**spoiler alert** I love the typical Michener epic scale of this book. I used to sit down and read Michener for hours at a time, but parenting seems t...more**spoiler alert** I love the typical Michener epic scale of this book. I used to sit down and read Michener for hours at a time, but parenting seems to mean I can only catch 1/2 hour to an hour here and there. This book is perfect for this - there are a number of recurring characters which maintains that epic scale - but in general they are pretty self contained stories of 10-60 pages long - just right for a baby's nap!
For the majority of the book the war is simply forming a backdrop, an excuse for all the characters to be in the South Pacific and mostly working towards a common goal - certainly not your standard war novel focussing on the fighting up front, but more about the support and logistics supporting them. Even towards the end the large campaign is narrated from afar.
I agree with a previous reviewer that a map would be a perfect accompaniment to this book - particularly since many of the geographic names have changed over the last 50 years (eg New Hebrides = Vanuatu, Tonkin (and hence Tonkinese) = northern part of Vietnam, etc, etc). Also Michener uses war-time jargon liberally through this book, most of this is well known, or easily determined from the context. However you may need to do the occasional Google search, or have The Oxford Companion to American Military History on hand. An example of this is Seabees = CB = Construction Battalions of the US Navy.
Because the majority of the book is based in the rear echelons you can get the feeling that it is all one boys-own adventure. The end of the book brings the reality of war home - as you learn of the sad fates of many of the recurring characters.(less)
I did a subject called "the literature of war and peace" when I was in year 11. I cried my way through All Quiet on the Western Front for this subject...moreI did a subject called "the literature of war and peace" when I was in year 11. I cried my way through All Quiet on the Western Front for this subject. Through my tears I watched others with wry smiles - reading Catch-22. Well... Can any book stand 11 years of anticipation?
I only got 70 pages in before I gave up.
The book has an abundance of characters. Given the large cast there is very little page-space to develop their personality - so they are all one-dimensional. Thus you are forever searching for names in the text, then struggling to remember the single identifying characteristic of that person. It really doesn't help that the text jumps around all over the place.
Life commitments mean that I can't sit down and spend all day or night reading a book like I used to. The poorly developed characters and disjointed chronology are really unforgiving to reading for 10 minutes here and there. Maybe if I could get an undisturbed chunk of time to read this book (possibly pool-side on a tropical island, with an appropriately ridiculous cocktail in hand - sure in the knowledge the children are enjoying their 'holiday' at their Grandparents...).
For my humourous look at the folly of war I'll continue to tune into the re-runs of MASH...
So in the end the enjoyable, forgiving (not to mention actually funny) Terry Pratchett with his Making Money fought and won the battle to the top of the pile of books on my bedside table. (less)
**spoiler alert** While the backdrop to this story is war-ravaged Japan, just about anyone will empathise with Mieko. Starting at a new school, feelin...more**spoiler alert** While the backdrop to this story is war-ravaged Japan, just about anyone will empathise with Mieko. Starting at a new school, feeling lonely, being teased for being different are all common enough childhood experiences. The sense of loss Mieko feels because she is unable to participate in her first love – calligraphy – can also be easily understood. But the story ends well – with Mieko finding a both a friend and the “fifth treasure” (beauty in the heart that is critical for excellent calligraphy).
Mieko is at the new school because her home town near Nagasaki was damaged by the atomic bomb, and Mieko has been sent by her parents to stay with her grandparents in a rural area. War, violence and the pain it causes are likely to be sensitive topics for parents – please read this before sharing it with your kids, and be prepared for the questions they ask.
This was written by Eleanor Coerr who has previously written a non-fiction childrens book about Sadako Sasaki Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a touching story of a young Hiroshima bomb victim. The illustrations are by Junko Morimoto – who survived Hiroshima. If you liked this book I would suggest My Hiroshima by Junko – an autobiographical picture book of her survival of Hiroshima. (less)
This is the first Junko Morimoto book I've read which she has written as well as illustrated. Her previous work has focussed on illustrating adaptions...moreThis is the first Junko Morimoto book I've read which she has written as well as illustrated. Her previous work has focussed on illustrating adaptions of traditional Japanese folk tales.
As usual Junko's illustrations are first class.
I don't think Junko nailed the story. Part of this could be because she wrote the original story in Japanese, and it was then translated into English by Isao Morimoto. This process makes it difficult to obtain many of the elements of a successful, amusing, children's book - rhyme, rhythm and word-play. But given Junko's previous, more serious, work it was fantastic to see a fart feature prominently. I felt that the ending chosen for Big Nuisance lacked a certain something.
