Thursday, January 1, 2009

Good books, December 2008

Can You See What I See? The Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick, 2005, 36 pages

We really like these search-and-find books, although it can be maddening to search through the photographed scenes, trying to find the last two bears or snowmen or whatever items you haven't been able to locate.

Sir Reginald's Logbook by Matt Hammill, 2008, 32 pages

This picture book is written like an explorer's notes, but as the hero faces vicious beasts and treacherous terrain, the pictures show that he's really in his own house imagining the adventure. We all got a good laugh out of this one.

Science and Technology in the Middle Ages by Joanne Findon and Marsha Groves, 2005, 32 pages

I picked this up for my daughter who loves reading about medieval times, but I found myself fascinated by it too. It's a pretty basic overview of the subject that covers a lot in its few pages. The Middle Ages in Europe isn't really a time you'd think of a lot of scientific discovery happening, but there were important changes going on. Looms were improved so cloth was easier to make, new types of harnessing meant that horses could be used to pull heavier loads and plows, and mechanical clocks were refined to the point that small ones were available to go in homes. There are lots of pictures to keep younger kids interested too.

Storyteller by Edward Myers, 2008, 283 pages

Jack is a storyteller who goes to the big city to seek his fortune and ends up falling in love with a princess. Unfortunately, difficulties arise, and his only defense is his words. I loved how this book showed the way words can be used for good or for evil, to help people or to trick them, and how even good people can find themselves making bad choices about how to face their problems. M. and I both liked it a lot.

What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio, 2008, 160 pages

This book is so interesting, I would pick it up just to read a couple of pages, then find myself still reading it an hour later. The authors visited families all over the world to study what they eat in a week's time. They wrote about how each family gets and cooks their food and photographed each family with a week's worth of food. It's fascinating and sobering to see the wide differences in how people live and eat.

The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak by Jason Surrell, 2007, 128 pages

After our trip to Disneyland in November, M. found this book in the library and we all (even Mike) could hardly put it down -- we even had a few arguments over whose turn it was to read it. It's about the rollercoasters like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn and Big Thunder Mountain, how they were designed and built, and all kinds of fun things to know about their history and development. T. now says he wants to be "an Imagineer and a professional baseball player" when he grows up.

The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke, 1911, 48 pages

This is a beautiful story everyone should read. A wealthy man discovers that the mansion he's earned in heaven isn't quite what he thought it would be. The story happens at Christmas time but, like A Christmas Carol, it's good any time of the year.

The Enoch Letters by Neal A. Maxwell, 2006 (but previously published under a different title), 81 pages

This book is a set of fictional letters from a man who lives in the city of Enoch. He writes to a friend, hoping to convice him to move there too, and describes the progression of the people and the city as they learn to follow the Savior and become Zion. It's short but full of things to think about, and has become one of my favorite books.

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