I think I checked it out from the library when I was in middle school because I thought it was a crazy title and had to s...moreOh my gosh I LOVE THIS BOOK!
I think I checked it out from the library when I was in middle school because I thought it was a crazy title and had to see what the story was like. I proceeded to read it every day before we had to return it.
This story is one of the most imaginative, crazy, and fun children's books I've ever read. It still surprises me that it never won a award, which just goes to show that awards aren't everything. This is a must read for any child and any parent as well.
I love how the illustrations are not terribly cartoony but the colors are muted, nearly food colors which add a lot to the story. There is no real main character or anything, instead the idea, the town, and the weather are the characters, the conflict, the plot...everything in this book.
If by some strange happenstance you have yet to read this book, go and check it out of the library right now.
It has been years since I read this, so this will be short. I really loved it, mostly because I really love Tomie dePaola's work. His drawing style is...moreIt has been years since I read this, so this will be short. I really loved it, mostly because I really love Tomie dePaola's work. His drawing style is very unique, instantly recognizable, and really good. I personally prefer some of his other work but this is a really good story with the pictures aiding the story rather than working against the text. The two main characters are Strega Nona, a good witch ('are you a good witch or a bad witch?'), and Big Anthony, a local town's person and her assistant. This is one of those stories where the smart, knowledgeable person tells the person left behind not to do something because something bad would happen. Three guesses as to what happens and the first two don't count. As this is a kid's book, want to bet it all comes out right in the end?(less)
*The Gush* I can't state enough how much I love this book. This book and the sequel were some of the few books I ever bought for my...more*5 + infinity Stars*
*The Gush* I can't state enough how much I love this book. This book and the sequel were some of the few books I ever bought for myself during my childhood that weren't either at Walmart or at a used bookstore (if the book is in perfect condition, isn't always better to get more for money?). I have long loved dinosaurs and love to see the different ways fiction has humans and these amazing creatures interact with each other. At one end of the spectrum is Jurassic Park and the other end...this book. Humans and dinosaurs living together, working together, and building a world together is fantastical...and never so realistically made to appear normal as here. The books this, in a large part, to the beautiful drawings that appear on every page. They are so detailed, so longingly rendered, that one at times does not need words to describe how this mythical world works. But, while a picture may be worth a thousand words, the right words can make all the difference to a viewer's understanding. Gurney utilizes this quite well with the use of the main character's POV. We enter the world of Dinotopia through the eyes of a man coming to it from the outside, with no idea of what is to come. We discover the realities of this world beside him as he slowly leaves the role of outsider so that the reader too may come to feel a part of this world. Some have stated it reads like a travelogue. While it is set up in this light, it not only fits in with the narrative of the story, but it allows the reader to feel as if they, with Arthur Denison, are explorers of a strange realm. The addition of his teenage son further adds to the reader's understanding by connecting with the younger ages of potential readers and watching someone grow into an adult in a society very different from our own. While perfectly fine for a middle school aged child and above, this book can not be truly enjoyed except by an adult. Amazingly enough, James Gurney has created a picture book about dinosaurs for adults-and done it perfectly.
*The Rant* Not long enough (but there's a sequel!).
*Conclusion* Read this book. If you haven't tried it already, got directly to your local library and check it out. If you or a child in your family loves dinosaurs, read this book. If you love graphic novels or picture books, read this book. If you are an art student-why haven't you found this book yet?(less)
*The Gush* As I stated in my review of the first book in this series, this was one of the major series of my childhood. I read the first book...more*5+ Stars*
*The Gush* As I stated in my review of the first book in this series, this was one of the major series of my childhood. I read the first book a dozen times over...and then the sequel was published. I bought it basically as soon as it came out and have treasured it ever since. I was so excited that another whole book with beautiful paintings and a great story would add to my knowledge of such a strange and intriguing place, and it does not disappoint. The World Beneath tells of the further adventures of Arthur and Will Denison in their new home. While Will's destiny takes him to the sky as a Skybax rider, Arthur's takes him to the earth or rather below it as he travels the forgotten lands of the World Beneath. This time he takes more than just Bix, his protoceratop friend and translator, with Lee Crabb and a new character traveling with him. Both father and son make new discoveries, rediscover old ones, and continue to grow as people and citzens of Dinotopia.
Characters: Many of our old friends are here, from Bix and Nallab the librarian, to Brokenhorn and of course our two main characters. However, there are plenty of new ones as well. Oriana, the beautiful musician becomes an important member of Arthur's team not to mention important to him personally. New dinosaurs abound from Stubbs, a nephew or some such to Brokenhorn, to Stinktooth-a king among kings. While some are more developed than others because of the way the story develops, all are given their time in the sun, not to mention under the artist's brush.
