This one felt more polished than Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, or perhaps I just knew what kind of book to expect and felt a comfortable familiarThis one felt more polished than Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, or perhaps I just knew what kind of book to expect and felt a comfortable familiarity here. One thing is for sure - the physical details of this book are gorgeous, from the cover and matching thread at the top and bottom of the spine (I'm sure there's a technical word for this) to the full color illustrations, colored page numbers, the illustrations at the start of each chapter, to the thick, lovely paper. Whoever worked on the design of this book (and approved such lavish details) deserves a big thumbs up....more
Like the first book, this is a funny, over-the-top story of a pig nanny, her charges, and her love of cake. It's episodic, which both works for it andLike the first book, this is a funny, over-the-top story of a pig nanny, her charges, and her love of cake. It's episodic, which both works for it and against it. The book would make for a great read-aloud, chapter by chapter, but this also means that it doesn't build up much momentum or oomph. A fun, silly read....more
Most of what I wrote about the first book, Kat, Incorrigible, holds true for this sequel. It's still a fun mix of Regency manners and magic, and I'd rMost of what I wrote about the first book, Kat, Incorrigible, holds true for this sequel. It's still a fun mix of Regency manners and magic, and I'd recommend it to young fans of both genres. I enjoyed the characters - some get a bit more nuance as the story goes on, and it's an entertaining world to spend time in.
However, as with the first book, the rules and system of magic seemed arbitrary, developed to suit the plot. The story can get away with this, to a certain extent, because Kat is not knowledgeable about the magic. She has yet to receive any real training, and she does a lot of her magic by instinct. The characters who do know more are often hiding things from Kat and the reader. So, the lack of a coherent system of magic is forgivable, but may irk readers who like that kind of thing explained. It also leaves things open for Burgis to introduce any kind of magic into further plots, which could be fun (the ancient magic in this story sure is intriguing) but could also feel sloppy.
Overall, a light and enjoyable story that should please fans of the first book....more
This is perfect for young readers who like their fairy tales slightly fractured with an emphasis on humor. The story follows four Princes Charming (orThis is perfect for young readers who like their fairy tales slightly fractured with an emphasis on humor. The story follows four Princes Charming (or Prince Charmings? the question is debated) as they attempt to overcome various disappointments in the way their 'happily ever afters' turned out. There's plenty of slapstick humor, wordplay, swordplay, giants, witches, near escapes, and eventual heroics (even when princesses manage to rescue themselves). Although the book is a bit long, and might benefit from tighter editing, it's fun the whole way and an easy one to recommend to kids who like their fantasy on the funny side.
Completely engrossing - I had to keep sharing details as I read it. Even though I knew the basic story of the Chilean miners, having it all explainedCompletely engrossing - I had to keep sharing details as I read it. Even though I knew the basic story of the Chilean miners, having it all explained and laid out with the most fascinating details made for a great read. Recommended....more
As a letter-writer myself, I love finding books that celebrate this and (perhaps) encourage more kids to take it up. As the story goes back and forthAs a letter-writer myself, I love finding books that celebrate this and (perhaps) encourage more kids to take it up. As the story goes back and forth between Meena (in NYC) and River (in Kentucky), you see how two people can get to know each other from letters and how two very different worlds can connect.
The only thing that rubbed me wrong about the story was an overt political message. I wouldn't have thought this would bother me, considering I pretty much agree with the politics of the story, but I wondered if it really needed to be set in 2008. I think a case could be made either way. The topics of mining and immigration seemed to add enough to the story without the extra layer of the election.
At any rate, a story of unlikely friends and standing up for what is right - I'd recommend it.
Going into this book, I knew it would be sad. It has the subject heading "grief - fiction" for crying out loud, plus I'd read several reviews before oGoing into this book, I knew it would be sad. It has the subject heading "grief - fiction" for crying out loud, plus I'd read several reviews before ordering it for the library and that gave me a heads up. But sometimes I'm just in the mood for a tear-jerker, so I picked it up and waited to see what would be so devastating.
The first half of the book is the story of a family dealing with the usual upsets of life, with the added hurdle of running a family restaurant. Narrator Fern feels like the invisible one, her older brother hasn't come out but they all know he's gay, oldest girl Sara is taking a year off before college, and three-year-old Charlie is, as always, dirty and sticky and looking for affection.
When things go wrong for the family, Knowles writing felt like it tightened up. Each person blames themselves for what happened, and they have to figure out how to go on. The sadness never felt maudlin - it was always sharp and painful and vivid. Although the sadness in the story is specific to this particular incident, I always think that good tear-jerkers evoke a universal sort of grief. This may not be your tragedy, but if the emotions ring true, you are put in the character's shoes. Their grief and any grief you hold get mixed together.
