Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Teaser and Two Reviews

I have two picture posts to share with you. One, is a monster post (again, sorry) about the stuff OUTSIDE the farmhouse. It will be worth the wait. I promise you. The other is a detail of that funny violin I found. Stay tuned for that...bated breath: Optional.

First, I'd like to review two things:

I met an author from MN named Jonathan Friesen. He signed his book for me and I couldn't wait to read it. I normally don't like fiction all that much, but I enjoy young adult stuff that I can let my own kids read. Seeing as how he homeschools his kids and knew Katrina a little, and recommended SHE read it, I figured it would be appropriate.

Boy, was I right! It was tremendous! The author suffers from Tourette's Syndrome and he writes a totally fictional story about a boy with TS also. He draws from his experience of course, but it's an amazing story (in first person...not my favorite format...but here it somehow worked) about a boy on a quest to find out who he really is. It's a struggle for identity (since he's been told from a boy that his real father was an a-hole and his step father even changed his name). I don't want to give anything away so I won't go into it all that much, but I do have some criticisms of it. Some of the dialect he used was true to MN, but some "sounded" to me to be a little more Southern. Other than that, it's a good page turner (read it in three days, even while cooking) and it kind of leaves you wanting some sort of sequel. It could almost be perfectly adapted to the screen, right from the pages of the book.


Now, on to my second review (this one for The Catholic Company).
I chose the book Hear My Voice.

When I saw it on the choice page, I thought it looked familiar and then, when I got it, I remembered where I had seen it before. I think the author (or maybe the publisher?) had found my blog and had asked me to review it before it went out. I saw the sample pages and offered my opinion at the time. The (author?) person who contacted me thanked me for my review but ignored my suggestions (big whoop, what the heck do I know, anyway?) and I guess went on to publish it and now the Catholic Company offered it for review...

Anyway, it's taken me a long time to review this one because it's not REALLY a book at all. It's more like a weekly devotional because it's a two page layout with an illustration on one side, a chldren's interpretation of the Gospel for Sunday on the other, and the true Gospel excerpt from the Lectionary for Mass for Use...in the U.S.A in a little box alongside the children's version.

It's a guide for parents to read to their children before and/or after Mass to help them to understand what the Gospel is about.

Before it begins, there's a preface and a chart that shows the Church calendar. It's a handy little chart that is color co-ordinated and with dates for 2008-2009 which, I assume, means a book like this would/might come out for every year?

I will quote the preface (then offer my opinions):

"The intent of this book is to help parents and educators bring Jesus' message to children in a way that will include them more fully in the weekly Mass. This book does not try to change the gospel stories to be stylish or impose the latest slang onto them...

The illustrations depict children in the time and geography of Jesus Christ's life They portray the gospel readings in a form that invites children to ponder and take a child's time to find meaning..."

You get the idea.

I really like this whole idea. It's also nice that it's a hard cover and not a "missalette"-type of book. It's solid, and well put together. The problem with it is in the children's translations. I had critiqued the author that I believed that some of the language used in the excerpts WAS slang and sounded false to my kid's ears (THEIR opinion, not from me). The kids were also a little bit creeped out by the illustrations. They are quite strange, in my opinion. You'd have to see them to believe them but they look like a bunch of unsmiling, white mini-dress wearing matching sandals, zombied expressions (same eyes, same Mona-Lisa smile). I also had a hard time picking out the "Jesus" character because they all looked the same (with the occasional long hair for a girl). The cover is very confusing because it'd sort of a depiction of the last supper and only 13 people are pictured but it looks like one is maybe Mary? Upon further reflection, it looks like Jesus is the one with the goiter? In every picture, he's got a funny tumor on his neck.

Get this book if you want a little Gospel reflection with your kids. Don't get it if you are allergic to thin sheets of paper pressed between two, press board pieces or slightly robotronic looking cartoons of people wearing mini-togas, or if you don't like phrases like:

"This was a lot for young Mary, and she said, "Look, I am just glad to be God's servant girl. Let this happen just how God wants."

(I had objections to the word "Look" because I (and the kids) thought it sounded petulant or sassy. The author(?) explained to me that it is meant for "behold" but to me, it did sound sassy.)

There ya go! Do with it what you will.