Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fall Read-a-louds

The Secret Garden....
Recently we came across several authors who were inspired by the Secret Garden by Frances Hodson Burnett. This was written in 1911 and it has inspired movies, colouring books, photographs, movies, an animation, short stories, a song by Bruce Springsteen and other authors. I remembered reading this as a young teenager and enjoying it very much. Excitedly, we began. Dragging our asses we ended.
I remembered a lot of suspense and tension. I remembered a lot of creeping about. I remember an uncle of disproportionate anger and menace. I remembered a boy who rescued everyone. The plot dragged and dragged. Mary was marvelous as a cranky, bitchy 10 year old, but she found redemption through skipping rope and talking to a robin. Dickon, who speaks with animals helps her to mature, but she ends up sounding like a middle-age spinster. Cousin Colin, who is a little blister, transitions from a wheelchair bound snot to a ambulatory snot. How do they all do this? By keeping the presence of a garden the size of suburban yards a secret. It has a 12 foot high wall surrounding it, with many trees, pathways and garden beds.
How do you keep a garden the size of small apartment building secret? The next secret is that Colin gets up the gumption to walk. I can see keeping that a secret, but how do a bunch of adults not figure out something is going on and not sneak up on the kids? That's the plot. Go the garden, walk, eat, go back to the house. We should have left that book in the past.
The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith. Why is it a book? We have been reading the series all along and have enjoyed the mild plots, the characters and the depictions of Botswana. The plot suggests that Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi need to go to the Delta (a geographical nature preserve of stunning landscapes and habitats)
but they don't get there until page  169. They leave by page 194. The book ends on page 211. Twenty-six pages devoted to the significant case that the detectives need to solve. There isn't even a mystery, it is a case of finding the right man, getting confused, finding the correct right man and giving him some money. Drink the roibois tea and go home.
We have moved back to Terry Pratchett, book two in the Wee Free Men Trilogy. A Hat Full of Sky has Tiffany going off to learn witchcraft properly. Three chapters in and we are already more invigorated by this than the other two books.

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