Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shorter Musings: MG Realistic Fiction

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Here are some MG Fantasy books I have read recently with my thoughts.

The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse
Good solid MG fiction, which Rebecca Barnhouse excels at. I love being able to read a historical novel that I know will accurately represent a time period. You can tell this is her first novel I think. I may have had a more enthusiastic reaction if I read this before her Beowulf books. I do feel it drags a bit in places and just sort of ends with no resolution. I liked this glimpse into the potential life of a person barely mentioned in historical documents and the struggles she would have encountered.  

Destiny Rewritten by Katherine Fitzmaurice
I can see MG readers enjoying this. Maybe. It's a little too long and I think references too many things they may not care about. Still it has a lighthearted tone and fun subject matter that will appeal to some young readers. It is a longer than it needs to be. I didn't care for the book at all, but that could just be my adulthood getting in the way I seriously wanted to knock Emily's mother upside the head and tell her to stop being ridiculous. And the end had me gagging on the saccharine sweetness.

Hold Fast by Blue Balliet
On the one hand I really like the portrayal of homelessness and the stark reality of the life too many children in the country are leading. On the other hand I feel the unrealistic aspects of the plot did this sort of a disservice. I found the scenario,the spying,the mystery too wholly unbelievable to take seriously. I doubt kids will have the same problem though and definitely plan to talk this book up. I do love the language and the connections to Langston Hughes. 

Paperboy by Vince Vawter
This is an interesting look into the mind of a child who stutters and how he interacts and thinks of the world around him. The book starts off slow and takes a while to pick up and since it is sort of short that means I didn't engage with the story until almost too late. Also there are no quotation marks for dialogue, and I understand why this was done. It is because it is supposed to be him typing out his story. It still drove me nuts and gave the book a very stream-of-consciousness feel to it despite the plot that does progress step by step. I also felt it resorted to cliches one to many times. This is just not my type of book overall, but it is well written and will have appeal for people who enjoy this sort of thing.
Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave by Deron R. Hicks
This is a fun mystery that involves old family secrets and following clues to hidden treasure. It is one of those books that I think will be an easy sell to kids, but not necessarily one all kids will stick with to the end. I did like the way the mystery unfolded, and it had a lot of humor in it. There is a villain and some mild danger, so nothing too scary. It could easily by enjoyed by more advanced younger readers as well.


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