Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs

Reading Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs was like catching up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen (or truthfully even thought of) in years.  The subtitle of this juvenile biography is The story of the author of Little Women, and that’s just what it is.  However, it is written in such a way to seem almost novel-like, or at the very least not the dry, dusty, detailed tome one might think of when thinking of a biography.  Cornelia Meigs’ writing style is warm, engaging, and even entertaining.  (I shared one of my favorite little vignettes from the story here, if you’d like a little taste of Meigs’ style.)  This book was most certainly deserving of the 1932 Newbery Medal it received.   In some ways I can’t imagine a child reading this book and getting a whole lot out of it, but according to the Newbery Medal terms and criteria, the award is for books for children which means “persons of ages up to and including fourteen.”   I would say that this book is probably on the upper end of the age range, and thus it is particularly enjoyable to adults.

I can’t help but wonder if Meigs’ take on the Alcott family is a bit romanticized or idealized, especially when I think about my own studies of the Transcendentalist movement of which Bronson Alcott (Louisa’s father) was a part. According to Meigs, Louisa’s reason for being was to take care of her family, and when she finally achieved fame and fortune, this was what gave her satisfaction.  This seems a little bit strange to me, but perhaps this is my modern mindset that I’m bringing to the book.  And of course, this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this one; I most certainly did–a lot.  This book is a winning combination of a fascinating subject written about in a beautiful way.  I love this short paragraph toward the end of the book.  It sums up Louisa’s life so beautifully:

Fame during a lifetime is something to win, but fame and affection which are to last a hundred years are rare indeed.  These Louisa had, with a richness of deserving about which we love to think as we look back at her, gay-spirited, vivid, and hopeful, waving not to May, but to us, across the century.  (185)

My curiosity about all things Louisa May Alcott is piqued.  I’d like to delve further into her life and her work.  I’m very familiar with Little Women, having read and re-read it as a child and teenager.  However, that is the extent of my reading of her or about her.  I think I need to remedy that!  I have the little juvenile novel Fruitlands by Gloria Whelan, which is about a pivotal time in the Alcott family’s life, at the ready, but I’ve also been thinking about hosting a little challenge for Louisa’s birth month, November.  Would anybody be up for that?  :-)

At any rate, I most definitely give Invincible Louisa a Highly Recommended and am happy to add it to my list of books read for the Newbery Through the Decades Challenge and to mark it off my Classics Club list!

newbery through the decades

Read Aloud Thursday–February 2015

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Welcome to the February edition of Read Aloud Thursday!  We’ve had a couple of weeks of unpredictable winter weather, which one would think would lend itself to lots of reading aloud.  However, along with the unpredictability of the weather has come the unpredictability of the schedule, so some days are better than others for reading aloud.  Still, we press on, and we’ve enjoyed quite a few good books this month.  I’ve already reviewed both of our read-aloud chapter books of month:


Both of these were winners and were enjoyed by both girls and their mama, and the DLM was also mostly happily along for the ride.  (I may or may not gush about Amos Fortune in my review.  ;-) I loved this one in particular.)

Our current read-aloud is Ben and Me by Robert Lawson.  This quick read (which Louise has already read independently) is a lot of fun!  We’ll also be adding Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes to the read-aloud stack in the next day or two.  (The clincher for me in reading this one now is the fact that it’s a selection for March’s Newbery Through the Decades Challenge, so it’s a two-fer. :-) )  I’m not sure what we’ll tackle when we finish Ben and Me.  I’m feeling the urge to read something a little more challenging.  I’m just not sure what.  I know I don’t want another piece of historical fiction, at least not one set during the time of the American Revolution.  I’ve considered tackling The Hobbit as our bedtime read, but I’m a little bit intimidated by reading it aloud.  I read it for the first time myself a few years ago and loved it,  but somehow I almost don’t feel up to the task of reading it aloud.  (Now that I’ve gone back and re-read my own review, though, I think it might be just the thing.)


One of the perks of bad weather--more snuggle time with dad!

One of the perks of bad weather–more snuggle time with dad!

Last month I shared some of the ready-for-chapters books that the DLM has enjoyed.  This month he met Elephant and Piggie for the first time, and boy, did he fall hard for them!  I’ll admit that neither my girls nor I really “got” Mo Willems’ humor in these books (perhaps because I read them wrong), but it has definitely caught on with the DLM.  
These three books are the three Elephant and Piggies that we have home from the library right now, and they’re all huge hits.  Since he has enjoyed these so much, I also brought home That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems, and he loved it just as much.  He definitely “gets” the humor.

He lies in bed and “reads” them to himself while I read to the girls.  The sparse text and cartoonish illustrations are just the thing for him right now.  Winners, all!

I’ve felt for a while that the DLM is really ready for his own consistent chapter book read alouds, but after reading My Father’s Dragon to him last year, I let it slide.  On a whim this month I picked up A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond and have been reading him at least part of a chapter most nights.  I honestly am not sure it was the best choice for him (the British-isms and references make it a tough go sometimes), but he usually asks for it, even if he doesn’t want a whole chapter.  We’re up to chapter five (and the chapters aren’t short, either), so I think we’ll probably finish it.

That’s where we currently stand with read-alouds.  Reading aloud to my children is one of my greatest pleasures and delights, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity!

What have you read aloud this month, or what do you plan to read aloud next month?  Please share in the comments below or link up your own post!

Snow day

DSC_0011 DSC_0012 IMG_1064 IMG_1065 IMG_1075 IMG_1081 IMG_1086 IMG_1114Lessons in the morning

nap for Benny

and the snow started

(finally, after more than a week of dreams deferred)

snowballs

and

sledding with neighbors

chicken and wild rice soup for supper

snow cream

(and thoughts of my granny)

still falling

six inches

snowday in the South

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WWW: A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt by Joni Eareckson Tada

 

I added A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt by Joni Eareckson Tada to my TBR Pile Challenge list not knowing it is a little pamphlet and not a full-length book.  I suppose that really doesn’t matter.  I got a lot out of it!  Contemplating (and yes, practicing!) gratitude is something I need almost constant reminders to do, unfortunately.  Maybe one day it will “take.”

Many things in this little booklet spoke to me.  Here’s one excerpt:

When it comes to finding the grace to be grateful, we don’t have to plead for it, beg for it, or do penance to be worthy of it.  No.  God’s grace–his love in action–is not a favor for which we must implore; it is a gift we are invited to enjoy.  All he asks is that we humble ourselves (James 4:6) and make Jesus Christ the focus, rather than our problems.

God wants us to have a thankful heart in a world of hurt.  We don’t need to ask God to make his grace sufficient for us; he has already assured us that whatever the hardship, there is an equal and compensating amount of grace ready and available for the taking.  Grace has been given and it only remains for us to receive it.  How wide and deep and high and long the promise of that grace really is!  It is sufficient.

I think somehow in my childhood that I absorbed the idea that I have to beg God for things instead of just beliving and being.  I’m learning to let go.  Trust.