David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield (Charles Dickens collection) - Kindle edition by Dickens,  Charles . Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The artistic charm of David Copperfield lies not in its winding and vivid structure, or its ups and downs of plots, but in its realistic life atmosphere and lyrical narrative style. What attracts people in this work are the fleshy characters, the specific and vivid world and customs, as well as the personality characteristics of different characters. Such as Miss Bessie, David’s aunt, in her manners and speech, her dress, her likes and dislikes, and even her actions, though not without exaggeration, paint a vivid picture of an old woman with a strange nature and a kind heart.

As for the portrayal of Peggotty, the maid, this is even more accurate. The setting, especially the storm at Yarmouth, is powerful, vivid and immersive. Dickens was also a master humorist, whose witty one-liners and exaggerated caricature of characters can often be found between the lines of his novels. The chapters of David’s early life show a childhood world that has long been forgotten by adults from a child’s psychological perspective, and are vividly and movingly written. David, for example, has a special childhood sensitivity towards the cruel, cruel and greedy businessman Murdstone who pursues his mother from the beginning.

When Murdstone reached out his false hand and patted David, he saw that it had touched his mother’s unceremoniously, and angrily pushed it away. David repeated to his mother the time when Murdstone had taken him out to play. When he said that one of Murdstone’s friends kept mentioning a beautiful little widow in their conversation, she laughed and asked him to repeat the story again and again. It is told entirely from the point of view of the innocent child, who does not know that it is his mother who is being told, and the young widow, who asks for a reunion, whose fervent hopes for a happy life are already on the page.

David went to her brother’s house with his nurse, Peggotty, whose brother was a fisherman. David saw him coming back from his work at sea to wash his face and thought he had something in common with shrimp and crab, for his black face turned red when the hot water burned it. This strange association is full of childlike interest and Dickens’s characteristic humor. In David Copperfield, Dickens resorts to the cartoonist exaggeration and transformation techniques, with simple language humor to create lifelike characters, leaving us with an unforgettable impression. These cartoon characters fully demonstrate the artistic charm of Dickens’s novels.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne

boyinthestripedpajamas_johnboyneTo Bruno, Out-With was not a good place. That was where his family moved, away from their perfect life in Berlin. It was all because of Father. Father soon got a pressed uniform and the title of Commandant, which Bruno’s grandmother despised. And then the Fury came to visit, and right after, they moved from Berlin to Out-With. Gretel, Bruno’s older sister who was a “Hopeless Case,” later said it wasn’t pronounced “Out-With” and the man people saluted wasn’t called the “Fury,” but Bruno knew he was correct nonetheless.

Bruno hated his new life at Out-With, being removed from his friends and confined to the general vicinity of the house. He had no friends here, since Gretel was too focused on her dolls and Lieutenant Kotler to pay Bruno any mind. Plus, the house was no longer a five-story structure like the house in Berlin had been. And soon, Mother and Father made Gretel and Bruno attend lessons under Herr Liszt, but they had to learn history, not art and poetry like Bruno wanted.

Bruno, however, began to learn other secrets about his new life, about Maria the maid, Pavel the server, about the people on the other side of the fence that he could see from his bedroom window. The people who all wore the same striped pajamas every day and who were never invited into his house, though the soldiers were somehow invited to the other side of the fence.

This novel was a poignant tale of the Holocaust. Told from the perspective of a naive nine-year-old, the whole situation was simplified to the greatest degree, which amplified the story in my opinion. This book has been on my “to-read” list for years now, and I am fortunate I finally got a chance to read it. In reality, it is a simple read, but the themes presented deal with the moral issues of the Holocaust and thus make this novel suitable to at least a middle school audience. That being said, as a junior in high school, I still found this book touching and would definitely recommend it.

– Leila S., 11th grade

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Series Review: The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

little_house_prairieLaura Ingalls Wilder, who was born Febuary 7, 1867,  lived in the pioneer days in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. She had a older sister named Mary, younger sister named Carrie and her Mother Caroline, and her father Charles. Her family moved to different parts of the United States when she was young and always enjoyed the new land they lived on. In this series about her life as an American pioneer, Laura wrote nine books:

  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Farmer Boy
  • On The Banks of Plum Creek
  • By The Shores of Silver Lake
  • The Long Winter
  • Little Town on the Prairie
  • These Happy Golden Years
  • The First Four Years

I love this series. The books will have scary moments, interesting moments, and a history experience that doesn’t seem like history. Farmer Boy is not about Laura but it is about her husband, Almanzo, when he was a young working at a farm. All the other books that I know of in the series is about Laura except Farmer Boy. Some of the books are a bit long but they are good to read if you like short and long mixed books. The age level I would recommend is 8-12 years old and the grade level would be 3rd-7th.

-Kate B., 7th grade