Monthly Archives: March 2020

Bad News: Branches Book Club next Monday the 23rd is cancelled…GOOD NEWS: Don’t miss the page-turner novel (review below) while we’re all inside, and, DO Look Forward to our April 27th Meeting!

Friends! In my wildest imagination, never in a million years, could I have predicted what would be transpiring over the past two weeks. Each day and hour bring changes.  As many of you have reminded us, “Praise God He’s Sovereign and is surprised by none of this.”

Another most gracious-gift from God happened last Monday when I had my right hip replaced.  Had that been this week, it wouldn’t have happened given the surgeries that are being postponed.  The Lord sent guardian angels disguised as nurses and physical therapists last week and this week.  The stories are so uncanny, you wouldn’t believe me unless I told you.  We praise you, Lord.

So, because many churches have been cancelling big gatherings, our Branches Book Club falls under that category, thus we will not meet next Monday the 23rd.  We were to have read Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel.

Don’t miss reading this clever novel!  It’ll give you something to do and will keep you guessing until the last page.

Author Lindsay Harrell was most gracious and made us a video to show at our meeting. Since we’re now cancelled, Nancy Tinnell’s posting the video on our Branches Facebook page. Don’t miss it!

lindsayharrel.com

One of the many reasons this novel grabbed me from the get-go was thanks to the character, Sophie, who decides to get away for the season, dashing across the pond to a lovely area known as Cornwall, England.  Oh, and this gets better!  Sophie has rented an apartment above a bookstore and part of her deal will be she gets to work in the bookstore! Can you dream of anything better?!!!

Both Sophie and the bookstore owner, Ginny, have relationship challenges with their significant others, and we readers get to see firsthand how they learn to deal with them. Their fast friendship is fun to watch, seeing how they bounce ideas off of each other.

Early on, Sophie finds a notebook in the bookstore  which has journal entries from a woman named Emily Fairfax.  Emily was a governess who lived in Cornwall over 150 years ago.

So as not to give away their discoveries, join Sophie and Willam (Ginny’s brother-in-law) and Ginny as they make connection after connection uncovering things you never could’ve predicted. Their thought processes make Sherlock Holmes’ look dim. Oh, and we also get to be in on more than one budding romance…

Author Lindsay Harrel does an absolutely stellar job in toting us readers along with her characters, never knowing what’s around the next bend.  I found the entire journey delightful and didn’t want the book to end.

Checkout Lindsey’s message to us (on Branches’ Facebook page) and we will hope to see all of you at our last meeting of the season, on April 27th (Lord willing), when we discuss Margaret Feinberg’s Taste and See:  Discovering God among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers.

Prayers for all of you to stay healthy and safe during this COVID-19 situation. While we wait things out, may you and your family savor your time together and perhaps read LOTS of good books!

 As Barbara Bush once said, “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal, you will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.”

‘Til next time!

 

 

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If You’re Wondering What to Read Next, Look No Further! (Part 2 of 2)

Friends!  If I didn’t load you up with enough book ideas last week, fear not! I’ve got a few more. These are geared for families…

Our first book is a stand alone, but the second one leads to the third and the author of the third happens to be an endorser for our first selection. (Who’s on first?) Stay tuned…

I confess I bought this first book purely from the cover as I’m obsessed with penguins:

I wanted to jump in the cover, a la Mary Poppins and the chalk drawing in the sidewalk, and follow the Pied Piper, girl, and penguin, also toting a book along.

“Most engagingly conversational” would be my assessment of Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone’s writing.  I love the book because it does two things for the reader:

1 – It shows you why the authors want their book club participants to not just merely read their selections on the surface.  They help you become detectives.

2 – The book also helps you should you be considering starting a book club.   You’ll receive all kinds of ideas and advice. Clearly the Goldstones are experienced and love every single second of their time doing this!

Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook (which we’ll get to in a minute), said of Deconstructing Penguins, “Not just the single best book on leading a book discussion group, it is also about how to dig a tunnel into the heart of a book. In my ideal world, every reading teacher would trash that boring classroom text and adopt this book as a curriculum bible.”

The Gladstones say,

Early into the book, we get to see the Gladstones in action with parents and their children who’ve come to their book club.  Even more fun, the first book they discuss is none other than Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Simply delightful!

Our second book is by a lovely author I learned about from one of Ann Voskamp’s blogposts.  She raved about Sarah Mackenzie who founded the Read-Aloud Revival podcast.  Sarah’s book is called The Read-Aloud Family:  Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids.

Sarah and her husband, Andrew, live in Spokane, Washington with their six kids, so trust me, she knows what she’s talking about in this book!!! We get to learn from her experiments with her own children and see firsthand how reading aloud blessed and hugely benefited their whole family. Her strong, Christian faith overflows in her writing too which is an added bonus.

The book’s divided into three parts.  We watch the experiment unfold, we learn how to ask compelling questions, how to create a book club culture in your own home, etc. and finally we gain huge lists of recommended books, their synopses, all for certain ages.  Invaluable!

Finally, the last two books are by the same author. One happens to be one of a gazillion books my own Mother gave to me.  The author is Jim Trelease and the book Mother gave me is Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud. (Notice it says “edited by Jim Trelease.”)

