Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paddy's Book Pick: Claude Lightfoot

Last evening I finished the book my husband gave me to read while I was sick.   If you are interested, it was I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, and I have a distinct memory of Kevin holding me by the wrist at some weird hour of the night and telling me firmly, "You are NOT Susan Calvin!"  It was very reassuring at the time, but he says it did not happen.

Anyway, I didn't have a next book to read, and so Paddy stepped in.  "You should read this one, Mom."  He handed me the book he has read probably four times over the past month.

Paddy had found the book when he moved into his sister's old room this fall, along with a couple of others by the same author.  Clare treasured these books, which is why they were in her room.   Now Father Finn has a new fan in the 21st century.

Paddy then went on to tell me in great detail the story of St Tarcisius (he didn't say it right, but I knew what he meant) which is in a way the keystone of the novel.

So, I read the book he recommended.   How could I not?  I'm pretty sure I read it when we bought it a couple of decades ago, but not entirely sure.   Anyway, I recommend it too.  The language is very much early 20th century but a ten year old boy can apparently get past that without a problem, attracted by the boyish humor, adventure, and moral sweetness in the tales.

As a teacher/mom, I couldn't help paying attention to the sympathy for the boy as boy that runs through every page.   Claude Lightfoot is one of those boys who seem to be made of motion.   One of the older boys at the Catholic boys' school calls him "The Mercurial Compound."   There is a teacher called Mr Grace who though a very fine, holy man, has always been a very quiet boy and man.   He has great trouble understanding Claude's high spirits and activity level.  But the book makes clear that this is a fault in his constitution and that high spirits and rambunctiousness are quite distinct from badness, that holiness and liveliness are not at all opposed to each other.

The story of how Claude receives his First Holy Communion is exciting and entertaining and apparently the moral lessons drawn are not too heavy for at least one ten year old boy.  

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