BFG, Flora and Ulysses, Ben & Me, and Ender’s Game

Oh, I am hard-pressed to say which of the characters in these books for kids/young adults I love the most! The Big Friendly Giant, Ulysses the flying squirrel, Amos the mouse who lives in Ben Frankin’s fur hat, or Ender, the 6-year-old military mastermind. Okay, my feelings for Ender aren’t exactly affection or delight like I have for the others, but this is my most recent batch of books read for homeschool.

The BFG was yet another Roald Dahl I’d never read before, and I’m so glad it was new to me. Sharing this story with my 5-year-old at bedtimes is a memory I will cherish forever. She got so into it! She said recently, “Sometimes it’s like you’re inside the story,” and I know she was thinking about Sophie and the BFG when she said that. She got so caught up in their quest to rid the world of the human-eating giants that it made my heart sing.

Equally precious to me will be my memories of reading Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses for my older daughter’s homeschool coop book club. I read the book aloud to both girls at home, and then got to sit in while the kids in the class talked about the book and did activities inspired by it. The book touched all of us who read it very deeply–and also had us laughing out loud. Flora is a natural-born cynic who discovers a squirrel with superpowers, and their friendship is so magical it makes me cry to think about it. I mean, Ulysses writes poetry for Flora. I’m tearing up while writing this.

I love your round head
the brilliant green,
the watching blue,
these letters,
this world, you.
I am very, very hungry.

We just finished the book on Friday, and my older daughter (who is a reluctant reader) is already rereading it. I know how she feels, I’m not ready to say goodbye either!

In our homeschool curriculum, we were supposed to read Johnny Tremain. I remember hating that book so much when I had to read it in 6th grade, and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it again. So I subbed in Robert Lawson’s Ben and Me, a book I read a zillion times as a kid. I always loved how arrogant both Ben Franklin and his mouse Amos were, each in their own way, and I had an absolute blast reading it out loud because I could do lots of fun voices. Another hit!

Finally, I had our homeschool coop middle schoolers read Ender’s Game. The story is a powerful one that continues to speak to kids, and we had a great discussion. Here’s a previous review of mine.

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