Kids, please don't hitchhike aboard a stranger's bus...
I actually had to look up the criteria for a Newberry Medal after reading this. Even as an "hoKids, please don't hitchhike aboard a stranger's bus...
I actually had to look up the criteria for a Newberry Medal after reading this. Even as an "honor" medal, I couldn't believe that it deserved the title of "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." But I guess that's not really up to me, it's up to 15 people to decide.
But...if it were up to me, this book would probably get a medal for "best concoction of invented and real words...without saying much." I fully admit that it's unique prose caught my eye in the beginning but after a while the story was so full of word fluff that when digging around for the story, I realized there wasn't very much there.
Word Fluff: I appreciate beautiful prose but it just got to be too much. Much of the prose sounded like this: "...next to the pushing-pulling waves." "...broody Samson was a dark and shadowy seven..." "...my palms burned like fire from all of the hurt just under the skin." "Girls only get quiet, polite savvies--sugar and spice and everything humdrum savvies." ...etc. etc. etc. Now, don't get me wrong. I fully enjoy adjective-saturated imagery...but when the focus is more on the word usage than on the plot, I begin to wonder what was the point of the story in the first place?
Plot: In case you're wondering, the plot basically goes like this: (view spoiler)[1) Leading off from the summary...Mib's parents are at the hospital. 2) Since her parents aren't there, the town's preacher family hosts Mibs 13th birthday party which is a disaster so Mibs hides aboard the Bible Supply Bus. 3) Along with 2 of the preacher's kids and 2 of Mib's siblings, the kids stow away on the bus, heading toward Salina (where the hospital is located). Eventually we learn that an alert has gone out that kids are missing. (Btw Grandpa Bomba is at home with the other Beaumont sibling.) 4) Mibs discovers that her special magical power is hearing the thoughts of people through ink on their skin. 5) The kids and bus driver and another "hitchhiker" travel through different cities until they finally arrive at the hospital. 6) Mibs tells her dad that even though he's "human," he still has a magical power which is that he never gives up. 7) Family returns home. (hide spoiler)] The End.
Obviously, the message here is one we've heard over and over again. Mibs, who is somewhat of a social outcast, is initially disappointed in her ability (i.e., Savvy) but ends up appreciating it, and through her adventure she develops friendships with other kids. Unfortunately, there is nothing awe-inspiring of this message. And for an honor book, I expected to be blown away.
Instead, all I could think about was: 1) Why would a group of teenagers along with a 7-year-old go hide in the back of school bus with a stranger driver. Did they not consider that their parents would be frightened to death by their disappearance? Furthermore, couldn't one of the townsfolk or even her Grandpa drive them to Salina to be with her dad? (Oh, but then we wouldn't have a story now would we?) And couldn't Mibs have told her Grandpa or left a note before they drove off? 2) Then when the bus driver, Lester, finally discovers them, does he insist on calling their parents? Is he the responsible adult he should be? Oh no, he lets them stay on the bus while he continues making his deliveries. 3) When the bus happens upon a broken down car with a lady (Lill) waiting by the side of the road, Lill decides to join them on the bus...because that's just what you should do when your car breaks down...climb aboard a bus of full of kids with a strange man. (Btw kids, it's really okay to hitchhike because it's a pink Bible Bus.) 4) But Lill is more of a responsible adult because she makes them call their parents...but isn't clever enough to know that the kids trick her by not really calling their parents. (And would any parent that had missing kids tell Lill to just wait until the next day to bring them home?) 5) And when the kids were finally found, when would a police officer ever say this: "I know how easy it is to make wrong choices and end up in difficult situations, but things don't always turn out badly. There will be consequences, of course, but no one got hurt, and no hurt was meant. So, as far as I know, no one's pressing any charges against those folks out there. [Lester] and [Lill] may have made some ill-advised decisions, but they did do a good job of looking after you and keeping you all safe." 6) So I guess the real message here would be: "Kids, if you make really bad choices, but nothing bad comes out of it, it's okay then."
I still can't believe this is what is considered a contribution to children's literature. If you are interested in a Newberry Medal read, there are much better choices out there: try Holes or A Wrinkle in Time or The Giver.
Should you read? Sorry but I have to say, "Skip it."
For this review and more check out: Little Zombies: Book Reviews for Sleepless Children.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I don't know how he does it...After The Lightning Thief series (which if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for!), I thought Riordan wouldn't bI don't know how he does it...After The Lightning Thief series (which if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for!), I thought Riordan wouldn't be able to produce another one just as entertaining...But I WAS WRONG! Thankfully...
The Son of Neptune is the second in his new series: The Heroes of Olympus. The first book, The Lost Hero, follows the adventures of 3 demigods: Jason, Piper, and Leo while The Son of Neptune begins at the "Roman" camp starring Percy, Hazel, and Frank.
