Posts Tagged ‘boys’

h1

David Blaize

September 24, 2010

Sometimes I read a book and know exactly what I want to say about it, and writing about it is easy and fun. Other times, it’s a struggle. I don’t know what I think of the book, and I write about five half-posts before I come up with something that says about half of what I wanted to say.

I think David Blaize falls into the latter group.  So, things:

  • I think the real problem here is the structure. There’s pretty much no plot. In the first half of the book, David goes to a school called Helmsworth. In the second half he goes to a school called Marchester. He has some friends. He gets into trouble a couple of times. He plays some cricket. At the end, he gets horribly injured, and the  whole chapter feels like it ought to be in a different book. It’s like E.F. Benson just wrote whatever he wanted about his main character, without really bothering to make sure all the parts were related in any significant way. And somehow there’s almost no narrative tension to be found anywhere. Read the rest of this entry ?
h1

The Boy with the U.S. Census

June 4, 2010

I thought The Boy with the U.S. Census, by Francis Rolt-Wheeler, was going to be kind of boring, but there’s so much going on with it that I’m not sure where to start.

I guess we can begin with Mr. Rolt-Wheeler himself. Back when I thought the book was going to be boring, I thought this post was going to be all about him. According to French Wikipedia, he was born in England and left home at the age of twelve, earning his passage to America as a deckhand on a sailing ship. He then became an Anglican minister (although the New York Times says he was Episcopalian) and also an expert on astrology and the occult.

Sadly, French Wikipedia has nothing to offer on what seems to have been the most sensational part of Rolt-Wheeler’s history. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Telegraph Boy

July 14, 2009

So, I have this New York Book Company edition of Horatio Alger’s The Telegraph Boy. I think I got it at The Book Barn more than a year ago. Anyway, it’s been sitting on a shelf on my family’s house upstate for kind of a while, because I compulsively buy Alger books and forget to read them. This past weekend, though, I forgot my Kindle at a 4th of July party and ended up being without it for, um…twenty hours? Which resulted in me reading a couple of actual physical books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise, one of which was The Telegraph Boy.

(I recognize that I am overly attached to my Kindle. I may actually be as attached to it as my brother once was to his Gameboy Color, which is saying a lot. I feel bad about this, because I really do love actual paper books, especially when they’re old and the pages are turning brown and they smell kind of weird.)

Anyway, the point of this post is that I rarely finish an Alger book and think to myself, that was really good. In fact, I’m not sure that’s ever happened before, and I love Alger more than the vast majority of people, I think. I don’t know what made The Telegraph Boy work so well for me, but here are some guesses: Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Alger books

April 24, 2009

This is a document I created for myself when I was writing a high school research paper on Horatio Alger and had trouble keeping his books straight. I think it’s pretty clear that I wasn’t taking the paper very seriously.

It’s been a while since I read anything by Alger, but he was sort of my first love in the world of trashy 19th century fiction, and I feel a warm glow when I look at my bookshelf and realize for the hundredth time that yes, I own a  copy of Walter Sherwood’s Probation.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Tom Slade’s Double Dare

March 12, 2008

There’s a particular kind of plot, particularly common in adventure novels, where the hero, after having done something particularly heroic, is thought to have done something bad instead and is shunned by everyone until he is vindicated at the end.

I suspect that this was the only plot Percy Keese Fitzhugh knew how to write. His Tom Slade series is a paean to it. But if he only did one thing, he did it well. The Tom Slade series is my favorite boys’ series. None of the several companion series have the same self-righteous (but not sulky) angst that the Tom Slade books do. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Otterbury Incident

February 20, 2008

Because home is in New York and School is in Pennsylvania, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on trains lately. And I should probably use that time for work, but somehow I fond it difficult to do anything at all when on trains. I’m perfectly happy to stare out the window for an hour at a time. So the books that I’ve been bringing with me for my train rides have been very frivolous: The Westing Game, Slippy McGee (Marie Conway Oemler’s books continue to fill me with glee), The Otterbury Incident

The Otterbury Incident is the one I really wanted to talk about. It’s been one of my favorite books for years — I’m not really sure how long, exactly. For people who haven’t read the book, the most interesting thing about it will be that it was written by Cecil Day-Lewis, who was the Poet Laureate of England from 1968 to 1972, and who also happened to be the father of Daniel Day-Lewis. For those who have read the book, all that is kind of irrelevant. It’s just too good for any outside factors to be very important. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Deering of Deal

September 20, 2007

Deering of Deal, by Latta Griswold, is one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read, but I’m going to have a hard time talking about it, because I know I shouldn’t be devoting more time to Reggie Carroll than to Tony Deering, who is, after all, the main character.

