The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

The God Box

The God Box - Barry Longyear This is a book you'll probably never get to read. It's long out of print, and this sort of book simply isn't being written or published any more. And that's a pity, because it's a charming, delightful book.Lars and Lisa are a young brother and younger sister living in Sweden in the late (post-WWII) 1940s. Lars is a budding artist; many of the illustrations in the book are attributed to him, although he primarily paints with watercolors and the illustrations are line drawings in black and white. Vreeland illustrated the book herself, and did a wonderful job.The book focuses on the family life of the children as they go to cultural events such as Walpurgis Night, Christmas, and May Day. It also follows them as they travel to different parts of Sweden. I realize that this description may make the book sound dull; please believe me when I tell you that it isn't. Vreeland has a lively and engaging writing style, and the events she writes about are quite interesting and memorable - as I can attest to personally, since I read the book myself when I was very young. I remembered and liked it well enough to search it out as an adult so I could read it to my son!There are so many memorable passages. Their journey on a boat through locks that raise and lower them in a canal. Lisa as "Saint Lucy" for Christmas (her evergreens-and-candles crown is simply astonishing; did they really do that? Apparently so!). Christmas cats. The flying boat ride in the amusement park. Dancing around the bonfire on Walpurgis Night. Lars' continuing progress as an artist. It's all beautifully handled and very engaging.The book is quite appropriate for any age, in terms of plot. I'd say that it could be read to most children aged four or older, and that children as young as eight could easily read it for themselves. It's a chapter book with intermittant illustrations, not a picture book; it took me about ten nights to read it all to my son. I hope we'll read it again before too long.

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