Child/Young Adult Book Roundup

Child/Young Adult Book Roundup

Catching up on all the books I’ve read since about March…. I started this post back in August I guess things have continued to be crazy since then. I have such great intentions of writing about all the books I read.

Little Plum by Rumer Godden

Another of Godden’s doll books. The dolls in this one are Japanese dolls. Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (who evidently star in another book Miss Happiness and Miss Flower that I have not yet read.) and a new doll, Little Plum of the title.

One of my favorite of Godden’s children’s books. The illustrations by Jean Primrose are lovely.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. I liked this book but perhaps it was that I’d had it overhyped. Or maybe that I read it by myself and not with a child. It wasn’t exactly what I expected and I felt like I missed something. Perhaps it will catch better on a reread.

Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge

This is the second Goudge book I’ve read and based on the fact that both of the ones I’ve read I’ve seen highly praised in many quarters, I think perhaps I just don’t like Goudge. It’s hard to put my finger exactly on what I didn’t like. Somehow it just didn’t.


Midnight Hour Encores by Bruce Brooks came highly recommended by Melissa Wiley. I’m so glad I picked it up. A wonderful story of a daughter and father getting to know each other. (She’s the daughter of divorce and the pretext is she’s going to meet her mother for the first time; but the real discovery is her father who she’s lived with all her life not her mother.)

Oh I wish I’d written about it when it was still fresh. There were so many things I wanted to say. Oh well.

One caveat: some mature themes. This is for a more mature audience and I’d preview it before handing it to a child or read it with them so that I could help them navigate the trickier bits.

So not much to actually say about them. But if you’ve read them please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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  • Melanie, you should have heard me shout NO WAY!!! when I read your comment on Bonny Glen today, about our blogs sharing a birthday. What a delightful surprise. Puts me in excellent company. I can always count on Wine-Dark Sea to make me think. I especially love your ruminations on books & last night was so happy to see you’d posted about Midnight Hour Encores. I started what was going to be a lengthy comment and then a curly-headed young man crawled into my lap and that was the end of typing. Too often I am replying to you in my head, but you are such an illuminating thinker that you *always* spark that mental reply. It’s been a joy to get to know you through this blog and the quilting bee. And to this day your banner image remains one of my favorites on the web.

    Happy blog-birthdays to us!

  • “My primary purpose in writing here has always been to keep a record for myself, a place to hear myself think, and because I can’t not write. But then readers happened—a marvelous gift that has changed the way I write.”

    I agree with this completely, Melanie! I still blog primarily for myself, to have a record of these days and years to look back on some day. But the readers enrich the experience, and make it much more rewarding.

    I’m here reading every post (thank you, Google Reader on the iPod) and not commenting enough (again, because of reading on the iPod) but I love the ones with pictures the best, I think. The visual adds such depth to the stories!

    As far as what you could be doing better, this is a little thing, but… I’m not sure why you truncate your feed, and maybe you have a good reason, but it would be great if it wasn’t truncated!

  • Happy blogiversary! I am a convert to Catholicism (2008) and I love your blog because it gives me a glimpse into a Catholic family life. I’m not a mom, but like your sister does, I live with my niece and nephews. Your writing has a serenity that comes across very clearly, even when you are tired or sick or frustrated, and that is very encouraging. I love the seeing the faith through your children’s learning of it and through your celebrations (the way you pick roses for St. Therese or carefully search out the best place for the statue of the Blessed Mother). Love the stories and pictures of Bella, Sophie, and Ben. Enjoy the book posts and links. Thanks for writing and helping me to grow in faith! I think you’re doing wonderfully.

  • Hello from a regular reader. I am a convert of 6 years, with a suspicion that my current boyfriend might be The One smile Your blog allows me to imagine my future.  I like your sensibility, and the balance of sublime and mundane. Happy anniversary!

  • I remember when I first found your blog, it was linked by someone else, possible through Happy Catholic?  Maybe they linked to your husband’s blog, and he linked to you?  I believe it was 4 years ago or so.  Anyway, I was duly impressed with your blog, it seemed so professional and your insights were very well thought out and presented (still are, by the way).  You seemed wayyyy out of my league, you know one of the “THE” Catholic bloggers, and I a little wanna be.  I was thrilled the first time you left me a comment.  THE Melanie left me a comment!  I have very much enjoyed getting to “know” you better, since we both had babies this year.  Through this year of more regular reading of “The Wine Dark Sea”, I have found you to be not just talented and intelligent, but warm, encouraging, and quite sincere and lovely.  I am glad you are a blogger, and may God grant you many more years!

