Cheaper by the Dozen

Our rating: ****

This is the story of motion-study pioneer Frank Gilbreth. He and his wife decide to have a dozen children and actually do it. Then hilarity ensues as Mr. Gilbreth applies his factory-efficiency job to raising a family.

Written by two of Frank Gilbreth’s children, Cheaper by the Dozen is meant to be the true story of the life of their father. I don’t know if they made anything up for the book, but it’s certainly a lot of fun to follow the Gilbreth family through life in America during the early 1900s.

I Know Why the Angels Dance

Our rating: *****

Two fathers, one an atheist, the other a former pastor, must deal with the reality of death. This book explores how they respond to suffering, and how each of them is ministered to by a young girl’s passionate faith in God.

The story contained within these pages will not fail to move you. As Bryan Davis brings this touching narrative to a close, you will be hard put to keep your eyes from brimming with tears of sadness and joy. Curl up with this powerful book and discover why the angels dance — and come away with a desire to make them dance again.

Bridge to Terabithia

Our rating: **½

Jess is surprised when Leslie, the new girl at his school, chooses him as her only friend. However, he is soon very happy to have met somebody who actually cares about his hobby of drawing and understands him. Together they “discover” the imaginary land of Terabithia and retreat there from all their problems. But how long can it last?

I found this one intriguing. It starts out as a slice-of-life story and a neat one at that. But about halfway through, with hardly any foreshadowing, the plot takes a turn you won’t expect (unless, like me, you had it ruined for you ahead of time). There’s definitely room for lots of discussion about the ending, which strikes me as sad for reasons the author didn’t quite intend.

Swords of the Six

Our rating: ***½

Six sisters, human daughters of a dragon, are given a sword each from a six-warrior band that turned traitor a thousand years ago. Their task? Find one of the traitors who is still around and bring him to justice. After that, a future involving a difficult choice, especially for Dantress, the youngest and most powerful of the sisters.

It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t delve further into the depth of story here without dropping major spoilers. There’s a lot of backstory and plot going on, and the ending theme is certainly worth the read. The author states in a note at the beginning that this, his first novel, is a prequel to a much larger story to come. That may be the reason why this particular facet of the story came across as somewhat disjointed to me. Several events left me asking, “Why did that happen?” and some parts of the story felt almost random. Here’s hoping that book two will answer many of the remaining questions. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Charlie’s Raven

Our rating: ***½

Charlie loves to spend time with his naturalist grandfather. But his grandfather, now handicapped, is ailing, and Charlie is desperate to find something that will make Grandfather better. He remembers an old Indian tale about ravens being healing birds and decides to catch a raven chick. The young raven soon becomes part of the family, providing Grandfather and Charlie plenty to study and enjoy.

This is a great book for learning more about ravens—the different calls they use, various odd behaviors, their body language, and so on. The story is well written and engaging, to say the least. (I sat on the floor by the bookshelf and read the first half without getting up!) The only problem is that Indian myths and mysticism are predominant. Now, ravens being healing birds is shown to not be accurate, but there are still multiple references to ravens having supernatural powers. Charlie’s good friend Singing Bird is an Indian, and her family likes to demonstrate the old ways so people can see what they were like. I just wish they would differentiate a little more between showing what it was like and actually believing it. Enjoy with care.