After enjoying most of the massive dystopian novel The Children's Hospital, I was looking forward to this contemporary reimagining of A Midsummer NighAfter enjoying most of the massive dystopian novel The Children's Hospital, I was looking forward to this contemporary reimagining of A Midsummer Night's Dream set in the park in San Fransisco. I was fairly disappointed though. The links to Shakespeare are fairly trite; Titania is mourning the loss of a child and she sends her freaky fairies out to screw with people. The best parts of this book are when Adrian provides backstory on his hapless mortals (one of these was originally published in The New Yorker when he was named one of that magazines "20 Under 40" a few years ago. Likewise, his exploration of Titania's grief over the death of her "changeling" child is one of the few times I feel he takes the seeds of the original play and provides some additional importance to the classic. For the most part though when the magical elements come into play, it seems little more than an opportunity to release some sexual angst, as there are extremely graphic depictions sexuality here, including flying sexual organs and lots of nudity. While the sexual subtext is certainly present in Shakespeare's work (and okay it's even explicit at times), playing it all on the surface in a contemporary work comes across as a little crass....more
Just when I thought I was nearing the end of these series, my daughter brings home this one, and I don’t even really know what the unifying theme is.Just when I thought I was nearing the end of these series, my daughter brings home this one, and I don’t even really know what the unifying theme is. (We’ve already been through colors, weather, pets, flowers, and jewels. This one is about a fairy that is responsible for making sure costume parties go off without a hitch. Sounds like Daisy Meadows is running out of ideas.) This subset of the fairies series though includes three books in one, all interconnected telling one larger story. It’s just as predictable and vapid as its cousins, and it’s three times as long....more
I'm going a little batty reading all of these books with the same plot, same characters, same, same, same! My daughter says she's done though, so perhI'm going a little batty reading all of these books with the same plot, same characters, same, same, same! My daughter says she's done though, so perhaps I won't have to read through the other few dozen! My only really issue with this one is why does the title fairy have to wear a belly shirt?!...more
This was our first foray into the "Jewel Fairies" series, and as expected it follows the same plot structure as every single other fairy book in thisThis was our first foray into the "Jewel Fairies" series, and as expected it follows the same plot structure as every single other fairy book in this repetitive series. I obviously wasn't thrilled by all of this, but my five-year-old daughter was enthralled. Instead of flowers or feathers or what not, here the girls are chasing goblins who have stolen magic jewels. The jewels make crazy things happen because the moronic goblins don't know how to wield their precious stones effectively, but what it really seems is happening is Ms. Meadows simply needed a plot device where she could keep her young audience engaged with numerous narrative non sequiturs. (Still, I'll give it three stars for the joy it brought my daughter.)...more
Our latest foray into the fairy world provided at least a little more intrigue as the girls help their fairy friend in a museum while being chased byOur latest foray into the fairy world provided at least a little more intrigue as the girls help their fairy friend in a museum while being chased by a lightning-wielding goblin. Since they are dealing with lightning here and not just flower petals, the danger is a little more intense for the toddler set, but it at least kept my five-year-old engaged and begging to read more....more
While this is #6 in the "Petal Fairies" series, it was only #2 for my daughter and me. The plot is exactly the same as the previous one, and the climaWhile this is #6 in the "Petal Fairies" series, it was only #2 for my daughter and me. The plot is exactly the same as the previous one, and the climax was hardly as exciting. I think there are something like 24 books in this whole series--maybe even more. I think I'm in for some monotonous nightly reading, but at least my five-year-old daughter loves them!...more
This was my daughter's selection on her first trip to the school library in Kindergarten, so she was extremely excited to dive into it. It's the fifthThis was my daughter's selection on her first trip to the school library in Kindergarten, so she was extremely excited to dive into it. It's the fifth installment in what is apparently a very redundant series of fairy books. From what the school librarian told me at Back to School Night, they all follow the same basic plot structure: a magic petal associated with a particular type of flower (orchid, daisy, rose, etc.) has been stolen by some evil-doers and two human girls must help the fairy in charge of that type of flower retrieve the flower.
