There's not much of a plot, except for the back-and-forth between cat and author, but the book is funny and will ring true for cat owners.
Presumably tThere's not much of a plot, except for the back-and-forth between cat and author, but the book is funny and will ring true for cat owners.
Presumably the story of a mouse, Chester, the author's cat, interrupts and redraws the tale with himself as the main character. The author retaliates by introducing a big, ferocious dog, and Chester taunts her into beginning the book again as a tale about himself. The author, however, gets the last laugh by dressing Chester in a pink tutu. (See? Not much of a plot.) The illustrations are clear and easy to follow--Chester's inclusions are done in red marker over the author's original drawings--but they're mostly repeats and alterations of the same living room scene.
Cat owners will be amused as they see their own pets' traits in Chester, but un-cat people will probably see this in the same light as any other book with a pushy, pompous protagonist who gets his come-uppance....more
**spoiler alert** Blending all the best elements of horror, mystery, suspense, and coming of age genres, Gaiman has written a story that feels both wh**spoiler alert** Blending all the best elements of horror, mystery, suspense, and coming of age genres, Gaiman has written a story that feels both wholly real and entirely fantastical. A boy, raised in a graveyard by ghosts with a vampire for a guardian (although his identity is never stated outright) and a werewolf babysitter, lives in shadows and decay from the day that his family is murdered in their home. The boy, named Nobody Owens by his adoptive parents, toddled away to a nearby graveyard just before the murderer could finish his job. The ghosts who take him in teach him about the world of the dead as much as the world of the living--which they can only relate according to their own, sometimes ancient histories.
Themes of identity, belonging, human nature, and the struggle for power weave throughout the plot with questions that are often left unanswered, hinting that the reader's imagination is more interesting and capable than we often realize while reading. The loose ends are decorative fringe, rather than frayed cords that irk and irritate. The classical twist of a self-fulfilling prophecy resolves the most pressing question: Why is Nobody Owens important?
The characters are vividly memorable--Silas is sure to become a heartthrob, just like Aragorn and Sirius Black--and the story will resonate with anyone who enjoys a good ghost story....more
After the disappointing second and third installments, The City of Ember series mostly redeems itelf in its conclusion. Lina and Doon resume their comAfter the disappointing second and third installments, The City of Ember series mostly redeems itelf in its conclusion. Lina and Doon resume their community-saving adventures and, as usual, their discoveries yield widespread effects. The new characters, although less of a caricature than in The Prophet of Yonwood, still lack depth, and they feel exactly like the plot devices that they are. Without the Darkhold invaders, Lina and Doon might have A) found their goal too quickly for the novel to be interesting, or B) never found what they were looking for, which would have been equally uninteresting. It's only unfortunate that the supplementary characters weren't given more sympathetic, humanized identities.
Despite the shortcomings, I admire the way that DuPrau transforms a banal plot line (12-year-olds save the world, fall in love, and live happily ever after) into an engaging and thought-provoking exploration of cultural interactions amidst strife and conflict....more
A young girl, on her first day of school, is terrified that she'll spend the day lonely, unliked, and uninterested. Only when her mother promises to sA young girl, on her first day of school, is terrified that she'll spend the day lonely, unliked, and uninterested. Only when her mother promises to stay at school with her forever does she agree to get dressed and give kindergarten a chance.
True to her word, Mrs. Beekman stays all day with her daughter, despite the little girl's enjoyment of that first day. The teacher reminds Mrs. Beekman to go home, but the mother returns every day in increasingly preposterous disguises while her daughter struggles with the promise made early in the story. Eventually, Mrs. Beekman is convinced to leave, but her intentions are never clear. Did she want her daughter to be absolutely convinced that she can go to school alone? Was she an over-protective, hovering parent who wouldn't listen and wouldn't back off?
