Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Birthday Month Reading List

I thought it would be nice to revisit some of my childhood favorites and some favorite authors who write young adult and juvenile books during this my natal month. I do have to admit that this will not be the first time I have re-read these books. Some of these books I have loved so much I have read them more than a dozen times! (No lie!)

Right now I am listening to one of my favorite juvenile / young adult authors read one of her books to me. Who? you ask. Madeleine L'Engle. How can this be? you may also ask. Not difficult when you consider that most cars have CD players these days. I listen to books on my way to and from work instead of listening to the radio.

The book is A Wrinkle in Time read by the author herself. And when I first started listening to the audio book, I had a delightful surprise. Before she began reading the book on the recording, she commented on how the book came about. She told the story about how she would write and tell stories to her children, who would urge her to write more about the Murrys (the family in the story) which in turn gave her reason to persist in trying to get A Wrinkle in Time published. It finally was in 1962.

I really enjoy the mixture of science fiction, fantasy and philosophy in her books. And her characters are so very well created and so very interesting. I don't think I will re-read the rest of L'Engle's Kairos and Chronos books (the two intertwined series) at this time, because there are several other young adult and juvenile books I want to re-read.

The other books I plan to read this month include M.M. Kaye's The Ordinary Princess - a wonderful fairytale about the lucky seventh daughter of a king and queen who made the mistake of NOT inviting the fairy Crustacea to the celebration of their little princess's birth. They invited many fairies hoping for wonderful gifts such as great beauty, charm, a sweet disposition, etc. which their little daughter (named Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne of Phantasmorania) indeed received. However at the last moment the slighted fairy arrives and bestows a gift on the tiny princess - the "gift" of ordinariness. And as she grew up Princess Amy was indeed very much different from her six lovely sisters. She was freckled, had brown hair, was plain looking and preferred playing in the woods to wearing "fine clothes".

I can't wait to hold this book in my hands again, to read the story and to look at the beautiful illustrations drawn by M.M. Kaye herself. I highly recommend this book to any mother or grandmother to read to a young girl who might have a princess fixation. It may bring her back to earth.


Another two books I hope to have time to re-read are by Robert A. Heinlein - Have Spacesuit Will Travel and Tunnel in the Sky. Have Spacesuit (published in 1958) is a great story about a boy who dreams of space travel and tries his hardest to win a trip to the moon but has to settle for another prize (he didn't win 1st place), an obsolete but genuine spacesuit which he puts back into good working condition all by himself. Of course, Kip (the teenage boy) ends up having a very unusual adventure and getting to the moon anyway.

The other Heinlein book, Tunnel in the Sky is a classic sci fi teen "Survivor" story. Bearing in mind the book was published in 1955 and therefore some of the science has been disproved, it is very interesting how MUCH of the science is accurate (this statement goes for Have Spacesuit as well). The premise of this book is that teenager Rod Walker dreams of becoming a professional colonist on another planet but he must first complete the final test in his Advanced Survival class - staying alive on an unfamiliar planet for anywhere from 2 to 10 days along with the other members of his class. Unfortunately, the survival test lasts much longer than 10 days and the students eventually come to believe they have been "planted". I never read Lord of the Flies (believe it or not) but I imagine Tunnel in the Sky is somewhat similar though it takes place in the future and on another planet.

I own the last three of these books and look forward to reading each of them again. I would very much recommend anyone, teen to adult reading these - just for the pure enjoyment. But with Heinlein's books I love reading them for the science and admiring the man's vision of what might be possible compared to what has actually come to pass. It is just amazing.

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