What an oddly interesting story. At first, the story felt too confusing, as it jumped back and forth between a mystery narrator who finds himself sittWhat an oddly interesting story. At first, the story felt too confusing, as it jumped back and forth between a mystery narrator who finds himself sitting in (essentially) a medieval bar with a group of strangers who begin to tell the story of three children and a dog that have been called saints are wanted for heresy charges by the king of France. The story weaves in and out, with different people telling different parts of the story. Because the setting is medieval France, I felt like the book would be too foreign and disconnected, but the characters speak in the vernacular of today, even going so far as to talk (at length) about farting dragons, make jokes about an ass (donkey) belonging to one of the children, and so forth.
So it is a good story, but like many good stories, it is rooted in some basic (and widely used) themes. Towards the end, I was suddenly realized why the story felt so familiar: it is very similar to The Wizard of Oz. The three children are the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion (is the dog Toto?); they meet and embark on a journey with a fourth person; they become close and discover each others best qualities; at the end, they meet the person they are looking for, though he is not who they expect him to be; this person gives each of them some parting advice, some wisdom, as they continue on independently. It isn't a perfect analogy, but I think it is worth consideration.
In the end, this is a book marketed to middle-grade readers, but will it resonate with them? Will they even pick it up? I have my doubts, but I hope that anyone who is interested in the buzz will stick with it to the end. It leaves you with something to think about, that's for sure....more
At the end of 30 pages, I was ready to put this one aside. While I admit I am not part of the intended audience (middle school-age readers), know nextAt the end of 30 pages, I was ready to put this one aside. While I admit I am not part of the intended audience (middle school-age readers), know next to nothing about horses or the sport of polo, have never visited Philadelphia (the setting) and have pretty much zero experience with inner-city life and/or youth, the first part of this book was seriously lacking in consistency. I don't pretend to guess about linguistics or teenage boy motivations (regardless of where they live), but the writing seemed all over the place. When I feel compelled to find a pencil and make notes in a book, it is either a really good sign, or a really bad sign, and unfortunately, this was one of the bad ones.
However, when the pencil comes out, I also feel like I need to keep reading and find more stuff to comment on and underline. But then something else happened: the writing kind of found a groove. Or maybe I relaxed a little. Probably the writing got better. At any rate, I found myself enjoying the story. I even googled Work to Ride, the real program that inspired the book, and found it to be fascinating. Best of all, I bumped my rating up a full star. ...more
This book was a happy surprise for me. I have read several of MacLachlan's elementary/middle grade novels, and typically they are fairly light, short,This book was a happy surprise for me. I have read several of MacLachlan's elementary/middle grade novels, and typically they are fairly light, short, "fluffy" tales - great for kids, but somewhat uninteresting for older (okay, adult) readers. While The Poet's Dog is a short, easy read, it is, however, much deeper and insightful than I was expecting. It felt magical, and I (for perhaps the very first time) felt myself relating most to the character of the dog. He describes learning words and communicating with the poet, who was not his first owner, and begins to tell his life story, or at least what he remembers of it. Here is my favorite quote: "Before that I remember moments, but I had no words for them." Ah! A different way to think of my very first memories -- they are not so clear, just moments, because I, too, did not yet have words for them. Love the relationship that develops between each and every character. ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book and here's why: the first half of this book dragged and I felt sincerely disinterested. Then, suddenly, somethinI have mixed feelings about this book and here's why: the first half of this book dragged and I felt sincerely disinterested. Then, suddenly, something shifted. The pace quickened. The main characters began to redeem themselves. I started caring about what was going to happen next, and the last half of the book stuck in my craw until I finished it in a flash. A worthy choice if you are looking for a good YA book about lives touched during the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the fallout that victims and families continue to deal with today. Stick with it....more
I really liked this book, but I am concerned that kids might not pick it up right away. After all, we kind of know what happens, and it is not a partiI really liked this book, but I am concerned that kids might not pick it up right away. After all, we kind of know what happens, and it is not a particularly happy story. Still, I enjoyed the various story lines, told by tween-ish kinds of kids in various parts of the country, and anxiously anticipated how they might all come together in the end. For this reader, it was bittersweet, just as I knew it would be....more
In an effort to try and distract my 8 year old son from the video game he had been hard at work on for more than an hour, I started reading Ghost alouIn an effort to try and distract my 8 year old son from the video game he had been hard at work on for more than an hour, I started reading Ghost aloud. He is somewhat younger than the intended reader audience, but I had hoped to at least annoy him enough to shut down the game and go somewhere else. Instead, he was captivated. Ghost is a book that practically begs to be read aloud. The cadence, the language, the humor -- all spot on, and nearly from the very beginning. Granted, the audio version done by this white, suburban, 40-something stay at home mom was probably not the best performance, but when I stopped to read silently, my son asked me to keep going.
