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Showing posts from August, 2012

The List

The Listby Siobhan Vivian has an interesting concept at its heart which is why I read it. Every year at Mount Washington High School a list is posted. It is posted the week of Homecoming.  Nobody knows who does it. It is stamped with a seal stolen from the school office decades ago to certify it is the only legitimate list of its kind. On the list are eight names, two girls from each class: the ugliest and the prettiest. As decided by a jury of an anonymous person(s).  This is the story of the eight girls chosen in one year.

The Girls and My Thoughts:
Danielle (Ugliest Freshman):I liked Danielle. A lot.  She was unfairly chosen for the List and though it throws her and causes her to make some silly decisions (she is just 14 after all), she comes out stronger in the end.

Abby (Prettiest Freshman): I had a hard time with Abby. She has problems too, like everyone. She is not allowed to attend Homecoming due to her science grade and feels forever inferior intellectually to her nerdy older s…

Flipped

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen has sat on my list of books to read for some time but shot quickly to the top when it showed up on the SLJ Best Children's Novels poll. It is now a favorite. I love everything about it.

It is love at first sight at the age of 7. For Juli anyway. She sees Bryce's amazing blue eyes and smile and knows that he is it for her. Bryce is of an entirely different mind. He, in fact, thinks she is a psycho stalker. This goes on through all of their elementary school years. Bryce sees Juli as an overbearing know it all who can't take a hint. Juli sees Bryce's beautiful eyes and brilliant smile. She misreads a great  many of his actions. Then eighth grade happens and everything flips. It begins with Juli trying to save her favorite tree, a small event in the history of the town but a turning point in the minds of both Juli and Bryce. Bryce begins to see a different girl, one  of passion and conviction and heart, who he would like to know better. Ju…

Favorite Fantasy Series

It has been a while since I've done a Favorite Things post that hasn't been connected to some poll going on somewhere on the Internet. In thinking what I wanted to do next I realized that I have never done a post on my favorite Fantasy Series. Since these are the books I reread the most often that seemed remiss.

So here they are in the order I read and fell in love them:

The Chronicles of Prydain: I read The Black Cauldron and The Castle of Llyr when I was 8. Somehow I missed the existence of the other three books until later. Still, this counts as my first true fantasy obsession as I read the two I knew about several times and spent a great deal of time running around my neighborhood pretending to be Princess Eilonwy. It has been a joy these past couple of months to watch Bit read and fall in love with these books too.

A Wrinkle in Time and companions: I discovered A Wrinkle in Time when I was in the 5th grade and pretty much went on a Madeleine L'Engle binge, reading every…

The Broken Lands

The Boneshakerby Kate Milford has been on my TBR for a while now. I have been eager to read her writing, having heard so many good things about it. When her newest book, The Broken Lands, which is a prequel to Boneshaker, became available on NetGalley I requested it immediately. It's no secret I love historical fantasy and this is historical fantasy set in Industrial New York, just as the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is coming to an end.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
A crossroads can be a place of great power. So begins this deliciously spine-tingling prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, set in the colorful world of nineteenth-century Coney Island and New York City. Few crossroads compare to the one being formed by the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, and as the bridge’s construction progresses, forces of unimaginable evil seek to bend that power to their advantage. Only two orphans with unusual skills stand in their way. Can the teenagers Sam, a card sharp, and J…

Splendors and Glooms

Splendors and Glooms was one of those books I read because I felt like I had to. It was written by Newberry Award winning author Laura Amy Schlitz and I like her stuff. I do not like Victorian Fantasy though, and those words were being thrown about enough in conjunction with this book to make me groan. I think it would be more accurate to call this a fantasy that has a Victorian setting. When I think Victorian Fantasy I think Alic in Wonderland or Peter Pan, and this has more of a Diana Wynne Jones feel to the story. In fact, if you have read Jones's The Magicians of Caprona you might recall (how could you not?) that there were some super creepy scenes involving puppets. This book works on the same sort of concept. And is for sure certain creepy. Wonderfully creepy.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisi…

Show Me a Story!

This isn't so a review so much as a: Hey, this book is out there and it's really cool! Take note. Especially if you appreciate picture books and what goes into the creation of them.

The full cover title reads: Show Me A Story Why Picture Books Matter Conversations with 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators. The book is a compilation of interviews Leonard S. Marcus has done with these illustrators over the years and they are fascinating, funny, and inspiring. There is a section in the middle with art from each illustrator ranging from sketches to finished designs.

Interviews Included:
Mitsumasa Anno
Quentin Blake
Ashley Bryan
John Burmingham
Eric Carle
Lois Ehlert
Kevin Henkes
Yumi Heo
Tana Hoban
James Marshall
Robert McCloskey
Helen Oxenbury
Jerry Pinkney
Chris Raschka
Maurice Sendak
Peter Sis
William Stig
Rosemary Wells
Mo Willems
Vera B. Williams
Lisbeth Zwerger

Cybils Judges

Over at the Cybils they are asking for judges for this year's awards. I love it when the call for judges goes out because that means the time for nominating the books is just around the corner. Stay tuned.

