"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Monday, February 20, 2012


by Richard Mosher

Another winner recommended from my mother!  This is a lovely story about a young Vietnamese girl who lives in France with her "grandfather" who adopts her as a young child after her parents are killed.  Its a young adult novel, with a lovely setting and place, some history of WWII, some sadness, and even a little bit of young love.  Mind you the "romance" part is not heavy or overbearing, and it does not overpower the rest of the story, but adds a nice element of happiness into a story that has some sadness within it.

Zazoo is a young girl who struggles a bit with who she is and her identity.  Is she Vietnamese, or French, or something else?  And she begins to learn that her grandfather is not who he used to be, and has a past that has pain and anguish in it.  As she learns more about his history and hers as well, she learns that no one is perfect, and that all of us make good and bad choices.  It is a story about forgiveness and learning to live with the past. 

I especially loved the setting of this story, the lovely descriptions of the canal, of Zazoo in her boat, and of the small house she shares with her grandfather, who is slowly slipping into forgetfulness.  Its a touching story with a hint of romance and a wonderful story about forgiving, but never forgetting those we love and lose.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

by William Kamkwambaand Bryan Mealer

If you're every having a bad day and you feel like complaining (like I was a few days ago when my teeth hurt from yet another orthodontic adjustment), read this book instead and then see how you feel.  This book will put your life into perspective and make you extremely grateful for the troubles you face.  Yet it also is a very hopeful and inspiring story about a young man who doesn't let his circumstances hold him back from making what he wants of his life.

William Kamkwamba is a kid who lives in Malawi Africa, in what much of the world would consider poverty circumstances.  As a young child he becomes interested in science, specifically electricity and wind power, and dreams of being able to have electricity in his own home.  He also dreams of being able to pump water so that his family can grow extra crops when the dry season comes.  He cannot afford to stay in school so he begins to teach himself about how electricity works, and then experiment on what he learns.  And without any formal schooling, scrounging for parts in junk yards, he builds his own a windmill and installs electricity into his family's home.  

Beyond this already amazing story, the book begins with the story of his early life, specifically a terrifying account of how he and his family barely survive a terrible famine.  This was the part that really put my puny troubles into perspective, and made me so thankful that we are blessed with an abundances of the basic necessities of life.  So many of us have excuses for why we don't go write that book, or finish that invention, or go back to school, etc. and here is a kid that survives a famine and then pulls himself out of poverty by reading books and putting what he learns into action to make his life better.  Truly humbling.

I also appreciated that it is written by William (with help from his co-writer) and I like that he gives a lot of details about the good things in his life in Africa.  He doesn't discount the African traditions of magic and superstition, but simply explains them as a way of life.  You can tell he has a great love for his land and wants to make it a better place.  If we all had this kind of concern for our own lives, our world and each other, what a better world it could be!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I came across this fabulous movie on one of my favorite book blogs just yesterday, and had to share.  It was a 2012 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short so you know its going to be good.  If you love books, this lovely movie will make you smile today:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.