Review of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Frisby2Mrs. Frisby finds herself in a pickle. Dr. Ages diagnosed her son Timothy with pneumonia, but Moving Day is just around the corner. No one had expected Moving Day to fall so early this year, but the ice has thawed, and Mr. Fitzgibbon will be plowing his fields soon. Out of desperation, Mrs. Frisby seeks the help of the wise owl.

In Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, danger is ever-present. Small animals must be alert at all times or they could be eaten by Mr. Fitzgibbon’s cat Dragon, trapped by human beings, or crushed by a plow. With Timothy sick in bed, Mrs. Frisby faces even more challenges. The fields are ripe for plowing, but there is still a chill in the air. What if Timothy fails to survive Moving Day?

Owl urges the widowed field mouse to consult a colony of rats. The rats of NIMH are highly intelligent creatures that live in a rosebush on the Fitzgibbon farm. Their lives are shrouded in mystery. Just that morning, Mrs. Frisby had seen the rats drag a piece of wiring across the ground and into the rosebush. Although the rats are unfriendly to strangers, owl is sure that Mrs. Frisby will get an audience with the leader Nicodemus. After all, she IS the widow of Jonathan Frisby.

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Robert C. O’Brien won the Newbery Medal for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH in 1972. The novel is a cross between fantasy and science fiction. Animals and humans frequently cross each other’s paths, but only the most intelligent survive. O’Brien’s genius lies in his ability to bring the characters to life through simple yet fluid prose. Adult readers may find the rats’ story highly unlikely, but children (for whom this novel was written) are too immersed in the novel’s fantasy world to care. Each year, the Newbery Medal is awarded by the American Library Association to an author who has contributed the most to children’s literature. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was a great choice. It is an enjoyable read and easily accessible to children ages 6-12.

 

Favorite Quote

“All doors are hard to unlock until you have the key.”

This book counts toward the Newbery Medal Challenge

 

 

Review of Anne of Avonlea

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Here is what Goodreads has to say: At sixteen, Anne is grown up…almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else’s romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.”

What did I think of it?

Throughout most of the book, I thought the story was enjoyable but not as incredible as Anne of Green Gables. It was fun to read about the mistakes Anne makes. Even though she has good intentions, Anne can’t seem to avoid trouble. The twins, Dora and Davy, are complete opposites of each other. Davy is a handful while Dora is a complete angel. However, Marilla and Anne secretly prefer Davy to his sister. I agree with their preference. Dora is way too perfect. I was more like Davy as a child, so I enjoyed his character a lot more.

On countless occasions, Anne and the other citizens of Avonlea learn that it is not wise to judge a book by its cover. Characters that seem unpleasant have a pleasant side. Avonlea folks can be nosy and judgmental without fully understanding the people they are judging. There is more to a person that meets the eye. I enjoyed “seeing” Anne mature into a woman.

The end of the story, though, was incredible. Throughout most of the book, I thought I’d give the book four stars but the last three chapters were so amazing that I had to give it five stars. The characters are at once empowered and challenged by their imaginations. There is so much emotion and depth in the last chapters of the book. Like Anne, I too am at a turning point in my life. Anne learns to accept the changes around her and learns from her experiences. This is another great character study.

Favorite Quote

[Anne to Diana as she is driving back to the Cuthbert farm via Lover’s Lane]: “It’s as if the year were kneeling to pray in a vast cathedral full of mellow stained light, isn’t it?” said Anne dreamily. “It do
Desn’t seem right to hurry though it does it? It seems irreverent, like running in a church.”

Review of Beowulf

beowulfWhat is it about?

Here is what Goodreads has to say about Beowulf:

Beowulf is the greatest surviving work of literature in Old English, unparalleled in its epic grandeur and scope. It tells the story of the heroic Beowulf and of his battles, first with the monster Grendel, who has laid waste to the great hall of the Danish king Hrothgar, then with Grendel’s avenging mother, and finally with a dragon that threatens to devastate his homeland. Through its blend of myth and history, Beowulf vividly evokes a twilight world in which men and supernatural forces live side by side. And it celebrates the endurance of the human spirit in a transient world.”

What did I think about it?

Beowulf is an amazing warrior. He is fearless and powerful. Originally from the Kingdom of the Geats, Beowulf arrives at the Danish King Hrothgar’s mead house, Heoroth, one morning to defeat Grendel who has terrorized Hrothgar’s men for years. Beowulf helps Hrothgar because the latter helped end a feud between Beowulf’s father and the Wylfings.

My favorite character in the poem was Hrothgar because he is so kind and wise. He imparts fatherly wisdom to the young Beowulf, and is very generous in his gift giving. He sets a fantastic example for Beowulf to follow. In fact, in many passages, Hrothgar is described in the same biblical language used to describe Jesus.

I read the Penguin Classics version of Beowulf, translated by Michael Alexander (2003). I thought the translation was beautiful and the notes at the back of the text were very helpful in understanding the history of the relationship between the Geats and the Danes. Major themes in the poem are the inevitability of death and the virtue of generosity.

Favorite Quote

[Hrothgar to Beowulf]: “Learn from this, Beowulf:/study openhandedness! It is for your ears that I relate/this,/and I am old in winters” [1720-1722].

 

 

Apologies for the Delay

Hello everyone! I apologize for the delay in posting. I have a few book reviews to catch up with (including a very late wrap-up post on Candide – sorry!). I hope to get it all done by the end of this coming week. This is just a bad time of the semester for me. So much to do, and so little time. But you can be rest assured that I have not abandoned you 🙂

Review of Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs._Dalloway_coverMy Classics Spin 2014 book was Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

Review

The war is over and Clarissa Dalloway will be having a party this evening. But it’s morning, and there is so much to do – buy the flowers, mend the dress, prepare the house. It’s 1923 and Septimus Warren Smith is talking to himself again, thinks Lucrezia Smith. Why does he keep talking to himself and to that nice Evans boy? Holmes says not to worry. But Septimus did talk of killing himself.

Clarissa would rather forget the war.

Where have Sally and Peter been after all this time? Sally Seton, what a character! Clarissa recalls the day when Sally ran through the house naked. She sure gave the domestic a scare! Sally had forgotten the soap.

She could have married him. But here was Peter, standing before her, after all these years, still fidgeting with that darn pocket knife. Why hadn’t she married him? Why had she married Richard Dalloway? But Clarissa could never forgive Peter for thinking her a “perfect hostess”.

What is it that people want? Love, some say. But what is love? Or is it pity that people want?

There is love. There is beauty, thinks Septimus. People are watching me again, thinks Lucrezia. Why won’t he stop?

So much has happened in the last few years. But the war is over. Thank God! There are rumors that the prime minister will be there at the party. Just this morning, some mysterious figure rode through the streets of London. They say it was the prime minister.

But what if all the dull women come to the party? Clarissa must not be a failure. How hard it is to deal with the likes of that gluttonous, pompous Hugh Whitbread. And that odious Doris Kilman. Has Clarissa Dalloway ever tried to convert anyone? Indeed, she has not!

 

Favorite Quotes

“She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.”

“Boys in uniform, carrying guns, marched with their eyes ahead of them, marched, their arms stiff, and on their faces and expression like the letters of a legend written around the base of a statue praising duty, fidelity, love and England.”

What a fantastic character study!