Chomp is another one of Carl Hiaasen’s ecologically themed children’s books. This one deals particularly with the Florida Everglades, crocodiles,
It iChomp is another one of Carl Hiaasen’s ecologically themed children’s books. This one deals particularly with the Florida Everglades, crocodiles,
It is also a light and rather delightful skewering of “realty TV.” The plot may be summed up as: survival realty TV star comes to the Everglades with his staff, a wildlife expert, expert’s son, and expert’s son’s friend. They all try to survive the dangers.
His previous two children’s books had edged towards a light preachiness that this one lacks.
The tone is not quite as wacky as you would believe, given the names of the children are Wahoo and Tuna. The satire angle is funny, and not overdone. The feel of the humor is pleasantly understated. The characters and setting are interesting. ...more
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, 3 stars This novel is a little bit like the Westing Game, because a diverse group of people (kids, in this instan Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, 3 stars This novel is a little bit like the Westing Game, because a diverse group of people (kids, in this instance) race around putting together clues and trying to solve puzzles. Mostly, though, it reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Like Charlie, an eccentric, wealthy, creative genius builds a large installation (a library in this instance – the world’s greatest library) and invites a group of children to discover its secrets. This book, though, is far more soft-hearted than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for here, the kids aren’t actually in any real danger at all. It’s a very genial book.
What I enjoyed most, though, was the genuine, sincere, and passionate appreciation the author shows for things like books, board games, video games, books, game shows, museums, trivia, libraries, and especially books. The novel is peppered with references to old favorites and every time I recognized one it was like a little pat on the back. As such, it was a warmly affectionate, and very pleasant read. ...more
**spoiler alert** Well… that was… bleak. The tone was so curiously hopeless for a children’s book. Even if some of the tragedy was lifted in the very**spoiler alert** Well… that was… bleak. The tone was so curiously hopeless for a children’s book. Even if some of the tragedy was lifted in the very last moments, there was so much previous bleakness accumulated that it felt… almost wrong. The tragedies had piled on one atop another, like a snowball rolling downhill, gathering speed and heft. When the calamities suddenly stopped (and a few reversed) it was weird. Not tacked on exactly. More like a sudden void in the story.
The good news is that characters, setting, and even the plot points themselves feel realistic and authentic. It’s well written and interesting and likely historically accurate. But that tone…
Here is a list of bad that 13-year-old Clem goes through over the course of the novel: #1 He lives in a mining town in the Ozarks during the 1920s, rife with poverty. #2 His Pap forces him to quit his beloved school early to become a miner, which he hates. #3 His beloved little sister has epilepsy, his grandfather has tuberculosis, and they need the money for doctors. #4 He finds a beautiful crystal in the mine and Pap smashes it to teach him not to dream. #5 His beloved little sister dies. #6 His father is injured in the mine, leaving Clem as the sole wage-earner in the family. #7 A tornado destroys the town. #8 His beloved dog dies in the tornado. #9 His best friend (a ragged girl disfigured by her drunken father) dies in the tornado. #10 His other friend survives the tornado only to die in a fire a day later.
Some of the misfortune is pulled back on, in the last few pages, but, oh dear, really? I mean, this is full on “My Graves” style bleak (and if you get that reference, you deserve a cookie!). Realistic, probably. Well-written, yes. From the heart - definitely. Recommended… I suppose so, as long as you understand what you are getting into. ...more
I have avoided Where the Red Fern Grows for a long, long time - ever since, as a child, I caught the last half of the movie-version on TV. The impressI have avoided Where the Red Fern Grows for a long, long time - ever since, as a child, I caught the last half of the movie-version on TV. The impression formed that day, stronger than steel, was that this was a terrible tragedy of a story, the saddest, most infuriatingly unfairest thing that ever was. Since then, eyes sliding over its title, my brain would go “No! Sad, bad book. No.” So I never read it.
But now I am all grown-up AND I know how it ends. I can prepare myself: take a deep breath, and don’t get too attached to those dogs. Even so, a terrible sense of unease enveloped me as I cracked the cover.
I ended up really liking this book. It was sweet; it was touching; it was warm-hearted and hopeful, in spite of the sadness. I did find it a bit off-putting that sweet young Billy gets so much joy out of killing raccoons with an axe. Different cultures, different values. I need to try not to be so judgmental.
Still, it is probably a good thing that I avoided it until I was old enough. ...more