L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Overview: We’ve all seen him. Every year at the malls, stores, parades and more. Santa Claus, the jolly old man who lives for the happiness of children all over the world. But, how did he come to be? How does he make his great journey in just one night? This book seeks to answer these questions.

Story Telling: This is more of a folk tale than a fairy tale, though elements of both can be found here.

Likes: We have a story that honors the adoptive parents. Necile acted like a mother, even when she found that her baby grew way too fast for her.

Also, Mr. Baum seems to have remembered the important role of conflict in stories here. Making this one a strong addition to his works.

Favorite Character: That would be Necile. She was warned about how humans aged, but she still decided to help. And like any good mother, she gave her son good advice, when he needed it the most.

Favorite Quote: Our quote comes pretty far into the tale this time. “ But it is the Law that while Evil, unopposed, may accomplish terrible deeds, the powers of Good can never be overthrown when opposed to Evil.”

Favorite Scene: It would be when Necile sought Ak’s advice concerning the impending doom of her child.

Conclusion: I enjoyed this work of Mr. Baum’s much more than “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” If you have a chance to read just one book by Mr. Baum, pick this one. Enjoy it with your family.

Louise Penny’s Kingdom of the Blind-Armand Gamache 14

Overview: Chief Inspector Gamache has an interesting project during his current suspension. He along with two others are the liquidators of an elderly woman’s will. None of them seem to have any connection to the late Mrs. Baumgartner. The will is odd, considering where they met for the reading. Between this will, and Chief Inspector Gamache’s plans for finding the drugs missing from the evidence locker, this suspension might be fun.

Story Telling: We have a foreign mystery series with Gamache here. His series takes place in French Canada. It reminds me more of a cozy mystery.

Dislikes: My only problem with this story is more of my fault. I’ve run across Mrs. Penny’s works fairly recently. As such, I felt a little behind with some of the characters.

Likes: Gamache has a way of working out theories with his team. Destructing your theory can show you where all the holes are rather fast.

And there were quite a few situations that anyone who works with a child can appreciate.

Favorite Character: It would be Stephen Horowitz.

Favorite Scene: It’s both dinner scenes with Mr. Horowitz.

Favorite Quote: It’s rather far into the book this time. During a conversation with Jean-Guy, Gamache says “No, no. I understand. I really do, Jean-Guy. You have a family and it comes first.”

Conclusion: This was a fun read. I just wonder how much more fun it would have been, if I’d started from the beginning. Enjoy the ride.

Robert M. Edsel’s Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis-The Monuments Men 2

Overview: Everyone is taught two things about World War II. One is the Holocaust, and the other is that Italy and Mussolini, was Germany’s ally. What we don’t learn is that most of the Italians held no love for either fascism, nor Hitler. They just wanted to protect their national treasure. And Hitler fancied himself as a supreme art critic. It a piece didn’t speak to him, it wasn’t art. If the artist wasn’t of the ‘superior’ race, then the piece wasn’t art. So, how much art did Italy lose?

Story Telling: Once again, we have a historical account with this book. Like its predecessor, this one involves Germany’s art thefts. It’s just in a different theater this time.

Dislikes: It’s never pleasant to read about mass executions. Germany seemed to be both very good at them, and relish the actions.

And I believe that Wolff god off way too easy. None of his actions in the final days of the war seemed to be repentant for the actions that he took prior to the end.

Likes: Several people worked together for what they saw as right. And honestly, who could blame Poggi for his actions during that time?

Favorite Character: That would be Mr. Deane Keller. He found that fine line between worrying about the monuments and caring for the human lives around them.

Conclusion: This is a valuable educational source. History really isn’t just black and white. The shades of grey included can help us prevent similar problems today. Give this one a try!