The story's ambiguity doesn't contribute to the plot, the characters, or to any moral that the author might have intended. The illustrations, although colorful, also don't add significantly to the story....more
This tightly woven story brings together two engaging (if blandly flawed) protagonists who combine their talents to stumble into the mystery of a stolThis tightly woven story brings together two engaging (if blandly flawed) protagonists who combine their talents to stumble into the mystery of a stolen Vermeer painting. Although they do find clues and solve part of the mystery, the human element eludes their capabilities--much as you might expect of children, no matter how bright or perceptive. In the end, the author has to explain the "why" behind the crime, which the main characters don't explore. They consider "where" and "when", but the more complex questions stay out of the plot.
Puzzles--both linguistic and mathematical--spice up the story to keep readers thinking and watching....more
The City of Ember started off so strongly, and even The People of Sparks has its engaging moments. Prophet of Yonwood, sadly, didn't measure up to eitThe City of Ember started off so strongly, and even The People of Sparks has its engaging moments. Prophet of Yonwood, sadly, didn't measure up to either. Pounding away at the recurring theme of corrupt leadership (thwarted by enterprising children), Yonwood has caricatures instead of characters, and the prophet of the title is, predictably, manipulated and misused by people who abuse their power. The only connection between this book and the previous two isn't revealed until the last pages, and the hasty epilogue has the feel of a badly delivered, Twilight-Zone punchline: "She left the journal!" As a prequel, it fails to shed new light on the Ember and Sparks events. As a novel, it fails to include complexity or foster the reader's independent thoughts--an irony, given that the wars in the book start by not recognizing and embracing complexity, and thoughtless people allow dogma to take control.
I finished the book, wanting so much more from it. ...more
Although not as strong as the first book in the series, People of Sparks is an interesting continuation of The City of Ember. Lina and Doon still figuAlthough not as strong as the first book in the series, People of Sparks is an interesting continuation of The City of Ember. Lina and Doon still figure prominently in the above-ground, post-apocalyptic community that is struggling to regain its foothold in the world. Overwhelmed by the Emberians, the outnumbered and unprepared citizens of Sparks begin by taking in the new families and giving them food and shelter, but the situation quickly deteriorates as scarcity and resentment build within both groups of people.
Despite the circumstances, which could have yielded a suspenseful and richly complex turn of events, People of Sparks relies on overly convenient plot tricks, flat characters, and disappointing subplots. The multi-dimensional characters from the first book don't move into this second installment....more
A finely paced book, The City of Ember plunges the reader into a dark world with no sun, no moon, and only a failing generator to provide electric ligA finely paced book, The City of Ember plunges the reader into a dark world with no sun, no moon, and only a failing generator to provide electric light. Although all citizens fear the darkness and recognize the supply shortages, very few individuals are willing to admit that their city is reaching the end of its carefully planned but forgotten history.
Balancing expertly between suspense and revelation, DuPrau crafts a convincing tale of two children who dare to believe in a life beyond the palpable darkness at the edge of the city--and who discover the secret that could save their world. ...more
I can imagine this book enthralling an eager young listener in the form of an original bedtime story, with the storyteller making up the next adventurI can imagine this book enthralling an eager young listener in the form of an original bedtime story, with the storyteller making up the next adventure in the saga of Morag and her fellow travelers each night. The characters might have particular voices and body language that bring out humor or sadness or grim determination.
As a novel, however, the individual elements don't melt into a readable tale. The characters, although they might come alive with some interpretive acting, have no particular personalities written into their dialog or behavior. Each scene feels like it was pulled from a separate story, with few connecting threads to tie the action together. Subplots arise and disappear without explanation.
As another reader surmised, perhaps this book will have a sequel to continue the loose ends that ought to have been acknowledged and tied up in this volume....more
I checked out this book on the recommendation of a library patron. She described a sweet book that she had enjoyed reading to her children, and I agreI checked out this book on the recommendation of a library patron. She described a sweet book that she had enjoyed reading to her children, and I agreed with her through the first half of the book.