My daughter loved reading this book. She was initially drawn to it because the fairy on the cover has dark skin like her and wears her hair in an afro-bun as she sometimes does. She was really intrigued by the story though, and had fun making predictions about what was going to happen. She did get slightly annoyed--as did I-- when Olivia the Orchid Fairy makes her first appearance as is described as having "glossy dark hair that was pulled back into a ponytail" (17), this in spite of every picture of her throughout the book and on the cover depicting a dark skinned fairy with afro-style hair pulled back into a puffy bun. My daughter of course simply corrected the narration for the both of us, and we moved on.
This is a fine read, but I imagine if there are more than a half dozen, the trappings are going to become old very quickly....more
My daughter is a freak for Aurora these days, which I'm incredibly troubled about since Sleeping Beauty is one of those princesses who literally doesMy daughter is a freak for Aurora these days, which I'm incredibly troubled about since Sleeping Beauty is one of those princesses who literally does nothing but get saved by a man. I try to push her toward my self-sufficient princesses, but she as of late always returns to Aurora with a vengeance. When I told her this book had come out and that we could start it before bed, she would literally race through dinner and getting her pajamas on so that she could sit down and read it. (It was an excellent coercion tool in that respect...too bad it is only ten chapters!)
The book itself actually tries to give Aurora a bit more of a personality and a backbone. She wants to plan a surprise party for the fairies, and although she now has an entire kingdom of servants at her disposal, she insists that she does things herself so that the preparations will mean that much more to the fairies. Of course her beloved Prince Phillip offers to help, but she tells him to step back and let her take control--although like a typical man he still ends up thrusting his personality into the proceedings. A few times when the surprise looks like it will be revealed well in advance of the party, Aurora becomes a bit stereotypically distressed, and when she initially tells her husband of her plans, he just shrugs in confusion, suggesting this crazy woman is off on one of her larks again, but aside from the momentary lapses into stereotypical melodrama, this is a cute book that provides for an interesting conversation on female empowerment with the toddler set....more
I'm not quite sure why this book is called The Hangman's Daughter; the title character plays a supporting at best and is more often relegated to the mI'm not quite sure why this book is called The Hangman's Daughter; the title character plays a supporting at best and is more often relegated to the margins of the story. (Perhaps this is a translation decision?) In any event, the real focus here, the domineering yet fair-minded hangman Jacob Kuisl and a diminutive and pragmatic physician Simon Fronwieser, create a tremendously engaging duo who race against the clock to solve a murder mystery with far-reaching ramifications for their Bavarian town in the seventeenth century.
The distant setting for this text could have created a formidable barrier for the narrative, but Lee Chadeayne's translation employs contemporary English colloquialisms that when coupled with Pötzsch cinematic third person narration creates a fast-paced and enjoyable read. There isn't much that's literary here beyond the pure joy of solving the mystery, but from time to time, that's what we all need in a book isn't it?...more
I just finished reading this to my three-year-old daughter. It was my first read, although I was a big fan of Roald Dahl as a kid. Now with the perspeI just finished reading this to my three-year-old daughter. It was my first read, although I was a big fan of Roald Dahl as a kid. Now with the perspective of adulthood, I find his books, The Witches included, to be amusing yet certainly dated. They are wildly creative, yet I am concerned at the ways in which they reinforce stereotypical gender roles. For example, at the end of The Witches, one of the main characters, an elderly woman, claims to her grandson that she has "made a call to...the Chief of Police in Bournemouth [England]" and her grandson is incredulous. She responds that she is "very good at imitating a man's voice," even though her grandson says nothing about her gender being the reason he doesn't believe her (200). Elements like this certainly don't ruin the book for me as a parent, but they definitely make my job a lot harder so that these small elements of stereotype don't infiltrate my kids' identities....more