Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Shaffer, Mary Ann, and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. New York: The Dial Press, 2008.

Plot Summary
Occupied during WWII, the Guernsey Islands off of England become the interest of one Juliet Ashton, writer, correspondent and eventual friend to the inhabitants.

My Thoughts
When I first began reading this book, I tried to pay attention to which character was writing and which character was receiving the letter. I wasn't sure I was going to like the format of this book, but as the characters developed, I found myself actually seeing them. I knew from the tone of the letter, almost, who was writing. I enjoyed how the authors created a story that could be heartbreaking and instead of bashing the reader over the head with the horrors of war, the authors chose to let us experience the events through the various perspectives of the island's inhabitants.

The characters are memorable and help move the story along as they reveal their relationship to each other (mostly through the book club) and how they survived the occupation.

This was a great, light read that I enjoyed very much. I kept thinking about Fall of Giants and Bridgett Jones' Diary as I read. Three vastly different books, yet with a common theme: how do we navigate this thing called life?

One thing I really loved about the book is Juliet's description of how she wonders, "how the book [Charles Lamb's] got to Guernsey. Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true" (Shaffer and Barrows 10). I believe books do "find" us and is it delightful.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Three Cups of Tea: Young Readers Edition

Mortenson, Greg, and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea: Young Readers Edition. New York: Puffin Books, 2009.

Plot Summary (from the back cover)
In 1993, Greg Mortenson tried to climb K2 in honor of his younger sister, but when another member of his group got sick, they turned around, and Greg become lost in the mountains of Pakistan. He wandered into a poor village, where the village chief and his people took him in. Moved by their kindness, he promised to return and build a school for the children. Over the next decade, Mortenson built more than sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has endured death threats, a kidnapping, and more to dedicate his life to building literacy and peace, one child at a time.

My Thoughts
The story is written in the third person, even though it is a memoir of sorts of what Greg did to change a region.

I enjoyed seeing the forward by Jane Goodall. Reading it reminded me of my personal expereince with Jane at Tarleton. She was a guest speaker, and I was in attendance. I actually spoke to her, and she was so gracious. I'm glad I went and became aware of what she's done. Her forward set the mood for me in reading Greg's story.

As I read the book, I was in "teacher mode" of what I could do with this story. I want to read the "adult" version to compare writing styles and what differences in details do the books have. I marked pages that I could use when teaching this book. It was an interesting read, and I am amazed at how a little idea can become a true world changing event! I'm also a little ashamed and guilty that I have not had (at least I don't feel like it) such a legacy.