Amah (the Storyteller): Stories cannot tell all. The Stonecutter: I disagree. I think stories tell everything.
When the Sea Turned to Silver (2016) by GAmah (the Storyteller): Stories cannot tell all. The Stonecutter: I disagree. I think stories tell everything.
When the Sea Turned to Silver (2016) by Grace Lin was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and I can definitely see why. This is a gorgeous book from the story itself to the beautifully drawn illustrations. Grace Lin uses stories from Chinese folklore and mythology and weaves them into the current narrative about Pinmei, her grandmother Amah, and her friend Yishan.
When a new Emperor known as the Tiger Emperor comes to power he is supposed to make a journey up the mountain where Pinmei and her grandmother live. There he will consult with the spirit of the mountain. But this emperor doesn't make it to the top--perhaps he is too full of pride. Perhaps he is too intent on his all-encompassing plan to surround himself with the largest wall ever. So, the only things he takes with him from the mountain are all of the able-bodied men for slaves to build his wall.
But he also takes Amah, the renowned Storyteller. Now what could an Emperor obsessed with walls want with a Storyteller? When Yishan challenges him and demands that the Emperor leave Amah alone, the Tiger Emperor tells him that he will let Amah go if the boy brings him the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Yishan and Pinmei have many adventures in their quest to find the Stone, most of which mirror or incorporate the many stories that Amah has told them over the years. They also meet many new friends who help them along their journey. Pinmei, who has always been shy, find her own voice to tell the stories that will lead the way and the bravery within to defeat the Tiger Emperor and set her grandmother free.
This book is a beautiful story all on its own--the story of a young girl who finds her own voice and strength as she seeks to help her grandmother. It is also a beautiful blending of folklore and traditions to make a new and absorbing story. Written with great care for language and a luminous style well-suited to the myth and folklore used as a background for this lovely word tapestry. ★★★★ and a half.
The Vanishing Professor by Jack Long is a mystery story filled with word to learn (along the lines of the Richard Scarry books. Mrs. Beaver comes rushThe Vanishing Professor by Jack Long is a mystery story filled with word to learn (along the lines of the Richard Scarry books. Mrs. Beaver comes rushing to the office of private investigators Otter O'Reilly and L. Pinkerton asking them to find her missing husband, Professor Igor Beaver. The Professor is due to receive and award from the mayor, but he has disappeared without a trace from his laboratory at home. O'Reilly and Pinkerton are hot on the trail...following the clues left behind by the professor. The trail takes them through the woods and down by the beach, through an amusement park, and finally to another park before they figure out what happened to the missing inventor. And along the way, kids learn vocabulary words related to the scenes....more
This features some lovely classic illustrations. It tells the story of how beavers working a stream, building their dam, and setting up their lodges cThis features some lovely classic illustrations. It tells the story of how beavers working a stream, building their dam, and setting up their lodges can change the environment--providing a place for all sorts of animals to find food and drink and raise their young. ...more
A young beaver gets separated from his family and is taken in by a family of squirrels. The squirrels treat him as one of their own and think of him aA young beaver gets separated from his family and is taken in by a family of squirrels. The squirrels treat him as one of their own and think of him as another squirrel until it comes time for the parents to show the youngsters how to build a nest for the winter. Little Beaver listens carefully and starts making a huge, round "nest" out of sticks and trees. When one of the young squirrels spot some animals making similar "nests" in the pond nearby, they realize that beaver has found his family. But the beavers and squirrels stay friends and visit often. A sweet little story....more
A book in the Smithsonian Institute Heritage series that gives factual information about the lives and habits of beavers through the story of anotherA book in the Smithsonian Institute Heritage series that gives factual information about the lives and habits of beavers through the story of another beaver that gets separated from his lodge and has to make a home for himself before winter sets in. Very vivid and realistic illustrations make the book very appealing for children....more
Fun in the Sun by Ski Michaels (1986) is the story of Billy Beaver. Billy loves a good, hot sunny day and just wants to go out and play. But none of hFun in the Sun by Ski Michaels (1986) is the story of Billy Beaver. Billy loves a good, hot sunny day and just wants to go out and play. But none of his friends enjoy the heat as much as he does and no one wants to get out of the cool shade...until Billy has the grand idea to build a dam in the brook and create the perfect place to play when it's hot. He makes a place to swim and splash with friends....more
Having been a bit disappointed with Prisoner of the Ant People (CYOA #25). I decide to go back to the book that first introduced me to the series andHaving been a bit disappointed with Prisoner of the Ant People (CYOA #25). I decide to go back to the book that first introduced me to the series and which was always my favorite: The Mystery of Chimney Rock (#5) by Edward Packard. I wanted to see if it still held up nearly 40 years later (has it really been that long?!). I checked this out of the library and fell in love with the idea of choosing my own fate in the stories I was reading. I wound up buying a copy of my very own just to have ('cause that's what I do with books I love) and foisted it upon my son in the hopes that he'd fall in love with them too. So, what's the verdict?