It includes books in categories, sometimes only excerpts from novels, causing you to want to run out and find the entire book.  He introduces authors, many times telling stories of their upbringing or why they began to write, all of which is as interesting as the actual excerpt he includes! Categories include:  Tell Me a Story!, Tales from Long Ago, School Days, Food for Thought, etc. (There are eight more!)

Jim Trelease is best known for his The Read -Aloud Handbook: Includes a Giant Treasury of Great Read-Aloud Books. (I have the 7th edition, which says, “Now completely revised and updated.”)

This book is so thorough. From convincing statistics in the beginning to over a hundred pages of pure lists of books, age appropriated, succinct synopses, it’s easy to see why Sarah Mackenzie flipped over it and adopted Jim’s strategies immediately.

Pulling these four books out again has renewed my enthusiasm for reading to our grandchildren. I’d totally forgotten that the book my Mother gave me is autographed by Jim Trelease and dated 4-23-96, so John Jr. would’ve been ten years old by then. She must’ve gotten to hear him speak somewhere and had him sign it.  I wish I’d paid closer attention back then!

I’ll stop before throwing any more book suggestions at you (this is the end of Part 2!), before you throw some books at me!  Regardless, you cannot go wrong with any of these and your friends and family will thank you for your efforts.

Psalm 127:3 reminds us, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him.” (NIV)

’Til next time!

 

 

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If You’re Wondering What to Read Next, Look No Further…(Part 1 of 2)

Friends!  2020 has found me in three lovely locales of our home on a mission to declutter. (Audible groan.) Problem is I don’t spend enough time, thence the improvement isn’t visible yet.

While on one of these missions, I uncovered a pile of “I didn’t know I had these books?”  So, dear reader, it’s your lucky day as I was elated to rediscover these books!

This week and next, I’ll be sharing snippets for you because you will want to have your own copies or at the very least, check them out from the library to help you with your reading—for yourself, for your children, and for your grandchildren.

This week we’ll unpack two excellent resources by Gladys Hunt.  I’m sad to report Gladys died at the age of 83 in 2010.  But, it’s our grand fortune she’s left us such rich, rich books.  (At the end of the post, I’ll tell you about some of her other books. Today we’ll just discuss two of hers.)

The books?

Honey for a Child’s Heart:  The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life (4th edition with an Annotated List of Books for Ages 0-14) by Gladys Hunt

Honey for a Woman’s Heart:  Growing Your World through Reading Great Books by Gladys Hunt

The title for both books begins with the word, “honey”. This was inspired from Proverbs 16:24 which says,

One of the many things I love about the book for children  is the emphasis Gladys places on family time and how it’s enriched by reading. She offers ways to do this in addition to the incredible age appropriate lists with brief descriptions of the books. She also notes awards the books have won such as the Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honor, Newberry Award, Honor, and Medal, the Corbetts Scott King aware, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book award.

Regarding her lists, we also learn, “Two chapters list special books considered long-standing classics:  picture book classics and classic children’s novels.”

Gladys says,

Gladys is obviously a wordsmith. She advocates reading not just for our education, but to increase our faith. She adds, “I can’t imagine any pleasure greater than bringing to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing the many rich things God has given us to enjoy.”

Now watch how she ends this particular paragraph:  “Parents have this wonderful privilege, and books are their keenest tools.”  Yes!

Early into the book, we readers are gifted with a quote from Emily Dickinson from The Poems of Emily Dickinson. It captures the case for reading Gladys is building:

Actual illustrations from various books such as Mary Poppins and Charlotte’s Web, for example, delight our eyes every few pages. They are wonderful windows into these many books!

Gladys’ book for women, “Honey for a Woman’s Heart:  Growing Your World through Reading Great Books,” is equally filled with a wealth of information.  She opens with this from Mark Twain:

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.”

Then we get FOUR reasons we need to dive into this book, the fourth of which is my favorite:

“Fourth, expect books to become ‘ministers’ to your life, to say to you what you need to hear…The books recommended in the chapter on spiritual growth and the ideas for taking the Bible seriously could start a personal revolution!”

Every two to three pages, Gladys has little gray boxes with “extra” interesting topics such as:  “Children’s books I read at adult dinner parties”, “Books that inspire courage in Me” , “Books that touched every sense of my being,” and “Books that propelled me forward on my journey with God,” just for starters.

Don’t miss Chapter 7:  “Honey from the Rock:  Reading the Bible.”  Her love for the Lord is positively contagious and you’ll learn about so many books you probably didn’t know about!  I howled out loud at this recommendation:  The Bible for Blockheads by Douglas Connelly.  Here’s Gladys’ synopsis:  “In the kindest way, Connelly helps increase the reader’s biblical understanding.”

I’m making a list, or two, or ten, of books that sound like must-reads.  I’ll head to the library and see if I can’t look at them first before I jump in and buy them.

When I was corresponding with author Kay Swatkowski about her book, A Grandmother’s Prayers, that I recently wrote about, she told me she used Gladys’ books with her own children and when she was a teacher. She added, “I’m a firm believer that good literature is one of the best teachers for children!”

Here are two more books by Gladys and Barbara Hampton:

Read for Your Life:  Turning Teens into Readers

Honey for a Teen’s Heart

Now you know what I’m about to say, “Run, don’t walk, to your nearest library or bookstore and grab these books!  They’re worth telling all your friends about!”

‘Til next time!

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

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