The story begins on Halloween night, when a little witch gets stuck in a tree with her broken broom. When the Doon family finds her, she's snarly and rude as she explains that witches can only fly into the human world on Halloween. As midnight strikes without a functional broom (she tries several cleaning implements in the Doon's house), little leftover Felina is stuck with the humans for a whole year.
The Doon's daughter, Lucinda, becomes Felina's role model for good behavior. She's docile, well behaved, quiet, clean, and not nearly as independent as her magical counterpart. The Doon parents reinforce the example of good behavior by slowly conforming Felina to their expectations as a family. Cleanliness and polite manners are one thing, but glowing with happiness when Felina ultimately loses her streak of witchly mischief (often harmless) is another. In the end, the father decides that Felina shouldn't go back to the witches, even though they come to find her the next Halloween. Unless I skimmed over it, no one asked Felina what she would choose to do--nor was there any consideration that she might have had an important family structure with the witches.
In the end, Little Leftover Witch feels like Adventures with Dick and Jane run amuk: the adventure is discovering something new, but the resolution is to dress up the newness as something familiar until the adventure is no longer recognizable as its original self. Above all, the story teaches teaches that people are better off erasing and ignoring differences instead of understanding them. ...more
A chillingly good ghost story for reading under the covers at night. Like most ghost stories, the point is not to have thoroughly developed charactersA chillingly good ghost story for reading under the covers at night. Like most ghost stories, the point is not to have thoroughly developed characters: the ghost would be less interesting if we had a nuanced view of everyone. ...more
Charming and superbly cute, Babymouse daydreams her way through school days (to the disapproving stares of her teachers), but she mostly dreams of beiCharming and superbly cute, Babymouse daydreams her way through school days (to the disapproving stares of her teachers), but she mostly dreams of being best friends with the most popular girl in school. The scenarios she envisions portray the girl as an essentially nice person who simply hasn't seen how wonderful Babymouse is, but reality shows that the popular girl is as selfish and inconsiderate as we're first led to believe.
The lesson isn't original: true friends aren't always flashy or exciting, but we should love and appreciate them for being loyal and accepting. The presentation, however, makes the story fun, imaginative, and a pleasure to read....more
This isn't a quick, flip-through book. The full effect comes from reading it aloud with a small child who will love to answer the questions before turThis isn't a quick, flip-through book. The full effect comes from reading it aloud with a small child who will love to answer the questions before turning the page. Each page spread has either a question or an answer, beginning with asking how two similar items (such as a bird and a kite) are alike. The answer follows after turning the page (birds and kites both don't talk on the phone). Each of the pairings is set up like this: a question that the child can answer, followed by an inane answer that will probably make the child laugh.
Whatever you do, don't rush through the book! The silly answers aren't very good on their own, without input from the reader before each page turn....more
This collection of 17 monologues and 2 dialogues draws on the lives and experiences of 19 children in a Medieval village. Whether the short plays areThis collection of 17 monologues and 2 dialogues draws on the lives and experiences of 19 children in a Medieval village. Whether the short plays are performed, read aloud, or read silently, the effect is impressive. The children come from all levels of society, from the well-dressed children of the local lord to the abused children of the lowest serf, and they tell their own stories from their own perspectives. The issues that matter to them include freedom, prejudice, religion, agriculture, crime, death, property management, war, apprenticeship, marriage, and a universal struggle to survive.
The mini-plays take different forms: prose, rhyming verse, unrhymed verse, and duets. Each speaker identifies him or herself--primarily by occupation. They talk about their families, their work, and the community's expectations for them. In some cases, the author includes background information, but there is an implicit assumption that the reader/listener already knows something about Medieval society. Since the book was written for a group of middle school students who had been studying the Middle Ages, the assumption makes sense.
The visual design of the book stylistically draws on the artwork found in Medieval manuscripts but without going overboard. The effect is pleasant to look and doesn't detract from the text....more