Ah’m a-splurgin’!

Ah’m a-splurgin’! January 13, 2014

That’s what I said in my best Yosemite Sam voice to my daughter, as I grabbed a large bottle of hot sauce off the shelf at the supermarket, rather than our customary medium-sized bottle of hot sauce.  Only problem was, it wasn’t my daughter.  It was some stranger, who moved on quickly.

Anyway, I just went on a bit of a book-buying spree with some Amazon credits you lovely folks helped me earn by buying Amazon items through my link (and if you can’t see the blue ad on the right sidebar, you can find a quick link in the tab at the top of the blog, where it says “Shop Amazon here!“).

It’s mainly my eleven-year-old son who was looking for something to read. I think I may have picked some stuff that was a little young for him, but he will live (and his nine-year-old brother, who prone to settle for comic books, will definitely enjoy these).  Here is what I ordered (note:  the pictures may not neccessarily be from the same edition I’m linking to. I just chose what I thought was the best illustration of the book):

While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away

and Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians

both by Mary Nash.  Both of these are great reads, so weird and funny.  Three siblings, the boy with the complicated conscience, the slightly prissy girl, and the nakedly awful little brother Theobold, nicknamed “The Toad,” find ways to subvert the tender care of their housekeeper, Mrs. Coverlet.  I read these as a kid and they totally held up.  Nice portrayal of realistic sibling relationships.


The Great Brain Is Back

by John Fitzgerald.  This is the eighth in the wonderful Great Brain series, and I don’t think we’ve read this one yet. It does not appear to have been illustrated by Mercer Mayer, like the others, which is a shame.  If you’re not familiar with the series, which tells of a Catholic family in Mormon Utah dealing with their intelligent, unscrupulous, money-grubbing son and his gullible younger brother, you should get a hold of them asap.  Great for sneaking in a little history, too.


Arabel’s Raven

by Joan Aiken, illustrated by Quentin Blake  Just tons of fun.  I love anything by Joan Aiken.  Here she is just enjoying herself as a storyteller, following the antics of a nice girl and her unreliable pet, with lighthearted stories told in a remarkably sophisticated literary style.  Love how Aiken understands children, but doesn’t talk down to them.


Freddy and the Spaceship

by Walter R. Brooks, illustrated by Kurt Weise.  I know I’ve gone on and on about the “Freddy the Pig” series.  We’re slowly working our way through the list, and haven’t hit a dud yet.  Great for reading aloud for all ages.


The Odious Ogre

by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer.  Written and illustrated by the same guys who did The Phantom Tollbooth, which my kids loved to death, even though I often had to explain both sides of the puns. I actually heard this book was a bit of a disappointment, but even if it’s not quite as good as tollbooth, that’s still pretty good!  I’ll let you know what we think.

I also ordered a few books for myself:


So Brave, Young and Handome

by Leif Enger.  I read Peace Like a River and was blown away.  It’s one of those fascinating writing styles that teeters on the brink of magical preciousness, but never quite topples over the edge, and takes you to some amazing places.  Peace Like a River was so original and captivating, I’m really looking forward to this newish book by Enger.


Kristin Lavransdatter III:  The Cross

by Sigrid Undset, translated by Tiina Nunnally.  I will admit that I had only the shakiest grasp on the plot in about 40% of part II.  The politics and the complicated family trees were just beyond me.  But I have the general idea, and I totally got the emotional end of the story, and I gotta find out what happens to Kristin.

So! Thanks again for shopping through my Amazon links and helping me keep our bookshelves overflowing!  What are you reading lately?


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Anna

    Just finished “Kristin Lavransdatter” which I got for Christmas – loved it so much more than as a high school freshman reading the old translation. 20+ years of life experience matters a lot with “Kristin”!

  • Barbara Fryman

    Had to read 12 Years A Slave when I found out it was written by Solomon Northup.

  • Laura Vellenga

    totally LOVED the mrs. coverlet books. but of course, since i suggested them, my children will not read them.

    • Anna

      I have “While Mrs. Coverlet was Away” but mine are a bit young for it yet. I couldn’t decide whether “Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians” was fine, or if the voodoo doll was presented as reality more than fantasy and too over my edge for that. I have all the Harry Potter books, so I don’t think I’m overly sensitive on the magic/witchcraft score, but I just can’t quite make up my mind about Mrs. Coverlet. Though Simcha’s opinion carries a lot of weight…

  • SBee12

    SImcha- the Great Brain is back was published in 1995 after the death of JD Fitzgerald. My understanding is the book was cobbled together from some of the notes he left behind. It wasn’t as good as the originals, but I still loved it because I love the originals. I hope the kids (and you!) enjoy.1

    • simchafisher

      Oh, how did I miss that? Oh well – I’m sure it will be at least mildly interesting, but there’s no way they could capture that tone. That explains the difference in illustrators, anyway.

  • Charity Brown

    Fun post- I’ll have to check these out! I’ve been a lurker on your blog for a long time. I’m one of what I’m going to assume are your many non-Catholic readers who take great delight in your posts. You lift my spirits on a regular basis! Thanks! My kids and I just finished the Wingfeather Saga by Christian author Andrew Peterson. Hilarious! Goofy! Thought-provoking! Nothing like some thwaps and some bomnubbles and some Fangs of Dang to get your kids imagination roaring! Can’t wait for the final book in the series to come out this year!

  • Tina

    Kristen Lavransdatter is one of my all time favorite books.Which translation are you reading? The Tiina Nunnally translation is easier to understand than the original.

  • Igotfreshmilk

    I am so grateful to you for finding While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away. I am 90% sure that is a book which I read many, many years ago, and have remembered just enough to want to read it again, but not the title, or author or any identifying characteristic. So I will soon add to your Amazon credits.

  • Lynn

    The Great Brain books were one of the highlights of my childhood bookshelf. I read them all out loud to my kids as bedtime stories, and they just adored all the scheming.

  • I just finished reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of a Her Own Making. I bought it thinking I’d read it to my girls who are 8 and 6, but it’s too far above their heads. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. It’s an Alice in Wonderland type book with incredible detail and inspiring prose. Maybe someday I’ll be able to write like that? Okay, I won’t. But I did enjoy reading it.

  • Arabel’s Raven looks pretty cool for my four year old son, though now he’s into a superheroes phase. I think I’ll get it nontheless. The Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy is on my list of reads, but I probably won’t do it this year. Right now I’m reading Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. I’m not big on Twain as a novelist but I do enjoy his non-fiction.

  • Karyn

    I could not get into Kristin and didn’t read past the first book, and I had to drag myself to even finish the first book. I just didn’t like her and if I don’t like the main character, it’s hard to engage.

  • anna lisa

    We gave our fourth grader a Kindle Paper White for his birthday. I was a little bit leery at the beginning, but the kid is constantly engrossed in a new book now. He carefully brings it to school and back. His older brother loaded it up with dozens of books for him. He just blew through the Hunger Games Trilogy. I thought it would be a little advanced for him but he loved them. I knew I was walking a fine line, but we had some really great conversations about morality, and what happens to people and societies when they become decadent. I read his book reports and was floored.

  • Karen Cain

    The Arabel and Mortimer series is directly responsible for me becoming an Anglophile at the tender age of eight. I wanted to live in a world where I could have crisps with my afternoon tea, and a warming cupboard in the bathroom for the towels. I

  • Lydia

    I just read “Animal Crackers” by Gene Luen Yang. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.