Riordan's trademark humor and sarcasm is evident throughout the story, and I found myself laughing right at the start:
"Her Bargain Mart vest, her flowery dress, even her tusks were decorated with 50% OFF stickers. Her name badge read: Hello! My name is DIE, DEMIGOD SCUM!"
The chapters switch POVs seamlessly among the 3 characters. Each has it's own mystery, strength, and weakness. And Frank's Asian grandmother was so ON THE MARK...I loved it!
There were only a few "buggy" things I noticed this time around: 1) The characters all seem to have the same "voice." I'm not sure if that really makes much sense, but while each of the characters have different backgrounds, they seemed to speak the same, have the same humor. It's not enough for a reader to notice unless there are being overly Type A...like me.
2) Definitely try to read the books without waiting MONTHS in between. It made for a frustrating read as I was trying to pull my amnesia back into remission. There are A LOT of tiny references to both Book 1 and The Lightening Thief series--not enough to take away from the story, but it would have been nice if my memory served me better.
Overall: I highly recommend any of Riordan's books. The only bummer about finding an author you enjoy is that you're not the only one; Riordan's last book signing was INSANE and a bit of a disappointment. I literally was given less than 10 seconds to say hello and have him sign my book. Oh, wait, I didn't even get a chance to say hello because he was busy talking to the kid in front of me. I got a "head nod" and then herded out of line. Apparently, I haven't gotten over that. But still, go read the book. It funny fun.
I know many reviewers LOVE this story, so I think I'm just an anomaly in the crowd.
For it's artistic form, this book is amazing. The drawings and photI know many reviewers LOVE this story, so I think I'm just an anomaly in the crowd.
For it's artistic form, this book is amazing. The drawings and photographs inserted within the narrative really show how many dimensions there are to storytelling. As I was flipping through each scene, I felt as if I was an bystander watching little details unfold right before my eyes. It definitely deserved a Caldecott Medal for best picture book of 2008.
The MC, Hugo, lives in the train station keeping the clocks running when his thievery causes him to confront the toy-maker. The toy-maker keeps Hugo's notebook--filled with pictures of an automaton. With the toy-maker's goddaughter, Hugo must discover the mystery behind the automaton.
The story is simple enough and broken into 2 parts: The first part is Hugo putting back together the automaton; the second part is discovering the purpose of the automaton.
Unfortunately, the characters drove me CRAZY: too many secrets, no one seems to be able to trust each other, accusations, lying, thievery....There's the grouchy toy-maker who tricks and lies to Hugo about his notebook. There's Hugo, who has lost his father and lives in the train station--lying and stealing to get by--stealing, even after given a chance by the toy-maker. I felt no sympathy for Hugo; his obsession with the automaton and lack of integrity and constant thievery just didn't appeal to me. He seemed almost psychotic in his need to finish the automaton.
By the time the second half came along, I literally had to force myself to finish. I was so disinterested in Hugo's adventure; I just wanted it to be over. The second half begins with a series of drawings which to tell you the truth sort of freaked me out. They were b&w drawings of dragons, and fires, and exploding heads and quite frankly a bit scary for me, let alone a child (who by the way, got scared by the pictures). When we find out that (view spoiler)[Georges is actually a movie maker, (hide spoiler)] things get even more bizarre. When confronted with this fact, Georges just suddenly "wakes" up; well...more like, flipped a switch...I mean, who does that after 10 or so years of denial? I mean, doesn't he have to deal with any psychological baggage?
So...then we get introduced to these real life movie stills and photographs from the 1900s. Can you say: CREEPY? Here are photographs of a lady with movie reels covering her chest, an underwater scene with sharp toothed fish, an accordion horse, and various other scenes that sort of repulsed me.
It's an interesting attempt to integrate the real life photographs of Georges Melies with the fictional one in the story, but as far as the story goes...I'm just not into it. And the pictures, so disturbing, I wanted to get this book away from me as far as possible....["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Klassen's artwork is beautiful and his humorous technique at telling the story of a bear's lost hat is unique.
The writing is simple yet catchy and theKlassen's artwork is beautiful and his humorous technique at telling the story of a bear's lost hat is unique.
The writing is simple yet catchy and the drawings are engaging; I particularly liked one scene that was painted red to depict anger...very creative stuff.
HOWEVER!!!!!! as a "children's book" this one is extremely disappointing.
In summary, (view spoiler)[ the bear has lost his hat and politely asks different animals if they have seen it, only to discover that he has indeed SEEN it on one of the questioned animals. He angrily returns to the culprit and the reader infers that he has eaten the offending animal. (hide spoiler)] (Now, while there are no photos showing that, the reader does infer it from a conversation in the end.)
