The Once and Future King, Part 2


The second book of The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, is called Queen of Air and Darkness and it is, indeed, a much darker part of this story. Unlike the first book, The Sword in the Stone, this section is not a story for children. It is full of the brutality and evil of the Medieval world young King Arthur enters as he begins his reign.

Everything is set into motion in this section. The idealistic and innocent youth become a man, and we watch his development as both leader and philosopher as he experiences his power as king and comes to understand what that power means and how it can be used for Right.

At the same time, the ultimate tragedy of King Arthur and his dream is set in motion by a sinful, though unknowing, act. Using trickery and witchcraft, Queen Morgause seduces Arthur (her half-brother). His son, Mordred, is conceived…

It is why Sir Thomas Malory called his very long book the Death of Arthur….It is the tragedy…of sin coming home to roost . That is why we have to take note of the parentage of Arthur’s son Mordred, and to remember, when the time comes, that the king had slept with his own sister. He did not know he was doing so, and perhaps it may have been due to her, but it seems, in tragedy, that innocence is not enough.

In this book, I found the brutality of Morgause and her sons quite disturbing. It was a stark contrast to the upbringing and education of Arthur, and I had trouble with the images Mr. White painted. I also had trouble with how often he inserted his own opinions, and the happenings of his own time period, into the story. Perhaps, if I just wanted the story of King Arthur without editorializing, I should have been reading Le Morte d’Arthur!

At any rate, it’s a complex story, not one that can be ready lightly or quickly. Although there were humorous elements in this section, it was overall a very dark book. So now I’m on to the next section: The Ill-Made Knight.


Queen Guinevere, by William Morris

I am reading this book for Carl V’s annual Once Upon a Time-VIII reading challenge.


The Once and Future King, part 1


Painting by Alan Lee…

The stories of King Arthur have long captured my imagination. I’ve read many different versions and enjoyed each one. Many years ago, (to be truthful, it’s been 41 years!), I read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I loved it! So for Carl V’s annual Once Upon a Time reading challenge this year, I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this wonderful classic, and revisit an old friend, so to speak.

It’s a very long book, divided into four parts which were written and published at different times. The Sword in the Stone tells of the boyhood of Arthur, called “Wart” by his family, and of his education by the wizard, Merlin. And what a wonderful education! –full of nature and folklore and imagination! It was a very enjoyable “listen,” and, if I were still teaching 6th grade, I would consider reading it aloud to my students as a stand-alone book.

The Sword in the Stone is very much about learning and about the relationship between this special student and his teacher. I retired last year after 27 years of teaching, and one reason I chose to become a teacher in the first place was because I love to learn, so this quote from the book speaks a particular truth for me about the joy of becoming a lifelong learner.

“The best thing for disturbances of the spirit is to learn. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love and lose your moneys to a monster, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the poor mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

Other hidden pleasures in this section of the book were the many quotes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and also the inclusion of Robin Hood in the story. What fun! This part of The Once and Future King was written for the child in all of us.


Painting by N.C. Wyeth…

Once Upon a Time, again!


It’s Spring at last, and with the return of the season comes Carl V’s (Stainless Steel Droppings) wonderful Once Upon a Time reading challenge. This is his 8th time hosting, and I’m so happy to be participating again this year. I know it takes a lot of work to organize and run this event, so I want to thank Carl for another Spring full of very enjoyable reading!

This is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum.

You may choose your own level of participation in this challenge, and I have chosen “QUEST the FIRST” again for this year. The instructions are simple:

1. Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

2. Have fun!


I begin this challenge by listening to the audiobook of The Once and Future King, by T.H. White. I read it many years ago and remember loving it. I enjoy Arthurian literature, and I’ve been wanting to reread this one for quite awhile, so this is perfect timing. Along with The Once and Future King, here are some other books I’m considering for this challenge. I’m looking forward to reading the reviews by those taking part in this annual event . Happy reading, everyone!

Reclaiming my Youth


Artist: Dennis Smith

Through the dark winter months, I enjoyed reading and listening to books that I somehow missed reading when I was growing up. It’s been a delightful way to spend many winter hours indoors. I would have loved them as a child, so to honor that child in me, I’m continuing to find missed treasures and appreciate and love them. It’s never too late to read wonderful books!

Here are the books that brought delight to a dark gray winter…

  • The Psammead Trilogy, by E. Nesbitt, includes with Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, and The Story of the Amulet. The continuing adventures of Robert, Jane, Cyril, Anthea, and The Lamb (little brother who was given that name because his first word was Baa) who find a sand fairy (a psammead) who grants them one wish a day. They had to make very careful wishes, however, because each one turned out so differently than they had anticipated!
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. The adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad was a joy to read!  I’ll never look at a river or woodland again in quite the same way since meeting these wonderful characters.

