In the Bookcase


Book Review: Village School

Village School by Miss Read (5 star review)

Village School
Fairacre series, #1

written by Miss Read

239 pages // published in 1955 // British cozy literature


The first novel in the beloved Fairacre series, Village School introduces the remarkable schoolmistress Miss Read and her lovable group of children, who, with a mixture of skinned knees and smiles, are just as likely to lose themselves as their mittens. This is the English village of Fairacre: a handful of thatch-roofed cottages, a church, the school, the promise of fair weather, friendly faces, and good cheer -- at least most of the time. Here everyone knows everyone else's business, and the villagers like each other anyway (even Miss Pringle, the irascible, gloomy cleaner of Fairacre School). With a wise heart and a discerning eye, Miss Read guides us through one crisp, glistening autumn in her village and introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters and a world of drama, romance, and humor, all within a stone's throw of the school. By the time winter comes, you'll be nestled snugly into the warmth and wit of Fairacre and won't want to leave.

My Review

5 Star Rating

It is simply a joy to sit down and get lost in the little village of Fairacre. I am completely transported to 1950's England by Miss Read. It's like a mini-vacation to just sit down and listen to her woes, her thrills, her triumphs in life as a schoolmistress (though little triumphs it feels like to her, I'm sure).

This particular novel, the very first of the Fairacre lot, takes us on a journey of a normal year in Miss Read's classroom, and her interactions with the other townspeople during the year.

She's such a talented writer, I must say. Her descriptions are just so delicious, it's amazing. Her vocabulary? I'm in awe of. I never knew before that one could “run scrunchily”… or that one can eat “craggy slices of bread”!

The narrator of the story, Miss Read, leads with a charming voice – ever so sweetly pointing out the ironies of village life and the fun bits of happiness in her days, usually with some highlights of comedic episodes. Yes, and sometimes the bits of sourness too, when necessary – especially with certain dour-faced children are in the picture.

Overall? Absolutely, positively wonderful.

Favorite quote:

"'Are you alright? Can I fetch you some water?' inquired a kindly headmaster near the door. I felt inclined to tell him that I was on the verge of an apoplectic fit, brought on through exasperation, and that nothing less than a full pot of tea could even begin to help me -- So I merely thanked him and escaped into the market square."
(Chapter 18, The Music Festival)

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paperback // hardcover // e-book

This is book #7 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic by a Woman Author]

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review: Swiss Family Robinson

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (5 star review)

The Swiss Family Robinson

written by Johann David Wyss

352 pages // published in 1812 // classic adventure


Shipwrecked passengers on a deserted island: how will they survive? After their ship founders at sea, the Robinsons—father, mother, and four sons—find themselves stranded in an uninhabited, idyllic land. Young readers will enjoy watching them handle every crisis with cleverness and skill.

My Review

5 Star Rating

This shipwreck story covers it all! There's adventure and wild schemes, combined with an all-encompassing feeling of family love. Each person in the Robinson family always has a project to work on, usually something that is for the betterment of the whole family. They keep busy, are never slack, care for their animals well... the father often shares knowledge with the youngsters, and... they just keep surviving, together, with no outside help except through God's grace.

I think every Christian family should have this book in their home. (Oh, and homeschool families too will eat this up.) There are so many spiritual lessons to be gleaned from this pages. The Robinson family is always praying and thanking for so many things. In fact, their faith leads them to lead such happy lives on an isolated island... they can even discover joy in the fact that God sent a storm their way and knocked their boat off course.

As a reader, I learned much about animals, plants, and other scientific things of nature. The father (also a professor, or rather a walking encyclopedia) had so much wisdom to impart at just the right times. He is an ever-patient man and knows how to teach his children in the right way, and also knows when to step back and let nature teach his children.

Violence? Yes. There are many, many, many instances of descriptions of animals being killed for food or other needs. Usually it's not too gory, although there was a time or two it was feeling a bit too much for a children's story.

One of the best classics out there for readers of any age, young or old. It's especially perfect as a read-aloud for the whole family. The story does feature 4 boys, and so probably boy readers will get a kick out of all the constant adventure, but girls would certainly enjoy it too (I did!).

