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Friday’s Vintage Find::Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys by H. A. Rey

Did you know that Curious George appeared in a book before he had his own series?  I think this is possibly the most excited and tickled I’ve ever been over a picture book.  That’s big.  🙂

Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys is the perfectly delightful tale of Curious George, his eight siblings, and their mother, who has the giggle-inducing name of Mother Pamplemoose.  All of the little monkey siblings (with the exception of the baby and the twins, Punch and Judy) have distinguishing personality characteristics.  Of course, it’s Curious George who is clever.  But the story isn’t all about him.  It’s more about the fun they have once they are rescued by Cecily Giraffe, a lonely giraffe whose family has all been taken away to the zoo.  Cecily G. not only rescues them from their plight when their tree-top home is destroyed due to the cutting down of the forest; she also provides them with a home now that her family is all gone.  The best part of the book, though, is all the fun they have with Cecily G., who happens to be a very accommodating giraffe.  For example, they use Cecily as a see-saw, a sailboat, and a slope for skiing.  That’s friendship.  🙂  My girls think all of this is hilarious, and so do I.   The book ends with a fun song, and although my girls don’t usually like for me to sing while I’m reading, they always request this one.  Why?  It’s because the song is written using Cecily G. as the treble clef and the monkeys as the notes.  Lulu is learning to read music, and Louise has a really basic idea of notes, etc., so this is interesting and amusing to them.  And to me.  🙂

I’m just really smitten with this book.  Our library copy looks like the green one above, and the only hint that it’s a Curious George book is the little note on the front which reads, “the first book about Curious George.”  While I do think I probably noticed that when I checked it out (and perhaps that knowledge actually piqued my interest since I thought Curious George was the first Curious George book), I don’t think I expected it to be like the rest of the Curious George books since the cover is different.  However, it appears that the only version of Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys that’s available now is one with the trademark bright yellow cover (as well as the tell-tale red band across the top with a modernized picture of C.G.).  I understand the marketing behind this, but sometimes I wish they’d (whoever they are)would just leave things be.  Lulu even noticed that there is a subtle difference between the coloring of the illustrations in Cecily G. and Curious George

The other observation I wanted to make about this is that if my memory serves me correctly, Cecily G. was copyrighted in 1942 and Curious George in 1941.  Although this doesn’t mesh with the Wikipedia article about Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, it just makes me wonder that if it’s so, maybe Curious George actually did hit the shelves first.  Anyone out there a real H. A. Rey fan and know the answer to this one?

All of this really makes me want to find a copy of The Journey That Saved Curious George (read Stephanie‘s review here) and learn more about him.  Oh, and I’d love to read his other, non-C.G. books. 

Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys earns a definitive Highly Recommended from the House of Hope, as well as a spot on my Best Picture Books list.  Check it out!

Children’s Classics Mystery Challenge

I don’t know what it is, but I just cannot get the new 5 Minutes for Books schedule to sink into my brain.  Granted, I should’ve known the second Tuesday of the month has always been the Children’s Classics challenge, and with the new year we just have a new genre stipulation added to the old challenge (for six months, anyway), but this one slipped by me.  Next month, Lord willing, I will be prepared!

Instead this month I’m going to make some plans.  I loved mysteries as a young teenager and beyond, and I’ve sort of fallen out of the habit of reading them.  I think part of the problem is that now that I’m an adult, I don’t want to read anything that might even have the remote potential to give me a nightmare or make me stay awake thinking, so I generally avoid them.  (That’s not to say I never read them; I just try to be very choosy.)  However, there are several authors from my youth that I’d like to revisit, and this challenge provides the perfect chance!

While other pre-teen girls were devouring Nancy Drew, I was devouring Trixie Belden.  That’s not to say I didn’t read Nancy; I did.  I just felt more kinship with Trixie, I think, because she didn’t seem nearly as perfect and put-together.  I also liked the gaggle of kids she was always with.  Their adventures in upstate New York always sounded like so much fun to me. I led a fairly boy-less existence until I was in college (and then, really, until I met my true love, Steady Eddie!), so the fact that Trixie and Honey were great chums with a bunch of boys was intriguing to me.  I have several Trixie Belden titles on my shelf, so I’m sure I’ll pull one of those and re-read it for old time’s sake.

