Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Whittington by Alan Armstrong

This is a charmer. If your child liked the setting of Charlotte's Web, this should appeal to him as well.

Whittington is the name of a cat who comes to live in a barn with other animals who, like him, are a bit worn-out. A kind man, Bernie, uses the barn to house old and injured animals that people have entrusted to him. Whittington was unwanted at his old home when the boy he belonged to was sent away to a boarding-type school. This boy had learning disabilities, and his bright parents were so frustrated with his inability to read that they sent him off.

Ben and Abby are the grandchildren of Bernie. Ben, too, has a reading problem. The animals decide that Abby, his sister, will give him reading lessons at the barn. When the lessons are done, Whittington relates the adventures of his ancestor and her master which enthralls the whole audience in the barn.

In addition to a sweet and thoughtful story, there is some interesting historical fiction woven in relating to the trade and adventures of an 18th century British merchant who was inspired by Marco Polo.

Though I sometimes give a caution to stories dealing with parental desertion, this book only mentions that Ben and Abby's father disappeared, and then their mother died. It is not an up-close view or one that tries to make it seem just-a-part-of-life. It is more a background fact.

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