Children's Literature, Reviews

Review: The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the SwanThe Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read The Trumpet of the Swan many years ago as a child but I didn’t recall much of it. Reading it again I realized somethings about literature and growing up.  It’s funny, for adults there are basically two kinds of fiction – realism or fantasy. While there is some blending of the two, the actions of the story follow certain rules be they rules of nature in our world or the rules created by the author that dictate life in the world of the story. In children’s literature, however, like in a Disney movie, rules are often thrown out of the window for the sake of the story. I had forgotten about that. And, apparently, I’d forgotten how to suspend my disbelief as fully as I did when I was a child. In this classic from E.B. White, people often react as you would expect them to when faced with a trumpet playing swan who can read and write English and at other times, they react differently than you would expect; animals (well, the swans anyway) often understand things about the world of men that they wouldn’t while at other times they are clueless. As a boring old adult, this took some time for me to get used to. That being said, this is a fun, sweet, and truly funny story. And the illustrations in this new digital edition by Fred Marcellino are beautiful yet sometimes humorous.  The cob’s speeches and his mate’s responses to them were the highlights of the book about man working with nature, honor, and overcoming the obstacles we’re giving in life.

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For the Love of Books, Reviews

Review: Harry’s Trees

Harry's TreesHarry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so thrilled to have received a copy of Jon Cohen’s novel, Harry’s Trees from Goodreads.com. This book will be hard to beat as my best read of 2018. It has so many wonderful qualities that it is difficult to figure out where to start gushing about it (which is why it has taken me over a week after finishing to write my review).
Harry’s Trees is the extraordinary story of how Harry and Amanda and Oriana learn to live again after two separate tragedies. As the novel explores how each person copes differently as they attempt to come to terms (or not) with their losses, it also shows that if we look hard enough we can find fairy tale elements in everyday life. At its heart, Harry’s Trees is a love letter to some of my favorite things – books, libraries, reading, and nature (For those who know me and know that I’m a major indoor cat, that last part may come as a surprise). Cohen’s writing lovingly, and with a devilish sense of humor, depicts the feelings evoked by reading and just being in among the trees while telling a darn good story that has everything you could want in a good read.
The book is packed with a lovable cast of three-dimensional, relatable, fun characters. I especially loved Oriana for her spunk, conviction, and fearlessness, and Olive for her strength, devotion, and her quirkiness. And now I long to live in a gorgeous treehouse in the middle of the woods with a stack of fairy tales and Sibley’s guides to keep me company.

If you enjoy Harry’s Trees (and I really think you will!) you’ll probably enjoy one of last year’s best reads, The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman with which it shares some thematic similarities.  Both also have a great sense of humor.

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