Another series I hope to delve into through this challenge is The Boxcar Children mysteries by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Somehow I missed these books all together, although I do have a distinct memory of having a fifth grade teacher for the half of a year I was at one particular school who loved these books.  I’m curious about them, so I hope to satisfy that curiosity in the next few months.

The author I’m most excited about re-reading, though, is Phyllis A. Whitney.  With seventy-six books to her credit, Whitney is no stranger to most avid readers of suspense novels.  However, it might come as a surprise that she wrote some twenty juvenile mysteries.  If my memory serves me correctly, I don’t think I discovered her until I was out of high school and working as a public library aide, and while I definitely consider myself a late bloomer, these books didn’t seem too juvenile to me at the time.  I’m not even sure if any of these books are available at my local libraries, so I might have to do a little ILL-sleuthing myself (or PaperbackSwapping!) to find them.  I’m looking forward to it!

Next month, I plan to be prepared!  To read other, more prepared bloggers’ reviews, though, click over to the Children’s Classics Mystery Challenge at 5 Minutes for Books!

Bookish Plans for 2010

I’m not much on making resolutions, and I’m learning that an extensive TBR list does nothing but make me feel guilty.  However, I do like to think as I type here at Hope Is the Word so bear with me.  I’m numbering these not because they’re prioritized (well, except for the first couple!), but just because I like to keep this manageable. 

  1. I am attempting (once again!  for the who-knows-how-many-times this makes!) to read the Bible through.  I was inspired by Candace and her plan to read it in 90 days (!!!) and was even tempted a little to join her (!!!), but I quickly realized the futility of such an attempt at this point in my life.  Instead, I opted to explore a some links in this post on Kendra’s blog and decided to go with this particular plan.  I like how it mixes up the Old and New Testaments and also gives a day for reflection every week.  (Admittedly, this will probably be a catch-up day for me!)  I’ve already gotten off a little bit, but not behind.  Last night I had to read the flood account in Genesis, and after having a particularly harrowing, nearly apocalyptic dream involving a flood, I told Steady Eddie this morning that now I know why the actual assignment is to read a passage from the wisdom/poetry books of the Old Testmant or Isaiah each night.  😉
  2. I’m not sure how to manage this, exactly, but I also want to make more in-depth Bible study and meditation a priority.  I was blessed to be able to attend Community Bible Study for several years, and I loved the focused study of one book of the Bible a year.  However, my schedule (and having school-aged children now) will no longer permit me to do this, but I miss it. 
    I’ve been attempting to read Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible for a while now, but my most recent attempt has been to read it and apply it to the book of James for potential Sunday School lesson teaching material.  How to find the time to do this and keep up with #1 still sort of eludes me, but maybe I can somehow work it out since I have the day for reflection built in to #1. 
  3. The L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge.  See this post for my plans. 
  4. I plan to finish some things I started in 2009, namely Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities.  I hope to do this in a timely way so as to participate in the Classics Bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books, as I detailed here.  Other classics will also be involved.  🙂
  5. I’m very excited about participating in the Children’s Classics Mystery Challenge, also at 5 Minutes for Books. mysterychallenge  I’ll save the details for their very own post, but suffice it to say that I was a Trixie Belden junkie as a young teen.  🙂
  6. My own Reading My Library challenge (inspired by Carrie’s, of course) barely got off the ground last year, but I hope to pick up with the Cs ASAP.
  7. I know other challenges will come up as the year progresses (like the Narnia Challenge!), and I will participate in them as time (and sense–by then I could have a newborn!) permit. 
  8. I want to read at least one book by Wendell Berry this year.  He was on my list last year, but I failed to get to him.   Nathan Coulter should be arrived on my front porch one day this week
  9. 8.  Leif Enger’s So Young, Brave, and Handsome ( or is it So Brave, Young, and Handsome ?) has been a must-read for me since I read Peace Like a River, but I still haven’t gotten around to it.  I hope this is the year. 
  10. 9.  As I mentioned in my Top Ten Picks of 2009, there are a several books I would like to either re-read or read the sequels of. 

