Yes, the days of “summer break” are ticking away. But I hope that your reading hours will only be revving up as the school year gets into gear. If you need a few last-minute fun reads before school reading sets in, consider the options in this issue of Endpapers.
The Pine Barrens by John McPhee. If you’ve driven to a beach in New Jersey this summer, you’ve most likely driven through the Pine Barrens. This book is a treasure chest of interesting knowledge about the piney center of the Garden State. You’ll notice all sorts of familiar names next time you drive on Route 70 or Route 72 through New Jersey.
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl. We don’t know how God populated the whole earth. The idea that Peruvians migrated to Polynesia was a brand-new theory in the 1930’s, and the expedition of the Kon-Tiki, a raft piloted by Norwegian explorers, set out to prove its plausibility. It’s a Pacific Ocean adventure story. Fascinating.
MAZE by Christopher Manson. It’s subtitled “the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle,” and I’ve got to admit that I haven’t figured it out yet. Wander through the castle (Choose Your Own Adventure style) and try to reach the final room. Beware of loops and dead ends!
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. You’ll never look at sheep the same way again. Or the much-loved Twenty-Third Psalm. A real-life shepherd, Keller (no relation to the Tim Keller of NYC’s Redeemer Church) unpacks each phrase in Psalm 23, showing in vivid detail how sheep-like we really are and how shepherd-like is God’s care for us. Buy a copy and read this once a year. It’s a precious little commentary.
2000 Leagues Under the Sea as told by Jim Weiss. You’ve probably heard of Jim Weiss, especially if you’ve listened to any of Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of World books on audio cd. His voice is splendid and his retellings of classics are genius. I have mixed feelings about giving young children shortened or watered-down versions of classics (which I’m happy to discuss if you’re interested!), but in the case of Weiss’s audio books, I waive my concerns. My six-year-old loves these classic abridgements (this selection in particular) and I like that as a blossoming reader, he can follow along with the hard copy of Jim Weiss’s version while listening to the cd.
An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long. Stunning illustrations with minimal but informative text: this is learning that’s so lovely it doesn’t feel like school. I also love A Seed is Sleepy, but was slightly less impressed with A Rock is Lively.
Emma. the new film directed by Autumn de Wilde. Pete and I loved this movie so much, we watched it again two nights later with our kids. I confess to being rather blasé about Jane Austen novels, but this film adaptation was gorgeous, stunningly-acted, and very funny. It’s rated PG, so do be aware of one brief rear nude shot of a man dressing.
If I Built a School by Chris van Dusen. In days like these, when schools are reinventing education and how to accomplish it, it seems fitting to start from scratch. You’ll probably like Jack’s idea for a school (although little does he know that homeschooling is actually the best). We love Chris van Dusen and are also big fans of If I Built a Car and If I Built a House.