Showing posts from August, 2009

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins Scott O'Dell, 1960 Hardcore. That's what Scott O'Dell's classic book is. I remembered that it was about a girl living alone on an island, and a lot of the book is Robinson Crusoe stuff. I had forgotten that stuff included building walls to keep out vicious dogs, designing, building and testing weapons to hunt food and defend herself, and struggling alone with illness. The story is based loosely on a real woman who lived alone on the island of San Nicholas off the California coast for 18 years. Sadly, we know very little for sure about her, because by the time she was taken off the island, no one else remained who spoke her language, she died soon after arriving in California, (probably from diseases she had no immunity to,) and her artifacts were lost in the San Fransisco earthquake. So O'Dell is imagining what her life may have been like. It is perhaps not surprising that the lone male author in the group of girls books

Caddie Woodlawn

Caddie Woodlawn Carol Ryrie Brink, 1935 Caddie Woodlawn is seen by some (according to the quote on the back) as a sort of antidote to Little House on the Prairie . And the contrasts are interesting. I enjoyed the book maybe a bit less than I remember enjoying it as a girl, but it's a sweet story about a pioneer girl, presented as a series of life events. (I was always a huge sucker for a good pioneer girl story.) Caddie, unlike any of the other girls I've looked at recently, is a confirmed tomboy. It's explained that her father encouraged her to be so to enhance her health. Okay theory to me. So the arc of the book of course includes Caddie deciding that maybe it's time to learn to be feminine. My initial reaction is: well, if you must. However, there is a memorable chapter in which Caddie begins to learn to quilt, and her brothers decide that if it's good enough for the sister they've played with all their lives, then they're going to learn too.

Little Women

Little Women (Parts 1 and 2) Louisa May Alcott, 1868, 1869 While prettily written at times, I just could not get into Little Women . The style is so completely presentational, and so completely sugar-dipped in overtly Christian morality. Upon my describing what I disliked about it, Erin commented that it could have been written specifically NOT for me. (If references to teaching little girls to love God don't cause you to break out in hives, your mileage may vary.) The author is constantly reminding you of the main characteristic she has assigned to each girl, not necessarily by having them act in a particular way, but either having them talk about the fact that one is selfish, or vain, or tomboyish, etc. or by constantly describing them in that way. Re-skimming the beginning, I might have initially been too harsh on the writing. It sometimes has a lovely lilt to it, but there are still enough wince-worthy turns of phrase to put me off. Personally, I just couldn&#

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery I'm surprised how much I remember about a book, that to my recollection, I have never read before. I was quite young when the acclaimed 1985 TV movie came out, but I remember seeing bits of it over the years. My mom really liked the spin-off series, Avonlea (Road to Avonlea outside the US), and we watched it together when I was younger. A few weeks ago I might not have been able to rattle off character names, but could have given you the most iconic scenes off the top of my head (Lily Maid boat ride, and ridgepole walk). So reading through the actual text has been less like hearing a new story, and more like rediscovering a story I always knew. This sense is helped along by the feeling that I should have read, and loved, this book as a child. Overall I love the story, the style of writing, the sly understated humor. The writing occasionally lapses into omniscient narrator syndrome, which is striking only because most o