Chimney Rock finds you visiting your cousins, Jane and Michael, in Connecticut. Nearby is a huge stone house with turrets, walled terraces, and a square tower that looks like a chimney. Windows are boarded up and vines and bushes are growing all over. Your cousins tell you that Chimney Rock (for that's the name of the house) is rumored to be cursed and that people who have gone in have never come out. When you scoff at the idea that Mrs. Bigley, the last owner, died and put a spell of some sort on the house so her cat could live there without anyone bothering it, your cousins dare you to go in the house. Your first decision--do you take the dare or not? Depending on your choices you might fall under the curse, lift the curse, become the heir to a fortune, lose a cousin or two along the way, or never be seen again.
Packard maintains his primary story while offering the reader multiple endings--both good and bad. There is a grand feeling of suspense and mystery and, despite being several years older, I found myself wrapped up in the mystery just as much as when I was young. I definitely would recommend this series to young readers looking for a bit of adventure--particularly the earlier offerings. ★★★★★ when I was young and ★★★★★ now.
I recently decided to go back and read one of the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I had collected, but never got around to. Prisoner of the Ant PI recently decided to go back and read one of the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I had collected, but never got around to. Prisoner of the Ant People (#25) by R. A. Montgomery ventures into the science fiction genre. You, the protagonist, are described as a genius who has been brought into the Zondo Quest Group II. The Zondo group are working on a way to defeat the Evil Power Master who is destroying planets one by one. Your computer skills are vital to the group's research. When members of the research team begin disappearing, you and two other members (a robot and a Martian) set out to discover what has happened to them and rescue them if you can. It involves the use of a miniaturization ray and encounters with Ant People.
Okay...so this isn't one of Montgomery's all-time best story lines. After emphasizing what a genius the reader is with computers...computer skills have pretty much zero to do with any of the possible story lines. And the tie-in between the Evil Power Master, the disappearing team members, and the Ant People is flimsy at best when the connection is made at all. Some of the story lines seem to forget that the main point was the Evil Power Master at all. The stories I remember reading, while perhaps not having indepth plots did at least have consistent ones and all of the story lines were tied to the central story. ★★ for a fair outing. The choices are interesting and there are a good number of possible endings even if they don't all tie directly to the Evil Power Master theme.
Beyond the Ice Limit (2016) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is the creepiest book that I have R.I.P. XI Event, so it's fitting that it will be thBeyond the Ice Limit (2016) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is the creepiest book that I have R.I.P. XI Event, so it's fitting that it will be the last book logged for that reading event. The book is the unexpected sequel to Preston & Child's Ice Limit and it takes place five years after the tragic ending of that adventure. In the first story, Eli Glinn, the head of Effective Engineering Solutions, took a team to a remote island off the coast of South America to recover a gigantic meteorite--the largest that had ever been. He was in the employ of New York billionaire Palmer Lloyd who wanted to add the space rock to his collection of unique items.The mission ended in disaster when their ship, the Rolvaag, was attached by a rogue Chilean ship and went down in a vicious storm in the freezing waters and taking its unique cargo to the ocean floor. One hundred and eight crew members perished, and Eli Glinn was left paralyzed. read for Carl's
Now, five years later, Glinn is heading up a mission back to the site of the disaster. Reports he has been given show that the meteorite was much more than just a rock from space--it was a seed. And the thing has sprouted and is growing, reaching up through the watery depths like a giant tree. This time, it's not just a billionaire's rock collection at stake--but the survival of Earth itself. Gideon Crew has been added to the team to give them the benefit of his nuclear expertise, because it looks like the only thing that will take out the newly dubbed Baobab is an atomic blast. It's not as easy as dropping a nuke on the thing though (of course!). The Baobab has extensive roots under the sea floor and they will have to make sure they get all of it the first time.
