Monthly Archives: March 2016

Book Review: Elevating Child Care, by Janet Lansbury


This is a short handbook about the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) philosophy of parenting/caring for children. Some of the facets of RIE come naturally to me and I’ve been doing them all along, but other aspects are new to me, and I can see how they might be helpful tools, especially in the toddler years.

I think any parent could glean quite a few useful ideas from Elevating Child Care, even if you don’t 100% buy into the philosophy. I personally feel uncomfortable with certain statements in the book, such as, “Every thought, desire, feeling – every expression of our mind, body and heart – is perfectly acceptable, appropriate and lovable” (page 21) and, “There are no wrong desires or feelings, just wrong ways of acting on them” (page 120).

But overall, I really like this approach and will definitely be using (and have already started using!) many of the techniques with my baby, who is now almost eight months old.

I am marking Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting off as “A book about parenting” for the #VTReadingChallenge.


Book Review: Teaching from Rest, by Sarah Mackenzie


This little book is a practical, encouraging, and motivating guide for homeschooling parents. I appreciated Sarah Mackenzie’s tips and ideas for getting school done with older kids when you have infants or toddlers in the home. I also liked how she interspersed inspiring quotes, Bible verses, poems, and prayers throughout the book.

A lot of what Sarah writes in this book is simple, but it’s not necessarily common sense until you hear someone else say it! I had a few moments where I found myself thinking–oh! that makes so much sense! I should have thought of that (but I didn’t). For example, she talks about the importance of considering not only your children’s learning styles and preferences, but also your own, when selecting resources and activities.

This is definitely a re-readable book! I don’t buy many books for myself (I’m an avid library user!), but I am planning to buy a copy of this book, because it is so valuable. I can see myself reading it at least once a year.

I am marking this book off as “A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title” (the subtitle contains the word “peace,” so that’s good enough for me!) for the #VTReadingChallenge.



Book Review: Northanger Abbey (Graphic Novel)


This is the first graphic novel I have ever read, and I would never have picked it up if it weren’t for the #VTReadingChallenge, in which “a graphic novel” is one of the categories. I stood, hesitatingly, in front of the shelves of adult graphic novels at my library. Everything looked strange, and frankly, unappealing (I’m not at all into fantasy or science fiction, which seem to make up the bulk of graphic novels), until suddenly, I latched onto a shred of familiarity and selected this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I read the original when I was a teenager and had only the vaguest recollection of the plot and characters.

My verdict: the graphic novel was okay. I don’t have anything to compare it to. The plot could have used some filling out, which I suppose is to be expected when you’re jumping rapidly from scene to scene, as necessitated by the graphic novel form. The text was really small. I had to move a lamp to light the pages better so I could see the tiny print. The character’s faces were really angular, so female faces often looked masculine, especially because the shadowing under their chins was weird, giving them the appearance of having beards. I liked the style of art used for the five large pictures at the back of the book (one of which was used for the book’s cover as seen above) way better than the style used for the graphic novel itself. It took me a while to figure out what the five pretty pictures were for. My conclusion, although I may be wrong, is that the book was originally published in five installments, with the five pictures serving as the covers. I wish that the whole book could have been illustrated in that style, instead of in its more cartoony form.

If you have a choice between reading the original Northanger Abbey novel and this graphic novel, you should definitely go for the original. You lose so much of the beauty and charm and understated wit of the original when it is reduced to graphic novel form. If someone is already familiar with the world of Jane Austen, then the graphic novel could be an entertaining enhancement. But if the graphic novel was someone’s only exposure to Jane Austen, then librarians and English teachers and literature lovers all over the world would weep.

Book Review: Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis


The story Velma Wallis’s mother told her about two of their Athabascan ancestors had been passed down orally for generations, but Wallis decided it was important enough to record on paper. Now it has been translated into seventeen languages. The story/legend (it seems like it could have really happened, although there’s no way to know for sure) is simply told but powerful and applicable in any culture or context.

Two Old Women is a tale of, as the title suggests, two elderly Native Alaskan women who were abandoned by their nomadic, hunter-gatherer community, because they were considered to be burdens who were unable to contribute and slowed everybody down. The two old women were unwilling to accept the cruel fate which their community tried to impose on them, so they determined, “[I]f we are going to die…let us die trying, not sitting.” As you can guess, the two women were more successful at surviving in the wilderness than anyone could have imagined.

I recommend this short, but inspiring and thought-provoking, book.

I am marking Two Old Women off as “A book written by someone of a different ethnicity than you” for the #VTReadingChallenge.



Book Review: Luther and Katharina, by Jody Hedlund


I was a little worried when I saw the long list of characters at the beginning of Luther and Katharina that I wouldn’t be able to keep everybody straight (this is one of the reasons I avoid reading fantasy and science fiction–I don’t like having to work hard to keep track of dozens of characters with funny names!). However, I had no trouble following along with the characters or the plot of this book. I think Jody Hedlund is an amazing researcher who has the ability to simplify complicated historical situations, making them understandable and relatable. The story is fascinating and fast-paced (I read the whole book in about four hours), with plenty of romantic tension and political danger. Before reading this book, I don’t think I ever grasped the magnitude and horror of the Peasants’ Revolt, which coincided with, and was probably partially fueled by, Luther’s petitions for religious reformation.

Hedlund does a good job of highlighting the courage, faith, wisdom, and determination (a.k.a. stubbornness) possessed by both Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, which made them well-suited for each other.

I am marking Luther and Katharina off as “A book by or about Martin Luther” for the #VTReadingChallenge.

Book Review: And the Shofar Blew, by Francine Rivers


I rarely abandon books, but I gave up on this one when I was only about a third of the way through. It pained me to turn it in to the library without finishing it, because it seemed disloyal to Francine Rivers, whom I am normally a fan of. I think she is one of the most–possibly THE most–creative and talented writers of Christian fiction of all time. But I just hated this book. The storyline is too preachy, too predictable, too unnecessarily drawn out, too unrealistic, and too “dated”-feeling (even though the book is only 13 years old). Even the characters’ off-the-wall names bugged me. But what irked me the most, and what was ultimately the reason I stopped reading, was that one of the main characters, Paul, was a world-class jerk who was emotionally abusive to his wife, and I just couldn’t take his cruelty and egomania any longer. I’m sure he repents in the end, but I didn’t like or care enough about him as a character to stick around and find out.

Book Review: Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis


Kisses from Katie is an inspiring book which is both spiritually challenging and spiritually encouraging. I was so impacted by reading about the faith and simple obedience of one young woman who said yes to God, even when what He was asking of her seemed hard and even crazy. Move to Uganda and legally adopt a bunch of orphaned girls, when she herself was fresh out of high school? This is an unbelievable, unforgettable book and I highly recommend it.

I am marking Kisses from Katie off as “A book about adoption” for the #VTReadingChallenge.