Overall a valliant effort - but I prefer her earlier work. (less)
I don't think that Freya Blackwood's illustrations are as effective as Kilmeny Niland & Deborah Niland's Mulga Bill's Bicycle. I remember the illustrations of Mulga Bill significantly added to the humour of the poem, while I feel that Freya's doesn't add to the drama of the downhill ride. That being said I think the illustrations will enable the poem to be enjoyed by a younger audience, and for that purpose they are more than satisfactory.
So for the poem I would give 4 stars - the illustrations 2, thus the 3 star rating.
The story, and particularly the illustrations capture the isolation of Australian pioneer families - Australian sandalwood is native to southwest West...moreThe story, and particularly the illustrations capture the isolation of Australian pioneer families - Australian sandalwood is native to southwest Western Australia. The other element of the story is Lizzie's imagination and sense of fun - I just don't think the illustrations did this portion of the story justice - they simply portray what is really there.
When reading this book aloud I think it is critical that you read 'nonsense' in playful jest, otherwise the moral of the book could be interpreted that imagination and play is just nonsense!
This book highlights the dry Australian continent very well - in fact many of the dry scenes look like the vi...moreA book that you'll need to be careful of.
This book highlights the dry Australian continent very well - in fact many of the dry scenes look like the view out my window! Highlighting the difficulties many face in finding clean water, the need of potable water conservation and generally the importance of water in maintaining quality of life are important points that kids need to learn about.
On the other hand "water witching" is a con. Check out these sites for a scientific view on the validity of water witching: United States Geological Service (USGS), and the Skeptic's Dictionary. Really there is no need to pass this type of unscientific nonsense on to the next generation. For this reason I would have given this 1 star - but the lessons about water conservation bring it up to 2. (less)
A fictionalised biography of Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
The illustrations are amazing, the depth of feeling Kadir Nelson...moreA fictionalised biography of Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
The illustrations are amazing, the depth of feeling Kadir Nelson is able to portray in faces makes this book a deserving winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration for 2007.
The story itself is deeply religious (you may have guessed with the title and the front cover illustration!). I'm not religious at all, but the power of religion shines through in this book - with Harriet obtaining courage and strength through her faith.
A fictionalisation of the author's childhood dream to walk on the moon.
NASA's Constellation program may be planning to return people to the moon for t...moreA fictionalisation of the author's childhood dream to walk on the moon.
NASA's Constellation program may be planning to return people to the moon for the first time since 1972 - but somehow I doubt that in 40 years time someone will write a picture book about how it deeply affected their lives...
Oh - and I like the new cover much more than the original - I suspect its going to be a long, long, long time before children have the opportunity to walk on the moon! (less)
We've stopped many times at this icon, opened by the Prime Minister in 1932, but have been dismayed that the old kiosk and public toilets located around the statue have been closed, and replaced by a modern (sterile) centre 100m down the road.
In these doom-and-gloom days of the Global Financial Crisis where every news update is filled to the brim with stories of how desperate times are it w...moreIn these doom-and-gloom days of the Global Financial Crisis where every news update is filled to the brim with stories of how desperate times are it was truely refreshing to read this book and reflect on how lucky we are.
The book is set during World War II in Montreal depicting Sally attempting to choose which of her three dolls she is going to donate to White Gift Sunday. White Gift Sunday is collecting donations of used toys to provide Christmas gifts to English children, who otherwise would received nothing.
The contrast between the relatively-unaffected Canada and the war-ravaged England and highlighted by fantastic illustrations. Yet another well-deserved winner of the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award. The end illustrations are particularly effective (but I won't say more...)
This is a fun book about the discovery of dragons (bet you didn't guess that from the title!). While well t...moreSo Graeme Base finally got his dragon book!
This is a fun book about the discovery of dragons (bet you didn't guess that from the title!). While well thought out, with great graphic design - it does not have the puzzle elements that make many of Base's books such on-going fun.
Ben Elton's books are always a quick and easy read, and this is not an exception - even with a change of genre into historical fiction.
The murder myst...moreBen Elton's books are always a quick and easy read, and this is not an exception - even with a change of genre into historical fiction.
The murder mystery component of this book is pretty simplistic when compared with the best - you should have a very good idea of whodunnit by half way through. The reason for this is so much of the book is devoted to trench warfare scenes which form the backdrop to much of the investigation. (less)