Castle, aka "Ghost", is living a life about as opposite from my own as I can imagine, and yet something about his story rings very true, honest, and almost...bare. It is a short-ish book, but Reynolds is masterful, using only the words that need to be read, and nothing more. Unlike this review. Lots of gibberish. It happens when I'm excited. Read this book. Particularly if you are between the ages of 8 and 40-something....more
This book is an extension of an older book (Miss Piggle Wiggle), though I am unfamiliar with it. Readers in my position will not find this to be a stuThis book is an extension of an older book (Miss Piggle Wiggle), though I am unfamiliar with it. Readers in my position will not find this to be a stumbling block, however, as the scene is reminiscent of Mary Poppins, with a young lady who is called upon to entertain and discipline other peoples' children, which she does with a balance of common sense, fun, and a touch of something magical.
It is sweet enough, and a pretty easy read. Still, I could not get my 2nd grade son interested enough to even listen for a chapter (this is a story bent toward girls, I think), and there are so many characters to keep track of (including a love-interest of Missy's!), young readers may have a hard time keeping up.
My (12 year old) daughter reads (almost exclusively) books that are part of a series. When she finds an author she likes and becomes invested in a setMy (12 year old) daughter reads (almost exclusively) books that are part of a series. When she finds an author she likes and becomes invested in a set of characters, she is eager to follow them through thousands of pages.
Just to clarify, The Girl I Used to Be is not part of a series. However, though I have only read a couple of books by April Henry, I pretty much know what to expect. Like the others, this book is a mystery/thriller, with a smidge of romance (read: a basic teen crush, with nothing racy beyond a kiss or two), and "regular" people who find themselves in troubling circumstances. While Henry has a dedicated fan base who will likely enjoy this book, I didn't think it was her best work: the plot and "circumstances" are a bit too far-fetched, and there were many points where the characters' actions and words did not ring true. Just okay for me. ...more
The other day, in my very-suburban, almost-all-white neighborhood, as I was leaving to pick up my kiddo from school, there was an older womDelightful!
The other day, in my very-suburban, almost-all-white neighborhood, as I was leaving to pick up my kiddo from school, there was an older woman standing by herself in our small park. As I passed by, I realized she was moving, slowly and purposefully, with a decorative sword in one hand. It looked as if she were practicing some form of tai chi or martial art, and while part of me wanted to stop and keep watching, I didn't want to interrupt her practice. (and I had to get to school, of course!) It was amazing and beautiful, a rare glimpse that has stuck with me.
A Morning with Grandpa reminds me of that woman and her practice. Grandpa is practicing tai chi, but Mei Mei is a bit wiggly to follow his movement very closely. Mei Mei tries to teach Grandpa some of the yoga positions that she knows, but Grandpa's older body is not quite so flexible as hers. Regardless, you can tell they enjoy spending time together, and both are willing to learn from the other -- it is a very sweet story with nice illustrations, and a short guide at the end to some of the poses and exercises Grandpa and Mei Mei practice. I want to learn more!...more