Sorry about my extended absence

•December 7, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been reading tons, but I’ve found that I want to write a really well thought out review, and that often takes time that I don’t have. Then I found out about Good Reads. I can keep track of and rate all the books that I read, and I don’t have to post a real review unless I have the time. Therefor, I’m only going to post reviews of books that REALLY get my blood pumping over here or book reviews made by kids and teens.

You can catch me at good reads here.

Pirates! by Celia Rees

•May 16, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Pirates!

Pirates!
by Celia Rees
bk – 1582348162
bocd – 1-4000-8622-1

I loved this book! Well, I actually listened to it, which, according to my husband, is a lot different. At first, I couldn’t really get into the audio book because I found the reader a little annoying. However, as I got into the story I just couldn’t put it down… or leave my car as the case may be. The main characters, Nancy and Minerva, are thrilling and full of life and energy. The reader easily gets caught up in the thrill of their stories… and what stories they are!

The book is about Nancy, who’s father is a merchant. Most likely because her mother passed away when Nancy was very young, and her father doesn’t have time to keep an eye on her, Nancy spends most of her time playing outside or learning to read and not doing embroidery or playing an instrument like a girl in her position should be. Once her father gets remarried, those things stop, and she is forced to be a young lady.

Then, due to circumstances beyond her control, she is sent to Jamaica to live at her father’s plantation. Nancy finds out that she is sent to Jamaica in order to prepare for her arranged marriage to a most repulsive man. That’s when she decides that she needs to find a way out.

One thing leads to another (you’ll have to find out what leads to what) and Nancy, along with runaway slave Minerva, become fearsome pirates on the open sea. Life as a pirate is as different as can be from life as a young, rich lady. Dirt, sickness, fighting with sword or gun and the possibility of terrible (and painful) war wounds are everyday occurrences. However, rather than being put off by this lifestyle, Nancy finds that she likes it quite a bit.

Imagine all the adventures that Nancy and Minerva have! Wait! Don’t imagine what happens, find out, by reading: Pirates! by Celia Rees

Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg

•May 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

widow’s broom

Widow’s Broom
by Chris Van Allsburg
isbn – 0-395-64051-2

I really enjoyed this book. A book about a broom. You’d probably find this very amusing if you knew what kind of relationship I had with brooms. LOL This broom originally belongs to a witch, but one day the broom loses its powers of flight and the witch crashes down to earth. A kind widow allows her to rest in her home and as repayment, the witch leaves her broom.

The broom is very handy to have around and helps the widow quite a bit, but some of the townsfolk aren’t pleased with this turn of events. It doesn’t seem that things will go well for either the townsfolk or for the broom. Read to find out!

The illustrations were typical Chris Van Allsburg. Simple and beautiful monochromatic images. The story is accessible to all ages, not really too scary at all. Still not something that you would find in a picture book everyday. Its something special that only Chris Van Allsburg could come up with.

Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning by Jacqueline K. Ogburn

•May 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning

Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning
by Jacqueline K. Ogburn
bk – 0-8037-1377-0

This book is about an adorable (and quite wealthy) girl with a big toothy smile, big fine eyes and quite a fancy name. She keeps quite busy during the day with swimming lessons, French lessons, dancing lessons… you get the idea. However she ALWAYS needs to be home by dark.

Ralph, the guy who kidnaps Scarlett, doesn’t know anything about her needing to be in by dark. He just wants the five million dollars he wants so Scarlett can be returned to her parents. Scarlett’s parents are desperate to get her back so they agree to the money. But does Ralph get Scarlett back in time? Read and find out!

The illustrations are very deceiving… very adorable and sweet. Scarlett is a petite little thing with big bright eyes and wears a cute little pink dress. By illustrations alone you wouldn’t even know that the book is going to be scary… you have to wait for that. Even the story doesn’t let on what’s going to happen, and believe me something happens. There are little hints and clues that something more sinister might be going on, but younger kids might not realize it until much later.