  • Hi Melanie,
    Yours is the only blog I read daily.  I enjoy all the posts about babies, the pictures, the books, Catholicism, etc.  My son is about the same age as Bella [he was 4 in August], but could not be more different.  He’s a wild, rambunctious, VERY physical whirling dervish.  Right now he’s testing all his boundaries, especially any that I set.  We’re experiencing some nasty weather behavior-wise.  I wondered why people had so much trouble with 2 yos since mine was such an angel.  I think I’m getting the terrible 2s right now, but fermented and MUCH MUCH stronger.  Reading your blog gives me many good ideas about mothering and helps me face the challenges of being a Catholic mother in this oh-so-secular world.

    God Bless,

  • Happy, happy anniversary! My husband told me about your blog years ago – I have no idea how he found you, though… I think you may even be the first mommy blog I have ever read (even though neither of us were mothers back then!) my husband and I were thinking about the family life we wanted to build, we were finding out about homeschooling, and your blog somehow revealed you as a “kindred spirit” smile

    One of the reasons I truly love your blog is that it strikes me as true life: for me some blogs are a bit intimidating, others make me feel downright inadequate, others, while interesting and instructive, have authors with whom, for whatever reason, I can’t “connect”. Your blog is like Young Catholic Family Life 101. Some bloggers have to use words to warn readers: be careful, no matter the impression we may give you, our lives are not roses without thorns (to use an Italian expression!). You don’t need words – your life shines through everything you say and every picture you take. I am not saying a blogger should say everything – not at all. Actually, your blog can be so intense that I almost feel like you really shouldn’t reveal so much of yourself! I am just saying that your blog gives off a wonderful scent of genuineness that is refreshing and for which I am very grateful (another such blog is Mrs. Lawler’s Our Mother’s Daughters.) I have never met you and still I can consider you a friend, or at the very least, a friendly presence in my daily life.

    I am learning a lot from you, especially about how to share the Faith with even very young children. I am looking forward to reading more about your homeschooling journey – even though these days you sure have more pressing concerns!

    Thank you, Melanie!

  • Happy Blog-iversary! It has been fun watching your family grow!

    I can’t remember how I first found you, but I remember looking at a bunch of pictures from your oldest baby’s baptism.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Happy Anniversary, Melanie.  I found you through your husband’s blog, which I found through Mark Shea’s blog.  He labeled Dom “a very sensible guy,” which, of course, he is since he married you!

    I like your honesty.  You don’t sugar-coat the difficulties of being a Catholic mom, but you seem so incredibly grateful for your blessings and you don’t gripe about your husband or children.  It makes me want to be a better wife and mom.  Your book reviews are helpful.  Also, your grammar is impeccable:)

  • Happy Blogiversary… Blogirthday… Blirthday?! I’ve enjoyed the book reviews and children reviews, but mainly I enjoy seeing another peek into the life of a Catholic Mom who loves her life, even when it’s nutty. My children are about the ages of yours, and I’m going through many of the same joys and challenges: teething, religious formation, picture books and rubber boots. Your posts challenge me, encourage me, and make me laugh and then get me off the computer to play with the kids. Fight the good fight; run the race; keep the faith. God bless you!

  • Congratulations!

    I found your blog when my husband mentioned it to me; he reads Dom’s blog. If memory serves, I think it was when I was pregnant with Cecilia and you were pregnant with Bella.

    Being a SAHM to three young children, I only get out so often. I am a member of a TORCH group, but otherwise, most of my daily dialogue is with small children. The internet serves as a way for me to connect with other adults without leaving home or trying to hush a child while on the phone. Whether it is by getting book recommendations, reading homeschooling advice, sharing anecdotes or just chit chat, Facebook and blogs connect me with a community of fellow Catholics, moms or both.

