One of my favorite books of all time, the characters are fascinating and three-dimensional, the puzzle is engrossing and clever and the book is both f...moreOne of my favorite books of all time, the characters are fascinating and three-dimensional, the puzzle is engrossing and clever and the book is both funny and touching. It deserves every award it won.
April 2008 Selection for Book Club - read previously several times.(less)
Grandma Dowdel and Mary Alice are such great characters and watching Mary Alice become more and more like her grandmother as the book progresses is a...moreGrandma Dowdel and Mary Alice are such great characters and watching Mary Alice become more and more like her grandmother as the book progresses is a hoot. Great curricular connections are available via the historical aspects of the story as well as the culinary aspects.
Listened to Listening Library CD edition narrated by Lois Smith. Previously read in April 2003 for COTC Book Club(less)
Dust. It’s 1934 in Oklahoma and dust is everywhere. Billie Jo can’t escape it. Dust is out in the fields killing the crops. Dust is in the house cover...moreDust. It’s 1934 in Oklahoma and dust is everywhere. Billie Jo can’t escape it. Dust is out in the fields killing the crops. Dust is in the house covering the floors, covering the table, covering the piano. Dust is in the food; regular milk looks like chocolate milk, everything seems to have pepper on it, but it’s not pepper, it’s dust. And ever since the accident that took so much away from Billie Jo, the dust is inside her too. All she wants is out. Out of the dust. Maybe the poems that she writes will help, but how can you escape something inside you? Using free-verse poetry, Karen Hesse tells the unforgettable story of two years in Billie Jo’s life and how she finds her way out of the dust.
This was the June 2009 selection for my 3rd-5th grade book club and while the kids enjoyed it, most of them didn't understand any of the nuances. I think they're just not ready yet for seeing the layers underneath what's said - they're still very literal taking what's on the page at its word. I think 5th grade is probably the youngest this should go in general now that I've read it. Hesse's depiction of Billie Jo's troubles is powerful and moving, but I always struggle with the poetic form for narrative stories. Perhaps if I had the time to read them aloud it would be different.
Wow - I did not remember this book at all. I liked it a lot, but I think it's not dating particularly well. I'm not sure if today's children will be a...moreWow - I did not remember this book at all. I liked it a lot, but I think it's not dating particularly well. I'm not sure if today's children will be able to suspend their disbelief enough when Amber Alerts are a regular occurance and the amount of money that Claudia and Jamie have wouldn't last them more than a day. I don't know if kids will know what an Automat is among other things, which is a shame because there's a very meaty story that could be obscured by the superficial outdated details. Claudia's search for meaning in her life will resonate particularly well with upper grade school and junior high students who are just beginning to understand the larger world around them, while children just a little younger will love the adventure and mystery aspects even if they don't understand the emotional landscape. This is also going to appeal more to those who have been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although familiarity with a similar musuem near their own home may work as well.
For the most part the narration was quite good - Miner interpreted the conversations between Claudia and Jamie with just the right sibling feeling, but I don't know any grade school boys who sound like the voice Miner picked for Jamie. The inflection and cadences, sure, but the actual squeaky, precious sounding voice, no. However, I'm not sure I could imagine any adult woman having exact success in attempting to replicate a grade school boys' voice - it's certainly not an easy job and after the first few chapters, I got used to it and barely noticed. Listened to Listening Library CD edition narrated by Jan Miner. Previously read as a child.(less)
I thought L'Engle's reading was fine, but not great and in some parts annoying. The special effects for Mrs. Which's voice were particularly grating a...moreI thought L'Engle's reading was fine, but not great and in some parts annoying. The special effects for Mrs. Which's voice were particularly grating and I felt Meg came off as much shriller that I had always imagined. The story itself remains as powerful as ever, although it's trippier than I remembered - honestly I'm amazed I understood a lot of it when I was younger. I know adults tend to underestimate children's ability to understand complex topics, but apparently, I even underestimate myself as a child. Listened to the Listening Library Playaway edition narrated by Madeleine L'Engle. Previously read many times.(less)
Even though I had read this book before, I couldn't wait to get back in the car to rediscover how each of the characters would be linked to the others...moreEven though I had read this book before, I couldn't wait to get back in the car to rediscover how each of the characters would be linked to the others. Four exceptional students end up in Mrs. Olinski's sixth grade class - not just exceptional for their varied talents, but for the kindness of their hearts. The story addresses so many issues (divorce, sibling rivalry, bullying, discrimination) but with the lightest of touches.
