This short novel reads like a fable, ripe with Russian culture and built on the foundation of well-known and more obscure Russian folklore. Two childrThis short novel reads like a fable, ripe with Russian culture and built on the foundation of well-known and more obscure Russian folklore. Two children in a small village in Russia called Miersk face the knowledge that the Blood Prince, a huge, demonic wolf, is coming their way and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Underneath all the fable elements, there is a strong theme of the alienation of childhood from adulthood. Children are rarely heeded, listened to, or taken seriously. Through a benign sort of emotional neglect, adults leave children to build their own worlds and societies among themselves to fill an emotional void. I'm speaking in generalities. There are plenty of wonderful parents who are intimately involved in their children's lives. There are also parents who mean well, but are weighted under by the cares of life. You can see that dynamic in this book. Pasha's father is in the shadow of his own father, a dominant and opinionated man who dismisses Pasha's concerns as being ridiculous. Other than when he is needed for chores, it appears as though Pasha is left to his own devices. Whereas Lisette's father has been soured by the loss of his beloved wife and therefore neglects his daughter and his infant son when he's not raging and yelling at Lisette. Pasha and Lisette form a friendship of necessity that becomes true as they muster their courage to save their village from the Blood Prince.
I admit I rushed through reading this because I had to return it back to the library that day. I feel that I had taken my time, I would have been better able to bask in the richness of Russian culture on display. Russian culture is my thing. I have an absurd attraction to it and the language. Some might argue that mistakes were made, but I felt it was well done. There are some very lovely and magical moments that would make for a striking animated film that I hope will be made some day. Baba Yaga plays a prominent role and while she's generally regarded as a villain, she's a huge help to the people of the village, perhaps for her own reasons.
I think I would have given this a higher rating if it had been a little deeper and richer. I am probably asking too much, since this is a children's book. For what there was, it was a lovely little fable....more
I read this to a handful of preschoolers late last year, and I think I enjoyed it as much as they did. The book is wonderfully colorful, and as an aniI read this to a handful of preschoolers late last year, and I think I enjoyed it as much as they did. The book is wonderfully colorful, and as an animal lover, I was both amused and touched by the antics of the animals in this story, the gorilla in particular. The gorilla mimics the human keeper to the degree of letting all the animals out, who follow him and the keeper home to bed that night. This was a creative and very fun story, and I would recommend it to both young children and young at heart adults....more
I was having a discussion with a church friend about whether it was valuable to enjoy Christmas on a spiritual level with all the commercialism and paI was having a discussion with a church friend about whether it was valuable to enjoy Christmas on a spiritual level with all the commercialism and pagan connections of the holiday. I love Christmas, and I have since I was a child. It isn't even about getting gifts for me. It's about the wonder of the season. As a believer of Jesus, I think there is pressure going both ways for you as far as Christmas. One one hand, you are encouraged to like the holiday season but give no relevance to Christmas or its origins. On the other hand, some Christians reject Christmas as a pagan holiday with no significance to the actual celebration of the coming of the Messiah as a human baby. It makes you feel kind of squeezed from both sides at times. Honestly, though, I will continue to be a Christmas freak until I leave this earth. So I appreciated when my friend loaned me this book to read about one of my favorite Christmas songs, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
It's a short, easy read, since it's actually a children's book. Short but very meaningful for those who profess faith in Jesus, and even to those who wonder what Christians believe. The song dates back to a time in England where there was much religious persecution and people weren't allowed to express beliefs that didn't go along with the official state church. People used songs to teach about their faith in code (coincidentally, this was also done with Negro Spiritual sang in the field during the American slavery period to communicate about the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom). This code is spelled out in the song. I won't go into that because it would spoil the joy of reading the book, since each day is explained as far as its spiritual relevance. However, I will say that this song will now mean so much more to me now when I sing it.
Christmas is a joyful time, and it's also a tough time because of the stress associated with it. The rat race and the focus on buying presents and keeping up with the commercial cast of the holiday can steal some of that joy. However, I believe that there is simple pleasure in celebrating the holiday with songs such as this and in allowing the power of knowing that light broke into the world in the form of God as a baby who would grow up to suffer and die for the sins of everyone who ever lived, and many Christmas songs convey exactly that. It is wonderful to know that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is also one of those songs....more
The fact that British actor Toby Stephens narrates this was definitely a nudge to check out this audiobook from my trusty library. Of course, I apprecThe fact that British actor Toby Stephens narrates this was definitely a nudge to check out this audiobook from my trusty library. Of course, I appreciate the Arabian Nights, so that's another plus.
Overall, I was a tad disappointed with this audiobook. I enjoyed Ali Baba, Aladdin and the frame story about Scheherazade, but I was bored with the seven tales of Sinbad, and the tale about the greedy man who ended up becoming blind. They were too monotonous. I felt my mind wandering as I listened and did my Wii Fit exercises. I wish they had picked different stories besides these two for the collection, honestly. And I could have done with more narration about Scheherazade herself as well. At least I had Toby's lovely voice to narrate for me. Maybe a pet peeve for some, but all the voices sounded British, so it didn't feel as 'atmospheric' to me.
