Judged by Tori • Find her on Goodreads
In the mid-90s my dad worked in Chicago.
What this meant for our family was that every Sunday night he would fly out, and every Thursday he would come home. As as eight year old, I didn’t really understand what that meant for both of my parents–it was simply a part of life.
Aside from phone calls and postcards, my dad often went out of his way to leave us presents when he left or came home. In particular, he would frequently leave books for me, which was, in retrospect, the beginning of a lifetime bonding over literature. Frequently in my life there have been times when my dad and I didn’t have much to talk about, but we could always fall back on what we were reading.
One such present was a boxset of books by E.B. White, including The Trumpet of the Swan. The tale of Louis, a mute trumpeter swan, is an enjoyable one. He goes on many adventures in his journey to live with and adapt to his disability.
Although I have little memory reading it as a child, revisiting it as an adult has brought back a lot of nostalgia. Part of that feeling has to do with The Trumpet of the Swan being such a great book for an adult and child to share together.
The language is simple, but arresting and often laugh out loud funny. The story is cute and outright silly at times, but that’s what makes it makes it fun. I particularly enjoyed the way the text engaged the reader directly, through questions at the end of Sam’s journal entries. The book ends on one such question, asking what “crepuscular” means. This neat little piece of meta gives the reader (child and parent) a chance to learn and grow together, and to continue the conversation even after the book is finished.
As an adult it was a quick and easy read, one that brought back a lot of childhood feelings for me, and made me want to go and give my dad a hug and thank him for sharing this book–and many others–with me.
By contrast, I came to Sorcery and Cecelia, Or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer as a brand new reader.
I could tell from the summary alone that I would enjoy this book. A regency epistolary tale with magic? Sign me up! But then the novel goes ahead and throws in an engagement of convenience and I was immediately sold.
Kate and Cecelia, cousins and childhood best friends, are separated for the first time as Kate makes her society debut in London. As told through their letter correspondence, it’s the story of Kate and Cecelia sorting things out for the men in their lives who think they know better.
As with The Trumpet of the Swan, Sorcery and Cecelia speaks to me strongly as an important book for young readers. Although of a different genre, it gave me much of the same feelings I had as young adult, reading the books that were the most important to me. Had I read fifteen years ago, I’m sure the spine would have been well worn through multiple readings.
The relationship between Kate and Cecelia told through their own words is engaging, and reminds me of my own close friendships. The action is exciting throughout, but the novel gives the feeling of a conversation between two friends, sharing the important moments in their lives. The romances are compelling and often swoon-worthy, and the world building is exciting in the way it draws the reader in completely. It’s the kind of book with which you sit down and curl up, and walk away with a warm satisfied feeling.
Both these books spoke to me as formative childhood books, books that would help cultivate a love of reading. Both are engaging and fun to read as an adult, but in the end I just enjoyed Sorcery and Cecelia more, and for that reason it is my choice to advance to the next round.