Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mini Reviews for Wittle Bitty Books

I discovered Roald Dahl when I was a kid. I was a persnickety reader, even back then, so it took me a while to pick up Matilda after I received a box set for one holiday or another. Once I finally got over myself, I loved the book, and then I didn't read it again for 23 years.

I've long been a fan of the film adaptation of this book, and I watch it semi-regularly. Every time it came on TV when I had satellite, I would watch it (which was pretty often). When I switched to streaming-only, it was on Netflix, so I watched it for "noise" quite often.

In re-reading this book, the biggest difference is in the ending! The film added a lot of drama to the climax of this book, and while it was certainly necessary for the film version, I think this book is simply perfect as it is.

I'm planning to read a couple more Roald Dahl books in the upcoming Dog Days of Summer Readathon. What do you recommend? The only ones I've read are the Charlie books, George's Marvelous Medicine, and Matilda. Somehow I think I might've tried James and the Giant Peach along the line, but I don't know if I ever finished it.

Sarah Crewe is daughter to a wealthy man who adores her. He puts her into a boarding school for girls in London while he pursues his fortune in India and abroad. Sarah Crewe is the apple of the headmistress's eye, until her father dies and the money is gone. Rich to poor. Cinderella. Just like that.

But Sarah Crewe is unsinkable. This is one of those children's novels in which the heroine is unbelievably upbeat and determined to be good. So unrealistic. But did it matter? Nah. It was a fun, cozy book and I enjoyed it immensely.

I think I might've actually preferred this book to The Secret Garden, since we all know I had issues with that ending.

And then there's Anne Sexton and her collection of poetry, Transformations. Is Sexton what happens when Sarah Crewe grows up to be cynical and snide? Maybe.

This is a collection of poems based on Grimm's folk and fairy tales. I've read it umpteen times, and I still love it. I wasn't as in the mood for it this time as I have been on prior readings, but it's still good stuff.

Sexton narrates the poems from the POV of a "wicked witch." The aging, cigarette smoking, bitter, everyday witch, that is.

Just read this...

Once
the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Pretty great, right? You can read the whole poem here.

Little reviews for little books. Which teensy weensy reads have you undertaken lately? 






20 comments:

  1. Wouldn't this make a great meme? Once a month, we could post links to Little Reviews for Little Books? For people who are put off by long reads? For those of us who read lots of short books and can't seem to write more than a good paragraph?

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  2. I love the idea of reading Dahl for the Dog Days event. Hmmm :)

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    1. Yep, that's my plan. Dahl, and I think I'm gonna read my first John Green. And maybe more Rainbow Rowell!

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  3. I sooooo want to read more Dahl! And I love that Matilda cover.

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    1. More Dahl is at the tippy top of my reading to-do list.

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  4. I prefer The Little Princess to The Secret Garden, too, actually. While it might seem syrupy, the never-ending pure goodness of Sara is breathtaking. I always like reading books which encourage, and teach moral principles, to my class, but I haven't read this one to them in years. Changing that for 2013-2014.

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    1. Cool! I'm glad you're going to put A Little Princess back into your class reading rotation. And yes, those books that teach high moral standing are awesome.

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  5. I'm not a huge poetry fan, but I think I could get into Transformations. Thanks!

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    1. I think you could, too. There's just enough snark for girls like us.

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  6. Besides Matilda, my favorite Dahl novels growing up were The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG. The BFG was even better than Matilda to my 10 year old self. I'm looking forward to my reread this August!

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    1. I need to take my queue from you and get James and BFG for the readathon. I read The Witches and liked it, too.

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  7. I loved Matilda as a child, but I would recommend BFG and James and the Giant Peach as well.

    There's a film version of A Little Princess that I enjoy, though they drastically change the ending. But it's a very beautifully shot film and directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

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    1. I will definitely give those a go, Christy. I just noticed last night that James and the Giant Peach is on Netflix for streaming! I'm hoping my kiddo will enjoy that one.

      And I saw at least part of the film several years back. It looked absolutely beautiful, and I hope it's still available to stream on Netflix.

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  8. Awww, Little Princess. I love that book so much. It and The Secret Garden both have their issues; I don't know if I could ever choose between them. Can I recommend -- don't freak out -- the sequel that Hilary McKay wrote to A Little Princess? Sara's hardly in it, it's about the girls at Miss Minchin's after Sara leaves. It's really sweet! And that is something I've never ever ever said about sequels written by authors other than the original one.

    Of Roald Dahl books, I recommend James and the Giant Peach, which is wondrous, and The BFG. And The Witches, which even when I read it now as an adult is crazy crazy scary.

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    1. I will definitely check out that sequel! If it's a rec coming from you, I'm paying attention.

      And it looks like James/Peach and the BFG are getting the most recs of all the Roald Dahl books. I'll definitely give them a try.

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  9. I love Anne Sexton so hard! The only Dahl book I've read has been James and the Giant Peach. Strangely though, this week my kids and I are reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory along with The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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    1. Isn't she great?! So twisty and sassy and amazing. And I just saw a video about The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I never see that one mentioned, but now two people in one week!

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  10. Have you read Anne Sexton's letters? I highly recommend! I just love your copy of Matilda...it is on my "to be purchased" list. I have seen the movie, but not read the story.

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    1. I haven't, but I bet Sexton's letters are amazing! And I couldn't resist. The Matilda cover was just too gorgeous to hold out. :)

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