This will be a short review because it's kind of a ho-hum read for me. Nothing spectacular or really awful about it. Although I did like that they included Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade within the production. I love that music! I think my standard was higher since I read the Andrew Lang adaptation, and I absolutely adore the TV miniseries that came on ABC with Dougray Scott, Mili Avital, Rufus Sewell, Jason Scott Lee, and other great actors. I plan to read the huge, unexpurgated version of 1001 Arabian Nights someday before I die....more
What an enjoyable quick audiobook! A nice mix of short fairy tales from the Grimms' collection. I haven't read any of these particular stories, althouWhat an enjoyable quick audiobook! A nice mix of short fairy tales from the Grimms' collection. I haven't read any of these particular stories, although I am familiar with plot devices and archetypes from more than a few of them. The narrator was great. She brought these stories to life. There is also classical music to accompany parts of the stories. I could see this audiobook being very good for kids to expose them to fairy tales. They would enjoy the stories and the narrator's different voices. I would say these are pretty kid-friendly stories, especially for the Grimms, which can be dark. Overall, each story has a good lesson about morals and ethics, from hard work, to keeping promises, and not giving up when things get rough.
Listening brought back the joy of reading fairy tales, that I have not ever gotten over, even into my 4th decade. I'd recommend it!
The fact that it took so long for me to finish listening to is in no way a reflection on the overall quality of this book. I had some issues with my CThe fact that it took so long for me to finish listening to is in no way a reflection on the overall quality of this book. I had some issues with my CD player in my car, which is how I listen to audiobooks, and I started The Left Hand of God and wanted to finish that up first.
This is a book that I would say I liked, but did not love. The ideas in it were quite interesting. I love the concept of a place that is more than it seems, much like the TARDIS for Doctor Who fans. The Museum of Thieves is very much that sort of place. It has a mystical element to it that makes it a fun, and even scary place to hang out. And only the right persons can serve as the caretakers there. The Museum sees into a person, and it chooses its caretakers wisely. The Museum chose Goldie.
Goldie is a girl that seems rebellious and stubborn, but she's just a normal little girl. She yearns to be free in a world in which children are actually chained to their parents and city custodians called Blessed Guardians. Sadly, while the parents do love and wish the best for their children, the Blessed Guardians don't seem to like kids at all. In fact, they seem to go out their way to torment them in small ways.
Separation Day, the day on which Goldie is to be freed from her guardian chains, a horrible catastrophe occurs, and a person with a deeper agenda uses this to make even more restrictions on the city and to the children, putting off all the childrens' separation. Goldie can't take it and she runs off. She ends up in the Museum, and so begins her very important role in changing her city for the better.
Ms. Tanner has written an enjoyable story that has good messages that children and an older person who appreciates children's books would appreciate. She writes about the themes of responsibility, confronting and fighting fear, personal freedom, and doing what's right, even if it doesn't seem to match what others consider as right. If I had a child, I would let my child read it, and I'd discuss some of the events in the book, and use them as an opportunity for entertainment and education. Parents should be warned that there is a fair amount of violence, and that stealing is condoned, but for particular reasons that made sense to me. The villains are particularly heinous, and it is disturbing that they are so cavalier about children's lives, and perpetuate deliberate acts of emotional cruelty to them.
This book didn't blow me away, but I found it a very entertaining story. Claudia Black, who starred on Farscape and Stargate, did a great job as the narrator. She does a whole host of voices and accents, and they illustrate this story beautifully. It's a short listen, and I think that it's worthwhile if you enjoy this sort of book. Three stars seems like a low rating from me, but it reflects the fact that while I enjoyed it, it wouldn't be a favorite of mine, and I wouldn't listen to it again. That doesn't mean that you won't like it more than I did....more
Odd and the Frost Giants was a quick, but very rewarding book to listen to on audio. The author himself narrated, and his voice is very pleasant to liOdd and the Frost Giants was a quick, but very rewarding book to listen to on audio. The author himself narrated, and his voice is very pleasant to listen to. He knows his characters best and animated them as richly as he had intended them. The Norse mythology elements were interesting, and I loved how Mr. Gaiman injects a humorous view of the constant strife between the Aesir and the Frost Giants. He embodies the traits of Odin, Thor, and Loki very well, and their animal forms fit what characteristics one would attribute to the three Norse gods. In this story, the frost giants are almost portrayed, but not quite, as the underdogs, caught in a losing war with the Aesir. It cracked me up how afraid of Lady Freya's complaining the lead frost giants were.
I absolutely adored Odd, with his oh-so annoying smile that he put on his face exactly when he wanted to disarm or frustrate someone else. He was a really good guy. I liked that he was able to figure out a way out of most of the scrapes he found himself in, and met obstacles in a calm, thoughtful manner. I wanted everything to work out for this kid, because he deserved it.
I don't have much more to say since this is a pretty short little book. The only thing I could add is that I enjoyed it immensely!