I’m one of those annoying people who, when someone else waxes nostalgic about a previous decade or century, is always like, “sexist, racist, no hot ru...moreI’m one of those annoying people who, when someone else waxes nostalgic about a previous decade or century, is always like, “sexist, racist, no hot running water, cobble stones are annoying, smelly, wild animals, Hitler, and no zippers.” I dig simplicity, but that’s pretty much in the eye of the beholder, you know? For example, I could run around town, trying to find somebody who wanted to listen to my opinion about this book, or I could just post it on the internet, and see if anyone cares. The latter option seems much more simple to me. When people say they’re abandoning technology to simplify, I feel suspicious. I do not think life is simpler without technology. But, maybe they are not trying to be fashionably retro-counter-culture, and they just mean that they love enough people who they see in person that it is overwhelming to look beyond that. That seems nice.
Anyway, this book is a beautiful story that illustrates what I think about the “simple life” not being all it’s cracked up to be. It starts out like a funny, silly chapter-book experience. Like, Oh no! They fell in a river! Mamma, what are cow pies?! That kind of thing. Then, it goes pretty seriously into . . . well, life. It goes into how people suck and growing up sucks. It doesn’t do that in a whiny way, but it does do it in a somewhat adult way. The kids buy a dead man’s hand. There is swindling and rejection and murrrderrr. This is such a good book.
I think Holm does an excellent job at maintaining the Voice of May Amelia, while she obviously grows and changes. Her voice stays the same, but it grows with her. And it does that thing that old documents do, where they capitalize the first letter of words that seem Important. A friend of mine in law school always nerdily laugh about that. Like, whaaa, James Madison? Do you want us to notice the word Jurisdiction there? May Amelia does that, too. At first, it wasn’t my favorite, but it really grew on me.
I don’t know if I would have liked this when I was young. I think I would have. But, I like it now. It was a really simple, beautiful way to talk about being a girl in a world that doesn’t always love girls.
I received a free copy of this book from a book fairy. Thank you!!(less)
This was probably my favorite book I read in 2011. My friend gave it to me last year or the year before, and I always take a while to get to books tha...moreThis was probably my favorite book I read in 2011. My friend gave it to me last year or the year before, and I always take a while to get to books that people have given me. I have to warm up to the concept of the book and get used to the cover and think about what mood would be the best for a read. I’m glad I waited so long to read it because the time/place for the read was perfect. I just enjoyed the hell out of this story. A lot of elements of the story hit my favorite things, and I loved its brightness and ease.
Ronia is a wild harpy of a little girl who runs through the forest, tames wild horses, and lives in a cave when she has a fight with her father. Her mother sings the wolf song at bedtime and Ronia teaches herself not to be afraid. But, sometimes she still is afraid.
I don’t have anything deep to say about this book, but for me it had just the right combination of reality and fantasy, sadness and hope. It didn’t shy away from harshness, but it wasn’t trying to beat me over the head with life. Maybe in another mood I would have been bothered by the fairy-tale quality of it, but I really loved that in this particular mood. It is also difficult to say how I would have felt about this as a kid, but I like to think I would have loved it. It has an unselfconscious wild girlness that I hope I’ve always loved.(less)
I spent about a year in an awkward situation that started out with accidentally babysitting two adorable little kids. Bundles of joy are those two, an...moreI spent about a year in an awkward situation that started out with accidentally babysitting two adorable little kids. Bundles of joy are those two, and I'm not even being ironical. Mommies and daddies, when you ask nice single gals of even age with yourselves if they'll do you a favor and watch your kiddos while you go wine tasting for a night, do you usually mean, "Will you be my nanny?" I hope not. It is very uncomfortable to get out of that kind of situation. Anyway, Olivia was an invaluable friend during that year.
Last Christmas, I went shopping with the grandma of the kids, who we'll call "Mima." Mima told me that she had been Christmas shopping that day with the girl, and they had come across something that made the girl exclaim, "Mima, that's Miss Meri's favorite!" (This family requires Miss and Mr. before any adult names, which I personally find really creepy. Most kids I know call me Mers - pronounced "Meh-rs" not "M-er-s." When I told the girl she could call me Mers, she replied, with some attitude, "Why would I call you Mers? That's not your real name." I had to shamefully admit she was right, and we compromised with Miss Meri.) Back to the story - Mima suggested they buy this favorite thing for me as a Christmas present, and the girl agreed.
When Mima told me about the present, I spent some time trying to guess what it could possibly be and hoping it wasn't a princess dress, but I'm a bad guesser. Unfortunately for surprises, when I was dropping Mima off that night, I helped her carry in a bag of presents. As I was setting it down, it fell open, and seeing what was inside I involuntarily exclaimed, "Hey! That's my favor- . . . wait a second!" Yes, as you may have guessed, it was a stuffed Olivia doll. She's wearing her Christmas outfit, which is pretty spectacular. Olivia is my favorite, it turns out. I think it's because she's good at lots of things.(less)
The covers of the Underland Chronicles do them no end of disservice. Since my policy is to judge a book by its cover, it took reading The Hunger Games...moreThe covers of the Underland Chronicles do them no end of disservice. Since my policy is to judge a book by its cover, it took reading The Hunger Games to convince me to pick them up. I had always assumed they would be machine generated chapter books with mythical creatures protecting or seeking some ring or sword, or who knows what, that has some symbolic meaning - or doesn't. Suzanne Collins, however, is in no way machine-generated. She is Dostoyevski for the young-reader crowd. While she uses the quest trope in each of the Underland stories, her reflections of politics and international history are both gentle and unflinchingly horrifying. Kids have to learn about genocide somehow . . . I guess.
In comparison to other popular child-soldier (or children-save-the-world) stories, the Underland Chronicles are not comforting in the way Harry Potter and Twilight are, nor are they as morally-outraged and uncomfortable as Ender's Game, but I found them more honest than all of those. Collins never seems overcome by her own power as an author, self-indulgent in her story-telling, or worried that her audience won't understand her overall message. That may be the mark of a good editing team, and if so, A+ to them. Her writing is not as lyrically beautiful as Kate DiCamillo's (whose is, for that matter?), but, like Dostoyevski's, it is very effective in reflecting doubts about human nature and, at times, touching. It makes me wish, once again, that Dostoyevski was able to edit well. (less)