Friday, June 20, 2008

Ta Da!! It's done!

Fini, finished, viola, yippee! I am done with the Once Upon A Time II Challenge that Carl from hosted. I finished The String in the Harp by Nancy Boyd and loved it. A book involving Welsh and Celtic mythology and a Newbery Honor book in 1976.

When the Morgan family loses their mother in a car accident their lives are obviously torn apart. When their father decides to accept a teaching post on the coast of Wales the family divides for a time with Peter and Becky relocating with him and Jen staying in the states to continue high school. Family relationships are strained at best. Jen journeys to Wales for Christmas vacation and does her best to keep her family from splintering any further. But the bleak winter on Wales in a small seacoast town has little to offer and emotions are as a volatile as the weather.

Peter finds an ancient harp tuning key and soon begins not a time travel journey but one of glimpses into the past. In a land full of Welsh legend and mythology it appears that even the mountains are full of spirits. Jen tries to deny the magic of the Key but Becky notices Peter falling deeper under the Key's spell.

A String in the Harp develops slowly but it is worth your patience. Nancy Bond blends fantasy and realism and does not dumb-down the Welsh mythology. This was a book I didn't want to end - the author created a sense of place that I have not felt quite so distinctly in a long time. After days of 113-115 degrees it was a pleasure to escape to the gun-metal grey skies of Wales and ponder about Taliesin, the bard. A well crafted book! 4.5/5.0

So the Challenge is complete. I veered off my "well intentioned" list but I felt that all the books had so much to offer and were right off my bookshelves! It was great to know just what I was going to read next and I wasn't disappointed with any of the books.

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

Blood and Memory, the Quickening Book Two by Fiona McIntosh

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

*The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim - this is the one I started but didn't finish and I substituted The Magician's Nephew by C.S.Lewis (which was my book group read for June)

What a fun challenge. Next year I will definitely stretch a bit more and approach different genres. Although 5 books doesn't seem like much, it was the perfect number for the end of the school year time period. As a teacher it always amazes us how crazy the end of the year gets - this year I threw in the graduation of our last "chicken" and presto - chaos ensued. I am feeling like doing the happy dance for just completing a goal. Hmmm, so now so far this summer I have learned how to make GREAT homemade bread, whole wheat tortillas, corn tortillas, I'm harvesting the garden, studying Spanish daily and now have finished a challenge!! Wahoo!

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