Just some quick book reviews:
Elsie's Holidays at Roselands (Elsie Dinsmore series #2) by Martha Finley.
This series was a suggestion from Princess' teacher to challenger her AR reading level. It was written in the 1860s, I suppose set in a similar time period. I would have to read more in the series to give a full review, but after reading this one--it is not something I will have Princess read for several more years. The library didn't have #1, but plot lines and characters were mentioned several times, that made me feel I was missing things that happened. (Some series you can pick up whenever, because they explain past happenings enough to fill you in. Not so here.)
Next, it was pretty dark, discouraging, and kind of intense emotionally through the majority of the book. The main character is 8 year old Elsie, who disobeys her father in a seemingly small way, to uphold her Biblical conviction. This results in the rest of the extended family they live with ignoring or treating her badly, and her father basically disowning her--refusing to see or hug her, even though they live in the same house. It goes into great details Elsie's emotional trials and eventual downward spiral in health, nearly resulting in her death. She and her father reconcile at the end, and things work out 'okay,' but even as an adult, I felt emotionally drained from this book.
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
This is also a series new to us--and one I DO feel comfortable beginning to read-aloud to the kids or to let Princess read on her own. These books came about from stories of her own childhood that the author told her daughter, then published. This one is about 5-year-olds Betsy and Tacy, how they meet and become best friends. The book details their imaginary and real adventures. Just a sweet, old-fashioned book. It does briefly deal with the death of Tacy's baby sister.
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
We listened to this book in the van this weekend--and I nearly turned it off after a couple chapters, because the parents were so non-nurturing and loving, and the oldest brother was so bossy and controlling. Hubby convinced me to leave it on (he thought maybe our kids would appreciate us more, compared to these parents!) It ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable book, that made us adults laugh out loud. I would say that older children (for us, 7 and up) seemed to appreciate this satirical tale more than the younger ones did. There are many big vocabulary words, literary references, puns, and asides that are written tongue in cheek--it was very entertaining once we figured out the author's intent!
There are 4 Willoughbys, who end up in the care of a nanny after their parents have a 'diabolical' plan to rid themselves of the children; while the children have their own 'diabolical' plan to get rid of their parents so they can be orphans. (All the old-fashioned children who do anything good are orphans, they think.) There are 2-3 intertwining story lines, with chapters moving back and forth between locations, so the story moves quickly, but is not hard to follow. Happy endings for all, of course!
It was a fun listen!