Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Book Review: Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates

This is another gem of a book Zach and I read together as part of our Sonlight Core 1 curriculum. I have to admit, yet again, that I probably would not have chosen it randomly from the book store shelves. In fact, in the start of it, I was worried Zach would not enjoy it due to the vocabulary and content.

The content involves a boy, Peter, who lived in the past (specific dates not given in the book), in a remote mountainous area, on the outskirts of a village apparently. Peter's family is a farming family, primarily involved in raising sheep. The entire story revolves around Peter and his relationship with his cosset, Biddy. Now my own son is a city boy who has never been really close to a sheep honestly, and the farming life is completely unknown to him. He is drawn to action-packed tales of detectives, robots and sci-fi adventures. So you can guess I was hesitant about this book. However, the simple story of a boy and his pet easily transcended the differences between Zach and Peter, and Zach sat enthralled day after day as we read this book aloud together.

Which brings me to the other point about this book, the vocabulary. It is a rich, complex book in terms of both the word choices and the syntax. Sonlight made a good choice to make this a read-aloud rather than leaving it to the student to read on his/her own. We stopped often during the story to explain the meaning of a word, or to reread a passage if I saw he was looking a bit confused. The exposure to this language was wonderful though, and added many words to his vocabulary that he would not have normally encountered, even in his spelling words or workbooks.

So, I have to give this book a high recommendation from boy my son and myself. It is a lovely book to read together.

We enjoyed this selection so much in fact, that we requested from the library, A Place for Peter, which is the sequel to Mountain Born. In the sequel, Peter is older now, and is struggling through that difficult period between being a boy and a man. The writing is as good as Mountain Born, but the story is not quite as engaging to Zach at this period in his life. It is a nice followup though; we love to continue on with series we enjoyed together.

A cute note about A Place for Peter is I did get it from the library here, and there was only one copy in the system in storage at Central Library. We had it sent up to our local brand and picked it up. It didn't even have a call number, just "storage" on the spine. It still has the old envelope for the check-out card, on which is printed library rules, including a note of a 4 cent per day overdue fee, or 2 cents per day for juvenile books. LOL I tried to find a date it was put into the library system, and apparently it was Nov 24, 1952 by stamp, and the copyright on this edition is 1952. What a neat treat to hold this old book and think of all those who have read it before us.

1 comment:

Lona said...

We loved Mountain Born, too. And just think--by requesting A Place for Peter to be brought up from storage, you may have saved it from the used book sale rack at the library. Keep checking out those old books so we don't lose them...