Thursday, July 14, 2011

The 1893 Chicago World's Fair (also known as The World's Columbian Exposition)

"The great exposition began to fan out below us, and all the pavilions were like frosted wedding cakes. It was the White City on blue lagoons against the endless lake."

I thought I would share a few books that I have recently (and not so recently) enjoyed that all happen to center around the 1893 Chicago World's Fair!
The first, is called Fair Weather, by Richard Peck. I found it at a book sale at a local library that Jacob was so kind as to inform me about. I believe I got it for 50 cents! I have heard good/read things about Richard Peck from various people whom I know to have good literary tastes. =) I enjoyed this book so much that I have secured two more books by Peck (A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder) that I'm reading now that it's August (they take place in the month of August so I thought I would read them then). I'll admit, Fair Weather initially attracted my attention with its fun old fashioned looking cover. Then I flipped through the pages and was even more intrigued by the real post card pictures of the World's Fair in each chapter. So I did, in essence, judge a book by its cover...please forgive me. =) Thisbook centers around a 13 year old girl from rural Illinois, and her crazy but lovable relatives. Peck has a very humorous writing style, and I am a sucker for books with nutty characters (think LM Montgomery). The quote I have at the top of this post is from this book. Ithink it captures the essence of the Chicago World's Fair, and paints a picture I wish I could have been there to see and experience in person!

The book I read directlyafter Fair Weather is set in the same time and place, but contains a completely different demographic of people and story line. A Proper Pursuit was my third book to read by Lynn Austin. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite christian fiction authors, just behind Brock and Bodie Thoene (but no one can really come close to measuring up to the Thoenes). I've really enjoyed Austin's quick moving plots, and deep but not overly moralistic characters. Of the three Lynn Austin books I have currently read (A Proper Pursuit, Until We Reach Home, and Eve's Daughters), I have enjoyed A Proper Pursuit the most. I really like Violet, the main character. She is quirky, entertaining, and likable. She seems like she could be a real person, instead of a spotlessly perfect being like some authors (whom I still read) like to create (think Louisa May Alcott or Martha Finley). Violet goes to Chicago to live with her Grandmother and three Aunts for a few months during the Chicago World's Fair. She goes to see the fair with each of her aunts, as well as with two different gentlemen suitors, and she gets to experience the fair in a whole new light each time she goes (some of her excursions are more enjoyable than others). This book has a fun love story, and mystery plotline in addition to its historical side. If anyone is looking for a relaxing, christian fiction book, I recommend checking out Lynn Austin!
The last book I wanted to write about is The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson. I read this to Jakey for Sonlight many moons ago. Maybe eventually I will read it to Andrew....if we can ever move past Witch of Blackbird Pond hehe. I can't say a whole lot about it, because it has been so long since I read it, but I remember really enjoying it! It's about a young Irish immigrant named Con, who comes to America. He ends up working in Chicago on Mr. Ferris' "great wheel" which is being built for the Chicago World's fair. It's one of those books that just makes you feel good about America's history as a melting pot for anyone who is willing to start over and work hard to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Good characters, lots of historical information, some adventure, and even a little romance thrown in to boot!

So there you have it....I challenge you to read any of these books and not wish you had been alive to see the 1893 Chicago World's Fair!
My next post I am hoping to do a little "Book vs. Movie compare and contrast" This will most likely include (if it doesn't make for too daunting of a post): Pollyanna, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Mother Carey's Chickens (Summer Magic) and Meet me in St. Louis!