This isn't an easy book to read, but I think it fits well into that canon of children's books that do this sort of thing well. It made me think of both Bridge to Terabithia and A Summer to Die - books with very different plots but a similar ability to call up emotion....more
This is that book - the one that most people adore, that gets rave reviews and awards buzz, the one people recommend to adults and kids, the one thatThis is that book - the one that most people adore, that gets rave reviews and awards buzz, the one people recommend to adults and kids, the one that I totally don't get. It's the story of a gorilla. And a few elephants, a dog, and some humans. Right there is your tip-off - I'm not a huge fan of animal stories, unless there's something else remarkable to recommend them. And I don't find my emotional buttons getting hit by tales of animal suffering (as much as I think animal cruelty is awful, it just doesn't trigger the tears the way other things do).
For a book written in blank verse, with not too many words per page, it took me an awfully long time to get through. I'd read for 15 minutes on my lunchbreak and then wonder when it would be over (are we there yet?) I was curious to see how Ivan and the others would manage to get from the mall to the zoo, but story dragged and the language and concept weren't enough to hold my interest. I only made myself finish because I knew it was a relatively quick read and had gotten so much buzz.
Either this was just Not My Style or the emperor has no clothes.
It was so easy to slip into this story. Rebecca Stead does an excellent job with world-building, which is a concept I usually think of more with fantaIt was so easy to slip into this story. Rebecca Stead does an excellent job with world-building, which is a concept I usually think of more with fantasy novels, but I think it applies to any story where a sense of place is crucial to the story. Here, it's an apartment building. The whole story takes place within walking distance of Georges' new building. It's very much about discovering a new place, a place that maybe you'd rather not be, but which turns out to have its own rewards.
The story is also layered beautifully - lots of little things that add up to something bigger. There's a hint of mystery, developing friendships, contrasts between now and then, school bullies, family dynamics. It all ends up feeling necessary.
I might even bump up my rating after I sit on this one for a while. It didn't blow me away, but it has all the hallmarks of excellence.
The fact that this took me a while to read should in no way reflect on its quality (I have a love/hate relationship with reading books on my phone, whThe fact that this took me a while to read should in no way reflect on its quality (I have a love/hate relationship with reading books on my phone, which is currently my only way to read ebooks). In fact, each time I opened it up again, I immediately knew where I was and what was happening in the story, with the whole thing as vivid as if I'd read it over just a few days.
'Splendors and Glooms' is really the perfect description of the story - the gloom is easy to spot, in the downtrodden lives of Victorian orphans; in the sadness of Clara, her parents' only living child; in the brutality of puppeteer Grisini; in the agony of a witch torn between hanging on and finally letting go.
The splendors are there, too - Parsefall's love of the puppet theater, and Clara's, too; and the sense of redemption that the story brings (although telling would be spoiling). There's magic and surprising humor and a delicious Gothic feel.
Also splendid is Laura Amy Schlitz's writing - this woman has a way with her pen, and each story she turns out is masterful yet distinct. I think I'm bumping this to the top of list of Newbery favorites for the year.
Coincidence is huge in this story - if you can't suspend your disbelief and throw yourself into the world of Bollywood, then this probably isn't the bCoincidence is huge in this story - if you can't suspend your disbelief and throw yourself into the world of Bollywood, then this probably isn't the book for you. Once you're on board with a story that weaves together several characters and storylines into one joyful whole, you'll have fun with Dini and the rest of the characters. Movie stars, postmen, school girls, bakers - the whole story is a colorful swirl. For kids who like stories set in other parts of the world, this has the added bonus of introducing them to a fantastical version of India. This might alo particularly appeal to girls separated from a friend, or Bollywood fans, but it also has a much more general appeal.
I'm finding it difficult to review this book without completely spoiling it. It has a lot of potential - the story follows one of three orphans beingI'm finding it difficult to review this book without completely spoiling it. It has a lot of potential - the story follows one of three orphans being trained to impersonate a missing prince. He's prickly but smart, and the other two boys gradually reveal some complexity of character. Tension mounts as the planned impersonation draws near, plus there's a bit of action, and I can see recommending it to younger readers who enjoy stories of intrigue.
However! (view spoiler)[The reviewers that liken this to Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief are misleading innocent readers. Sure, I knew it wouldn't be quite as amazing, but the comparison compelled me to pick this one up. And yes, I enjoyed reading it. But this kid - I can't even remember his name - pales in comparison to Gen. Gen would eat this kid for lunch. Also, I could spot the "twist" in this story a mile away, and I kept hoping there would be an additional twist to mix things up. I think most readers who are paying attention will guess who our narrator really is, at least halfway through the story (if not in the very first chapter). (hide spoiler)]
Source: my public library["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more