This summer I decided to read three different Newbery titles. The first was The Giver by Lois Lowry. The second was The Twenty-One Balloons by William...more This summer I decided to read three different Newbery titles. The first was The Giver by Lois Lowry. The second was The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois.
Professor William Waterman Sherman has taught children for many years. He tires of it after several decades and takes up ballooning instead. One day he retires and sets sail around the world in a flying home with a giant hot-air balloon attached to it. The plan is to be airborn for a solid year. Unfortunately, some seagulls alter that plan. Sherman has to set down on a small island in the Pacific. The island turns out to be Krakatoa, and inhabited. Sherman then enters into one of the strangest, and most blissful, periods he has ever known.
The book was pretty good, albeit a little young for me to be gaga over. It’s interesting that it’s written by a French American author in 1940 – whatever (the award was given for 1947). The book is heavily steeped in socialist politics in a very positive light, and this is pre-communist 1950′s red scare. Were this written a few years later would it be subject to the same kind of scrutiny that fueled that time of fear in our country? Would it have been politically overlooked for the award?
Politics aside though, this book is very appealing for an action, survival novel. I described it today as a communist, desert island survival adventure manifesto novel for kids. I’m sticking to that. It was good, I should have read it 20 years ago. Today it warrants a 4 out of 5, but it’s a damn good 4 out of 5 read.
I decided to read three different Newbery Award winning/honor books this summer for work. First up in the roster is 1994 Winner The Giver by Lois Lowr...more I decided to read three different Newbery Award winning/honor books this summer for work. First up in the roster is 1994 Winner The Giver by Lois Lowry. I adore Dystopian fiction, and always enjoy anything which centers on this sort of plot.
The Giver is about a future society where everyone has given up all semblance of feelings, choice, and pain. With this goes much of what makes us humans, though no one within the society realizes it. On the day of his 12 ceremony a boy named Jonas acquires a much-lauded position within the community – he is to be the new Receiver, a very rare position. At the start of his training with the aged Receiver, renamed The Giver when Jonas takes up the position, Jonas begins to understand just how difficult his task will be. The Receiver must act as a conduit for everything the community has given up. Through a series of touches the Giver hands off the knowledge that has been passed down through the ages; that of pain, sorrow, war, and loss. He also passes on the knowledge of colours, music, joy, and acceptance. These concepts have all been phased out and upon learning any of them Jonas world will never be the same.
I enjoyed this immensely. It’s incredibly well done. Perfect. Lowry has such skill with this kind of story. We feel every bit of Jonas’ anguish and heartache as his horizons are broadened beyond belief. The descriptions of joy and pleasure are equally as impacting. It’s a gorgeous book that is a very quick read. I sat down this very morning and read it in about 3 hours. And, yes, I probably should have read it years ago. But I read it now. So there.
For the first of my three Newberies this summer I give a well deserved 5 of 5 stars. I hope the other ones turn out to be this good.
I read this book for the first time four years ago. Since then I have handsold over 300 of the first book, "The Thief" and over a 100 of the sequels t...moreI read this book for the first time four years ago. Since then I have handsold over 300 of the first book, "The Thief" and over a 100 of the sequels to customers. It's a tremendous book.
Four years later with the impending release looming of the fourth book "A Conspiracy of Kings" I decided it was time for a reread. This is a double edged sword at times in the world of books. A book that hits you so immensely at one time may not impact you as much a second time. I'm thrilled to say that this is not the case with Megan Whalen Turner's masterpiece, "The Thief".
So what makes it so great? For one thing it's tremendously written. The plot intrigue and character development is dynamic and sharp. For another thing it's about one of the greatest characters and literary inventions ever to grace the pages of a work of fantasy. Eugenides is a force, a marvel, a comic genius, a tragic clown. He is Iago and Pagliacci and Steerpike all rolled into one, yet he retains a completely likeable, quiet kind of demeanor...even though he is all ego.
Since I read this book I have developed what I call a love of the "Eugenides" character... In short, a character who is proud, and unabashedly cocky about his abilities. However, even though he is very aware of his flaws and his own limitations he figures out ways to work within those limitations, and flaunts them as if they are skills. Eugenides capitalizes off of everything he is, even if it is a con in a series of pros. He also realizes that those around him can be used as tools, even his greatest friends. Whenever I encounter this character in any work of fiction I'm immediately charmed by them. I'm not sure why that is because encountering this level of arrogance in a person usually turns me off. However, Eugenides is so well balanced that he circumvents dislike and speeds right to admiration in the hearts of the readers.
Four years later and this book still amazes me. I treasure it like few others. I'm all smiles today after the reread and hope that the sequels hold up as well. Simply amazing. Still.(less)
Ok, now that that's over with, on with what I really thought of the book.
The story follows the intrepid and precocious...more*OHMYGODSGUSH*
Ok, now that that's over with, on with what I really thought of the book.
The story follows the intrepid and precociously curious Calpurnia Tate as she feeds a burgeoning interest in the natural sciences, as well as a blossoming relationship with her Grandfather. While investigating grasshoppers, strange and new plants, and microscopic organisms Calpurnia has a different battle with her mother who wants to teach her to cook...and tat... and embroider... in short, make a "lady" out of her. Calpurnia tries to spurn all advances that might make her more marriageable but flounders against the tide... it is 1899 after all, pre-suffragette, post-Darwinism... Exactly when all of the interesting new scientific discoveries are being made, but not quite when it's acceptable for a girl to take part in them.
In the midst of all this Calpurnia maintains a personality and a spirit reminiscent of other notable heroines. She reminds me of a more progressive Anne Shirley... if Anne had been interested in observing everything around her instead of writing, and readers will be pleased at Kelly's humour and heart that are absolutely plastered throughout this book. I read this all smiles, with much laughter and a few tears. This book is one of the best of the year and I am calling it for a 2010 Newbery. Trust me, this has ALA written all over it, but in a good way. Really.
I loved this. It was so much fun, and so Gaiman-y. I've always adored the Jungle Book, and when I heard that it was the structure for the story here I...moreI loved this. It was so much fun, and so Gaiman-y. I've always adored the Jungle Book, and when I heard that it was the structure for the story here I got really excited. Leave it to Gaiman to take on a classic and triumph. The one bit I was less enthused with was the chapter about the Ghoul Gates. I thought it a tad overlong. But other than that this book is perfect. I'm so happy that Gaiman wrote it, and that he keeps receiving accolages for it. Truly deserved.(less)