h1

Heart of Gold

July 19, 2017

What is it about active, mischievous girls that makes their authors want to injure them? In Heart of Gold, Ruth Alberta Brown’s third Peace Greenfield book, Peace falls off a roof. Read the rest of this entry »

h1

The Lilac Lady

July 18, 2017

The second of Ruth Alberta Brown’s Peace Greenfield books is The Lilac Lady. The Greenfield girls live in the city now, in a big house with its own stables and a lawn that slopes down to the river. Wealth doesn’t change Peace, except by giving her more leisure to get involved in other peoples’ business — whether that means giving her shoes to a poor girl or confronting boys who are bullying an animal or arranging a treat for an asylum full of orphans. All this altruism would feel oppressive if Peace didn’t have such a vivid personality. She’s dreamy and quick-tempered at the same time, interested in everything and incapable of sitting still. Read the rest of this entry »

h1

At the Little Brown House

July 17, 2017

I’ve just finished a cute little series by Ruth Alberta Brown. The first book is At the Little Brown House, in which the six Greenfield girls struggle to support themselves and their invalid mother. Gail is the eldest, and takes care of the rest. Faith is next, a little lazy and discontented. Hope and Cherry, the middle girls, are the least distinct, as characters. Then come Peace and Allie, about seven and five, respectively. Peace is our protagonist, well meaning but impulsive, and usually in some kind of trouble. Allie is her faithful shadow. Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Cottage on the Curve

June 26, 2017

I’m unenthusiastic about Mary Lamers’ Cottage on the Curve, but I can’t figure out what’s wrong with it.

There’s a family, and they’re a nice family. They live in Wisconsin, and they have a summer cottage not far out of their town. There’s a mom and a dad and four kids, and they’re good kids. Janie, 13, gets what seems like an unfair share of the responsibility for good behavior. Billy, 12, has a round face. James, 10, eats a lot, and maybe likes books? Davey, 6, has a pet monkey.

The kids go swimming, and weed the garden, and there’s a 4th of July party and James falls off the roof. There’s some theoretically exciting stuff with an elderly hermit and a fire. Everyone collects stamps and also pets. The illustrations are nice, like an amateurish Pelagie Doane.

Guys. I was super, super bored.

Maybe it’s just that this is one of those kids’ books that hold nothing for adults. Maybe I would have liked it as a kid. I think I would have liked it more than I do now, anyway. Maybe it’s just not doing anything to my brain. I bet people who had an upbringing anything like the one in this book would get something out of it, but for me, it’s got to be one of the least challenging books I’ve ever read.

h1

Catching up, 6/21/17

June 21, 2017

After three separate failed attempts at writing a review of The Owls of St. Ursula’s, I looked at my list of books read and decided I had enough for a catch-up post, even though I feel like all I’ve done lately is reread the Hildegarde-Margaret books. Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Aunt Jane’s Nieces

June 6, 2017

So hey, I’ve spent much of the last month on the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series, written by L. Frank Baum under his Edith Van Dyne pseudonym. It’s always interesting to me to see how far momentum will carry me into a series, because it doesn’t usually get me all the way to the end. I got bogged down about halfway in, but I pushed through, mostly because I never really want to come back to these books.

I have to wonder if Baum purposely lifted the plot of Aunt Jane’s Nieces from Laura E. Richards’ Three Margarets, which also involves three teenage girls being summoned to meet an unknown relative. When both also involve an Uncle John who initially misrepresents himself, they start to look suspiciously similar. Richards’ book is substantially better, and in fact reading Aunt Jane’s Nieces mostly just makes me want to reread all of the Hildegarde-Margaret books.

Anyway. Let’s talk about the work of someone I like much, much less that Laura E. Richards. Our three nieces are, in age order: Read the rest of this entry »

h1

Patty Blossom

May 18, 2017

For once, we’ve got a reasonably coherent plot in Patty Blossom. Wells uses the advent of a pair of ridiculous Bohemian types to draw out Patty’s feelings about Phil and Bill, and she finally comes to decisions about both of them.

Sam and Alla Blaney don’t call themselves Bohemians — they claim that only fake Bohemians do that. They’re pretty caricaturish, though. Alla wears shapeless cloths in ugly colors and parts her hair in the middle, and Sam has long hair and writes odd poetry. And actually, if there’s something that’s solidly in Carolyn Wells’ skillset, it’s parodying poetry, and I feel like there should be more of that here. I’m not a huge fan of Wells’ verse, and if one of her mysteries entertains me more than in irritates me I count it as a win, but I do like it when Wells’ other selves find their way into the Patty books. Read the rest of this entry »