Hello reading friends– When it’s a hot summer day, I’m really just looking for a glass of cold fizzy water and a good story. These two books fill the bill– an unbelievable tale of a 100 year old man gone awry and the story of a young girl from a different world rural China. Here they are:
The title of this book, The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared, is an indication of the wacky flavor of this Swedish book. To avoid his 100th birthday party at the old folks home, Allan Karlsson climbs out his window and seemingly disappears. In actuality, he steals a suitcase stuffed with money, meets up with some colorful accomplices including at elephant, and is pursued by bumbling criminals. Alternating chapters go into Allans long life–as an explosives expert who eventually meets up with the likes of Stalin, Chairman Mao, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill, not to mention his trek across the Himalayas on a camel, his stint in an Iranian prison or his participation in the Manhattan Project!! The whole book is so far-fetched as to be crazily entertaining. Jonas Jonasson gives us a rollicking tale of sympathetic characters just right for a read on a hot summer’s day.
One of Lisa See’s book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, is one of her best. Li-yan grows up in a rural village of Yumman, China, harvesting tea with her family. The village is ruled by prescribed mores and customs and when unwed Li-tan has a baby, the tradition is for that baby to be killed. Instead, she takes it away to an orphanage and her daughter Haley is adopted by an American couple and grows up in a happy California home. Li-yan goes on to an education and a vocation in the tea trade, but always longs for her daughter, while Haley hopes and searches for the mother of her homeland. Fascinating look at a culture so far removed from our own and the two parallel lives that are connected by birth.
P.S. Illustration by Helen Oxenbury–love her children’s books.