My concerns with the story for children?
(view spoiler)[ Well, Here we have a polite character (the bear) who later engages in "murder" (eats the bunny) all because of a stolen item. So what does that tell us? That we should be polite until someone offends us and then it's okay to act violently and then laugh about it? What if this polite bear instead forgave the bunny? Wouldn't that be a more meaningful lesson? (hide spoiler)]
Maybe I'm just over-thinking it but I've got children who I want to raise with positive morals.
I believe stories are powerful and great teaching tools, especially for little ones. While small children may not "get" all the subliminal messaging in books, the messages are still there and I believe, we get those messages subconsciously. And if children try to make sense of the world through stories, then what is this story telling them?
I know the story is meant to be sarcastic and funny (and I do enjoy sarcasm)...unfortunately, I just don't find the humor in this one. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A deep and beautiful tale which I almost didn't read because of the title and cover; I tend to shy away from "scary" stories and not really knowing anA deep and beautiful tale which I almost didn't read because of the title and cover; I tend to shy away from "scary" stories and not really knowing anything about the book, from the cover and title, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it.
And the title describes it perfectly and yet it does not. And the story is scary and yet it isn't.
This is one story that I hesitant to share too much about because the story was so beautifully written and the themes so true. Everyone can relate because we all have monsters. We may not all be in Connor's specific story, but we all have similar stories of sadness, pain, fear, and truth. It's a story both sweet and bitter.
There was only one part that I didn't fully understand; the monster wanted to make a point about (view spoiler)[ invisibility, but why the brutal force on the bully by the monster? Why did the monster instigate such brutality or was it just an extension of Connor's inner anger? (hide spoiler)]
Overall, such a deep deep reflection on the fragility of our souls and the healing power of truth.
Note: Patrick Ness took inspiration for this story from Siobhan Dowd, who recently passed away. I appreciated that the story was written by Ness and not a mimic of Dowd's writing. It makes it more real this way.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
With Lauren Oliver recognized as a YA author, I was surprised and a bit skeptical about reading a "Children's" book. I have loved all of Oliver's otheWith Lauren Oliver recognized as a YA author, I was surprised and a bit skeptical about reading a "Children's" book. I have loved all of Oliver's other YA books and was wondering if her "style" of writing could perform just as well in this one.
...And Oliver does just that. Liesl and Po is beautifully written with a plot seamlessly interwoven with all the characters. It's a web of stories and characters that eventually intersect and find their way to each other...all begun with the friendship of 2 lonely children.
Her simple prose and description seem to capture exactly each character and the feel of this world they live in. Oliver really does have a talent with words.
And while I DO appreciate the writing and the story it portrays, it just didn't draw me into its pages as much as other stories.
Oliver's heartache and desire for resolution is definitely felt though out as she wrote this after dealing with the loss of a dear friend. So, for me, I sensed that the writing held a feeling of melancholy and sadness and pain that I wasn't exactly expecting or prepared for. I supposed I wasn't in the mood for something like that.
However, that isn't to say it not good writing or a good story...because it really is. And I am sure many reader will enjoy this beautiful story....more
A magical mystery that will appeal to elementary-age children. West's debut novel involves a little girl Olive who moves into a mysterious mansion andA magical mystery that will appeal to elementary-age children. West's debut novel involves a little girl Olive who moves into a mysterious mansion and discovers paintings she can enter and some talking cats. I really enjoyed West's writing; her word usage and the way she crafted the story kept me wanting to read more.
This story is definitely geared toward children; I didn't find the story to be scary for me; and I think West does a good job of bringing fear/mystery to the reader without being overly scary. For example, in one scene, the antagonist casts a spell; West gives us enough detail to understand the spell/scene without it appearing too "witchcrafty" or scary for younger readers.
While her writing compelled me to read on, the climax of the plot was a bit predictable and the premise for the mystery of the paintings was a bit dull; I expected more than just (view spoiler)[ an egotistical/arrogant magician who made the painting just to live "forever" (hide spoiler)] BUT it is a simple tale for children so I can see how some of the plot and characters were not developed as much as they could for an adult's eyes.
I also thought the book cover was a bit misleading when it suggested that Olive (the female protagonist) and Morton (the boy she finds in the painting) were at odds with each other and had to build an "uneasy" alliance. Because of this description, I expected a relationship completely at odds with each other and the main focus of the story. However, I really didn't get that feeling at all; (view spoiler)[ just a scared little boy that Olive happens to rescue and for most of the story Olive and Morton don't really interact until the very end (hide spoiler)].
While it is an interesting tale, it will probably appeal more to the younger crowd. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more