North and South meets A Visit from the Goon Squad Kindly step aside, Mr. Darcy, for Mr. John Thornton of Middleton. Sorry, John Who?
If Jane Austen's Darcy marks the measure of romantic hero, Elizabeth Gaskell’s John Thornton may well be his superior: a self-made, socially-conscious business leader with a mind for higher learning and a true, unwavering heart. His lower profile is a little ironic, since Gaskell orginally wrote him into a serial for Charles Dicken's Household Words. But perhaps Darcy is just a little less complex and easier to adore—nobly-born and not caught up in the mess of tensions between working class men, and those who employed them, that is Thornton’s reality in 1855. “Master” was the word in Gaskell’s day, and is Thornton’s role as a cotton mill owner in the city of Middleton--Gaskell’s fictional interpretation of Manchester at the time. The romantic tension between Thornton and Miss Margaret Hale, newly arrived in Middleton from the bucolic South, keeps p…
Let's be honest here. There are times, when helping a seven-year-old practice her reading, that you just long for the book to be over. It can be a long, slow ordeal with more than a few mix-ups on the way to the last page, and a sigh of relief when you finally arrive at the end.
Not so with Harley, Star Livingstone's tribute to a llama in eastern Massachusetts with a knack for shepherding and a mind of his own. Livingstone's simple sentences and vocabulary knit together a series of episodes in the life of Harley the guard llama--from chasing off coyotes to making friends with a gristley old ram--that has one wishing for a sequel.
If a Grade Two reader takes her time with Harley, it's for good reason, Molly Bang's illustrations of long-lashed Harley, and the gentle sheep he guards are lovely to look at and breath contentment into a story of a once ornery animal who finds his true calling and his rightful place in the farm field.