In the town of Windblowne, kite-flying is no hobby. It’s an obsession. It’s an art. It’s at the core of the identity of its quirky inhabitants. PeopleIn the town of Windblowne, kite-flying is no hobby. It’s an obsession. It’s an art. It’s at the core of the identity of its quirky inhabitants. People here spend all year waiting for the legendary Ye Olde Festival of Kites where they might see kites designed as enormous dragons or entire schools of fish or even carrier kites that passengers ride in. And then there are the fliers. These brave souls take their kites up to the crest of the mountain above Windblowne and jump, attempting to ride the fierce winds and beat a record that’s stood for over fifty years.
Like everyone in Windblowne, Oliver dreams of beating that record. Too bad every kite he flies ends up in humiliating displays of destruction. Oliver is a terrible kite flier. He’s an even worse kite-smith. He’s also awkward and bumbling and delusional, swinging from being painfully aware of his limitations (which are many!) to being wildly over-confident of his perceived talents (which are few). He could easily be the best protagonist I’ve read about in years!
As flawed as he is, Oliver is a deeply endearing, heroic, and hilarious character who I couldn’t help but cheer for throughout this page-turning adventure.
While Messer has many gifts as a writer—his craft is superb, his story excellently plotted, the world wildly original—what really grabbed me was the humor. Oliver is side-splitting funny. The villain Lord Gilbert (who is the evil version of Oliver’s Great-uncle Gilbert in an alternate Windblowne) kept me in stitches. When this evil inventor captures Oliver, he introduces himself with: “I, of course, am Lord Gilbert, thought you may refer to me simply as ‘Lord,’ if you wish. Although perhaps you could call me ‘Lord Great-uncle,’ as I shall be more family to you than he ever was. No, that sounds absurd. ‘Lord Gilbert’ will do.”
The best authors have a unique and captivating ‘voice.’ Lemony Snicket. Neil Gaiman. Roald Dahl. Messer has this sort of ‘voice.’ It pulls you into his weird and wonderful world. It bonds you to the characters — heroes and villains alike. It makes you eager for more of his books. I know I am.
And I’ll never be able to fly a kite again without wondering if I’m about to be yanked into the sky to a world of multiple moons, mad scientists, and madcap adventures. ...more
Okay, let's cut to the chase...I love Jean Craighead George. And Julie is a classic! A powerful girl protagonist. A bold introduction to many girls (aOkay, let's cut to the chase...I love Jean Craighead George. And Julie is a classic! A powerful girl protagonist. A bold introduction to many girls (and boys) about the nature of sexual violence. But that's not even what the story is about, just a chilling turn in this fascinating story. Suckling wolves, Julie's disappointing father, her "marriage" - so many moments in this book will never leave me....more
This book had a profound effect on me as a child. A call-to-arms for all kids to get back in the woods. Over 40 years old and not dated at all, MY SIDThis book had a profound effect on me as a child. A call-to-arms for all kids to get back in the woods. Over 40 years old and not dated at all, MY SIDE is still one of my favorite books to return to. And to think George wrote this book in 2 weeks....more
Cecile's voice, that true kid's perspective of the world, especially at the cusp of adolescence - I'm not sure when I've read a book that captures itCecile's voice, that true kid's perspective of the world, especially at the cusp of adolescence - I'm not sure when I've read a book that captures it quite like Greene has. I loved that many important questions are never answered. That's how life goes. Much of what's going on within this family is beyond Cecile's comprehension, not only because she's not there to see it first-hand, but more importantly because she's still not quite old enough to grasp it. And at the same time, she's got wisdom and spunk like no other. What a great character!...more
It might be surprising to those who know me as a children's book author to hear that OUTER DARK has had a profound effect on my writing.
The dark fairIt might be surprising to those who know me as a children's book author to hear that OUTER DARK has had a profound effect on my writing.
The dark fairytale world of McCarthy's Appalachia captivated my imagination the first (and every other time) I read this book. My books are far from Cormac-esque horror, but I've delved deep to understand how McCarthy could make a world so strange and magical out of an utterly bleak time and place. He's masterful.
As a side-note, I'm convinced Jim Jarmusch took many elements of this novel for his movie Dead Man (good for you, Jim, it's a great flick). In particular, the sinister trio of villians pursuing the brother. The three hunters of Outer Dark are unmatched (in my mind) by any other villian in terms of sheer terror and menace. How about this line? "The mute one seemed to sleep, crouched at the man's right with his arms dangling between his knees like something waiting to be wakened and fed." I still have nightmares....more
Re-envisioning “Hamlet” as a murder mystery set in Appalachia is fetching enough, but what kept me reading is the engaging and complicated protagonistRe-envisioning “Hamlet” as a murder mystery set in Appalachia is fetching enough, but what kept me reading is the engaging and complicated protagonist Horatio Wilkes.
Horatio is flat-out hilarious as a snarky detective who manages to get himself into quite a mess as he tries to uncover who murdered his best friend Hamilton Prince’s father. He's a control freak and a teetotaller. Between getting sucker punched by the Prince family’s hired help and pining for Hamilton’s ex-girlfriend, Horatio has a way of ticking off nearly everyone, except maybe the ladies. But he’s no Romeo. Hamilton takes on that bad boy job with his brooding and self-destructive downward spiral. A fun, fun read!