"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
Finished reading this with my kids, but I probably enjoyed it the most. It was a fun introduction to Lawrence of Arabia written by Alstair MacLean in 1962. It focuses on the role that T.E. Lawrence played in the Arab Revolt during WWI. There is just enough wind-up with his early life, character, etc., and the history/geography of Arabia to insure the thrust of MacLean's small biography doesn't lose nonserious readers in a desert of Arab ignorance. But the book's real brilliance is in MacLean's depiction of the Capture of Aqaba, Battle of Tafileh and the Fall of Damascus. At the end, MacLean also ties the book off with a summary of the post-War years and some of the political results of T.E. Lawrence's work with Winston Churchill and the Colonial Office.
Again, as a biography this is probably not where I would start for T.E. Lawrence. This is more literary hagiography than biography. Alistar MacLean is better known for his war novels like 'The Guns of Navarone' and 'Where Eagles Dare'. MacLean's book came out the same year as Lawrence of Arabia the academy award winning movie (which suggests this was one of those books intended to surf the wave of interest generated by a popular film). But still, if you are going to read one biography to your kids designed around a legend, saint, or mythmaker ... you could certainly feed the kids worse.
Just finished this with the kids. I remember reading this with my mother when I was 10. It is a nice generational conveyance. When I was young, the STORIES of Tom and Huck affected me the most. Now, however, it is Twain's language that touches me. I love how Tom's life and play is impacted by the adventure books he reads. One day Tom is animated by a bounty of pirates, the next day by a shadow of robbers, and everyday Tom's vocabulary and actions are endowed with the books of his youth. 'Tom Sawyer' is just as much an ode to his youth as it is a poesy to the adventure books of a more tender age.
"The Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood" wrote Sherman Alexie in a 2011 WSJ post about how trying to protect children from the harsh realities of life is pointless.
This YA novel dances and laughs in the shadows and with ghosts of poverty, loneliness, abuse, alcoholism, depression, racism, etc.. Alexie does his redemptive dance with tears that both salve and baptize the reader. His voice is real. His pain is authentic. His narrator IS hope. This is a book that is built to confront difficult issues, to pour salt and sunshine on wounds that refuse to heal. I don't know how someone can read Alexie and not walk away lifted up.
I also think he narrates the HELL out of this book. I can't imagine anyone else giving this book the same kind of heart and soul. Listening to Alexie read his book was amazing. I kept having to remind myself that Alexie was not Arnold. Sometimes I've wondered if authors would be better off letting pros read their work, but Alexie absolutely demolished that bias.