The Boy and the Ghost by Robert D. San Souci

•May 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The Boy and the Ghost

The Boy and the Ghost
by Robert D. San Souci
bk – 0-671-67176-6

What a perfect book! This is the tale of Thomas, who is the middle child of seven children. His parents are very poor cotton farmers and Thomas feels like he needs to do his part to help them. He tells the family he will go to the city to find a job and get money back to them. His parents give him what they can, which isn’t much: a hambone, a pot and a sack. On the way he meets a man who was even poorer than himself. Thomas shares his meal and as they eat, the man tells him of a house haunted by the ghost of a rich man. If Thomas can stay in the house overnight, he is told that he will gain wealth beyond his imagining. He agrees to try it… and meets the ghost.

I loved this book on so many levels. One, that the child feels a sense of responsibility to his family and he’s willing to do what he can to help. Two, once put in a dangerous situation that could help his family, Thomas goes willingly. Three, the main character is a charming, helpful, polite and thoughtful black boy. I think its important to show black main characters in a positive light without throwing it in your face.

Another reason why I loved this book, is that its the perfect amount of scary. Yes it has ghosts, but the ghost is a red-headed Irish guy who looks like a man, just sort of shadowy. He isn’t dripping with gore, or completely ghastly, or totally gruesome. He’s just a ghostly figure. The illustrations aren’t really dark or glaring, and they’re actually quite pleasing to the eyes.

The story is a little longer, which will appeal to 1st and 2nd graders, but not a completely overwhelming read for kindergarteners. Plus, the language used does not talk down to the reader, so I think it will appeal to older elementary age kids as well.

Cold Feet by Cynthia DeFelice

•May 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Cold Feet

Cold Feet
by Cynthia DeFelice
bk – 0-7894-2636-6

This one was preeeety creepy, which is why I wouldn’t suggest it to the slightly younger ones. I definitely suggest that parents read this first before sharing with their 6 or 7 year old, although I think some may be able to handle it.

This is the story of Willie McPhee, a bagpiper without anyone to play the bagpipe for and definitely no one who will pay him for it. Willie goes in search of work and as the year wears on, his clothes wear out. By winter his shoes have worn away to nothing, and as luck will have it, he stumbles upon a dead man with the same size foot as his own. Unfortunately for Willie, the shoe does not want to come off, and he needs to go to some extraordinary measures in order to get the shoe off.

The book is interesting, although (I am sad to say) that some of the themes of the book may not be for the squeamish… think hungry cows and feet without their body. The illustrations are not my favorite, because they feel very blurry and the faces feel a little flat and unimpressive. I do like the colors. They aren’t too bright or too neutral, but rather a darker gloomier color.

Overall a good story, but as I recommend it for 3rd grade and up, it may be a hard sell.

Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

•May 8, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Wolves in the walls

Wolves in the Walls
by Neil Gaiman
bk – 0-06-053087-1

I have a soft spot for Neil Gaiman. His books are pretty atypical, which is what I like (personally). Not your average, everyday books…. although as I say that I realize that of his books, I’ve only read:

  1. Coraline
  2. The Day I swapped my Father for Two Goldfish
  3. Smoke and Mirrors
  4. (some of) Sandman comics
  5. 1602 (comic)
  6. Wolves in the Walls
  7. (I watched) Mirror Mask

He’s written others, mostly adult novels, and you can check out more information at his site, here. I love the story itself, the way no one believes the girl, but she knows that she hears the wolves, so she sticks to her guns (which means that she kept her position even though people may attack or criticise her). Then at the end its the girl that saves her family from the wolves when everyone else wants to give up.

Unfortunately, most of the trouble stems from the illustrator’s artistic style. The illustrations (by Dave McKean) are somewhat troubling, which may cause problems with the intended audience. At first glance, its a picture book. I would even say ignoring the illustrations, the story would be okay for 4 and up. However, the illustrations are unusual enough where it might not be something that I would suggest to a parent. The illustrations are mixed media. There are some photographs intermixed with the drawn art and there’s some layering of the different media types. I think that the biggest problem is that the family’s faces are all a little surreal. I think that it would be too scary for the intended audience, although if older kids like picture books, it would be fine.

 
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