Archive for August, 2007

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Miss Billy

August 28, 2007

The Miss Billy books are kind of hysterical. I mean, okay, Eleanor Porter has her plot elements that she’s really attached to, and she absolutely cannot resist a romantic misunderstanding, especially if it involves some noble (on a small scale) self-sacrifice. But this is ridiculous. There are three books but only approximately two books-worth of plot. And while the first book, Miss Billy, has about two books-worth of plot itself, Miss Billy’s Decision and Miss Billy Married each basically recycle the second half of Miss Billy in different ways. Not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy all three books, but I was a little frustrated at times.
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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.
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Just David

August 19, 2007

Last week I was on an Eleanor Porter kick. I’d never realized how many books she wrote that weren’t, you know, Pollyanna. Her Wikipedia entry says she wrote mostly children’s lit, but I’m not sure how much I trust her Wikipedia entry, seeing as it calls the three Miss Billy books children’s lit (questionable) and Just David a novel for adults (untrue). I have no idea whether it’s right about the rest of her books, since those are the four I’ve just read.

Just David came first, and I think I’d have been able to tell that it was by the author of Pollyanna even if I hadn’t already known. Either that or I would have thought an unknown author was just copying Eleanor Porter.
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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.

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The Odd One

August 16, 2007

The Odd One

I feel like I should say anything about The Odd One, by Fannie E. Newberry, except that it was, well, an odd one. But I can’t help it. The title describes the book much better than it describes the main character.

Beth Merritt is the third of five sisters, and she’s called the odd one because, while Clarissa (Sister #1) and Trix (#4) are close, and Nell(#2) and Lala (Laura, #5) are close, Beth is always off on her own. The five of them live with their invalid mother in an old house somewhere in Ohio that, while pretty, has seen better times. The same applies to the girls. It’s all very Little Women. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Lady of the Forest

August 7, 2007

The Lady of the Forest, by L.T. Meade, is another recent acquisition, and one of the most crazily convoluted books I’ve ever read. It’s so confusing that you need a family tree to understand it. The author didn’t include one, though, so I’ve had to make up the deficiency myself.

Lovel Family Tree

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Marjorie in Command

August 2, 2007

A few weeks ago I found Marjorie in Command at a tiny used book store where all hardcovers were a dollar each and paperbacks were fifty cents. (I also got a paperback of Paul Murray Kendall’s Richard III, and that’s part of why I haven’t been updating lately — it figures that I would use the time not taken up by my history classes to read a history book.) It’s by Carolyn Wells, and although I would have been happier to find a Patty Fairfield book, this is pretty good, too.
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