Book Chat

Fourth Tuesday means it’s time for book reviews …

key to the kingdomThe Key to the Kingdom, reviewed here.

keeper bookI brought Keeper home from the library after discovering it in a Scholastic book order form from the kids’ school. I do that a lot to get book ideas — look through the form, but then instead of buying the books, I usually check them out from the library. “Keeper” was on the back page, under a “highly recommended” header.

Well, both my 9- and 11-year old girls rejected it as “boring,” but I decided to give it a try. It’s beautifully written, but I can see how it would be a bit of a slog to kids – the writing is very descriptive, and it goes on for about 400 (admittedly small) pages.

It’s the story of Keeper, a girl who is convinced her long-vanished mom was a mermaid. She goes out to sea at the end of a very bad day, determined to take a boat out to find her mother in the sea, and … you can imagine the adventure that ensues.

The story seems a bit more appropriate for adults than kids to me. There is a part about an elderly neighbor and his memories of a boy he fell in love with as a teen. I’m not thrilled about this commercial for homosexuality in the book, and it doesn’t turn up until maybe 200 pages in. If I were a teacher reading this aloud to my class, I’d feel pretty deceived and upset about that. It also seems like perhaps the author threw that in in the hopes of grabbing headlines/awards, etc. since tolerance ‘n all that are so big now …


there i grew up lincolnThere I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth tells the story of the years Abe Lincoln lived in Indiana, my own state. I was drawn to this book because it is written by Bill Bartelt, a distant relative of mine who lives near the area where Lincoln lived and worked at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.

Lincoln moved to Indiana in 1816, when he was 7, with his parents and sister. While there, his mom died, and his Dad traveled to their original home in Kentucky to find a new wife. He then returned, and the family remained until 1830, when they moved to Illinois.

Much of the book is made up of source documents, which aren’t always easy to read (think “Huck Finn,” or that servant in “Wuthering Heights”), but it’s interesting to read the thoughts of people who actually lived with Abe.

Some points that stood out:

  • Abe was kind and a hard worker – although he preferred working mentally to physically.
  • Abe always loved books. This was a major theme.
  • Abe’s real mom and his step-mom were both impressive, both more so than his dad.


duggar bookI love the Duggar family, and from the numbers who read my Yahoo Voices Duggar articles, I can see I’m not alone. I first remember hearing about them several years ago, when they were featured in a magazine article. I think they had 14 kids at that point. I certainly hope they don’t follow the path of another popular TLC family, Jon and Kate, but given their faith, I’m not too concerned.

I’d been meaning to read their book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America’s Largest Families–How they Do It for a while, and finally got around to it. It’s an easy read, and basically takes you through the Duggars’ history, from Jim Bob and Michelle’s growing up years up to the present.

It includes lots of extra fun stuff, like recipes the family enjoys, many photos, and a houseplan of their current house. I couldn’t help but be impressed with the Duggars’ frugality and organization, and by their trust in the Lord. Sure, you could argue that it’s a lot easier to trust Him now that they’re presumably raking in big bucks from TLC and now that they’re fairly famous in their own way, but their book still makes clear that they were this way even in the lean times. We could all learn a thing or two from the Duggars – I recommend this book.


frederico the mouse violinistFrederico, the Mouse Violinist is a charming little children’s book. It tells the story of little Frederico, and how he ends up with his own teeny Stradivarius violin. The story is simple but sweet, as are the illustrations. It introduces readers to Cremona, Italy, to the names for various parts of the violin, and to famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari. Did you know that a violin maker is called a luthier? Me either, but I do now. I love it when I can learn something from a children’s book, and this one filled the bill in a pleasing way. It would be especially nice for a child who is beginning to learn violin.


mission of motherhoodA few times every year, I read a book like Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity. I find most of these parenting books very similar, and I can’t remember a specific gem I’ve gotten from any of them. Their information is basic:  spend time with your kids. Love them. Give up your own desires to nurture theirs. Pray for them. Etc. I find that reading books like this is kind of like breathing pure oxygen – even though it’s nothing new, it’s still refreshing and motivating.



6 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Wow, thanks for the heads up on Keeper. Sheesh.

    I’ve read a few reviews about the Duggars book. Fascinating story. Maybe I should put that one on my list.

    I like the variety in your list!

  2. I really enjoyed the Duggar’s book, too. Simply amazing how they manage to do it all.

    Have a great week!

  3. I recently heard about The Key to the Kingdom. As a Disney fan – I’m intrigued.

    I LOVED the Duggar book. And yes, I’m not really worried that they’ll follow in the footsteps of that other popular family.

    Fun list! I enjoyed reading through it.

  4. Too bad about the book Keeper. That story reminds me of the movie Odine. A fisherman finds a woman in the sea and his daughter thinks she is a mermaid. The movie has a surprising ending. Here is a link:

  5. That Abe Lincoln bit looks interesting. I have a love-hate relationship with source documents. I despise the work of slogging through them–but there’s nothing better than the thrill of having “gotten” something from them (whether a fantastic quote, a startling revelation, or just a different perspective on the world).

  6. Keeper has such a beautiful cover.

    I think you’re the third person in the past week to recommend the Duggar book. I think I’ll have to give it a try! Me, the one with no kids, reading about the couple with 20 of them. 🙂 Should be interesting!

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