If I had a million dollars, I'd build you a school.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I'm Reading Next: El Capitán Alatriste

I just finished reading Watership Down. The advantage of reading a book that I first read when I was eleven is that it goes pretty quickly 22 years later. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, it is the story of a small group of rabbits who, worried that something terrible is about to happen in the warren in which they grew up, go off in search of a new place to live. The world is a big and scary place, full of predators, men and their machines, and other rabbits both friendly and hostile. It is a great adventure story, and I enjoyed reading it as an adult at least as much as I did the first time through.

Re-reading it with a teacher's eyes, I certainly understand why my teachers assigned it to me in the first place. Interwoven with the entertaining adventure story are all kinds of problems that young teenagers can identify with. There are issues of being outsiders and getting bullied. There are authority figures who won't listen to or believe the younger rabbits. There is the need to declare independence from those authority figures and set out on their own. There are societies with oppressive and unjust rules. I have long since forgotten any class discussions we had about the book when I was a student, but there are so many things to talk about that I wish I could go back and be a fly on the wall while seventh grade Jeff worked through the story with his class.

Next up: El capitan Alatriste
I am not a native Spanish speaker, so my Spanish needs regular maintenance. One thing I try to do is a read a book in Spanish on a regular basis. With the school year approaching, it seemed like a good time to dust off the language skills. The Alatriste series has been incredibly popular in Spain and has already been made into a movie. A number of my English students from our time in England recommended both the books and the movie to me.

While we were in The Gambia, a Colombian friend there lent me another of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's books, La reina del sur. What impressed me the most about that book is that Pérez-Reverte, a member of the Spanish Royal Academy, is able to tell a gripping adventure story without sacrificing any of the literary merit of the book. He is a gifted writer, and I'm looking forward to digging in to his most popular series.

Posts about previous titles:
Three Cups of Tea
True History of the Kelly Gang

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

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