Sunday, January 30, 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks (Weeks 1-5)

I came across an interesting challenge on another blog called "Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge."  The rules are very simple and the goal is to read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks.  These are the rules of the challenge:

1.  The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011.
2.  Our book weeks will begin on Sunday.
3.  Participants may join at any time.
4.  All books are acceptable except children books.**
5.  All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc.
6.  Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2011.
7.  Books may overlap other challenges.
8.  Create an entry post linking to this blog.
9.  Come back and sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" on the Challenge's website.  
10. You don't have a blog to participate. Post your weekly book in the comments section each week.
11. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for participants to link to reviews of their most current reads.

**In reference to children books. If it is a child whose reading it and involved in the challenge, then that's okay. If an adult is doing read aloud with kids, the book should be geared for the 9-12 age group (or older) and be over 100 pages. If an adult is reading for her/his own enjoyment, then a good rule of thumb to go by "is there some complexity to the story or is it too simple?" If it's too simple, then it doesn't count.


Since I missed the start of the challenge, I thought I'd include the books I've read (or are in the process of reading) during the past month.  


I finished reading Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes aloud to Sophia (who is ten years old).  The 336-page book was written in 1943 and retells in narrative form events in Boston prior to and during the outbreak of the American Revolution. The novel's themes include apprenticeship, courtship, sacrifice, human rights, and the growing tension between Whigs and Tories as conflict nears.

Events described in the novel include the Boston Tea Party, the British blockade of the Port of Boston, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

The book won the 1944 Newbery Medal and is the 16th bestselling children's book as of the year 2000 in the United States, according to Publishers Weekly.


I finished reading Incans Aztecs Mayans by John Holzmann to Sophia.  The description on the back of the book says, "Three civilizations that produced architectural marvels, feats of civil engineering unmatched even today, mathematical and astronmical breakthroughs that modern scientists have only recnetly been able to match.  Who were the Incans, Aztecs, and Mayans?  And what motivated them to live as they did?  John Holzmann examines their physical, social, and spiritual cultures from a biblical perspective."

This was an interesting book, but the challenge (particularly for a ten-year old child) was remembering the details of each civilization.  There is a lot of information packed into the 174-page book.  It is very comprehensive and certainly gave me an insight into these civilizations - all of which I only had minimal knowledge of prior to reading this book.


Attracting and Feeding Backyard Birds by Jen Green is a 256-page book filled with ideas for bird feeders, bird tables, birdbaths, nest boxes, and garden birdwatching. There are 25 step-by-step projects for birdhouses as well as great advice on feeding. At the end of the book, there's a directory of wild bird species. Throughout the book, there are more than 600 photographs and illustrations. 

I'm not done looking at this book yet.  It's one that I'm planning on renewing from the library since there are so many great ideas.  It's been interesting to see the number as well as diversity of birds that have visited the farm here in the past 15 years.  The more trees, flowers, birdhouses, and birdfeeders that have been added since first moving here has had a direct correlation to the wide variety and number of birds seen on a daily basis. 

This book has some feeders that can be put out during the winter.  However, the majority of ideas are ones that will have to wait until spring and summer when the snow has melted and the temperatures are much warmer.


I began reading Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham to Sophia this week.  This 256-page book is a 1956 Newbery Medal winner. It is the true story of Nathaniel Bowditch, who becomes an indentured servant at the age of twelve when his father apprenticed him to a chandlery after his mother died. This ends his dreams of attending Harvard.
Through hard work and perseverance, Nat continues his studies on his own. He questions whether he would be destined to be a bookkeeper all his life, or if he could find a way to better use his skills in mathematics. His discoveries in the field of navigation are put to the test when Nat becomes captain of his own ship.


I started reading Gentle Ben by Walt Morey a few weeks ago.  I took a break from reading it since I was reading the other books to Sophia.  I have an old hard-cover copy of the book - from 1965 - that I'm reading.  If I have some quiet time in the mornings or evenings this week, I should be able to finish it.  It's not that long of a book...only 191 pages. 

It is set in Alaska when it was a territory (before it became a state).  As I read the story, it reminds me of the beauty and vast wilderness that I was able to see many years ago when I made a trip to Alaska.  I visited Alaska in the spring - before the tourist season began - so it was quiet, peaceful, and incredibly beautiful!

This is a description about Gentle Ben that I read from a reviewer from The Community Bugle Newspaper who posted on  "Mark Andersen leads quite a lonely existence in the Alaskan wilderness, where he lives with his mother and father. Things wouldn't be so lonely if his older brother was still around, but since his death, Mark has been devoid of contact with anyone even close in age to him.

"Due in large part to the fact that he's the smallest boy at school - at least for his age - and risks injury if he plays with the stronger boys, so he keeps to himself. That is, until he discovers a friend named Ben.

"Ben isn't your average friend. He's an Alaskan brown bear "brownie," who is larger than life, and frightens anyone who sees him. Except for Mark. Mark knows how gentle Ben is, and quickly befriends him. Mark and Ben discover that they are much more like one another than anyone could possibly know, and forge a strong bond.

"But when the local townspeople find out about Mark and Ben's relationship, they are determined to destroy it. Even if it means destroying Ben."

In searching for an image of the book cover of Gentle Ben, I came across an interesting commentary about books that illustrate children and people coming together, many times unexpectedly, to overcome mutual suspicions arising from assumptions (or raw ignorance) about gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, wealth, class, culture, accent, language, country of origin, etc. Gentle Ben is one of the books that is recommended in a long list of books that are worth checking out.


Robin McCormack said...

Welcome to the challenge. You are reading lots of interesting books. We read Carry On Mr. Bowditch (read aloud with my son) and he enjoyed it. Totally forgot about Gentle Ben. My son would probably enjoy that one. Happy Reading!

Jean said...

Wow, you've got a lot for your first post! :) It will be fun to see what you read.

Faith said...

Johnny Tremain, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch and Gentle Ben are three of my favorite childhood reads. I've read the first two out loud to my kids but not the last. So you know what is going on my 'to read aloud' list? Thanks for reminding me!

Five Bears A-Blogging said...

What a great challenge! I look forward to seeing all you're reading! - Mo