The creature isn't just a mindless organism out to reproduce itself. It becomes apparent that there is an intelligence driving its actions and the creature isn't going to go down without a fight.
I haven't read a lot of Preston and Child's work (I'm a weenie when it comes to suspense thrillers), but I have to say that every one I've read has been well done and dragged me right in--in spite of myself. Beyond the Ice Limit was no different. And it made no difference that I hadn't read the earlier book. It may have helped fill in some of the backstory, but the authors give enough background information and context clues that this novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. It is an action-packed thriller and it would make a spine-tingling SF/suspense movie. Lots of scientific exploration and speculation and plenty of gruesome alien critter vs. humans action. I'm not going to spoil it--but let's just say I was extremely reluctant to go to sleep after listening to installments of the latter half of this audio novel. It was very interesting to see how the creature modified its attacks as it learned more about the humans--just as our heroes had to modify their reactions. My biggest quibble with the authors is that they killed off two of my favorite characters in the story--a strong female character (the only one we really get to know; and this is no spoiler because she's gone VERY quickly in the book) and a very sympathetic character who also happens to be a book-lover. Overall, another excellent action thriller by Preston and Child.
Beasley's Christmas Party (1909) by Booth Tarkington is a sweet tale of the Midwest. It opens by introducing us to a young man who has recently come tBeasley's Christmas Party (1909) by Booth Tarkington is a sweet tale of the Midwest. It opens by introducing us to a young man who has recently come to Wainwright to work on the Wainwright Morning Despatch as a cub reporter. He has high hopes of interviewing Mr. David Beasley, a well-known and well-respected local politician who may have the governorship in his sights. But Mr. Beasley is a quiet, retiring gentleman who doesn't care much for talking and doesn't interview well. Our reporter hero just happens to live next door to Beasley's residence and begins to notice some odd goings-on. Mr. Beasley talks to people who aren't there and holds athletic contests with invisible foes. What's happened to him--has he quietly gone off his rocker? And then Beasley arranges for a grand gala at his house for Christmas. When his political enemies get wind of it, they are determined to spy on the proceedings and make trouble for him among the townspeople. After all, what kind of man would hold such a gala and not invite any of his good neighbors? They're in for quite a surprise.
This is a very sweet and warmhearted story--just right for the Christmas season (yes, I'm a little early!). There is just a hint of mystery, but the story is primarily a romantic little slice of Midwestern life in the early 20th Century. Nice and short--it is a quick and enjoyable read.
When you are young so many things are difficult to believe, and yet the dullest people will tell you that they are true--such things, for instance, asWhen you are young so many things are difficult to believe, and yet the dullest people will tell you that they are true--such things, for instance, as that the earth goes round the sun, and that it is not flat but round. But the things that seem really likely, like fairy-tales and magic, are, so say the grown-ups, not true at all. Yet they are so easy to believe, especially when you see them happening.
The Enchanted Castle (1907) is a children's fantasy novel by the wonderful E. (Edith) Nesbit. It tells of the summer adventures of a curious family of children who are forced to spend their holiday at Kathleen's boarding school when their cousin (whose school let out first) arrives at their house with a case of the measles. The cousin must be quarantined and the children can't go home for their planned daily outings and fun. Gerald sets out to charm the French schoolmistress into letting the children wander the countryside in search of excitement. Jerry is certain that there must be a cave somewhere that they can play bandits or pirates or...something much more fun than the forced boredom of a schoolroom.
