Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle" by Hugh Lofting

1923 Newbery Winner.  I think that the Doctor Dolittle books were a series, and I'm not sure where this one fits in.  I grew up watching the Rex Harrison movie, so I hope I like the book as much as the movie when I was a child.

December 21:  I thoroughly enjoyed this little story, and learned there are about a dozen books in the Dolittle series.  I also learned that they have been altered a bit in more modern publications.  The world these books were written in is quite different from the political-correctness of today.  From what I gathered after some light research is that the author wasn't racist or white-supremist, he simply reflected the social culture surrounding him.  Therefore, some wordage was altered and tiny bits of plot rewoven to avoid giving unintended offense.

But that's all neither here nor there. I genuinely did enjoy the story and the characters and I wouldn't hesitate to share this book with my own children.  I find it interesting that of the two first Newbery books I've read, there are many commonalities.  Both being published a few short years after World War I, they both embrace being away-from-home by encouraging education of the world outside the front door.  I wonder if the Newbery awards had been given any earlier in the 20th century if such a permeating theme would be as appealing.  Bothb books are indirect reflections of the Great War, as well.  "The Story of Mankind" of course is a reflection of the war in a great sense of the history of the world; and the Dolittle books were inspired by letters the author wrote home to his children when he was battling on teh front.  Both books were illustrated by the authors themselves, which I personally find quite charming. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll

December/January book club books!  I finally finished The Story of Mankind so I'm just scratching the surface of Alice.  Now, I've seen the Disney animated and newer Johnny Depp movies.  As trippy as those are, I've heard these stories are still pretty 'out there'.  But after reading a 600 page history book, I think I'll dig a little psycho.  Cheers!

December 8, 2011:  A quick read.  And as of now, I wouldn't call it psycho or out there.  Frankly, I'm surprised this book has been made into movies or is known as a children's classic.  No meaningful plot (at least as I can yet detect) and no character depth.  Makes about as much sense as the stories Maren makes up at bedtime about dragons.

December 12, 2011:  I was really hoping as I kept reading my opinions about this book would change for the better.  Can't say they have!  Really, I'm surprised that this has been heralded as classical children's literature, unless there were no other books of children's literature written contemporarily.  A fantasy book written for children (ANY book, for that matter, I'm just not giving it any slack based on it's intended audience) should have a beginning, a middle, and an end; well-developed characters; cause and effect.  A nonsensical story can still be well-written.  I like my daughter's stories much better, because you can't blame a 3-year-old for her own innocence.  The only character I liked was the White Knight, which is really sad because it means I can't say Alice was my favorite character.  I mean, WHO was she?  Just a little girl to whom everything happened.  It was so annoying to find her Here doing Such-and-Such then then the next moment her surroundings are different and she is There doing This-and-That.  It's just too random.  The only redeeming quality of this book was its brevity.