Listened to Listening Library CD edition read by six different narrators: Rick Adamson, L. J. Ganser, Agnes Hermann, Aasif Mandvi, Barbara Rosenblat, and Jeff Woodman. Previously read.
Just a note: I participated in Academic Bowl in junior high and high school and that's likely to have influenced my feelings about this book.(less)
**spoiler alert** I liked that there were no particularly easy answers here, that Gaiman trusted his young audience to handle things like Scarlett bei...more**spoiler alert** I liked that there were no particularly easy answers here, that Gaiman trusted his young audience to handle things like Scarlett being frightened off and the death of Miss Lupescu. As usual with Gaiman, he's done such a good job building his world that it's easy to imagine further stories (not even necessarily about Bod) being set there. The fact that each chapter works as a standalone story makes this an excellent option for reading aloud to older kids. (less)
Brat, Dung Beetle, or Alyce - whichever name our heroine goes by, she is full of pluck and intelligence - two qualities she gravely needs to survive a...moreBrat, Dung Beetle, or Alyce - whichever name our heroine goes by, she is full of pluck and intelligence - two qualities she gravely needs to survive as an orphan in the Middle Ages. It is Jane Sharp, the village midwife, who plucks Alyce from the dung heap and gives her shelter and sustenance, though no kindness, for her hard work. Slowly, Alyce begins to learn about the world around her and the work of a midwife, though she remains convinced of her own stupidity. Never sure, never confident, Alyce slowly works to find what she most wants - "a place in this world."
Cushman does historical fiction with strong female characters better than almost anyone else. The Midwife's Apprentice is remarkable because, despite its short length, Cushman manages to create a character so imperfect and yet so appealing, that the reader will unreservedly root for her to thrive. Cushman pays no less attention to the setting which is full of lush historical details that make this an ideal companion for units on the Middle Ages. The obstacles that Alyce faces, both within herself and in her world would make for great discussion as well.
Listened to the Recorded Books CD edition narrated by Jenny Sterlin. Sterlin handles the medieval language with assurance and a slight accent that never distracts from the story. Previously read.(less)
Listened to Recorded Books CD edition narrated by Roslyn Alexander. I'm currently listening to The Blue Sword and the two books oddly enough have diff...moreListened to Recorded Books CD edition narrated by Roslyn Alexander. I'm currently listening to The Blue Sword and the two books oddly enough have different narrators, complete with different pronunciations of some of the words created just for this world, despite being published by the same company. So far I prefer the story of The Blue Sword just slightly with no preference between the narrators beyond that I wish things were pronounced the same. Previously read.(less)
Meh. It's not a good sign when I'm thinking that I can run a war better than you can. I did like getting the alternate viewpoints for the first time i...moreMeh. It's not a good sign when I'm thinking that I can run a war better than you can. I did like getting the alternate viewpoints for the first time instead of just living in Taran's head, but I need a little more leavening in my fantasy. This was entirely too earnest for me.
Listening to Listening Library audio narrated by James Langton. Previously read for Children's Lit course Spring 2007.(less)
I enjoyed the tales that Finger collected, but I would have been more comfortable with more formal source notes as a supplement to Finger's occasional...moreI enjoyed the tales that Finger collected, but I would have been more comfortable with more formal source notes as a supplement to Finger's occasional brief explanations that would open a tale explaining how he came across it. I know this was published before source notes were a standard practice, but it really does muddy the waters as to what parts really happened to the author and what he created for the purpose of the tale. I also thought the tales could have been better organized within the book - the trio of tales about the three giants was split up and I didn't understand why at all. This could be used as a source for storytellers looking for multicultural tales, but I think most kids won't be interested in reading it anymore. The only audiences I see are kids who are obsessed with fairy tales and folktales (read all of Andrew Lang's stuff and want more like it, for example) or those obsessed with the Newbery.(less)