In a season when I am finding few books that I want to read all the way to the end, The Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts wouldn’t let me go. It’s the wonderfully touching, inspiring story of a plow horse bound for slaughter, who was bought off the kill truck for $80 — and ended up becoming a national jumping champion. His buyer, Harry de Leyer, is a young Dutchman who immigrated with his young wife after World War II and taught riding at…Continue Reading “The Eighty Dollar Champion”

I’ve been reading in undisciplined fashion this summer — which means that instead of being in my usual one-book-at-a-time mode, I’m in multi-read mode. Currently I’m alternating between Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Edith Nesbit’s Treasure Seekers, and, in preparation for my soon-to-be sixth grader’s reading list for next year, Don Quixote. (Hers will be an abridgement!) The multi-read mode is risky for me; I always wait with bated breath to see if I’ll finish any of the books on my nightstand. But it’s part…Continue Reading “Books in the atmosphere”

Sometimes you can enjoy a series of books, but grow disillusioned when you read the author’s biography. (This happened to me when I read Elizabeth Goudge’s autobiography.) But in Thornton Burgess’s case, I find my respect and liking for the man greatly increased by reading his autobiography. And I am drawn back to the stories of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest now that I have learned more about their back story and motivation. I grew up with the Thornton Burgess books. My parents…Continue Reading “Now I Remember: The Autobiography of Thornton W. Burgess”

It’s no secret around these parts that we’ve been bird watching all summer. Thornton Burgess’s books have been a nice fit as read-alouds, and recent titles have included The Adventures of Mr Mocker and Longlegs the Heron (linked to my reviews). I read a few of the Burgess stories when I was a child, but they weren’t really stand-outs to me. My daughters seem to enjoy them very much, and as sometimes happens, their enthusiasm has kindled a greater appreciation in me. (The same thing…Continue Reading “Read Aloud Thursday: Burgess Bird Book”

We’ve been enjoying hamster stories around here. Last Christmas, the addition of two of these little rodents led the kids to dub our home “New Hamsterdam.” Then a few months later my daughter won a local writing contest with a hamster story of her own. It was inevitable that we would discover Betty Birney’s stories about Humphrey, the “exceptionally intelligent and handsome” classroom hamster of Room 26B at Longfellow School. So far we’ve either read or listened to the audiobook versions of The World According…Continue Reading “Rodentry”

Watership Down is one of the books Mrs. G., the school librarian when I was in 8th grade, recommended. I remember loving it, but beyond that, and beyond the general subject matter of rabbits, I didn’t remember anything. Having recently acquired a pet rabbit, now seemed like the time to reread this novel about all things lapine. It’s a marvelous book in which Richard Adams creates an utterly convincing society of rabbits, led by Hazel and ably defended by Bigwig, Blackberry, and others, and contemplates…Continue Reading “Watership Down”

Back in May when I was raking dead leaves off my flower garden, I uncovered a nest of baby rabbits. There was brief chaos: I wondered if I’d stepped on them or hurt them with the rake, it started raining, and my husband was on the phone and couldn’t immediately lend his more level head to the multi-aged feminine hysteria. A few minutes later, we’d picked them all up, ascertained that they weren’t hurt, put them in a box to raise — then changed our…Continue Reading “Rabbit Hill”

My husband gave me The Man Who Listens to Horses: The Story of a Real-Life Horse Whisperer when we were dating. (We’ve been married ten years.) I read most of it, and this week I went back through it again all the way to the end. Apparently there’s some controversy about the book. Some of its factual claims are disputed: did Monty Roberts really do the stunt riding in National Velvet? Was he really a protege of Bill Dorrance — who has said he doesn’t…Continue Reading “The Man Who Listens to Horses”

Curious about what kinds of comparisons might emerge among the many horse books I’ve read to my 7-year-old daughter, I’ve started keeping track. I want to do one more post about them, then wait till a few more accumulate before doing another. One qualification: we also read books on other topics! These are ones that relate to a particular interest of hers, but she has other interests too, as does my 4-year-old daughter. Kathy Wilmore’s Horses! has been a great resource for my older daughter…Continue Reading “Another Herd of Horse Books”

Helen Kay’s A Pony for the Winter tells the tale of a pony who gives rides at an amusement park boarded to a young girl for the winter. Deborah, who’s 8 years old, learns the ropes of pony care and wrestles with the moral choice of whether to hide the pony from its owner when he returns in the spring. It’s not a picture book; text outweighs pictures. But there are still plenty of illustrations, and though the reading level is perhaps 3rd grade, younger children can read…Continue Reading “Horsebook Riding: Weekly Roundup”