The Handmaid's Tale off the shelf and lord only knows how long it has been sitting there. For having been written just shy of thirty years ago, it is as timely as ever. Maybe dystopian books are just that way, always expressing a fear that may or may not actually occur yet the danger seems reasonably probable. This book is about a time in history where pollutants and Darwinism (thanks to birth control and abortions) have rendered most of the population sterile. Rights are gradually taken away from women like their earning and spending their own money, reading, until eventually all of their freedom is gone. They end up in a concentration camp of sorts where their societal purpose is whittled down to either procreating or serving elite men and women. I can't tell you how many times I cringed or audibly gasped at the stuff I was reading. The books is a jumpy retelling of a terrible time that feels trapped in the dark past while seeming simultaneously quite modern and futuristic. There is no tidy ending but the way the book ended left me shaken. I highly recommend this one which has inspired me to maybe dabble back in required reading of my youth like 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World.
Ralph S. Mouse because I hadn't ever read it before but I remember Beverly Cleary having quite the impact on my youth. Plus? Scholastic Book Order is my favorite thing and this was there so I bought it for nothing. Anyhoo! There are two other Ralph books (currently on our next Scholastic order) so I'm not sure on the timeline but this is about a mouse who has and can ride a motorcycle. He lives in a hotel with some nice folks, some of whom he can verbally communicate with. Ralph gets mad about sharing his motorcycle with his other mice relatives and decides to hitch a ride in Ryan's backpack and hide out in the school. The kids find him and make him a class project so there is a lot of classroom talk and some local newspaper coverage. Ryan and his classmate, Brad, are sort of arch nemeses who have a bullying conflict-slash-misunderstanding to resolve by the time the book wraps up. Not a lot of drama here but it was a cute read. Casey seemed to enjoy it. Between reading to him and his sister and then reading myself, this brain of mine is getting a workout these days!