    In some sense, I read your blog because we are both journeying along similar paths. Our pregnancies have happened in pairs 3 out of 4 times (I keep wondering which of us will be first the next time around – lol). Our children have similar ages. Both our husbands work in Catholic institutions and are involved in the Catholic communities they serve. And, to some extent, we are learning things around the same times. On the other hand, you are 5 years older than me but about 20 years more mature than me so I try to learn from your blog as well. You’re book suggestions have gotten us some wonderful books. Your insights about homeschooling and parenting have given me points to ponder and reflect. I don’t have any sisters, but, if I did, I’d like to think they might be like you.

    God Bless

  • Happy Anniversary!  I am finally delurking because of your request.  I have been enjoying your blog for a few years now.  I found it after Amy Welborn linked to your blog when you had your miscarriage and subsequent medical scare.  Since I have had two miscarriages, I prayed for you.  I had reached the point (and age) when I thought I wasn’t going to be blessed with another child.  Last December our prayers were answered and I was pregnant at age 44.  I wanted to call our baby Benedict Joseph, but my husband didn’t like it.  I am so glad your son carries that name.  Our blessing arrived in mid August.  The stages you and Ben are passing through occur just enough before my son and me, such that it gives my encouragement, hope and virtual support.  I have enjoyed your insights into Catholic motherhood.  I am inspired by your fighting of the good fight and your honesty when it isn’t so pretty.  God bless you and yours!  A grateful lurker.

  • Happy Birthday Wine Dark Sea I’m probably unique in that I believe my 20 yr old daughter led me your way. I also have a 3 yr old daughter so I enjoy the Bella and Sophie posts. I also appreciate your honesty with how hard being a mom is sometimes. I didn’t have that at all when I was a young mom and it’s something that other moms need to know.

  • Congrats. You’ve been far more consistent that I and are in the same web location to boot. Good bless you have happy continued blogging to you

  • Happy Birthday Wine Dark Sea.  I found this blog through Dom’s blog and you were the first Mummy blog that I read.  I just love reading about the children and I share their stories and pictures with my daughter as she shares stories and pictures of her nephew with me. I live in Australia and so it is very interesting to read an American mum’s blog and to see how you interact with that cold white stuff! I really enjoyed reading about growing tomatoes from seed. lol I like coming to know you through your writing. You are obviously a very intelligent woman who is sometimes a bit hard on herself I think.  I like the picture you give us of your family life warts and all.  I like the way your Catholicity as natural to you as the air you breathe. Thank you for starting this blog and God bless.

  • Happy Blogiversary, Melanie! I think I found your blog via prayer requests for you after you lost Francis. I particularly enjoy hearing about Bella, because she is so close in age to Cherub – it is often like watching Cherub through a mirror. I love to read about the other two as well, though, and relive vicariously that young family stage. I also enjoy your book posts, and all the things that make me think. That probably sums up as keep doing what you’re doing. I like your blog as it is smile.

  • Don’t change a thing! I love visiting you for the beautiful spiritual insights you share as well as those moments when you struggle. Honest and inspiring. Your dear family is always in my prayers.

  • Returning the favor of a comment here. smile

    I’m a 20-year-old college student, switching between halves of Ohio depending on whether I’m at school or not, and long-distance dating a guy who…well, who’s the One. I wouldn’t have imagined him three years ago, but now I can’t imagine life without him. And that’s all the sappiness you’ll get out of me. }:^| (My boyfriend’s brother made that one up. He calls it the “Vulcan emoticon: the only one you’ll ever need!”)

    I got to this blog from Dom’s around the time Bella was born. And I liked it so much that I’ve stuck around for almost 4 years now. Maybe it’s presumptive to say, but I feel like we have similar temperaments even though our life circumstances are currently very different. In another 5 years I hope my blog(s) will have some stories of my kidlets, though.

    If this post is rambly and disjointed it’s because I recently spent 2 hours in a Great Books seminar discussing, among other things, how Hobbes’ state of nature is analogous to the zombie apocalypse. (With illustrations on the chalkboard by my theory-advancing classmate.) My brain’s a bit fried.

