Week 41: Stories from the Faerie Queene and Sam I Am

Stories from the Faerie Queene, by Mary MacLeod

I ordered this several weeks ago and am hoping that my kids will enjoy reading the stories in it. It's quite long--over 400 pages--and has a complete retelling of every story in the original Faerie Queene. It's quite Edwardian in tone, and a good way to become familiar with the stories without actually having to read the epic poem.

This book is available in full-text online.

Sam I Am, by Ilene Cooper

Sam, a 7th grader, is having trouble figuring out his family this Christmas. The dog destroyed the Hanukkah bush and that has uncovered a whole lot of family tension around the subject of religion. Sam's dad is Jewish, but not at all active or willing to talk about it. His mom is Christian and goes to church sometimes, but Sam feels guilty going with her, feeling that it might upset his dad. The grandmothers don't get along. For years, the parents have avoided talking with each other or their kids about religion, and that hasn't really been working; now Sam is ignorant about both sides of his heritage and torn between his parents, unsure about how to make them happy or about what he wants. Sam is also trying to figure out school (where they're studying the Holocaust), boy/girl parties, and his first girlfriend.

I thought this book was really well-written and enjoyed it quite a lot. I would highly recommend it for kids 11 and over. There are very few children's novels that address religion at all, and the ones that do tend to be about evil religious extremists, so it's a relief to see a great book like Sam I Am, which realistically treats both Judaism and Christianity as faiths which ordinary people live because they think it's right and that it helps them.


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