I have now completed three of the six books I originally listed when I took on this challenge. This time's report is a bit more happy than the last one.
Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
I originally read this in 5th grade with my dad. I think I had to re-read it for 6th grade reading class and maybe one other time in middle school. Apparently it was a book of choice. Anyway. I loved it - so much so that my dad actually bought me a hatchet for Christmas one year.
After the most recent reading, I am pleased to say that I like it still. What a relief after The Amusement Park Mystery. My husband thinks Hatchet is the most boring book ever. Looking back I don't remember it being boring at all, but after reading it this last time I can see how some people might think it's boring. The beginning is a bit slow. It doesn't really pick up until he gets over the fact that they aren't looking for him (there's a lot of tears until that point), but after that it really is a full-on adventure story. Brian is resourceful and is really able to make the best of his situation. The ending was a bit abrupt, but it made sense in its own way.
The back cover of the addition that the library had said that in real life the author had experienced a lot of the same things that Brian did. There were two things that he hadn't: eating a raw turtle egg and starting a fire with a hatchet. So, before he finished writing the book he did both of those things. I guess he spent an entire afternoon in his backyard hacking away at rocks attempting to get the fire going, but he eventually got it going. Pretty cool.
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is another book I read with my dad. Actually, he read the entire thing out loud to me before bed during second grade. I remember thinking that Mary was so lucky to not have parents (I had issues) and she got to explore a big manor house basically unsupervised. Plus, she found a huge amazing garden and "cured" her cousin.
While I enjoyed the book overall, I was surprised by how unreadable it was. As an adult reading it, I got a little frustrating reading all of the Yorkshire dialect (especially the "tha" instead of you - I always read "the"); I think if I had read this to myself in elementary or even middle school, I would have given up because I couldn't figure out what they were saying. As the book progressed and I got used to it, the reading became easier, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't have had the drive when I was younger. I'm impressed my dad ploughed through it and read the whole thing. He was (and still is) a good dad.
That said, I still really enjoyed the story. Mistress Mary's transformation from a spoiled neglected child to a healthy happy child is pretty dramatic, and I can see why I liked the story so much as a child.