Book Review: The Holy Bible by miscellaneous authors


There are several good reasons not to include a review of “the Good Book” on the Book Trolley. First, MuggleNet does not sponsor any particular religion, and my views about the Bible are not necessarily the views of MuggleNet, its webmaster, its editors, or its devoted readers. I’m sure they have no intention of letting this site be used for religious propaganda. Second, it might seem beneath the dignity of the Bible, to those of ... Read More »

Book Review: Sour Land by William H. Armstrong


Sour Land by William H. Armstrong This is a companion book to Sounder, and in my opinion, an even more moving book. Perhaps its power lies in its personal, intimate nature. Unlike Sounder, this book is full of characters with lifelike names. It does not come across as a universal parable—though it may be that—but as a portrait of a handful of very specific, individual people. People who are bound together by loss and by love, by ... Read More »

Book Review: Sounder by William H. Armstrong


Sounder by William H. Armstrong This is a still, gentle story about loss, waiting, and searching, set in the Southern U. S. around the turn of the 20th century. It mostly concerns a family circle–particularly the mother, father, and oldest boy–and their coon dog, Sounder. Touched by tragedy and racial injustice, it puts a high value on hope, on the love of nature, and on the love of words. The story is extremely simple, and ... Read More »

Book Review: Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie


Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie Written in 1906 to benefit a London children’s hospital, this classic has gone through such a wringer of stage, film, and animated adaptations, not to mention picture-book retellings, that reading or hearing the original text is now somewhat unusual; but not nearly as unusual as the story itself, which is by turns witty and bizarre and melancholy and gruesome, and always narrated in a uniquely teasing way. ... Read More »

Book Review: Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary


Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary Second-grader Ramona Quimby is distressed when her father loses his job. This brings changes in her family, which includes an older sister “Beezus” (given name Beatrice) who is going through that “difficult age,” a cat who snubs cheap cat food, and a mother who has to work so hard to support the family that she doesn’t have time to do things like sewing a sheep costume for the ... Read More »

Book Review: Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer


Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer Food, family and politics come together in this 2001 Newbery Honor Book by the author of the highly acclaimed Rules of the Road. Here’s what narrator Hope Yancey has to say about her philsophy of life: I don’t expect life to be easy. It hasn’t been yet and I’m not holding out for smooth sailing in the future. Not everyone likes this philosophy, but it makes sense to me because ... Read More »

Book Review: Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt


Dicey is the oldest of four siblings who are in the process of being adopted by their grandmother, after being abandoned by their mentally ill mother, and making their way alone from Boston to Eastern Maryland. Now that school has started and a little normalcy has come into their lives, they should live happily ever after, right? Well, this is the Tillerman family we’re talking about: Gram is a sharp-tongued, eccentric woman who is considered ... Read More »

Book Review: The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars


The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars The author of After the Goat Man, The House of Wings, Trouble River, and The Cybil War won the Newbery Medal for this book in 1971. It doesn’t actually tell about the whole summer. It all happens in two days’ time. But in those two days you learn a lot about what ails Sara Godfrey. Mainly, it seems (though the book never comes right out and says it) that she is suffering ... Read More »

Book Review: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girls Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos


A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos Framed by letters in which a great-grandmother in 1899 hands over her girlish diary to her thirteen-year-old namesake, this 1980 Newbery Medal winner takes the form of the diary of Catherine Hall, a New Hampshire farm girl in a time of simple, hard country life, growing controversy over the issue of slavery, and changes in her circle of family and friends. ... Read More »

Book Review: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


The Newbery Medal winner of 1992, which I believe has been made into a film, is worth reading whether you have seen the movie or not. Shiloh is the name Marty gives to a sweet but badly mistreated beagle, who belongs to a really nasty neighbor; and when a terrified Shiloh runs away from his master, Marty risks defying his parents’ ideas of right and wrong to protect the animal he loves. At first he ... Read More »