Definitely it's a book to spark one's imagination.

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paperback // hardcover // e-book // audio

This is book #6 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Children's Classic]

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


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Book Review: The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories by Louisa May Alcott (5 star review)

The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories

written by Louisa May Alcott

256 pages // published in 2004 in this collection // vintage children's fiction


A poor farmer's daughter changes the life of a spoiled princess . . .
A fearless young girl saves her town from British soldiers . . .

Two elderly sisters come up with a plan to help a sickly child . . .

A country girl shows her city cousin that simple can be best . . .

From the author of the beloved classic little women come ten short stories to delight and charm. Throughout her life, Louisa May Alcott published many stories in children's magazines, and now ten of the best of these tales have been collected here. Filled with characters who have all the warmth, liveliness, and appeal of Jo March and her sisters, these stories will open up a whole new world for Alcott fans, and remain every bit as captivating as when they were first written, over a century ago.

My Review

5 Star Rating

The Brownie and the Princess
This whole story collection starts out with an absolutely charming fairy tale, one that most little girls will adore. Betty is a little girl who lives in the countryside, and she adores all things that have to do with nature and her beloved animal friends. I simply adore the sentence that states that she “had fine frolics with them, for they knew and loved her dearly”. Awww!! I love the sentiment, as I too wish to be friends with my backyard wildlife. When the princess of the kingdom comes to visit Betty, both girls are each pleasantly surprised by the other, and a new friendship is soon blossoming...

Tabby's Tablecloth
An excellent specimen of Louisa trying her hand at a historical story (not a tale that happens in the “modern” times she was living in, nor even in a fantasy kingdom like the 1st story). Instead, Louisa has chosen an actual year, decades before she herself was born. This story is about a plucky Massachusetts girl in 1775, when the British army was marching through town, and the Revolutionary War was just on the brink of breaking out. An excellent story for any student who may be learning about that time period.

A Hole in the Wall
Herein we find a lame boy and his own “secret garden” to discover on the other side of the wall. This epistle provides laughter, healing in the heart, and perhaps will bring a tear to your eye. My heart went out to little Johnny, but he is such an innocent boy, full of hope and imagination... what's not to love about his story?

This is a delightful tale, in which two spinsters take it upon themselves to finally do something about the young students across the street who have to eat from the scroungy bakery next door. This whole story is like a fun romp, combining the antics of two little old ladies, and a houseful of boys with hungry appetites. Very cute, overall.

Baa! Baa!
Here's my favorite story in the whole collection! Two sisters start out intending to pick berries to sell at the train station as a business venture. But when they see a train full of poor, dehydrated sheep roll in – their kind little hearts take over. There's a sweet cast of characters in this story – as other people take notice of the girls, and one kindness is rewarded for another, and another. I just loved reading this one!

The Silver Party
On Thanksgiving Day, young Tony is at home with a cold, while the rest of his family goes to church and enjoys the holiday celebrations. One may wonder if his health issues bring on hallucinations... because before you know it, the silverware is strutting across the table, talking, dancing, and all sorts of other human-ized type of actions. He may even learn some manners from these aforethought “dumb” objects.

How They Camped Out
Adventurous and sweet. A whole slew of kids are caught in a snowstorm on their way back from a sleighing party. They are able to make it into an empty, dusty house for shelter, and there's nothing to do but make the best of the situation. While waiting for help to come, they busy themselves with making a fire and scavenging for any edible bits in the house... It's a rather cozy survival story.

The Hare and the Tortoise
A moral lesson, based on the summary of one of Aesop's legendary fables. A modernized story (well, for Louisa's time) about a couple of brothers – the older boy who gets to parade around town atop his high bicycle, and the younger boy who yearns for his very own, since his stubborn brother won't share. Someone learns a lesson or two.

Jerseys, or the Girls' Ghost
Yep. I liked this story a lot too. Miss Orne promotes healthy habits to her six students, such as rousing exercise, and better diets, which are things that Louisa (probably) truly believed in. I would like to imagine that when Louisa taught in her early years, that maybe she was something like Miss Orne herself – that she was a good-natured teacher who wanted the absolute best for her students. And you know what? This story also kept reminding of the literary heroine Anne Shirley.