Plot: No longer are we strangers discovering a new and different world. Right away we are welcomed back in with open arms as if we are old friends recently returned for a visit. Will continues to learn as an apprentice Skybax rider while his father has grown well known for his scientific explorations and is beginning a new one back to the World Beneath. Bix of course will go with him, and Crabb unexpectedly shows up with the offer of a submersible. Oriana completes the group with the arrival of half of a key needs to open doors which will allow them further into that hidden land than anyone has gone in ages. Most of the book is their story with the wonders, dangers, and history they uncover. At times the story swings away to check in with Will as he flies decoy for a caravan through the Rainy Basin. The two stories meet in the middle and travel until the climax with a chase across Dinotopia...with some unusual allies.
Writing/Illustrations: Both as wonderful and as detailed as the last. There are some very memorable illustrations in this one, not to mention more details - including a map of Waterfall City. I always look at that for several minutes. The characters are very well treated and the story flows very well. A sequel worthy of its predecessor.
*The Rant* Again, little to say here. My one complaint when it first came out was that it wasn't like the first. Well, duh. Since than, I have come to realize why that is and the reason that strengthens this book, not weakens it. The first book was an introduction, not just for the characters but for the reader as well. We in essence traveled the land with the Denisons and discovered the fascinating land along side them. However, this is the sequel. We are no longer strangers to Dinotopia but old friends come to visit again. So we no longer need a travel guide or diary to walk us through but merely be met with open arms and pointed in the right direction. This is what the sequel does and it does it quite well. We see both the familiar and the new, as any good visit to a previous spot should have and we met new friends as well as old, again as it should be. So my rant turns into not much of one, only a bit of advice. This is not the first book, it doesn't have to be. This frees the book and allows it to take us deeper into this fantastical land, in this case literally.
*Conclusion* If you liked the first book, read this one as soon as you can! If you haven't read the first one yet, put this one down and go read that one first. Then come back and enjoy a second visit.(less)
*The Gush* Wow. I had looked into the book a number of times but too many times of being burned stayed my hand. The idea sounded too good to b...more*5 Stars*
*The Gush* Wow. I had looked into the book a number of times but too many times of being burned stayed my hand. The idea sounded too good to be true and my experience tends to it either being too good to be true or seeing a wonderful idea mangled by the author. So I keep gazing at it longingly but was unwilling to give it a chance. Until today. I found this book relatively cheap at a used book store and decided to bite the bullet. And how glad I am that I did. This is urban fantasy at its finest with steampunk and historical fiction creatively mixed in for flavor. This is a seamlessly blended book that could have easily turned into a glorified mess. I tip my hat to the author (particularly if I could have one like the one adorning Alexia's head on the cover).
Characters: First one must discuss the protagonist, Alexia Tarabotti. Not only is she a spinster, but Soulless (a preternatural), a strong and opinionated woman, and worse half Italian. ;P Alexia is simply delightful. I was worried at first that the author would have difficulties balancing the emotional symptoms of her state with making her an interesting and sympathetic character but this was handled so perfectly that one hardly even notices going on. Alexia is easy to like, even when behaving so abominably. She is very learned, matching wits not only with the head of the supernatural police (an alpha werewolf) but scientist on the cutting edge of knowledge at the time. She is a modern girl with an appreciation for older values which makes her delightfully shocking without being priggish. The next character would be Lord Maccon, the head of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) and the above mentioned alpha. While of high class, he is a werewolf and worse comes originally from Scotland. They argue constantly (always terribly amusing, even often to themselves) but you quickly see another side to their reactions to each other. Maccon may be rough around the edges, but he is loyal, honorable, and essentially a good man. Alexia's family is ridiculous, causing the reader much needed laughter during tense moments, and Professor Lyall, Maccon's Beta, is wonderfully played off of both his Alpha and Alexia. Lord Akeldama, the vampire we get to know the best in this book, reminds me of a more roguish Percy Blakeney (aka Scarlet Pimpernel) with his intelligence hidden behind a foppish exterior to allow him to slip under radar. Also, I laugh every time he opens his mouth. He is too funny. The baddies are not particularly well developed, but as they serve merely to give form to the idea of a heartless scientist who cares nothing for who they hurt in the name of knowledge, this is somewhat explainable.