I know there are other titles and projects I want to tackle, but for now, this is enough.  I like flexibility and the freedom to read what suits my fancy at the time, so challenges work better for me than a hard and fast TBR list.

L.M. Montgomery Challenge

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeIt’s time once again for the L.M. Montgomery Challenge, hosted by Carrie @ Reading to Know.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Montgomery last year through this challenge.  I read The Blue Castle and Jane of Lantern Hill, which I believe means that I have now read every novel available by L.M. Montgomery (excepting perhaps a volume or two of her short stories–I can’t remember if I ever finished those, but I prefer full-length novels anyway). 

This year (well, not this year as in 2010, but you know what I mean) I’ve already spent some quality time with Pat of Silver Bush; I’m half way through this delightful story already, and if time permits, I hope to read its sequel, Mistress Pat.  Really, one just can’t go wrong with anything by L.M. Montgomery!  In addition to my reading, I hope to share some of my remembrances of falling in love with all things Anne.  Who knows–maybe a photograph or two will even be involved!  😉

Carrie is sweetening the pot quite a bit this year with a fantastic giveaway, so be sure to check out this year’s  L.M. Montgomery Challenge soon!

Happy New Year!!!

Classics Bookclub::2010 Goals

Some might think it pure foolishness for me, a person who failed in 2009 to complete not one but two classic novels I really, really, really wanted to read, to commit myself to a revamped Classics Bookclub over at 5 Minutes for Books.  True, I’ve learned after a couple of years of book blogging the futility of setting too many reading goals.  However, the mere fact that I cracked open Les Miserables (the unabridged version!!!) and actually read the first two books this year is testimony enough to the power of commitment.  While I didn’t get quite as far in A Tale of Two Cities (it is a shorter book, after all), I care enough about the characters to want to finish it.  And so, for this revised version of the Classics Bookclub in which we will read a classic novel of our own choosing and report on it quarterly, I propose to

  • finish Les Miserables (read my thoughts on book one here and on book two here) (and this time I PROMISE to borrow the abridged version from the library!)
  • finish A Tale of Two Cities
  • continue with the French Revolution theme and read The Scarlet Pimpernel if I’m so inclined; otherwise, another book of my choosing
  • re-read one of my favorite books of all time, Jane Eyre

I think I’ll make myself tackle the first two books first.  With a new baby coming this summer, I think I’ll probably need to save the “lighter” reads for the post-partum period.  Since I’ve already tried and failed at the first two, I consider that as a mark against them (or me?!?!), at least in my mind.

We shall see.  🙂

What’s on My Nightstand

nightstandI’m late in getting  my post up this morning, so I’m not going to say much about my reading over the past month.  Instead, I’ll just make a tidy little list with links to my reviews:

I’ve also finished a couple of chapter book read-alouds with my girls:

I’m in the middle of several good books now, both in my personal reading and with the girls.  I’m looking forward to sharing those books here.

As for the upcoming month, this is what I’ve been waiting to share with you all!  🙂  As this year comes to a close, I have realized that there are several books I truly meant to read this year and just haven’t.  The lure of so many fun challenges and the fun of browsing the library shelves makes me think sometimes that a true yearly TBR list is pointless for me.  Still, I think there’s value in setting goals, especially when there are perceived holes in your reading experience, as there are in mine.  So I’m declaring November as the month of the Big Book Push here at Hope Is the Word, and I’m inviting you to play along.  Come back some time between this Friday, October 30, and next Friday, November 6, to link up your own Big Book Push post in which you announce which book(s) you’ve neglected thus far but hope to read in the month of November.  (I’ll try to keep this post up for this week as a sticky if I can figure out how.)  Read and review the book(s) on your blog some time in November, and then come back on Monday, November 30, to link you reviews here.