The Cooking Class
The comedic episodes of 6 girls who meet weekly to perfect, criticize, and enjoy their culinary skills (which may or may not exist). Plus, throw in some occasional boyish pranks in the mix, and you've really got some hilarious scenes cooking. It certainly set me to laughing a few times.

- - - - -

Overall? This is a beautiful story book, that every little girl should have on her shelf as she grows up. Also, these just make excellent little stories that a young child could read aloud to a parent. (Or of course, as a bedtime story that the parent can read aloud.)

My 5th book is complete for the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge.

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Buy the book!

paperback // hardcover

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

If you'd like to learn more about the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge, or to sign-up, just visit this link to start at the beginning.


Summer TBR Wipeout 2018 [Reading List]

This is my first time to participate in The Candid Cover's Summer TBR Wipeout. The premise is simple... read your books this summer!

Here's a look at some of the titles I would like to read during July and the the first couple of weeks in August. Not sure how much I'll actually get read, but I'm excited about each one.

Classic Lit

Moby Dick Sense and Sensibility The Keys of the Kingdom The Outsiders


Stars Above Mark of the Thief Outbreak Nightmare at the Book Fair The Vanishings A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons

Miscellaneous Adult

He Shall Thunder in the Sky Village School

But of course, I'm sure I won't stay on track with this exact list. We'll see which of these books actually get read -- and what other titles get pulled in. ;)

Mostly, I just can't wait to fall into some excellent stories...


The final chapter of Louisa May Alcott reading challenge 2018

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Readers and fellow challenge-participants,

The time has come to close down the 2018 Louisa May Alcott reading challenge. We're done!

It's ALSO time to announce the 3 winners of the Pixel Berry Pie Designs art prints! As a reminder, here's what we had up for grabs...

Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork
Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork
Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork
Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork
Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork

And now... the names of those 3 lucky winners are:

Nicole M.

Trix W.


YAY!!!! I will be contacting the winners as soon as I can. But if you won, and you haven't heard from me yet, just shoot me an email to claim your prize (see my email address over in the sidebar, below my pic).

// Coupon code... //

If you didn't win, but you would like to have some of these art prints for yourself (or gifts for bookish friends!), I have a coupon code for you!!

Just visit and enter code LITTLEWOMEN2018 at checkout.

This special coupon is good ONLY through July 8th. Place your order soon to get this fabulous deal!

Did you read everything on your Alcott challenge list?

I enjoyed a lovely European tour through Louisa's eyes via her book Shawl Straps <--check out my review... then I was thrilled to read one of Louisa's "blood and thunder" stories, which was so different to try one of her shadier tales, A Long Fatal Love Chase <--check out my review... I also finished a fictional story written about the Alcotts and their life at Fruitlands, a transcendental "utopia", Becoming Little Women <--check out my review... and right now I've got just a bit left of The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories that I'm currently reading (also will review it shortly on the blog). For me, that was a blissful month of reading! Reading 'Shawl-Straps' this June for the LMA reading challenge! Reading 'A Long Fatal Love Chase' this June for the LMA reading challenge! Reading 'Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands Farm: Louisa May at Fruitlands' this June for the LMA reading challenge! Reading 'The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

What did you read this month?

THANK YOU to EVERYONE who participated in the reading challenge. I appreciate you all for making this a fun and spectacular reading month. By the way, if you haven't finished your posts or reviews about the LMA books you got to read this month, that's okay — the link-up widget will still be open a few more days for any last words on the subject that you might have to share.

And in closing, I'll give you all some words of wisdom, from our literary friend...

"Wild roses are fairest, and nature a better gardener than art."
- Louisa May Alcott, A Long Fatal Love Chase

See you next June! Or, perhaps in November & December... I'll be hosting the 3rd annual Literary Christmas reading challenge!

Signing off from the 2018 LMA challenge,

P.S. Don't forget! You can still vote for Little Women to win the title of the Great American Read -- daily (or whenever you can remember) through the fall time. :)

If you'd like to learn more about the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge, visit this link to start at the beginning.