It’s two-for-one on Read-Aloud Thursday for me this week since I was too busy to get a “Book Discoveries” post written last week. There’s even a semblance of a fairy tale theme, if only in the book titles. 🙂
Miss M and I took two weeks off from reading Mystery of History Vol. 3 to read “Once Upon a Horse: A History of Horses and How they Shaped Our History” by Suzanne Jurmain. We just finished a unit study of sorts on horses to prepare for Miss M’s expert day presentation at co-op (she first broadly chose the topic of horses, then wanted to focus in on the subject of how horses were used through history). I reserved several books on horse related history from our library, and this one seemed to be the most generally readable.
Jurmain’s book opens with a chapter about the evolution of horses, which to be honest, we skipped in our read-aloud since we hold to a creationist view. I explained to Miss M why we were skipping the chapter. She knows that many people hold an evolutionary point of view, and I’m sure as she gets older this is something we’ll study in more detail. Following this chapter is a discussion on the domestication of horses. The rest of the book is comprised of eight chapters, each covering a different aspect of how humans use or used horses.
We spent the most time reading and re-reading sections on the horse as it was used in war, for work, for travel and in sending messages since Miss M was most interested in those topics, while we glossed over more quickly chapters on topics like horses in sports and racing. I really enjoyed how this book touched on many topics we’ve covered in the past two years of reading Mystery of History — the Huns, the Mongols, the first mail delivery system in Persia, Knights on horseback and more. A general reading of history doesn’t highlight the role of the horse, but the horse really was an important “player” in many of these important points in history.
This book is definitely worth a read for horse lovers that are also history buffs. I’m not sure if this is a big segment of the population, but given that at least one publisher offers an entire course on the history of the horse, I would guess that there are a few others out there besides my daughter!
This week Miss M and I finished “A Little Princess” by Francis Hodgson Burnett as our bedtime read-aloud. A lot of the books we read I could almost as easily just hand to Miss M and have her read herself. This was not one of them! In fact, I was very glad we were reading this one using the Kindle app on the iPad, because I had to use the handy “dictionary” feature a few times myself!
A few friends were surprised that I had not read “A Little Princess” previously. It’s yet another “children’s classic” I missed as a child in my rush to get to reading books in the adult section of the library. If only I could have known what I was missing out on. At least that gives me more to enjoy and discover now!
“A Little Princess” is the tale of the rich daughter of a British officer stationed in India. Her mother died at birth, and now her father is sending her off to school in London. Sara Crewe could easily be a spoiled little brat, but instead she is a model of virtue. She willingly shares and is kind to others and doesn’t let riches and privilege go to her head. A few chapters into the story, Sara’s fortune changes. She loses her wealth, status and most of her material possessions. She is faced with the challenge of living a life of princess-like virtues without her princess like material surroundings.
I have a confession to make. After reading about seven chapters or so to Miss M (and seeing just how bad things were getting for poor Sara Crewe), I clandestinely skimmed the rest of the book one night after Miss M went to bed. Shhh….don’t tell her! She hates it when I do that! 😉 But, I just had to know if it was one of “those” kind of fairy tales. It’s not. Just so you know. I felt much more relaxed after knowing that, and we both enjoyed the story quite a bit.
“A Little Princess” does not happily smooth over the harshness of life for those less well-off in late 19th century/early 20th century London, but I didn’t think it was inappropriately dark since Sara maintains a positive attitude through it all. The ending was almost a little over the top for me, but I don’t think Miss M felt that way about it at all.
Has anyone seen a movie version of A Little Princess? I’m curious if it would be worth a watch.
I’m linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!