You know there’s a button for it!  🙂


And for your sidebar:



The html for these buttons will be available in the Buttons tab above.

The Big Book Push is on!  🙂

(Read more Nightstand posts here.)

What’s on My Nightstand–Looking back & looking ahead


When I first began composing this Nightstand post, I started out with a laundry list of things that keep me from reading much.  However, I’ve since rethought my attitude and approach.  Rather than look at all of those things as hindrances (because really, they are all just my life, which is incredibly good and blessed), I’m just going to be thankful because I did manage to get to all of the books I mentioned in last month’s Nightstand post!

In the past month, I have read and/or reviewed the following:

That’s a lot of mighty fine reading, folks!

This month, I’ve got quite a few things on my immediate TBR list.  I’m currently reading (and LOVING!) The Mysterious Benedict Society. After that, I plan to tackle The Rooftops of Tehran for next month’s 5 Minutes for Books Bookclub.  I also hope to re-read a favorite children’s classic for the 5 Minutes for Books Children’s Classics carnival.  (I’m thinking Black Beauty might be my pick for it, but we’ll see.)  I also have some YA and JF selections I’d love to get to.  Time will tell.

How about you?  Did you get to do a lot of reading last month, or are you looking forward to a book saturated October?  Click over to 5 Minutes for Books to read more Nightstand posts!

What’s on My Nightstand–Looking Back & Looking Ahead

 nightstandI love these monthly Nightstand posts because they offer me the opportunity to look back and reflect on what I’ve been reading.  Sometimes I feel like I make very little progress in my reading due to the many other demands on my time, but when I consider the month, and certainly the year, I realize that I’ve covered a good bit of ground.  That makes the list-checker in me happy! 

This month I’ve spent most of my time with nonfiction, devotional material.  I consider these books “comfort reads” because even if they challenge me (which they usually do), I am comforted by them because they draw me closer to God.  I’ve read these two excellent books this month:

  • A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming (read my thoughts here)
  • Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (review forthcoming)

I also spent a good deal of my free time one week of the month of June prepping and reading for Narnia Week here at Hope Is the Word.  This was a lot of fun, but it was time consuming.  For this celebration which I did in conjunction with Carrie‘s Narnia Challenge, I scanned Roar! by Heather Kopp (my thoughts here) and thoroughly enjoyed The Magician’s Nephew again (my thoughts here). 

I guess that means I only read three books in the month of July from cover to cover.  Of course, that doesn’t take into account the magazines I perused, the books I read snippets from but didn’t review (I often practically read a whole book without intending to by just reading a little here and there), the many, many books I read aloud to my girls, and the Bible study books I’ve been reading in preparation for teaching Sunday School and for my own enjoyment.  (I’m trying to give myself a little credit here–bear with me.)

Hands down the best book I read the entire month, though, is the chapter book my girls and I enjoyed together.  I had the privilege of introducing my girls to Narnia for the first time.  You can read about this lovely experience here.

And now, on to August.  I started re-reading Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca in anticipation of next week’s Classics Bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books yesterday while my girls played at the splash pad.  I’m hooked, again.  🙂  Also, I have an interlibrary loan book at home right now that is due August 5.  I requested this one, The Flame Tree by Richard Lewis, after reading a review of it on Sherry’s blog.  Sherry reiterated her recommendation of The Flame Tree in this post about what sounds like a really fun challenge for August, the One Shot World Tour–Southeast Asia at Chasing Ray.  I started reading The Flame Tree but soon got engrossed in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, which I was trying to read simultaneously, so the YA book fell by the wayside.  I hope to pick it back up.  Otherwise, who knows?  One thing is certain–I do not lack for reading material.  My TBR shelf is crammed full. 

How about you?  What’s on your nightstand?  Hop over to 5 Minutes for Books to tell us about your own nightstand!

