November 2008

Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Book About Courage and Survival

Maybe it's my age, but lately I've getting nostalgic for the books I read as a kid.  One of the books I remember from the sixth grade was Island of the Blue Dolphins. It's based on the true story about a twelve year-old girl who is left behind on an island off the California coast, by herself for eighteen years.  On the island she learns to fend for herself and to co-exist with the wildlife she once feared, specifically the wild dogs that killed her little brother. Karana, the main character, is courages and clever.  She is able to take care of herself in total isolation.  It's unnerving to think about a little girl left alone on an island.  But it's an important lesson about perseverance and will.  I think it's also an empowering story for girls.

The Thirteen Clocks, A Cherished Classic

Does anyone remember reading The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber? The Thirteen Clocks written cleverly by James Thurber, and illustrated by Marc Simont is one of those books that stays with long after you've read it.  The first time I read it I was ten years-old and it instantly became my favorite.  James Thurber, who was also a cartoonist, was unable to draw the illustrations for this book because he had become blind, but Marc Simont captures the whimsy of the story with his colorful and simple style. The book tells the story of a Prince who must complete a series of seemingly impossible tasks in order to win the hand of the beautiful Princess Saralinda, and rescue her from the clutches of an evil Duke. Thurber uses intricate and clever wordplay, that works best when read aloud.  It also contains some witty riddles and lots of sharp observations about human nature.  It's one of the best books ever written as far as I'm concerned.