Hey y’all!! Today I am coming with a new feature. Me and my dear bookish friend Starr, from At Home With a Book came up with this idea during one of our many conversations about books and blogging. We decided that each month we will each pick a book from our childhood and we will read both books. We are giving before and after thoughts with the books. And we are sharing them with y’all today.
Starr’s pick for August was Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.
BEFORE THOUGHTS of Number the Stars
Starr: I remember reading this in elementary school. I remember it being sad, but I also connected it with friendship. I don’t know if it was because of the friendship in the book of because of the circle of friends that I had at the time. I also remember wanting my own Star of David. It will be interesting to see what I think after I’ve read it, as this will be the first time that I have reread it since elementary school.
My Thoughts: Okay, I have never read a Lois Lowry. At least not that I can remember. I don’t know what it was about her books but I never picked one up. I used to see people reading Number the Stars from the 6th grade library but I never wanted to read it. Maybe I’ve always had an aversion for World War II literature. I don’t really know what this is about but I believe it has something to do with Jewish people and concentration camps.
AFTER THOUGHTS of Number the Stars
Starr: This is the first time that I’ve read this since I was a kid. And I am sure that it was a vastly different experience. I can now see how brave Annemarie was, and that this story is about so much more than friendship. It is sad that people had to go through this, but it was also hopeful that there was still people who risked it all just to make things a bit better even when it cost them their lives. I loved the parallel between Annemarie and Little Red Riding Hood as she travels through the woods.I think that Lowry did a great job of balancing the tension throughout the story and maintaining the childlike perspective. I think Annemarie is vastly different than the female characters held up as heroines today. It seems like characters today have to have an overwhelming amount of information before they act. And they never handle that information with any care or concern. I say that knowing that I’ve complained about characters not knowing everything and had they known everything they would act differently. But that is kind of the point, had Annemarie known everything she would have acted differently and would not have accomplished what she did. Okay so this is turning into a tangent. In the end, I am glad to have reread this. I found the afterword very informative, because it separates what was the author’s embellishments and what was historical fact.
My Thoughts: Yeah! So, I can totally read a World War II story and not hate it. 10 year old Annemarie was so sweet and felt like a realistic. I found really interesting the Nazi occupation of Copenhagen so interesting because I had never heard of it. Also I like stories that talk about resistance, however small, and how people during Nazi-occupation would do things to preserve their community. I liked seeing these things happen though a child’s eyes and I can see how this could be appealing to children even now. The author really captured the story and what it would be like for a kid. This one definitely holds up.
My Pick was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
BEFORE THOUGHTS on Harriet the Spy
Starr: Honestly, I don’t remember this from my childhood. I don’t remember anything about the book, but I do remember the movie. It came out when I was in high school and I am sure that I watched it, I was a fan of Nancy Drew so why not? But either the movie didn’t make a lasting impression or I am too old to remember. Who knows at this point?
My Thoughts: I remember picking this book up after I watch the movie with Michelle Tratchenberg. I loved the movie and I even walked around with my own notebook for a while. I really related to Harriet’s awkwardness and her inability to make friends. I remember the book being bigger but it’s a one sitting book. LOL.
AFTER THOUGHTS on Harriet the Spy
Starr: Sorry Tasha, I know that this was your pick and that you had fond memories of this one. But, ummm I didn’t finish this. Harriet was mean. That wasn’t what bothered me. I guess I found it kind of dry. You would think that a little kid spying on people would be interesting. But her observations weren’t all that excited. The way that she gathered her “intelligence” could have been fun with a hint of danger from discovery. But instead they were weird, and bland.
My Thoughts: Whew! This is one of those instances where I should have left this childhood favorite, in childhood. Harriet M. Welsch is an only child who lives with her mother, father, and nursemaid. She is an aspiring writer and spy. She keeps a notebook where she writes all of her thoughts in it. When the notebook is found by her classmates, school isn’t so much fun. Harriet is indeed mean. She has some redeeming qualities, but the author doesn’t bother to flesh those out. I felt like in the end there was no consequences for Harriet’s actions and that she was never held accountable. I don’t even have time to get into the amount of fat shaming in this book. Unfortunately, my first pick for this project was a bust. ☹
This was so much fun to do and I can’t wait to keep doing this. We have some good picks for the rest of the year and we have plans for these post.
What’s a childhood favorite for you? Let’s chat in the comments.
Also, check out Starr’s post on her blog At Home With a Book.
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