Hello Bloggy friends!  It’s been a busy time in the Bluestocking world, and I would that I had a little more time to share the adventures with you.

In the last little while I have seen my first ever platypus in the wild, (apologies to my urbandaisy readers who have heard that story already, but I couldn’t resist 😀 ) and have gone for a ride in the coolest, biggest, fastest,  pinkest (!) 4WD ute ever; have seen a hawk take an eastern rosella (small parrot) in flight; visited a spent Molybdenum mine and a sheep station; received a most delicous present from India, in the form of a book of poems; and..oh! lots of great things.

In between all those adventures, I have been reading at a rate to slake the thirst of the wee folk, which is no mean feat.  Here’s just a sample..

Zarco the Explorer, by K. Norel, surprised me severally.  It was interesting, despite the  cover art and uninspiring title. (Eh! don’t judge a book by its’ cover.)  It was also the springboard for some additional reading on the theories about who really discovered the trade route to India and the true identity of Christopher Columbus..

You meet; Bartholomew Diaz, famous explorer who first rounded the Cape of Good Hope; Vasco da Gama, commander of the first ships to sail directly from  Europe to India; and take a retrospective look at Henry the Navigator.

The fictional aspects of the story relate the adventures of Zarco, a young country boy, as he struggles to overcome fear and superstition, hunger, illness and all sorts of peril.    It also tells of Zarco’s  struggles to reconcile the success of the exploration with the terrible loss of life, the poverty of the seamen injured during service of the king, and the morality of imposing rule on colonies.

While the girls and I enjoyed this book, I imagine it would be ideally suited for boys: lots of adventure, danger and daring, and devoid of girls!

After the Flood, by Bill Cooper, can be read on line.  What a book!  The author presents the results of over 25 years research in this offering, the idea of which was to test the Biblical Table of Nations for accuracy.

It is difficult to do justice to the book in a short review, there were so many fascinating aspects to the history presented.  We decided after reading, that it is with good reason that Diana Waring (a history hero in our house), refers to it often.

Possibly the best way to gauge the success of this book at our house is the frequency with which each person in turn, chose to read aloud parts as they discovered something too interesting not to share – even knowing the hearers had read the book already!  Highly recommended for the older history buffs!

Ben Sylvester’s Word, by Charlotte Yonge, was more in the line of her family morality tales than the historical accounts our tastes normally run to.  However, it was an enjoyable (though somewhat predictable) tale about the value of honesty, with some incidental learning possible given the historical details of the setting and descriptions of daily life.

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, would have to be on my “books that influence you for life” list.  I read this book originally when I was about 15 years old, and it was one of the few books that I thought about regularly, and deeply, for a long time after finishing it.

A first hand account of a Dutch family’s  underground work to save Jews during WWII, and their subsequent arrest and incarceration in concentration camps, this book would be a valuable read solely as a primary source of history.  That it is also a remarkable testament of the work of God in the author’s life is a huge bonus, and lends a hopeful flavour to an otherwise hopeless patch of history.  A truly worthwhile biography.

On a (much!) lighter note, Around the World with Pheneas Frog, by Paul Adshead, was a roaring success with the small fry. The book is a geographical puzzle.  Phineas and his daughter travel the world in a hot air balloon; father going off to visit famous landmarks, daughter shopping for souvenirs.  In the rhyming text (which is only clunky in one or two places..) are clues to the location, which the reader is to guess.

Shall I share a sample of the high-falutin text?

This, from the very beginning, explains how Phineas’ daughter unintentionally joins the expedition:

“Farewell,” calls his daughter, but as the flame flickers,

the anchor is snagged on the seat of her knickers.

The balloon starts rising, faster and faster.

“HELP!” screams Miss Frog. “What a dreadful disaster!”

“No!” laughs her father.  “I think it’s fantastic!”

Three cheers for extra-strong knicker elastic.”

He hauls up his daughter and says, “Good for you.

Adventures are twice as exciting with two.”

Miss Frog’s penchant for shopping is reason to mention the currency in each different country, and her souvenirs are all clues to industry or culture, as are the modes of transport they employ while in each place.  Lots of fun in this one, and the possibility of extension learning activities are endless.

St Austin’s Lodge, by Agnes Giberne, is one of those improving tales which, while it carries you along quite happily with its narrative, also leaves your conscience twitching in a manner that is at least mildly uncomfortable.  That is, of course, if you can relate to the main character of the story, a young lady given somewhat to acts of impetuosity, and with a need to develop more self discipline. Quite worthwhile despite the dramatic style of writing (Why do all girls from the 1800’s get brain fever after an emotional trauma?) if you can find a copy, and best suited to girls 13 and over (and their sometimes harum scarum mothers – wince!)

Hope your holiday break has been as full of interesting reading, and that your new year looks promising 😀

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