Plot: The first half of the book is introduction, not only of the characters but their world around them and the changes of theirs to our own. Things do not truly pick up speed till about half way through the story, when we begin to see a hidden threat seeming to pop up out of the ground. Alexia, even when not actively trying to get involved, seems to continually be made to be involved and has to use her intelligence and her nerve to save more than just herself. The characters fit well into their slightly off-centered historical fiction setting, upholding and subverting ideas and situations that arose in Victorian England. The 'mystery' is not really one but rather a conflict that would naturally arise in the world the author created.
Writing: The writing is quite good in this one. Not only does it read similarly to something written at the time, but her characters sound as if they have walked straight from London's fog and gas lite lamps. Alexia may say things that are shocking and not what a young lady would say, but that is part of her character. The author's descriptions help the reader truly picture the setting, though her attention to Alexia's dresses may not be appreciated by all(I loved it). The story flows well, with no harsh changes of narrative flow and the plot opens up slowly but consistently.
*The Rant* There is little to put here. I wish we had met the baddies early and seen more of their reasons and thoughts (though I believe they will probably be cropping up again in the series). I wish we had learned more about her father (again, I hope that will come later in the series), and I didn't like how little Alexia seemed to know about the world she was unfortunately apart of-though I assume she will learned with us.
*Conclusion* I hate that I waited so long to try this series. This has in a large part restored my faith in what can be written. This is an excellent fantasy series made better with steampunk tendencies. If you like either of those, try this. If you like both, why isn't this yet on your bookshelf?(less)
Heir Apparent - THE book for girl video game lovers! 4 Stars
First let me say, this book is not for everyone. This was written for gamers or maybe pare...moreHeir Apparent - THE book for girl video game lovers! 4 Stars
First let me say, this book is not for everyone. This was written for gamers or maybe parents of gamers, because of the way the story is laid out. A solid example of young adult literature, this is not a coming of age story but rather a character learning and maturing story.Giannine is a 14 year old girl whose absent (and uncaring) father has gifted her a certificate to play at the virtual reality arcade of Rasmussem Enterprises. However, soon after she was hooked up to play their new multi-choice Heir Apparent game, an activist group against video games and fantasy in general breaks into the center and damages equipment. Now, she is trapped in the game unless she can beat the game and the damage has shortened the time she can safely remain in the game. If she doesn't find a way to win soon, she might not make it out of the game at all.
*The Gush* I have read this book at least once a year since I first discovered it at my local library. It's not the best YA book ever, but if you are a gamer, you can't help but love this book. Giannine is a gamer who does not get much of a chance to play, so her skills are less then the best. However, she makes up for this by being a fun, sarcastic character who tries her hardest even before she learns of the real dangers messing up too many times might bring. Her solutions are interesting and perhaps a bit too 'modern' at times, yet her interactions with the characters of the game are fun and will keep you guessing. All of the game's characters are fantasy staples, and are not terribly surprising. Yet, they are all solid and integral parts of the story; some are hilarious to read while others make you mad as they keep standing in the main character's way. This is a fairly easy read, so most readers regardless of skill should be able to follow the story and enjoy it.
*The Rant* While not a problem for me (indeed it is one of my main reasons for liking this story), some people might grow bored with returning to the beginning of the game over and over again. Most gamers will realize that this adds to the immersion of the character playing a game; I myself generally have to restart new games multiple times. While fun for most gamers, some readers might find this repetitive and boring.
*Conclusion* If you love playing games, fantasy, and/or YA Literature I would give this book a shot. A solid story in a genre made up of a lot of tripe.(less)
Yes, ok. I know that apparently all those books that everyone loves, just don't work for me. This is yet another example.
Let me say (this sounds familiar) that I love Maurice Sendak's work, particularly In the Night Kitchen. Which is a banned book, actually. So, it is not his work I don't like. It's the story. Even as a child I found it...boring. Yeah, I know but I did. Now, as an adult, I find it worse. The things the boy says and the idea of letting a child run wild like that greatly troubles me. Yes, I know it's fiction but lets be honest-you've seen kids that you've wondered if they spent time on that island. I know I have. I think the idea of the story sets up some very not good implications for children. Whether they figure those out would depend on the child.
So, check out this classic? I'd say not. Check out other Sendak work? Yes. Go now.(less)
I love this book. My grandparents bought it to keep at their house for us and I would read every time we came-winter or summer...more*Incomplete review-redo*
I love this book. My grandparents bought it to keep at their house for us and I would read every time we came-winter or summer, made no difference. The illustrations are breathtaking and the words meld and work with the pictures, not distract from them. A must for any family with a child who celebrates what Christmas should be about to most people.(less)