My daughter received this three-in-one book from a friend for her birthday, and we loved reading every chapter, especially since I remember these bookMy daughter received this three-in-one book from a friend for her birthday, and we loved reading every chapter, especially since I remember these book vividly from my own childhood thirty years ago! With the exception of the chapter where everyone laughs at Toad's silly swimsuit (which is still amusing), each chapter provides a great lesson to discuss with children. I read a chapter every night to my five-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, and we always ended each reading with a discussion about what we learned from the story. The chapters are the perfect length for this age group to digest and apply to their own lives. Whether contemplating the virtues of patience, the dangers of procrastination, or the simply joy of friendship, we had lots to talk about!...more
This is a very quick and enjoyable read. While not as laugh-out-loud hysterical as Sedaris's nonfiction essays, these pseudo-fables populated entirelyThis is a very quick and enjoyable read. While not as laugh-out-loud hysterical as Sedaris's nonfiction essays, these pseudo-fables populated entirely by a cast of animal characters still feature his traditional sardonic wit, morbid sarcasm, and adult (sometimes vulgar) language. I would suggest beginning your love affair with David Sedaris here (start instead with Me Talk Pretty One Day or When You Are Engulfed in Flames), if you're already a fan of Sedaris, you must read Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk....more
This will be the last Sara Gruen novel I read. After being totally underwhelmed by the preposterous ending of Water for Elephants, I approached this bThis will be the last Sara Gruen novel I read. After being totally underwhelmed by the preposterous ending of Water for Elephants, I approached this book with reluctance. Where Water for Elephants mostly held my attention with a well-constructed narrative structure and developed characters, this book read merely as the seed of a good idea fostered by a mediocre writer. As evidenced by Gruen "Author's Note," at the end of Ape House, she clearly used the substantial money from her best-selling Water for Elephants to jet around the world researching language development in apes. She then crafted a stilted and heavy-handed work with under-developed characters and unnecessary plot twists. This will make a good film in terms of suspense and a truncated plot arc, but as a novel it suffers considerably from Gruen's lack of talent as a writer. She employs clunky figurative language like "the mere smell launched contractions within his diaphragm that would have measured seven on the Richter scale" and references unnecessary details such as one of her character's eating a "leathery gas-station hot dog" repeatedly in an effort to promote realism. The most intriguing part of the story was the premise, but Gruen unfortunately can't take her ideas to an interesting or sophisticated level....more
As a big fan of Life of Pi, I was anxious to read Beatrice and Virgil. I read it shortly after its publication, and tried to avoid many reviews, onlyAs a big fan of Life of Pi, I was anxious to read Beatrice and Virgil. I read it shortly after its publication, and tried to avoid many reviews, only barely glancing at one or two. Halfway through the book, I started reading a short interview with Yann Martel on Goodreads, but when he started revealing elements of the plot that I hadn't encountered yet, I stopped. In the end, I was glad to not know much about this book, so I'll try to not mention too much about plot.
The book is an incredibly fast read (much like Life of Pi once Pi gets on the boat), thanks in large part to intriguing excerpts from a fictional draft of a Waiting for Godot-esque play in which the titular characters, a donkey and a howler monkey, allegorically discuss their alternate world. In the end, the story effectively comes full circle, commenting on some of the major events that impact postmodern literature and doing so in a unique fashion....more
I struggled with whether to give this four or five stars, so in the end it does qualify for a very high four. I found the early chapters a bit tediousI struggled with whether to give this four or five stars, so in the end it does qualify for a very high four. I found the early chapters a bit tedious, but once the plot of the novel caught up to Hamlet storyline, the pace picked up considerably. Part of what decreased the rating for me in the end I think is the interview with the author published in the back of the book. Wroblewski says that he is essentially irked when people make too much of the Hamlet connection, which seems preposterous to me. How can he write a book in which a teenage boy's uncle "Claude" kills his father (a murder the boy only finds out about through the revelation of his father's ghost) and takes his place alongside his mother "Trudy," and then get annoyed that people focus on the source material? (There are LOTS of other correlating elements of course, many of which are quite ingenious: casting Ophelia and several other characters as dogs, the kingdom of Denmark has become a commercial dog breeding enterprise.)
In the end, I was surprised at how quickly the nearly 600 pages passed. This is certainly a must read for Hamlet fans, but also dog lovers, as Wroblewski creates canine characters that are just as fully drawn as his human ones....more
So this wasn't my favorite book. It's kind of the caliber of Mirror, Mirror for me. There have been a few books of Maguire's that I totally LOVED (likSo this wasn't my favorite book. It's kind of the caliber of Mirror, Mirror for me. There have been a few books of Maguire's that I totally LOVED (like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, but this was definitely not one of them. I enjoyed Wicked in spite of a few really long-winded sections, and I really liked Son of a Witch, probably because it was very similar to Wicked but much shorter. But this one just got really boring in sections I have to say, and it wasn't really clear to me until the end what he was trying to do with the book...which seems to be to set up a fourth installment in the series. He does an adequate job giving an interesting backstory for the Cowardly Lion, but it was just wasn't as intriguing as Elphaba's in the first book. (And I'm so nervous posting this because Maguire lives down the street from me! I hope he doesn't read this!)...more