An FO and Audiobooks


A late Christmas gift…

In knitter’s language, an FO is a finished object. I don’t have many FOs to share, being a rather slow and formerly very distracted knitter, but I have actually been finishing some knitting projects since I retired from teaching last year. I mean actually starting AND finishing them! While I was working, I was great at starting those special projects, with all good intentions, but very few of them were finished. But nowadays I can focus on a project and see it through to the finish! Hooray!

So, slow knitter that I am…I just finished my son’s Christmas present. :) Late, but finished! I did wrap it up unfinished still on the needles and gave it to him on Christmas, so he has been patiently waiting to receive it again when completed. It’s ready!

And I really enjoyed knitting it, because the yarn was lovely to work on and because I listened to a number of audiobooks throughout the project. So here are the audiobooks that went into the spirit of this very enjoyable project…

2014 Sci Fi Experience Challenge


“For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

~Vincent Van Gogh

I love Carl V’s, (of Stainless Steel Droppings) reading challenges!  My very first reading challenge as a book blogger was in 2007 — his first Once Upon a Time challenge! (I’m looking forward to this year’s OUaT starting in March.) It’s been a few years since I participated in his Sci Fi Experience Challenge, but I’ve been reading many classics recently and decided it would be fun to read a classic of science fiction. Since I am late starting this challenge, which is already underway from December 1st through January 31st, I will focus on just one book:  The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I have the audiobook version from the library, narrated by the author, which should be especially interesting. As always, this will be an enjoyable reading (and listening) experience!


Messenger of Truth


Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series has become a favorite of mine. I’ve been listening to them in audiobook format, read by a wonderful narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, and have just finished the fourth volume, Messenger of Truth.  As I read through the series, I’m becoming more and more fascinated with the history of the time period after World War I and into the 1930s. And according to Jacqueline Winspear, that fascination is exactly what she hoped would happen with her readers.

“If, IF, they take something in that book and it makes them think and wonder and consider what has gone before–maybe a curiosity about a certain part of history–maybe just wondering about something that’s going on today and looking at it in a different way… If that happens, well, that’s a job well done as far as  I’m concerned.”

My respect for this author is growing deeper with each book in this series. Definitely a job well done!


A Thanksgiving Audiobook: The Wizard of Oz


I am having so much fun listening to the audiobook version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, narrated by the incredibly talented Anne Hathaway! It was already on my listening wishlist, when Audible offered it to me free as a Thanksgiving gift. (If you’d like to listen to a 28-minute excerpt from the book, click here.)

This book was one of my favorite yearly read-alouds when I was teaching. I’m missing those favorites now that I’m retired, so thought that I could give myself a gift of listening to someone else read it to me. Little did I know that Anne Hathaway, with her passionate love for character and acting, would be my reader. I love Audible for gifting me this audiobook, and I’m loving Anne’s fun-filled, energy-packed interpretation of L.Frank Baum’s wonderful words!

The Jungle Book


Illustration by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling.

Rudyard Kipling published The Jungle Book in 1894, a collection of his highly imaginative stories and poems for children, written especially for his daughter. They were fables with moral teachings, and the stories and characters became beloved the world over. My favorite story in the book was “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” which told of the mongoose that saved the English family living in India from the villainous cobras Nag and Nagaina. I also enjoyed reading about Mowgli, the boy who was raised by the wolves, and about the White Seal who witnessed the brutal clubbing of the seal cubs and was determined to find a place where the seals could be safe from the hunters and those killing fields.

Somehow, I didn’t read this book when I was a child, and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t read it during my teaching career, either. It would have been interesting to read aloud some of the stories to my own children or to my students. I wonder how they would have felt about them?

Kipling was a brilliant writer (he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907) and a very complex man with a strong personality. I’ve been quite fascinated with learning more about him since watching “My Boy Jack,” starring Daniel Radcliffe, which was the poignant story of the loss of his son in WWI.  It was Kipling who pressured military friends to allow his son to enlist despite the fact that Jack was severely nearsighted and had already been rejected by the military numerous times. A combination of Kipling’s own prejudices and stern beliefs, plus the social pressures on the young men of wartime England, brought Jack Kipling to the battlefield in France, where he lost his life on the second day of the Battle of Loos. Kipling never got over that terrible loss.

As so often happens with me, I am captured by both the writer’s life and by his works. I’m going to continue reading and learning about Kipling, and soon I’d like to read his Kim, Captains Courageous, and Puck of Pook’s Hill.

Rudyard Kipling writing