It took me a long time to get on the Hogwarts Train to loving Harry Potter… but once on it (about the time Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out), there was no getting off. I was hooked from the first page, thankful I could just breeze through the first five books, but experienced extreme anticipation anxiety waiting for the last two. I cried when Dumbledor died. I cried when Snape died (having never really thought him a complete villain; I really sympathized with his unrequited love for Lily).
I’ve been on the Narnia team since the WonderWorks series aired on PBS in the late 1980’s, though I didn’t start reading the series until I began tutoring in 2003/2004 when I was a para-educator. My student and I read quite a bit, but never got past The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I’m not sure why. I’ve been meaning to rectify this, but it’s been so long I think I’ll have start completely over. Oh darn! Ha!
I have always romanticized pirates (mostly thanks to Burt Lancaster) and I grew up watching the 1990 made for TV “Treasure Island,” which is how I got my first quasi-age-appropriate Hollywood crush on Christian Bale. The weird thing is, I never read this classic until about 2009 when I got a tutoring job through our local library. Nope, it wasn’t some kids assigned reading. So few kids showed up for academic help, I actually got paid to read library books. It was a perfect gig for a book nerd! If you get a chance, please try to read this version, the illustrations are fantastic; even the page color (with hints of pirate maps on the edges and corners) make you feel like you’re right there with Jim Hawkins, Billy Bones, Long John Silver, and the eternally scary Israel Hands.
I have not read The Scarlet Pimpernel, but ever since I saw the 1982 movie version (starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour), I’ve been dying to. Not literally as it’s been more than a decade since I’ve seen the movie and I still haven’t read the book. In fact, it hadn’t been on my shelf until recently. I’m so dramatic.
Governess was a gift from a dear friend who appreciates (and does not patronize) my endearing love of Jane Eyre. More on my dysfunctional relationship with Mr. Rochester later. Anyway, I haven’t read this book, either. But I will. Someday. Soonish, I promise.
Daniel’s Story is a powerful story of “hope, life and even love in the midst of despair.” (GoodReads) It is one of the most moving Holocaust stories I have ever read. Classified as Young Adult fiction and intended for grades 4-8, some of the events and word pictures might be too intense for a sensitive reader. There is one scene near the end of the book, a portrayal of tragic and senseless violence that is forever emblazoned in my memory even though I read it only once about twenty years ago.
Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf” is classic and his illustrated version is fantastic; a must read! The photographs of stunning Viking artifacts are amazing and, as a teacher, really helped me “sell” this epic poem to my class.
No, I’m not hoarding all copies of Eaters of the Dead, though I have to admit that until May, I had many more copies, as I decided to use this as a base text while teaching about Beowulf and Vikings. I have always loved “The Thirteenth Warrior” (Antonio Banderas playing an Arab was not such a stretch as I grew up watching “The Wind and the Lion” and thinking that Sean Connery was synonymous with the Berbers) and jumped at the chance to introduce my students to the Norsemen, Scandinavia, Grendel/Wendol, and Beowulf/Buliwyf.