What’s On My Nightstand–Looking Back at June and Ahead to July

nightstandJune has been a good reading month for me because I’ve been in a good rhythm with my reading.  I’ve been reading some sort of devotional writing during my quiet time, and then I’ve been reading my other book of choice during the other pockets of time during the day when I sneak in a chance to read.  During June, I have read

(Clicking any of the above titles will take you to my review of that book.)

Of all the books I’ve read this month, I found the connections between The Chosen and Girl Meets God the most interesting.  Although one is fiction and one is a memoir, due to the subject matter, they make a good pairing.  It’s was one of those serendipitous little arrangements that worked to my advantage in helping me to think about the issues in them. 

I’ve almost finished A Shepherd Looks at Pslam 23 by W. Phillip Keller, and I predict I’ll have quite a lot to write about this wonderful little book.   I’ve also almost finished The Pirate’s Son by Geraldine McCaughrean, a memorable YA fiction selection that I look forward to reviewing in the next few days.

Since there is still a week left in June, I imagine I’ll have a few more things to  to my list for the month.  I am participating in the Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge, so I’ll be reading some Narnia in the next month or so.  I have a few more challenges (like this one–hat-tip Semicolon) that I hope to keep up with, but other than that, I plan to read as the Spirit moves me!

Do you want to share what’s on your nightstand?  Click over to 5 Minutes for Books!

What’s on My Nightstand::May Wrap-up and Looking Ahead to June

nightstandWhew!  It has been a busy month for us!  This month we attended two homeschooling conferences, both of which required us to drive a distance from home.  We also celebrated a birthday and Mother’s Day, all in one weekend.  We spent a good deal of time traveling for other family celebrations.  Based on the amount of time I spent in the van this month, I should have read much more than I did (for me, travel time usual means reading time).  However, I can only count six books that I finished this month, and nary a one of them was a challenging read.

I read four nonfiction selections in May, and I think they are the ones that will stick with me the longest.  I read

  • Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas (my review here)
  • Feeding Your Soul:  A Quiet Time Handbook by Jean Fleming (my review here)
  • God’s Harvard:  A Christian College on a Mission To Save America by Hanna Rosin
  • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

The first two of these are quiet, contemplative books–the kind I like best.  I would recommend either one of them to any Christian desiring a deeper walk with the Lord.  (Obviously, the parenting book is geared toward parents, but I think the principles in it could be applied to any challenging issue in a person’s life.)  God’s Harvard is a book I blazed through because I found it fascinating in an almost voyeuristic way (dare I admit that?).  In the end, though, I couldn’t review it because I found it so big and unwieldy to grapple with–I didn’t even know how I felt about it after I read it, much less what I should say about it here.  I might go back and review The Power of  a Praying Wife some time, but I think most people know about it already.

My focus in fiction has been to read juvenile fiction, and it has been refreshing.   I have read

  • The Wanigan by Gloria Whelan (my review here)
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (my review here)

I should finish up The Underneath by Kathi Appelt sometime soon, and I might even get the review done before the month’s out.

As for June, I have no specific plans.  The Semicolon Book Club selection for June is David Copperfield.  Based on my lack of success (failure?) with Les Miserables, I don’t think I’ll even bother to put it on my TBR shelf.  I have some kind of mental block about starting a 1000+ page book when I still have 600 or so pages left in the last one I started.  😉

I have ordered a couple of books from Paperback Swap on the recommendation of one of my favorite book bloggers, Janet of Across the PageHer review of Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok, which I read many years ago as an undergraduate student in a young adult literature class, rekindled my interest in Potok and encouraged me to read My Name Is Asher Lev.  Janet also wrote a review of Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner that really piqued my curiosity; I have seen this book numerous times around book blogdom, but this review made me actually seek the book out.  Janet’s good at that.  🙂

As for my readings with the girls, I’m sure we’ll continue on our Little House fixation fascination.

What’s on your nightstand?  For more nightstand posts, click over to 5 Minutes for Books.