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The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut Paperback – May 29, 2009
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Unfortunately, today he is not read nearly as much as he should be. This book by Paul Nowak, however, is an excellent introduction to Chesterton. While written with children in mind, it is great for adults as well.
Not only does Nowak present a Chestertonian perspective of life in his stories (based on the writings of and incidents in the life of Chesterton), he also is a very good storyteller himself. I enjoyed reading the stories greatly. The book isn't that long (about 55 pages), but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. (And, of course, for many people, the book only being 55 pages is a plus itself, as it makes it more likely they will have the time to read the entire book).
In short, I highly recommend reading this book.
The book was a quick read and an enjoyable one. There were moments I laughed out loud. I liked that in the back of the book there was a page called "Words To Know", that gave a definition of words in the book that young readers may struggle with their meaning.
My favorite passage in this books falls on pages 14 and 15 when Uncle Chestnut is explaining to Jack how people do not find where they live extraordinary because they live it every day and do not see from the perspective of an outsider looking in. I quote:
"So people go about their lives, not noticing the giant on their mountain, or the great treasures they have. They see the same things every day, and so think that these things are just plain and ordinary."
"That is why," said Uncle Chestnut. "I believe in giants, fairies, and all kinds of things we cannot see. Perhaps we are so tired of looking at the world that we don't see them anymore."
Well put Uncle Chestnut. Well put.
Nowak contemporizes Chesterton in four short stories, so concise and simple that even I can understand them. Chesterton's brand of optimistic conservatism provides an antidote to the dour positivism that dominates grade schools, and Nowak tops it off with just a dose of Chestertonian humor to keep us engaged and laughing as we learn.
Chesterton is rendered as a contemporary American who vacations on the Jersey shore, and draws analogies based on baseball and American Idol. He speaks in a language current youth can understand. But the book is illustrated in the style of early 20th Century children's books. Uncle Chestnut is a man gleefully out of his time.
My single significant problem with this book is its length. At scarcely over fifty pages of large type, it's barely an hour's reading for curious kids these days. If there's a second edition, I hope it comes out longer, because kids and their parents today need a healthy dose of Chestertonian wisdom in our dreary, overburdened lives.
With four short stories the author tells about a young man's relationship with his Uncle Chestnut, an interesting and entertaining character. The stories and interaction between them are both funny and touching. Along with the stories is a chapter on the real Chesterton and some of his quotations. There is also a "Words to Know" section to assist young readers with some words they may not understand.
I enjoyed the book very much. This is a great book for a family member, a gift, and certainly should be in every middle school age classroom.
The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut
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