Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tumtum and Nutmeg

While perusing at our local library I picked up Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn.  I had seen it many times and its cover always stood out as fun to me.  The particular copy that I picked up has three different stories in it and my kids and I just finished the first.  And we loved it.

Tumtum and Nutmeg are two mice who live in a cupboard hidden by a bookshelf.  Their house has a billiards room, a ballroom, a butler's room and a banqueting room - among others.  Tumtum and Nutmeg's human house has two children - Arthur and Lucy.  And although their family has had money in the past they do not now - and their clothes are tattered and their attic bedroom has no heat.  Tumtum and Nutmeg decide to climb the stairs to the attic at night and start darning their clothes, fixing the furnace and cleaning up the toys.   Arthur and Lucy and thrilled and are sure that a fairy has come to help.

But then Aunt Ivy comes to visit.  She is awful.  And hates mice.  When she sees Tumtum and Nutmeg dressed in clothes she is disturbed.  But when she locates their house she is on a mission to exterminate.  Tumtum and Nutmeg, with the help of General Marchmouse and his army, hatch a plan to chase Aunt Ivy back to Scotland.  What ensues is a fun story full of humor.  As we read the story my kids and I were laughing - a lot.

And last night when I saw a small mouse scurry across my own floor (eek) and I jumped a little higher up on my chair I couldn't help but think of Tumtum and Nutmeg. The thought of their plan to get rid of Aunt Ivy made me laugh, and cringe just a little.  This is a very funny, charming story.  We just started in on the second story - The Great Escape - and are enjoying it too.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Princess Academy

It was a great end of summer for me -  a wedding, an extended trip to see family, our first family campout (a success!), and long days spent at the park.  Now it is back to school and I am hoping back to regular blogging.

A few days ago I indulged in re-reading Shannon Hale's  The Princess Academy - and it was just as wonderful the second time around. It tells the story of Miri a 14-year-old girl who lives at the top of Mount Eskel where they quarry linder.  Miri is small for her age and her father will not allow her near the quarry.   She is friendly and quick to laugh and no one would expect that her exclusion from the quarry is a source of anxiety for her.  The lowlanders give them little money for their linder and food is scarce - but despite this Miri and the people on Mount Eskel are generally happy.

Life changes for the people of Mount Eskel when the priests in Danlander divine that the future bride of the prince will come from Mount Eskel.  All the young girls from 14 - 18 are required to go down the mountain three hours to attend a princess academy. Everyone is apprehensive about what this will mean for the girls as well as for their society at large.

The story that unfolds tells of Miri's coming of age - learning to read, listening to and learning the language of the linder and learning to leave and appreciate home.  Hale's use of language creates a story with a strong heroine and words that create an enjoyable escape.