029 - Sounder

Rarely do I read a book that is anywhere near as depressing as this one. Sounder is perhaps one of the saddest children’s books I’ve ever read. I am not surprised it has won a Newberry Medal because it was extremely well written. However, I was shocked it had won awards because the book is so realistic. Most children’s books take place in a perfect world where everything works out in the end. However, Sounder is much closer to the way life actually works.

William H. Armstrong wrote this book several years ago and it has been an American classic for a while now. The book would probably be good for any child getting into chapter books, but caution must be taken considering how real the story is. All in all this book was an interesting read, with a great plot, and tense emotions through the whole book.

028 - Saving God's Green Earth

Tri Robinson is one of the first pastors in America to begin teaching his church that stewardship of the environment is part of our duty as Christians. He wrote this book after their first year of really focusing on getting out and helping out the earth. This book is incredible. It includes plenty of Scripture for the Christian who isn’t quite sure about “being green” and highlights several Christian leaders who are leading the charge on taking care of the earth.

The book offers lots of insights and ideas for making your life more green. It offers encouragement and internet resources for those seeking accountability and community through the book’s website. Robinson has written an excellent book that should convince every Christian to step up and start taking care of nature. If you’re not sure if a Christian can be an environmentalist or if you’re a closet environmentalist then this book is for you.

027 - Red Rabbit

I’ve recently gotten into the swing of reading Tom Clancy. This is the second one I’ve read/reviewed over the last few weeks. However, this one was big. Red Rabbit comes in at just over 600 pages. With a book that long it’s needless to mention that there are several subplots found throughout the book. Clancy does an excellent job crafting the story and building characters. His book is quite detailed and breaks down each and every situation into several pages worth of prose. With a writer as detailed as Clancy it is easy to see why this book ended up so large.

The only issue I take with Clancy is that in his writing often it takes me a while to really grasp the story. This book starts off extremely slow, and takes a while to build the many characters. Clancy introduces so many characters so fast, I found myself re-reading pages to figure out exactly who he’s talking about. However, to my understanding this task gets easier since many of Clancy’s books return to the same group of characters.

Red Rabbit was a great story and had a strong plot. The twist was somewhat predictable though and offered little extra to the story. Also, I wonder if perhaps Clancy spent a little too much time on the details rather than on the story itself. I found that this book was very easy to put down and self-discipline is the only way I finished it. I would classify the last 100 pages as a “page-turner” but wading through the first 500 might not be worth it.

026 - The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones, a book about a 14 year old girl who is raped and murdered and her family’s (and loved ones’) inability to continue living without her. This is a rather odd story that is very melancholic. The girl is in her “heaven” watching her family and longing to be back with them. With this image of heaven, it would explain why her presence there was so lonely and her parents’ inability to move on without her.

The killer was weaved in and out of the story but never caught, leaving him free to continue killing. At one point, the book seemed to imply he was interested in the dead girls’ sister but that thread in the plot dropped off immediately after it was introduced. I felt the father was admirable in his pursuit of the killer. Although, it was sad that he didn’t have a belief in God and heaven so that he could find peace with his daughter’s death.

The dead girl’s mother has an affair with the police lieutenant and then moves to California but the book didn’t seem to make a clear reason for this. In the beginning, it seemed to be due to reasons that had nothing to do with the girls’ death but later it hints that her reasons were due to the death or the reaction of the father to the death. It was very unclear. At the end, the dead girl’s ghost comes back and while in her friend’s body was able to have sex with the boyfriend she had at the time of her death. Apparently, neither she nor the boyfriend were able to move on with their “lives” until this happened. It is hard to imagine that a 14 year old boy could not move on to another love in the course of 8 or 9 years in which this story took place. And earlier in the story, her sister has extramarital sex at the age of 14 but grows up to live happily ever after with this boyfriend. This romanticizes extramarital sex and gives unrealistic notions to any young reader. The author uses sex to solve everyone’s problems or maybe she intended for it to just cure everyone’s loneliness. From a Christian view, the author’s use of sex was shallow and definitely not the answers to seek during the times of losing a loved one(s).

This book was at one time a “#1 bestseller” and is described as “succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.” I don’t see that. Overall, I was disappointed with the weak plot, disappointing ending, and lack of Christian values.

Submitted by - K. Wynn

025 - Ralph S. Mouse

Occasionally I enjoy checking out a book from my childhood. This time was a book by Beverly Cleary that I remember my teacher reading to me as I fell asleep at naptime during my elementary days. This time through I did the reading myself, but still thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The book is a simple but quite entertaining. The simple plot looks something like this: Boy meets mouse. Boy takes mouse to school. School kids think mouse is cool. Mouse wants to go home. Boy returns mouse. All in all a simple plot, but a great story. This book is well written and engages the mind of any youngster who may be reading it. I would recommend this book to any young person looking for a good book who is reading chapter books. This is one of the better chapter books I’ve read by a great author.