to this. It was wonderful to spend the past couple of months (longer) listening to all four books right in a row. And, like with others, I can’t believe how much I did not remember about this book. It was as if it was all new to me*. So there was a lot of shock and delight and surprise. And again, listening to the e-audiobook more than once I thought it was done or wrapping up only to find that the book just kept going.

I don’t even really want to say anything about the content or plot. There is A LOT in this one. It’s a very fitting and wonderful conclusion, pulling all the strings together of the previous books, giving time and place to everything.

It truly was a wonderful story and we loved every minute of it. Reading them all together like this made the experience even better as we really felt immersed in this world of the story.

*Though this is my second time with this book. Here’s what I had to say about it the first time., which was eight years ago.

Messenger by Lois Lowry

I read this when it first came out and not again until now, when my daughter and I listened to the audiobook together. I have to say, I”m loving this reread of all four books right in a row. It’s really highlighting the connections and enjoyable to figure out the timeline (which was harder to do when you read them years apart.)

So, again, this was listened to in the new car as an e-audiobook. Because we’re not used to the new audio buttons we ended up missing two critical chapters. But that’s ok because I got the book so I could read it and fill in. It’s no secret that it’s much easier for me to follow a story in print than on audio, so I also appreciated skimming over previous chapters. As with the other one, since we didn’t put in discs I was also completely startled when this book ended as I had no idea we were so close to the end. I was also startled and completely surprised by the ending. So much so that I had to wonder if I’d even read this book! (I had.)
For future reference for myself-in this installment the story is taking place in Village, where the harmony is disturbed by personality changes, including wanting to shut Village off to newcomers and the Forest actively attacking people. (wait, what? At this point I was saying “is this book magic? Is there magic in these books that I didn’t remember??”) Mattie goes on a journey to bring Kira back to Village.

This book felt very short to me, but was filled with a lot of striking sentences and imagery. Lowry really is a terrific writer. As with the others, lots to think about in here about the nature of mankind.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this book when it first came out many years ago and I loved it. I think it was the first time I’d read a children’s book that talked about a dystopia. Nowadays it’s so common you might say it’s overdone. But at the time it really felt groundbreaking and so thoughtful.
I knew that my daughter hadn’t yet read this and I really really wanted her to, so I made it be our car audiobook. Not surprisingly it won her over just as quickly as it did me.  I loved watching her put together the clues about Jonas’s world. This story is every bit as good as it was when it came out, only now we’re going right on ahead and listening to Gathering Blue (and then hopefully keep going with Messenger and Son.)
A well deserved modern classic.

Checking my review from several years ago of Son, I see that I wrote: “I’d be so curious to jump into Lowry’s head and see how she imagines all these various communities fitting together.”  The audiobook edition of Gathering Blue began with an intro from Lowry in which she does address that a bit, so I loved hearing that. And rereading my review of Son, I can’t wait to go through all these books again without waiting years in between.

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

I wanted to start this post by saying “it’s been well established that Bronson Pinchot is my favorite audiobook reader” but I see it’s not well established at all here. I don’t have any entries for the books we’ve listened to, but I did find this 2014 end of year sentence: “We discovered The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. Bronson Pinchot (yes, Cousin Balkie!) is my new favorite audiobook reader. These books are looooong on audio (10 hours!) but so worth it. He is an amazing reader and the book is hilarious.” So, yes. He is an amazing reader and I was delighted that Paul found us another one of his books to listen to on our way home from Maine last week.  This was a wonderful story and I’m so glad we found it. I would never have picked it up off the shelf based on this cover:  Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley - Used (Acceptable) - 0525428437 by Penguin Young Readers Group | Thriftbooks.com or this one  Circus Mirandus; Paperback; Author - Cassie Beasley  I think it just looks like circus hijinks.  I think this drawing is much more evocative of the magical mysterious lovely story within.Image result for circus mirandus

(By the way, that art is by Diana Sudyka, but I can’t identify where that art originally appears.) [Goodreads says fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will like this story and I agree with that.]
While I think that Cousin Balki could make any book sound great, I do think this was a great story. There is some back and forth in time so that we understand how the old man in present day, was once a little boy who found the magical and life changing Circus Mirandus, and how he extracted the promise of a future miracle from the Light Bender. In the present day that old man’s grandson is desperate to find the circus and have the promised miracle save his grandpa. Obviously everyone thinks that his grandfather’s stories of Circus Mirandus were just fairy tales, but Micah believes them and is determined to find it and meet the Light Bender.
Heartwarming, sweet, magical, this was a terrific story.


Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

I’ve read this before but this time listened to the audiobook. We started it as a family but ended with just me and Tabby listening as the boys didn’t like it that much. I enjoyed that this was read by Jack Gantos himself. I think that overall it’s a terrific story, but does take a bit of time to get into. The ending is certainly more exciting than the beginning, but a lot of that might have been the downside of listening to an audiobook–you only go as fast as the person reads. No skimming or racing to get to a good part!

I still think the bizarre history of the town is fascinating and loved the details about the old woman’s hands and “cooking” them and all the people dying.

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Carey Gilbreth

I LOVED this book when I was a kid. And it’s one of those books where certain things in it stuck with me. Whenever I see someone with elbows on the table I want to “Thump” them, whenever I hear boring prattle I want to say “not of general interest”, whenever Paul drives around a corner too fast I whisper in my head “not so fast, not so fast.” (It turns out that last one I never could remember where it especially came from, and it was in this book, which delightful to see. ) Sadly, neither of the kids or Paul has ever read it.
We recently took a trip to Virginia and this was the perfect opportunity to get everyone else in the family to have the same frame of reference as me. To my delight, they all enjoyed this very much (audiobook, of course.) and I was THRILLED to hear it all over again as it’s been quite a while. It really is a fascinating look at not just a large family, but the really the motion study business and Frank and Lillian’s careers.  And of course all kinds of interesting details about the time period.

Anyway, we all liked it a lot and hopefully we’ll listen to Bells on Their Toes next.

The View from Saturday by E.L.Konigsburg

I read this when it first came out and not since. All I could remember was that there are somehow separate stories that all make sense together, but nothing about the characters or the story. Well, it turns out that that is an accurate memory. 4 children are part of a quiz bowl type team and their teacher, Mrs. Olinsky, is always evasive about how she picked these 4. Parts of the narrative are the story as it is happening now-a quiz bowl event with questions. But each question takes us back to a story from the point of view of one of the children, and a story that tells us more about that individual. And indeed, all the children are somehow connected, through a retirement village in Florida, grandparents, dentists, families, and school.

I listened to this on audio with my daughter and we both loved it. I do like a story where you can see all the pieces fitting together.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Immediately after we finished Raymie Nightingale we were able to get the audiobook of Louisiana’s Way Home and start that. Since I had not read this one it was an especially nice choice. The reader was different, but as Tabby immediately pointed out to me, “of course because this book is told from Louisian’s point of view. Also the other book was in 3rd person but this one is in 1st person.” Good point, Tab.
Anyway, we did like this reader and we really liked this story. It had us on an emotional roller coaster.

Louisiana has left Florida with her Granny quite abruptly and driven them to Georgia. A dramatic teeth removal situation has them unexpectedly staying in a motel and interacting with people. Family secrets are revealed and Louisiana has much to come to terms with, including the Flying Elephantes (having listened to it I don’t know if that’s how it’s spelled, but that’s how I saw it in my head) and the curse of “sundering.”

We especially enjoyed the references to Raymie and Beverly and felt the ending was satisfying. And now we can’t wait for the Beverly book this fall!