Tony is a cheerful but sensitive southern boy, who, like all of the men in his family before him, has been sent north to attend a fictional boarding school called Deal. His father and grandfather, by the way, are named Victor and Basil, respectively. I mention this only because I think the names Basil, Victor and Anthony are sort of in harmony with each other in a way that pleases me.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Pee-Wee Harris and the Sunken Treasure

September 14, 2007

Pee-Wee Harris and the Sunken Treasure was pretty disappointing. But I shouldn’t have been expecting much — this is the first Pee-Wee Harris book I’ve read, but I’ve read a couple of the Roy Blakeley books, and it’s like Percy Keese Fitzhugh added a lot more jokes and thought no one would notice that he took out everything else. Oh well — at least the Pee-Wee Harris books have a third-person narrator.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

One Minute to Play

August 27, 2007

I picked up One Minute to Play in a used book store a month or so ago because I momentarily mistook Harold Sherman for Ralph Henry Barbour. They were both popular writers of sports stories, but it turns out that there’s an important difference: Ralph Henry Barbour knew how to write. Harold Sherman did not. I mean, it’s not like Barbour was all that great or anything, but Sherman, judging by this book, was really, really bad.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Tom Slade on Mystery Trail

August 17, 2007

Usually when I read an old book I’ve bought, I think a little about what I’m going to write about it here. It’ a testament to how much I love the Tom Slade books that it wasn’t until I was practically done with Tom Slade on Mystery Trail that it occurred to me that I probably ought to post about it on my blog.

I first encountered Tom Slade and his author, Percy Keese Fitzhugh, in Tom Slade at Temple Camp, which was a gift from a friend, and he has since become my favorite boys’ series character. Fitzhugh wrote several other series about Tom’s boy scout friends, but Roy Blakeley, Pee-Wee Harris, and Westy Martin aren’t quite in Tom Slade’s league.

It’s hard to explain why Tom Slade is so cool. He’s sort of the strong, silent type, and he’s a little awkward with people sometimes. He’s the perfect boy scout, but he doesn’t always appear to be — like when he avoids saving a boy from drowning so that someone else can do it and get the badge awarded for saving someone’s life. He’s very low key, and I love that.

In Tom Slade on Mystery Trail, Tom isn’t the central character. He’s just helping out another boy, who, although he’s completely unlike Tom in personality, has that same selfless-boy-scout-honor thing going on. Hervey Willetts is one of those kids who obsesses over a project until it’s done and then forgets all about it. So his troop decides that he’s the ideal scot to win the Eagle badge — which, unlike today, simply involves winning 21 different other badges. But it’s just a few days until the Temple Camp awards ceremony, and Hervey is one badge short.

He almost got the tracking badge, but the tracks he was following were also being followed by Skinny McCord, the Bridgeboro troop’s newest — and weirdest — member. If Hervey claims the tracks, he gets the tracking badge and the Eagle badge. If Skinny does, he gets the tracking badge and becomes a second-class scout — pretty much the lowest honor there is, but Skinny’s really excited about it, so Hervey pretends he never saw the tracks and lets Skinny take the credit.

Hervey’s troop is really upset — they feel like he’s let them down, and they call him fickle because he says he doesn’t care about being an Eagle scout anymore. That’s because he’s been talking to Tom Slade, who understands that by the time a boy is a true Eagle scout, he doesn’t care about the honor anymore. It’s adorable, really. And then it turns out that Hervey has earned some kind of animal rescue badge without realizing it — because he never looks at his boy scout handbook — and is an Eagle scout after all, although no one would know if it weren’t for Tom Slade.

Also, there’s and oriole and a turtle who help Tom and Hervey rescue a kidnapped kid. But while that’s cute, the storyline about Hervey’s honor and self-sacrifice is even cuter.

h1

The G-Men Smash the “Professor’s” Gang

June 28, 2007

I feel like The G-Men Smash the “Professor’s” Gang(by William Engle), while an utterly fantastic title, shouldn’t be a hard one to live up to. I mean, as long as there are, you know, FBI agents, and someone called the Professor, and the former smash the latter’s gang, you can’t really go wrong.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Cormorant Crag

June 25, 2007

Cormorant Crag, by George Manville Fenn, is the story of two young morons named Vince and Mike. They remind me very much of two young morons named Tom and Steve. Vince, like Tom, is not quite so much of an idiot as his friend, and Mike, like Steve, eventually learns to shut up and listen to his smarter, less dithery companion. Although Vince does quite a lot of dithering, too.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Tom Swift in the City of Gold

June 18, 2007


I thought that it would be pretty difficult not to like a book containing a chapter called “Beware The Head-Hunters!” But then, I didn’t expect a Tom Swift book to make blatantly untrue statements about anything but science.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods

June 18, 2007


I’d never heard of the Golden Boys before, but — well, I just had to get The Golden Boys in the Maine Woods. I think I’d better just transcribe the first paragraph:

The sun was hardly half way over the horizon when the door of a small log cabin some fifty feet from the shore of Moosehead Lake opened, and a boy about nineteen years old stepped out. He was dressed only in a pair of swimming trunks and his perfectly formed body, brown as a nut, made a pretty picture against the background of the cabin as he paused to draw into his lungs huge drafts of the spruce scented air. In a moment he was joined by another boy a little younger and not quite as tall, but no less beautifully developed.

The author is L.P. Wyman, Ph.D., Dean of the Pennsylvania Military College.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Nelson the Newsboy

June 18, 2007


This week I finally got a chance to open a box of books that one of my uncles sent me during the winter. It included five Horatio Alger books, four of which I already had. That’s pretty weird, because I only had about twelve Algers, and he wrote about a hundred.

The one that I didn’t already have is Nelson the Newsboy. I don’t know how much of it Alger wrote, though. It’s one of several books left unfinished at Alger’s death and completed by Edward Stratemeyer under the name Arthur M. Winfield, which he also used for the Rover Boys series.
Read the rest of this entry ?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers