Eh, Lassie, are ye leukin fer a gude beuk to read aloud to yer wee bairns? These are a few books we have especially enjoyed reading to our children:
- Bob, Son of Battle by Alfred Ollivant
- Books by John Buchan
- Rose of Paradise, and others by Howard Pyle
- John Holdsworth: Chief Mate by William Clark Russell
- Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie
- The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh
Bob, Son of Battle
a review by Laurie Bluedorn
Hoo aboot sich a yarn that’ll bring the tares to the eyes o’ e’en the sternest mon. Bob, Son of Battle, by Alfred Ollivant (copyright 1898) is about: Bob, a bonnie tyke and last of the Gray Dogs of Kenmuir; Davie, a puir mitherless lad; and his fether, Adam M’Adam, a little man turned harsh after the death of his wife.
…With a choking gasp the little man turned into the house, and ran up the stairs and into his room. He dropped on his knees beside the great chest in the corner, and unlocked the bottom drawer, the key turning noisily in its socket.
In the drawer he searched with feverish fingers, and produced at length a little paper packet wrapped about with a stained yellow ribbon. It was the ribbon she had used to weave on Sundays into her soft hair.
Inside the packet was a …photograph…It was a sweet, laughing face that looked up at him from the frame, demure yet arch, shy yet roguish-a face to look at and a face to love.
As he looked, a wintry smile, wholly tender, half tearful, stole over the little man’s face.
“Lassie,” he whispered, and his voice was infinitely soft, “it’s lang sin’ I’ve daured look at ye. But it’s no that ye’re forgotten, dearie.”
Then he covered his eyes with his hand as though he were blinded.
“Dinna look at me sae, lass!” he cried, and fell on his knees, kissing the picture, hugging it to him and sobbing passionately…
Memories swarmed back on the little man.
It was more than a decade ago now, and yet he dared barely think of that last evening when she had lain so white and still in the little room above.
“Pit the bairn on the bed, Adam man,” she had said in low tones. “I’ll be gaein’ in a wee while noo. It’s the lang good-by to you and him.”
He had done her bidding and lifted David up. The tiny boy lay still a moment, looking at this white-faced mother whom he hardly recognized.
“Minnie!” he called piteously. Then, thrusting a small, dirty hand into his pocket, he pulled out a grubby sweet.
“Minnie, ha’ a sweetie, ain o’ Davie’s sweeties!” and he held it out anxiously in his warm plump palm, thinking it a certain cure for any ill.
“Eat it for mither,” she said, smiling tenderly; and then: “Davie, ma heart, I’m leavin’ ye.”
The boy ceased sucking the sweet, and looked at her, the corners of his mouth drooping pitifully.
“Ye’re no gaein’ awa’, mither?” he asked, his face all working, “Ye’ll no leave yer wee laddie?”
“Ay, laddie, awa’ reet awa’. HE’s callin’ me.” She tried to smile; but her mother’s heart was near to bursting.
“Ye’ll tak’ yer wee Davie wi’ ye mither!” the child pleaded, crawling up toward her face.
The great tears rolled, unrestrained, down her wan cheeks, and M’Adam, at the head of the bed, was sobbing openly.
“Eh, ma bairn, ma bairn, I’m sair to leave ye!” she cried brokenly. “Lift him for me, Adam.”
He placed the child in her arms; but she was too weak to hold him. So he laid him upon his mother’s pillows; and the boy wreathed his soft arms about her neck and sobbed tempestuously.
And the two lay thus together.
Just before she died, Flora turned her head and whispered: “Adam, ma man, ye’ll ha’ to be mither and father baith to the lad noo,” and she looked at him with tender confidence in her dying eyes.
“I wull! afore God as I stan’ here I wull!” he declared passionately. Then she died, and there was a look of ineffable peace upon her face.
My advice is
If you find this book at a garage sale, auction, or used book store, buy it. It’s one of those books that is ignored by modern youth and thus tossed out by modern librarians. The 21st century will see a redefining of the term “classic fiction.” Gone from the shelves will be books such as The Adventures of Perrine and Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, only to be replaced with great works of art like The Babysitter Club and Goosebumps.
It is up to faithful homeschooling families to rescue the true classics from oblivion and build a library that we can pass on to our children.