  • Hi Melanie,
    Happy Anniversary!  I am glad you invited these comments, because I have to confess that I read your blog very, very frequently and don’t usually leave a comment.  It was probably a link from Dom’s blog that brought me over here, and I’m glad it did.  I’m probably not your average reader because I’m an unmarried, childless Catholic professional.  However, I get great comfort and encouragement from reading your beautiful reflections.  Your blog and some of the other blogs by Catholic moms give me hope for the future and I’m so grateful that you’re out there imparting the love of literature and learning, and the love of the Lord to the next generation.  Congratulations on your five years….Ad Multos Annos!

  • Hi Melanie,

    Happy anniversary!  I found your blog recently while trying to find other like minded Catholic moms in MA.  It has been fun getting to “know” you and your family and your experiences mirror mine as my three are about the same age as yours!


  • Happy Blogiversary!  I am a frequent lurker, although I have commented a few times.  I first found your blog around the time that you miscarried Francis; American Papist put up a prayer request and a link to The Winde-Dark Sea.  I’ve been reading ever since.  I enjoy your thoughts on life, family, spirituality and books.  In fact, I’ve really enjoyed reading several of the books that you reviewed (A Thread of Grace and Strangers and Sojourners to name a couple).  Another reason I’ve enjoyed your blog so much is that our lives have had some similarities: we both taught in academia before marrying, we got married around the same time, and two of our kids were born within months of each other (Alex is about 6 weeks older that Sophia, and Chris is about 3 months younger than Ben).  Here’s my final kuddo: I printed out your New Year’s Eve post so that I can go back to it – it really resonated with me.  (I have only one other post from a blog that I’ve printed and saved, and I read several blogs daily …)

  • I forget how I stumbled across your blog—Danielle Bean, maybe?—but I really enjoy your book reviews and the links in your Google reader.  We seem to have some of the same tastes in books.  I read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society at your recommendation—really enjoyed it!  Also enjoy when you discuss recipes you make.  I’m single, in my mid-20s.

  • Hi Melanie,
    I’ve been a reader for two or three years but I don’t think I have commented. I don’t remember what led me here but I stayed because I identify with your tendencies as an introvert. It is hard for me to be the mother I want to be sometimes because I struggle with the tension between my need for peace and quiet and my childrens’ needs. Your honesty and your perseverance are an inspiration to me. I love how you combine your enjoyment of reading with your mothering. Oh, and we used to live in MA when my first child was little. It is kind of neat to read about the place we left. I just really like your blog smile

  • Happy anniversary from a consistent reader.  I’m a mom of 6 with the youngest turning 6 this coming May.  I’m not sure who I was reading that led me here, but it must be going on 3 years.  It is edifying to read other Catholic moms, even those much younger than myself smile  Enjoy those beautiful kids!

  • Hi Melanie,

    Congratulations on 5 years.  I always enjoy your blog and keeping up with what’s ging on with you and Dom.  Having gone to school with Dom at FUS, it’s a joy to see how his family is progressing.  Your Sophie is just two weeks younger than our Bernadette so it’s interesting to look at how they are both developing.

    I really enjoy your prayerful and spiritual entries, thought it makes me realize just how lacking I am in my own prayer life sometimes.  Thankfully, lent is coming and I usually do better for those 40 days.

    God bless and keep it up!

  • Hi Melanie!  I am sorry this is so late, but I wanted to congratulate you (belatedly) on your blog anniversary!  I enjoy your realness on the blog and the book reviews!  They are awesome and keep them coming!  I also learned much from your insights on miscarriage.  God Bless you and your family always!

  • Happy Blogversary!  I don’t have kids and probably won’t, but I come here and feel a little bit educated on what motherhood is and how it changes a person.  I love reading about all the things you are learning and doing.  And all the great pictures.  I pick out some of your book favorites and give them to my niece.  Oh, and I gave her a Best Pals rag doll.

  • Happy blogversary and congrats!

    I came upon your blog via your husband’s which I am also a lurker =p
    I really enjoy your posts on life with kids and your book reviews, here to many more anniversaries, God bless!

  • Just stopping to say “Hi”. I’m a lurker. I hardly every say anything.
    I found your blog about a year ago. I forget why….I think it was a book report you posted.
    I enjoy reading your blog because I know I will soon be in the position you are. (My first child is due in June.) You write very well and honestly. Plus it’s great that you share your faith.
    Thanks for the great posts!