Great fun. I adore, adore P.K.! I'm eager to see if her vision of her future self is something we readers will also get to see in a subsequent volume.Great fun. I adore, adore P.K.! I'm eager to see if her vision of her future self is something we readers will also get to see in a subsequent volume. What I appreciate is how well Lawrence channels a certain sort of Wild West writing. In particular I see Mark Twain's influence all over this series. She's even got a character named Sam Clemens. This is important to realize when considering the representation of American Indians and Chinese Americans. I definitely appreciate what Lawrence is doing (playing with period perceptions and styles of writing), but can also imagine that those less familiar with Twain's travel writing and others of his time might find it discomforting. ...more
While I enjoyed the first Lockwood & Co book, I liked this one more. Perhaps because there was less world building in this one? I have to admit IWhile I enjoyed the first Lockwood & Co book, I liked this one more. Perhaps because there was less world building in this one? I have to admit I wasn't as interested in that in the first book as I was in the characters and plot. Makes me remember that the Bartimaeus books grew on me too -- I liked each subsequent one in the series more than the previous one. The three main characters are all very appealing, even more in this outing. And that snarky skull strikes me as a potential Bartimaeus-like-character. Given the extreme cliffhanger this ends on, I'm VERY eager for the next one! Mr. Stroud -- you had better be writing up a storm!...more
Gregory Maguire's Egg & Spoon is arich and layered story, full of gorgeous images and sentences, a matryoshka doll sort of tale. That is, like thoGregory Maguire's Egg & Spoon is a rich and layered story, full of gorgeous images and sentences, a matryoshka doll sort of tale. That is, like those nested dolls that show-up themselves in the story one inside the other, this book involves bits and pieces of stories, one inside the other and then coming out again. We begin meeting Elana Rudina, a peasant girl starving in a village with a dead father, a dying mother, a brother taken off to serve the Tsar, and the other as a servant for the local landowner. One day, out of nowhere, a train appears containing the wealthy Ekaterina, another young girl, this one wealthy, on her way to visit the Tsar in St. Petersburg. Things take off from this point --- journeys, mistaken identities, magical eggs, magical beings, mysterious monks, a prince, a magical festival, the Tsar, and -- most wonderful of all, Baba Yaga and her house on chicken feet. This fabulous witch of Russian folklore is a fabulously written character, funny, scary, wry, and just about everything possible in Maguire's capable hands. At moments she reminded me of some of Diane Wynne Jones' similarly gorgeously cranky and wonderful characters.
The plot is unique and complex, swirling around in highly unusual directions. It is staying with me and the more I mull it over the more I love it. Kids who are able and flexible readers, those with a predilection for older books of complexity and rich language and the ability to go with it wherever it goes will love it too I think. The child characters are delightful, brave and smart and complicated. And those magical characters --- wow. This made me think of so many classical books I have loved over the years. Fairy tales galore, Russian and Scandinavian, especially, but other tales too --- at one moment I thought of a favorite of my childhood, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. A unique and wonderful read....more
I am probably not completely objective about this book because it pushes my nostalgia button big time --- the bears (especially the mother) make me thI am probably not completely objective about this book because it pushes my nostalgia button big time --- the bears (especially the mother) make me think of the Little Bear books written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. There are other seemingly Sendak references (say from Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen) as well as possibly Beatrix Potter. And other literary references --- say Huck Finn and Moby Dick. But these are all just icing for the adult reader --- the story and illustrations are terrific for a child reader/listener too. I'm partial to the double spread of the whale, but there are many other gorgeous pages as well....more
Focusing each chapter on one boy while still keeping the whole family in the picture, Levy provides a compell
I reviewed this for Horn Book concluding:
Focusing each chapter on one boy while still keeping the whole family in the picture, Levy provides a compelling, compassionate, and frequently hilarious look at their daily concerns. Family rituals such as each boy getting the meal of his choice on the first day of school are presented with warmth and humor. By book’s end readers will want to be part of (or at least friends with) this delightful family.
Also wrote on my HuffPo blog (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-...): I was completely charmed by Dana Alison Levy's The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. This episodic novel of a family of two dads and four adopted boys of various races is a delight. The boys are so real and their experiences funny, tender, and relatable. I've had it at school debating when to read it aloud to my class and am confident that it will be a success when I do. Here's a quote from my Horn Book review: "Levy provides a compelling, compassionate, and frequently hilarious look at their daily concerns. By book's end readers will want to be part of (or at least friends with) this delightful family."...more
For older children with a predilection for history, look no further than Candace Fleming's The Family Romanov. Balancing the over-the-top lifestyle ofFor older children with a predilection for history, look no further than Candace Fleming's The Family Romanov. Balancing the over-the-top lifestyle of the last Russian royals with firsthand accounts of the rest of the populace, Fleming provides a fascinating and highly readable version of this tragic story. Handsomely designed and full of photographs, this volume seems uncomfortably timely when considering today's 1 percent, those who currently have the bulk of the world's wealth. (From this blog post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-...)...more
I'm a Raschka fan from way back. The range and variety of his work is astounding. Among my favorites are three featuring jazzmusicians:Charlie ParkerI'm a Raschka fan from way back. The range and variety of his work is astounding. Among my favorites are three featuring jazz musicians: Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, John Coltrane's Giant Steps, and Mysterious Thelonious. Now along comes Raschka's appreciation of Sun Ra and it is as marvelous as the others. Sun Ra was one wild dude and Raschka captures his originality in words and images. Not just his life, but the sense and feeling of his music. Gorgeous. ...more