Books by John Buchan
a review by Laurie Bluedorn
We spent last winter with John Buchan (1875-1940). Not with him personally, but with his books. His are the kind of books that if you read one, you HAVE to read them all. We started with The 39 Steps which is the first book in the Richard Hannay series. Next comes Greenmantle, Mr. Standfast, Three Hostages, and The Island of the Sheep.
One would classify these books as “spy stories,” but they will also appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction. They are packed with W.W.I history. Written with lots of English and Scottish dialog (for those who like to ham it up while reading to the kids), Buchan’s style is lively and not for those whose diet consists mostly of Janette Oake.
After you’ve read the Hannay series, try Witchwood. Set in 17th century Scotland, this novel reveals some history you’ll never read about in your average social studies text book.
You will have a hard time finding the Buchan books at your local library. They were all written around the time of W.W.I and are mostly out of print. Try your library’s interlibrary loan system.
Books by Howard Pyle
reviews by Laurie Bluedorn
Over the years we have read numerous books by Howard Pyle, and I would like to share with you some of our thoughts on these most exciting and interesting volumes. We were first introduced to Pyle by reading Men of Iron (first published in 1891). This book is historical fiction at its finest. The time is 1400, the place is England under King Henry IV. Our children were young when we first read Men of Iron, the oldest perhaps 8, and in one of the battle scenes, where a horse is killed, our daughter Johannah burst into tears. Mr. Pyle writes in an intense, moving style, holding his readers captive with every word.
Otto of the Silver Hand (1888) is another of Pyle’s books that deserve mention. The ending of this one is especially exciting, so don’t be tempted to read the ending first!
The Story of the Champions of the Round Table, The Story of the Grail and the Passing of Arthur, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates, A Modern Aladdin, Pepper and Salt, The Ruby of Kishmoor, Stolen Treasure, and The Wonder Clock are more of Howard Pyle’s works. Most are difficult to find. You will have to resort to old book stores.
Let me end with two of his books we have most recently read. The Rose of Paradise: Being a detailed account of certain adventures that happened to Captain John Mackra, in connection with the famous pirate, Edward England, in the year 1720, off the island of Juanna in the Mozambique Channel; writ by himself, and now for the first time published (published 1894). It’s a long title that pretty much describes the plot of the book. And lastly, my favorite Howard Pyle book, which we never knew even existed till I saw it at an old book store: Within the Capes (1885). This is the story of Captain Tom Granger, a Quaker, and his adventures in the year 1812. It is a combination of Robinson Crusoe, pirates, romance (Quaker style), and seafaring adventure. I love it!
John Holdsworth, Chief Mate
by William Clark Russell review by Laurie Bluedorn
Are you looking for a good book to read to the lads and lassies this summer? Try John Holdsworth, Chief Mate by William Clark Russell. This is the same author who wrote The Wreck of the Grosvenor (one of my favorite books). Chief Mate is an exciting sea adventure complete with shipwreck and amnesia. You probably won’t find this book at your local library, though. Try your library’s interlibrary loan system or an old book store.
Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie
translated by Vincent Sheelan, biography, published 1937, 3. Reviewed by Ava Bluedorn in Lives in Print, a list of good biographies.
When quite young Marie Sklodovska left her native country of Poland to study in Paris. Here she lived years of poverty and solitude while diligently studying. It was in Paris that she met the man whose genius was akin to hers, Pierre Curie. These two geniuses worked together like clockwork and together they discovered a magic element, radium. This discovery that they made not only was the start of a new science and new philosophy, it provided mankind with a means of treating a dreaded and terrible disease. This biography is ranked one of my very favorites of all time.
The Spirit of St. Louis
by Charles Lindbergh, autobiography, published 1956, 3. Reviewed by Ava Bluedorn in Lives in Print, a list of good biographies.
In 1927 Charles Lindbergh took his famous non-stop flight from New York to Paris. In this book, Charles Lindbergh writes about all the planning and building involved in the making of his plane “The Spirit of St. Louis”, about the careful planning of his flight, and in every detail his thirty-three hour flight from New York to Paris. Not only was it a difficult task to face, he also had to contend with other rivals that were also-at the same time-trying to make the first flight from New York to Paris.