January 28, 2009
If you haven’t heard by now, on Monday the ALA awards were announced at the Midwinter Conference. Here are winners:
winner…. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book (listen/watch him read it here!)
honors…. Kathi Appelt – The Underneath; Margarita Engle – The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom; Ingrid Law – Savvy; Jacqueline Woodson – After Tupac & D Foster
winner…. Susan Marie Swanson – The House in the Night
honors…. Marla Frazee – A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever; Uri Shulevitz – How I Learned Geography; Melissa Sweet – A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams
winner…. Melina Marchetta – Jellicoe Road
honors…. M.T. Anderson – The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves; E. Lockhart – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks; Terry Pratchett – Nation; Margo Lanagan – Tender Morsels
I have to admit that so far I haven’t read a single one of these. I’m hoping that changes soon. I’ve heard great things about Savvy and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, so those will likely come first.
January 26, 2009
Happy Non-Fiction Monday! I’m instituting this new theme that’s done a lot on other book-review blogs. I can’t say there will be one every week, but I’ll try my best.
Lately I have been exploring the Eyewitness books. They’re full of pictures and brief notes, which makes reading non-fiction much more interesting and easier for me. (I’m not generally a non-fiction reader.) Volcano & Earthquake is pretty interesting. I’ve always been fascinated with earthquakes, so I knew I would probably enjoy this book, but I have to say, I was a little disappointed with it. The book doesn’t go into too many details because it follows the format of showing a picture and explaining a little bit about it. So, for example, it shows a picture of Old Faithful and explains that it’s a geyser that erupts every hour. But it doesn’t tell me WHY this happens so regularly. (And, darn it, I really want to know.) I guess maybe these books are just good for giving you a basic introduction and lead you to more in-depth information.
Another problem I had with it is that during the earthquake sections, the book only mentions earthquakes along the Ring of Fire. Growing up near the New Madrid Seismic Zone, I know there are more fault lines than those. I also know that in 1811 and 1812 there were three major earthquakes in that area, a giant seismic event that is not mentioned in the book or the timeline at the back.
Even with these two problems for me, I still enjoyed the book and learned a lot…the incredibly quick eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902 that completely decimated Saint-Pierre? Shocking! The early seismoscope invented in 132 CE? Fascinating! A decent entry into the world of volcanoes and earthquakes.
January 8, 2009
After checking my local library, I was pleasantly surprised to see a fairly large Nancy Drew collection. So naturally I decided I’d begin re-reading them…because I obviously don’t have enough other books on my to-read list.
I love Nancy Drew. I used to read them when I was younger, I enjoyed (for the most part) re-reading this one, and I currently have The Hidden Staircase sitting on my nightstand. However, this is a reprint of the 1930 original, and it includes racial stereotyping, female oppression, and antiquated vocabulary (“jaunt” for example? I also made fun of “roadster” until my dad informed me it’s actually a type of car and not just a random term created to describe Nancy’s blue car). Fortunately, a publishers’ note mentions this upfront in the hopes that readers won’t be too surprised and offput.
Despite these obvious blemishes, The Secret of the Old Clock is still a classic. Nancy is a great role model: intelligent, ambitious, kind-hearted. Granted, she should probably be a bit safer — chasing after robbers who previously locked her in a closet and left her to starve without telling anyway is probably not the best idea. In this first book in the series, there’s also no mention of George, Bess, or Ned. Perhaps they show up later in the series. I’ll find out soon.
January 5, 2009
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is a cute story. The nine-year-old main character has to read Stuart Little before the first day of school – the next day. She’s carried it around with her all summer “in case of in-between” and although she loves to read, “Moxy liked to read what she wanted to read and not what someone told her to read.” I don’t know anyone who can’t relate. In her attempt to put off reading Stuart Little, Moxy gets sidetracked deliberately or unintentionally and ends up getting herself in trouble.
This 2007 book by Peggy Gifford is a very quick read. That’s partly due to the extremely brief chapters – 42 chapters in only 92 pages. Gifford clearly displays her fun writing style in each chapter title…”Chapter 5 In Which the Word ‘Consequences’ First Appears,” “Chapter 18 In Which Moxy Has the Most Brilliant Idea of Her Life,” “Chapter 34 In Which the Screen Door Slams and Dum…da dum-dum…”
I loved finding out what Moxy was going to do next. While reading, two things came to mind that reminded me of Moxy.
1 — the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and sequels)
2 — the comic strip The Family Circus where son Billy went everywhere else before going home
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is also illustrated with photographs by Valorie Fisher, which add a unique flavor. I will definitely be reading Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes to see what other kind of distractions Moxy finds.
January 3, 2009
In this book by Gary Paulsen, Molly, a sixth grader, has a seemingly bad day. She’s lost her notebook, which she cannot live without because it keeps her life in order; her eccentric grandmother is coming to school with her; she gets a black eye before school; etc. Molly’s grandmother is very popular and wins over everyone at school, much to Molly’s horror. She would must rather have her head buried in her lost notebook and let school continue the way it usually does where she is basically left alone except for the Marys, her three closest friends.
Molly endures a lot during her day, so it’s not hard to see why she’d be in a bad mood. BUT she never started with a good one. She sees the negative in everything. She knows her grandmother’s coming to school is going to be a disaster, she doesn’t want to get to know the detention kids her grandmother befriends, and she would rather learn about the US government than about how government and baseball compare. Eventually, though, after speaking with her grandmother, she quickly (perhaps too quickly?) realizes her bad day was actually really good. We’re left assuming Molly will be less uptight from now on.
You may have done a double take when you saw the author was Gary Paulsen. I did. He has a forward at the beginning of the book explaining that most of his books have had boys as main characters, but since half of all stories come from girls, this story is about a girl. Because this note was at the beginning, I couldn’t help but look for instances where Molly’s perspective didn’t seem very girl-like. I would have prefered the note at the end, where it wouldn’t have distracted me from the story.