Monday, September 17, 2007

Little Heathens By Mildred Armstrong Kalish

This was our September book club book. I found the stories interesting and intriguing. But, they were nothing new - instead they rang with the tales of my own grandmas and grandpas. It made me sad that I didn't listen more carefully to the tales they told. My history would be a little different because it is a Mennonite/Amish tale. But, the deep connection to the earth and to familes remains the same.

So, though I was not over the top with the story. Listening to Mildred speak tonight at Shambaugh Auditorium made the stories come alive in a way that I never expected. She read the chapter on Aunt Belle, and Belle was in the room with us. It was an amazing change. Mildred was animated and full of energy. She put flesh on the stories in a way that I didn't understand authors could do. I have not heard many authors speak - so I don't know if this is the norm or if this is something different.

I would recommend this as a book to bring back the memories of stories that we have heard from our own histories. Stories of the hard life that farm kids lived - yet the uninhibited joy that living in nature brings. The work leads to a hope and a connection that our kids are not living. Enter a world of long ago and hold on and learn from a past that is slipping away.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Book of Flying by Keith Miller

image from LibraryThing
This book is not for the faint of heart or the hater of the quirky books!
So - I totally loved it!

This is the story of Pico, an orphan librarian poet living in a city of nonreaders. His eyes are the only ones who ever view the pages of the beautiful books in his library. But, that is not what breaks his heart. Instead, it is Sisi, a winged girl whom he saved from the sea. Sisi belongs to those who can fly, Pico belongs to those who can't. The worlds do not mingle. But his heart has been securely tied to Sisi, so he pines away writing poems to her, dreaming of flying while sending solitary irises out onto the sea.

The chance discovery of a letter buried under the flagstones in the library, sends Pico on a quest for the morning town of Paunpaum and to find the Book of Flying so he can join Sisi.

His quest takes him to characters filled with love for their fractured lives. Until they meet him. Pico shares his stories while gathering theirs. And neither remain the same after their encounter. He meets the Robber queen, a Minotaur bridge keeper, a talking rabbit, a town dedicated to pleasure that ends in unimaginable death. In each of his stops he is invited to stay, yet the image of Sisi and his undying love drives him on...

As I followed Pico I was drawn deeper and deeper into his world. His love of words and stories is hard to stray from for one who loves words as well. But, I could not agree with Pico all the time. His story was completely his own as were his choices.

Some parts of this story were rather distrubing. This is not the sweet Disney fairy tale quest - but much more brother's grimm. There is gore and cannibilism and a more than a little skin.

Even so, I loved it!!! As a dreamer of flying - I wonder if I could have completed this quest! I'm certain I couldn't!

Thanks Amanda, for the recommendation!!!