Little do they know that they will stumble upon a secret passage leading to a castle with a new friend, a treasure trove of jewels, a magic ring that can induce invisibility (among other magical side-effects), and a garden full of statues that come alive at night in the moonlight. They also learn that while magic may be exciting and fun, one must always be careful what one wishes for....You just might get it. Of course, in this lovely children's fantasy, all's well that ends well and the magic comes right in the end and they even manage to reunite a pair of lovers who were separated by a stubborn old man. Happy endings all around.
Nesbit is another children's author that I missed when growing up. This is a delightful tale of magic, fantasy, and humor with a healthy dose of adventurous mishaps--just enough to keep one's feet planted firmly in reality. It is easy to see why this novel has stood the test of time as a favorite children's classic.
Midnight in Lonesome Hollow is an entry in the American Girl Mystery series which features Margaret Mildred Kittredge who goes by Kit. Kit is visitingMidnight in Lonesome Hollow is an entry in the American Girl Mystery series which features Margaret Mildred Kittredge who goes by Kit. Kit is visiting her Aunt Millie in the Appalachian area of Kentucky during the Great Depression (1934). She is interested in the folkways of the Appalachian inhabitants she meets and has been keeping a scrapbook of phrases, home remedies, traditions, and other interesting and unfamiliar tidbits. When a college professor comes to stay and study the basket-weaving traditions, Kit is fascinated. And when Professor Lucy Vanderpool is shown Kit's scrapbook, she is impressed and asks Kit if she'd like to take the place of her student assistant who is sick with influenza and couldn't make the trip. The budding young journalist is thrilled at the chance to do some real research and the two set out to interview local basket-weavers.
But somebody is not thrilled with the "outsiders" who have invaded their Hollow. After one successful interview, most of the basket-weavers refuse to meet with the professor and while they are talking with one of the few who agree to meet with them someone wrecks Professor Vanderpool's photo plates and ruins the pictures she planned to use in her book. Who would be mean enough to damage the equipment? Kit has her suspicions and isn't afraid to go out into the Hollow at night to find out if she's right.
As one might expect with a middle-grade mystery, this one isn't too complicated and there is very little violence (except to inanimate objects). There is a very real problem that drives the culprit to damage equipment and disrupt the research and it gives Kit a chance to learn a few lessons about the best way to help people. The focus of the book is really on the Appalachian people and the area during depression. Readers learn a great deal about folk traditions and also about the hardships brought about by depression and pull-out of several coal mining companies which severely affected so many families. It didn't just mean a loss of jobs, but it also shut down many schools (which were sponsored by the mining companies), limiting the educational opportunities for many children. The book also highlights the way so many outsiders insulted the Appalachian people by considering their folk traditions backward or "quaint." A very nice historical novel for young people.
This was most definitely not my kind of book. The premise sounded very exciting when I was offered the review copy, but I could not get into the authoThis was most definitely not my kind of book. The premise sounded very exciting when I was offered the review copy, but I could not get into the author's style of story-telling. The shifting point-of-view--from first person for Serena to an odd not-quite first person for her husband (he talks about himself in the third person quite a bit) to a weird omniscient point of view for other characters--just did not work for me. There is also a great deal of present tense going on and I'm not a big fan of that either. For me--this is a story that took place in the past, I'd prefer that the story-telling reflect that throughout the book. I realize these are personal preferences--which is why I am offering no formal review.
I tried skimming so I could have a real sense of the story and characters, but that didn't help me either. So--no real review and no star count.
This is a book I received free from Jocelyn Kelley of Kelley& Hall book publicity for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review. I wish that I could give it my usual thorough examination....more
The Angel Doll by by Jerry Bledsoe is a Christmas story set in the early 1950s in Thomasville, North Carolina. Sandy Black is a four year old girl whoThe Angel Doll by by Jerry Bledsoe is a Christmas story set in the early 1950s in Thomasville, North Carolina. Sandy Black is a four year old girl who is the victim of poverty in the small, furniture-manufacturing town...and a victim of the polio epidemic. She loves her older brother, Whitey, and all things angelic--especially a book called The Littlest Angel. Then, right before Christmas, she makes it known that she wants an angel doll for her present. Whitey and his best friend--both ten years old--set out on a mission to get Sandy her doll. The only problem? There are no angel dolls to be had in Thomasville. The boys find the perfect doll and ask the mother of one of their friends if she can help transform an ordinary doll into an angel for Sandy. Through their quest the boys learn the value of friendship and the power of love.
