Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rainbow Valley - Review

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

Today, I finished reading Rainbow Valley, for the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, at Reading to Know, and I think I've finally found a children's book in the series. I know, the entire set is supposed to be directed at younger readers, but this is one I could actually imagine my children reading, and enjoying on their own, at least the 8-12 year olds.

The story begins pretty much where Anne of Ingleside leaves off, but focuses on a new set of characters, as the Blythe children meet up with the new minister's four, motherless children, and a runaway orphan girl (who reminded me strangely of Peppermint Patty).

The characters are well developed, and real, especially when set beside some of the more stereotypical characters from the previous book in the series. I was a minister's child myself, and lost a parent along the way, and I think Montgomery has captured both situations well.

The story, itself, moves with an enjoyable energy (think Lewis's Narnia mixed with Edgar Eager's Half Magic), until the last quarter of the book, when it begins to bog down a bit, as Montgomery leads us into another one of her predictable, happy ending, romances, and adds a few too many references to the sad end in store for some of the characters, with the Great War casting a shadow on their future.

All in all, it is very enjoyable, though. I will be adding it to our family read aloud list. In fact, I almost wish we had skipped over Anne of Green Gables, in favor of this story first, since I think it would appeal to my sons, as well as my daughters, and then Anne could have been discovered in reverse.

My only real complaint against the book is Anne's character. She seems aloof, and self-involved (though all of the children, in the book, love her immensely). I thought it was strange she would ignore the shabby state of her children's friends, without offering more than a sympathetic ear. And, it seemed almost unforgivable, that she would not jump at the chance to offer assistance to a young, unloved, orphan child, hailing from the same asylum where she had spent unhappy days, herself. She seems more interested in the state of her garden, than in the state of her children, or her community, and I found that somewhat disconcerting. But then it's not Anne's story, it's the children's, and she is no longer a child.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

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