 In the meantime, if you are a kidlit blogger and interested in sacrificing your time to helping out, go and apply. I have never been a judge and so can not speak of the experience but Jen Robinson posted this about it and what to expect from the experience. And Charlotte posted about it too. It sounds like a great amount of work, but also a great amount of fun.

Palace of Stone

Shannon Hale's Newbery Honor winning book Princess Academy was what made me start reading her books. I loved Miri, the girls at the academy, and the people of  Mount Eskel. It is the sort of book that gets into your head and heart. I have a great deal of affection for Hale's Books of Bayern as well. I was so very excited to discover we were getting a sequel to Princess Academy. I had never really longed for a sequel, content to let my imagination complete Miri's story, but was delighted to learn there would be one. As soon as I had the opportunity to read Palace of Stone I grabbed at it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she …

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

Oh this was the perfect read for a rainy day of recovery from wisdom teeth removal. Light without being fluffy, having substance without dragging down, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is a fun romantic read.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told …

My Kids and Reading

You all see what I'm reading with Bit on a regular basis because she likes to share her thoughts with you. What I'm reading with the Little Man doesn't come up often. He is only four, and doesn't care to share his opinions as much as his vociferous sister.

He also has a very different relationship to and experience with books.

I have done pretty much the same thing with both of my kids and they responded to it completely differently. They are both being raised in a home where books and reading are highly valued and modeled. They were both read to since they were in utero. When Bit was four she couldn't get enough of books. She wanted to read all the time. She pulled novels off shelves and begged me to read them to her. We went through a shelf full of picture books a day at least as I read one after another.

The Little Man couldn't be more different. He loves books too, but he wants to experience them on his own terms. He will sit and occupy himself for hours loo…

Horton Halfpott

I really enjoy Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda books (reviews here and here). That being the case, he is now an author whose books I'm on the lookout for. I was fairly excited when my library attained copies of Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosenin og M'Lady Luttertuck's Corset. It is written by Tom Angleberger and involves life at an English manor house.

Synopsis (from book's first page):
There are so many exciting things in this book-a Stolen Diamond, snooping stable boys, a famous detective, the disappearance of a Valuable Wig, love, pickle eclairs, unbridled Evil, and the Black Deeds of the Shipless Pirates-that it really does seem a shame to begin with ladies underwear. 
But the underwear, you see, is the reason that all those Unprecedented Marvels happened-with the possible exception of the pickle eclairs.

And yes, the book is about all those things, but most importantly it is about a boy named Horton Halfpott. Horton is a down…

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boyis Gary Schmidt's much lauded novel that won not only a Newbery Honor, but a Printz Honor as well. It was published in 2004 coming before both The Wednesday Wars (my review) and Okay for Now (my review). It is unrelated to the other two in plot and setting, but very much similar in style and voice. Schmidt just excels at this type of story.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
It only takes a few hours for Turner Buckminster to start hating Phippsburg, Maine. No one in town will let him forget that he's a minister's son, even if he doesn't act like one. But then he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart and sassy girl from a poor nearby island community founded by former slaves. Despite his father's-and the town's-disapproval of their friendship, Turner spends time with Lizzie, and it opens up a whole new world to him, filled with the mystery and wonder of Maine's rocky coast. The two soon discover that the town elders, along…

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Featuring Bit, age 8

I tried to get Bit to read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin on her own this year and it was unsuccessful. She read the first couple of chapters claimed it was boring and put it back. Then I started thinking she might enjoy it more as a read aloud. She wasn't happy as she wanted to read something else.* I told her that if she didn't like it still after 75 pages we would stop. We didn't stop.

The Story
Minli lives her life in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain. Nothing grows on the mountain and the people of the village are poor. Minli watches her mother and father eke out a meager existence from the farmland. They have a house and enough to eat but nothing more. Minli's mother is discontent and grumbles about how Minli and her father find comfort in the stories he tells. Minli decides to seek the Man of the Moon to change her family's fortune and sets on a journey to where the mountain meets the moon, meeting all sorts of people and h…

Liar & Spy

Rebecca Stead won the 2010 Newbery for When You Reach Me (my review) which has already become a beloved favorite of many. Needless to say excitement and expectation are running high about the release of her latest novel Liar & Spy . People will not be disappointed. In fact, I think Liar and Spy is even better.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Georges is a character. One with voice and personality, that jumps off the page and invades your brain. He is one of those quiet characters who you can recognize in people you know. He is not slaying dragons. He is not surviving the apocalypse…