This is a moving story that not only tells of the love and sacrifices of two boys during one Christmas, but also shows how the events that year affected them and changed how they would live their lives. While the book is tinged with sadness, it is still a very touching and heartfelt Christmas story.
My first review for the Christmas Spirit Challenge is going to be a mini-review for a mini book. Michelle, our lovely hostess, sent me Paul Auster's AMy first review for the Christmas Spirit Challenge is going to be a mini-review for a mini book. Michelle, our lovely hostess, sent me Paul Auster's Auggie Wren's Christmas Story as part of my prize package for a previous year's challenge. It is a slim volume with a lovely Christmas fable--without Santa or reindeer or snowmen or Christmas trees. The most holiday-type thing in the story is a very unconventional Christmas dinner. How can this be?
It is a tale about a writer who has been asked by The New York Times to write a Christmas story to be featured on Christmas morning. But he doesn't want to write one of those mushy, gushy, sentimental stories that serve as "wishfulfillment dreams, fairy tales for adults." He wants an unsentimental Christmas story even though he knows it is "a contradiction in terms, an impossibility, an out-and-out conundrum. One might as just as well try to imagine a racehorse without legs, or a sparrow without wings." So, the next time he ventures into his favorite cigar store, he tells his friend Auggie Wren his troubles. Auggie tells him that if he'll buy him lunch, he'll tell him the best Christmas story ever. The best because it's absolutely true.
This is Auggie's story about a shoplifter, a lost wallet, a blind grandmother, and that unconventional Christmas dinner that I mentioned above. It is a fable that encourages us to question whether a lie can ever serve as the truth and who is the giver and who is the taker. Auggie learns a little something about himself and what Christmas might really mean. ★★★★ for a surprisingly lovely unconventional Christmas story.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900) is an American children's classic. I could just stop right there. Those who have never read the novThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900) is an American children's classic. I could just stop right there. Those who have never read the novel are familiar with the basics of the story thanks to the 1939 MGM technicolor musical comedy-drama extravaganza. For years (before VHS, DVD, and other forms of media made it available any time), the film was a fall TV standard that children grew up watching every year. I'm sure that most people are unable to think of the story without conjuring up Judy Garland and the song "Over the Rainbow. For this reason, I'm not going to recap the basic story line. I'm just going to write about my perceptions of the book.
Of course, as is usual when film makers turn a beloved book into a visual piece, there are many differences between the written work and the filmed version. Not the least of these is the fact that in the novel, Dorothy's experiences in Oz are real. She really does travel from her home in Kansas to that magical land by means of the cyclone. The film turns this journey into nothing more than dream--a dream brought about by her injury during the cyclone. Apparently, fantasy films had not been doing well at the box office in the 1930s and the studio felt that the adventures would be better received if it was made clear to the audience that these things Were Just Pretend.
A great many of Dorothy's adventures are also cut from the film version. There are fewer obstacles to overcome--no great gorge to leap over, no rushing river to cross. There is no land of Dainty China figures, no Hammerheads, no giant spider creature for the Lion to defeat. The flying monkeys are not controlled by a magic crown and Dorothy never needs them to aid her in reaching Glinda the Good Witch. Glinda simply watches over Dorothy and her friends--appearing when she is most needed.
The book is very much a quest story and re-emphasizes this with every challenge the group meets. It also makes much of the value of friendship and cooperation. Dorothy never would have made it home to Kansas if she hadn't found and become friends with the Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion because there were certain challenges that could only be overcome with the talents of a particular character. In turn, none of these would have gained their heart, brains, and courage without Dorothy and their adventures together. The film does have these elements, but the condensed version onscreen loses some of the effect of the novel.
The book is a wonderful fantasy adventure for children and adults alike. I am very glad that I have finally read the classic behind the film that I loved as a child. ★★★★ and a half.