Almost a short story in length. Lyrical story of chance and serendipity between a yellow plastic bag and various humans. Connection, conservation and...moreAlmost a short story in length. Lyrical story of chance and serendipity between a yellow plastic bag and various humans. Connection, conservation and neglect are all explored in this drifting tale. Let's recycle!(less)
Voice, setting, characters and intrigue are vivid from page one. The ending will hit you between the eyes and is beautifully set up. Terrific writing...moreVoice, setting, characters and intrigue are vivid from page one. The ending will hit you between the eyes and is beautifully set up. Terrific writing - a timeless, enduring YA novel.(less)
Adorable picture book based on a true story of an elephant seal who wandered from the sea up the River Avon to the city of Christchurch in New Zealand...moreAdorable picture book based on a true story of an elephant seal who wandered from the sea up the River Avon to the city of Christchurch in New Zealand. Despite several attempts by the city to rehome 'Elizabeth' among her own kind in salt water, this large 200 pound seal kept returning. Delightful illustrations by Brian Floca. I would have liked more back matter.(less)
The best picture book I have read on the civil war. I cried at the end. Stories like this make me wish there were still more publishing wiggle room fo...moreThe best picture book I have read on the civil war. I cried at the end. Stories like this make me wish there were still more publishing wiggle room for lengthier picture books. (less)
Moving memoir for children 8 to adult. I have read much about the CIM and spent time in China so I loved especially McMullan's scenes from pre WWII Ch...moreMoving memoir for children 8 to adult. I have read much about the CIM and spent time in China so I loved especially McMullan's scenes from pre WWII China. A page of text is mirrored by a full page of exquisite water color illustration and this layout choice weaves a fine marriage of text and art. The story begins in a privileged white household in the China of the 1930's. McMullan has to leave with his mother after the Japanese invade. He spends time in different schools in his mother's native Canada, a boarding school in India, and faces, as the war is ending, the death of his father who served with the British Army in China.
The authorial voice is honest, gentle, not manipulative but pulsing with the perceptions and pain of a young un-athletic white boy and his journey with and without his mother and her addictions across Northern America and Asia during the war. The artwork zooms in on the young child's details and each panel needs time to digest. Each scene leaves a vivid impact with the reader.
The book draws on a focused and fascinating moment in this unusual childhood and is the sort of book I would buy often as a gift or keep on my coffee table for guests to browse.(less)
If you read what Mr. Lumpkin wrote in the newspaper about my adventure at the top of the world, you only got half the story. I don’t know...moreFirst Lines:
If you read what Mr. Lumpkin wrote in the newspaper about my adventure at the top of the world, you only got half the story. I don’t know why but he left out some of the best parts like how I got chased all over the place, and shot at, and knocked out, and almost eaten.
Eleven-year old Orion Poe lives on the Maine coast with his crusty grampa. The tale begins the night of an ornery hurricane when Orion saves the life of a wounded storm survivor. After outwitting some strangers from a tall ship bent on destroying the man Orion has just saved, an old dispatch box ends up in Orion’s possession, containing a mysterious map of one Sir John Franklin, a nineteenth century Arctic Explorer whose expedition ships disappeared in 1847 in the Canadian Arctic (historical fact). This all sets the scene for Orion finding himself shortly thereafter on a bus from Bangor to Halifax, where he boards the Sea Leopard on a scientific expedition led by Professor Meriweather, an old friend of Grampa’s, to discover what truly happened to the lost explorer Franklin.
The novel’s main ACTION takes place on a remote island within the Arctic Circle, where the explorers discover the hidden community of New London, which has been in existence for about 150 years. The world most definitely has an anachronistic quasi-Victorian alternate history feel, from the language to the names and the structure of the society. It is a world run by a stereotypical bad guy who gets his comeuppance at the end and inhabited by many endearing larger than life characters such as the good Doctor Little, the Flimps (the King of this urchin gang definitely has a temperate Fagin-feel about him), young Rosie, Peerless the spineless betrayer and the courthouse warden etc.
The thirty-six chapters race with action packed adventure. Orion and his co-explorers face some wild challenges – ice caves, bearwolves, imprisonment, starvation, frozen seas, musket fire, underground rivers, sea battles and more. Be warned, there are a fair amount of dead bodies by the end of the story, from both camps. In this heart-pumping adventure, good inevitably triumphs. And Orion continually finds just the resourceful solution to pull him and others out of their confounded conundrums!
Why I like this Book:
This is a story for those that love the classic adventure story of smuggling, pirates, islands, rebellions, undiscovered regions, forts, spies, feuds, nature at its most brutal and lots of fights; the stuff of old-fashioned adventure yarns. The pacing is terrific and the short chapters with gritty titles (The Threepenny Heist, or How I Almost got eaten) and page-turning plot twists render it an excellent middle grade read. I enjoyed the mix of fantasy and historical speculation and felt Summerhouse did a wonderful job of 19th century Londinian vernacular. The hostility of the ice environment and the possibility of an isolated island community make a great setting for a story laced with troubles, enemies, secrets, bravery, cunning and betrayal. Told in the first person, Orion has a very distinct narrative voice, which carries the story with humor, perception and connectivity between the Maine world and the world discovered by the explorers. Occasionally Orion seems to find clever solutions too readily, but because the conflict is ever-present, the stakes always high, and it seems in keeping with his character and the tone of the tale, this didn’t detract from the story for me.
This is a barnacle-busting, intense adventure story for children who enjoy the thrill of Jules Vernesque explorative journeys! I look forward to any sequels. (less)