February 13, 2022 at 2:31 a.m.
Beyond the books I am reading for my own pleasure, we are constantly reading or listening to books as a family. Our commute from farm to home at night has become much more pleasant the past year with the addition of audio books. We have traveled with swans in “The Trumpet of the Swan,” we have practiced magic with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” we have lived in a brownstone apartment in New York with “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street,” and we have outsmarted pirates and flown in the jungle with “Peter and the Starcatchers.”
“Peter and the Starcatchers” is written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson as a prelude to the long-known story of Peter Pan. Ever wonder how it is that Peter can fly? Or, how did he come to live on an island called Neverland with his band of Lost Boys? Perhaps, how did Captain Hook and Peter end up becoming lifelong rivals? This book and the two that follow in the series are phenomenal. There are four books total; we are on the third one. The action doesn’t stop. I can’t stop recommending this book to everyone with children who have any sort of time in a vehicle.
Having children ranging from age 4 to 15, finding a book that will interest all of them at once can present a challenge. These books capture our attention from the moment they are turned on until the minute we pull into the driveway. And, despite the fact there are multiple storylines happening simultaneously, all of the children can follow along. I find myself driving well below the speed limit because I am so engrossed in the action of the story. Audio book genius reader Jim Dale is the voice behind Harry Potter, Peter and another favorite of ours “James Herriot’s Animal Stories.” He makes each and every character come to life with the power of his voice.
Now that Stacy and I have older boys, they often suggest books to us. Oliver, Dane and I have read a few of the same books by Alan Gratz. It may seem bizarre to be a grown woman who reads young adult books, but there are some wonderful books out there. They read fast, and it will reignite your desire to read more. The first book that introduced me to this author was “Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II.” It was like reading the script to a spy thriller movie set in Germany. His book “Refugee” follows the lives of three teenagers in refugee situations over different periods of time, yet all their lives connect in the end. Gratz’s main characters in every book are the ages of his primary audience, usually between 12 and 14. I started his book “Grenade” (per Oliver’s request), set in Hiroshima during WWII. This story follows a young Okinawan soldier as well as an American soldier, and at only 20 pages in, it is sure to be a winner.
Historical fiction books are some of my favorite reads. They give me the ability to time travel through the pages of a well-written book and learn many things along the way. “The Care and Management of Lies” by Jacqueline Winspear took me to England during WWI. Winspear writes beautifully, capturing the feelings of her characters and the heaviness of the time period and making you feel the pain with them. I also learned more about WWI from other perspectives within the pages and through the lives of the characters of Martha Hall Kelly’s book “Lost Roses.” Kelly’s previous book, “Lilac Girls,” focuses on the lives of three women during WWII, one of which was Caroline Ferriday. “Lost Roses” is Caroline’s mother Eliza’s story of strength and resilience during the First World War and her impact on the emigrated White Russians. These incredible women were real people, and in Kelly’s other book, “Sunflower Sisters,” she tells the story of yet another ancestor during the Civil War. Whenever I read a book that has so much factual information woven seamlessly into the storyline, I am astounded at how little I know about history. It serves to whet my appetite to know more and more.
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” This quote from Mason Cooley fits my reading life. Reading offers me a way to travel back in time, across the world to learn things or to a world of magic and wonder. It is a vacation I can afford to take daily if my drooping eyelids allow.
Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her children, Ira (14), Dane (12), Henry (7) and Cora (4), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.
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