I just finished this book in one great gulp over the last 24 hours (in between the minding of my three children, two nieces, making a batch of cookies...moreI just finished this book in one great gulp over the last 24 hours (in between the minding of my three children, two nieces, making a batch of cookies and some home made pizza etc etc). It was fantastic. McKinley is a master of fantasy writing - the characters never felt forced, I believed in her magic and the world she created for me. Harry is an exceptional heroine - I always love following the path of a predestined heroine, watching them learn and grow into their strengths. She was an interesting mix of characteristics from the two worlds she bridged between and the climax (don't want to spoil it for you) seemed to fit her ability to fill in the spaces between two diverse peoples. I was glad I had already read The Hero and the Crown, so the history of this world was familiar territory to me.
The romance was sufficient to keep it interesting - I always need a little romance in my fantasy books. The battle scenes were engaging and purposeful but not too long (the battle scenes are probably my least favorite part) and the ending gave me enough after-story that I didn't feel shut out or dying to know more. It left me completely full and thrilled with the ride.(less)
I think my nearly eight year old daughter best summed up the charm of this short, readable book, "What if there are Littles living in OUR walls??" Whe...moreI think my nearly eight year old daughter best summed up the charm of this short, readable book, "What if there are Littles living in OUR walls??" When mice are your biggest enemies and your weapons are swords made of sewing needles, things can get pretty exciting - on a small scale, of course. My children loved this read aloud and begged for me every night. It was nostalgic for me, since I was a huge fan of the movie when I was a kid.
I really liked this book about a Japanese-American mother and her two children who leave their home to go to an internment camp during World War II (t...moreI really liked this book about a Japanese-American mother and her two children who leave their home to go to an internment camp during World War II (the father was taken from their home on the night of Pearl Harbor). We never learn their names throughout the book - a fitting metaphor for that "unnamed but-we-know-what-you-look-like enemy" that terrifies us so much that sometimes we do crazy things - like take everyone of a certain nationality and lock them up in barracks in Utah for three years. The sparse narration and elegant detail make this book a quick and engaging read. You get some sense for how endless and confusing life must have been for inmates of these American internment camps - as well as how hard it would be to come home to a place that is no longer home, once the war is over. Hard not only because of how many of their material possessions they lost, but their lost sense of space, their lost place in a community, and the mental anguish that, for some people, they may never overcome.
The only thing that felt forced in this book to me was the very end, the last few pages called "The Confession." The author opens up the idea of "the enemy among us" and writes the confession of an alleged "enemy alien." It felt a bit over the top and too in-my-face (very unlike the rest of the book). It's still worth reading though.(less)
This book flows like the honey that Dalal's uncle harvests from his beehives. We are constantly moving from one flat in her apartment building to anot...moreThis book flows like the honey that Dalal's uncle harvests from his beehives. We are constantly moving from one flat in her apartment building to another: the flat of the blind photojournalist or the nurse, the flat of the fortune teller/mystic healer or the male hairdresser. As we meet these people we slowly gain an appreciation of life in Iraq between the Gulf War and the current occupation. The cities I saw lit up by missiles on my television as a teen now are full of people like me - with a longing for the "days of plenty" when food and medical were readily available. Their ancient civilization has been under fire for decades while the citizens of Iraq still remaining in their country have to make a life out of what's left.
Although beautifully written, Absent is not a happy book. The ways that people behaved in order to survive in that society was sometimes upsetting. Characters you came to know and love turn out to be something completely different - how hard if you truly had to live in fear of being betrayed to a government that didn't actually care for your welfare. Occasionally though, you would see the whole apartment community rally around one of the characters in need, and that also had a real ring of truth. I suppose where ever there is deprivation and war, you will find both the exceptionally evil and duplicitous as well as the courageous and resourceful.
The beauty of this book is the glimpse it gives us. I like how Saad (the effeminate hairdresser) says, "We have to dream of the things that we're entitled to hope for." Like peace.(less)
This book is truly a work of art. Atangan's art is amazing - nearly every frame could be an 18th century Japanese woodblock print. The style of his dr...moreThis book is truly a work of art. Atangan's art is amazing - nearly every frame could be an 18th century Japanese woodblock print. The style of his drawings transports you to ancient Japan where you first follow the story of a fisherman's quest to save his wife (whom he found inside the yellow jar of the title) from a demon warrior. The second story is of a gardener who mistakes two beautiful flowers for weeds and learns his lesson in the end.
I liked the stories themselves because they are familiar - yet with a definite eastern flavor. The farmer, while plain at first, becomes a hero in the end. The gardener doesn't see what's under his nose. You still get the same messages about honesty and faithfulness, courage and rewards. I suppose by changing a few words or characters they could be any Disney story - but the artwork and those subtle variations make for a more flavorful book. The writing wasn't particularly thrilling (a bit too dry for younger readers, I'd say) but the stories were well told. In the end, though, it was the author's mastery of Japanese style that made this book a winner for me.
A fine taste of Japanese folklore and artwork. Left me wanting more.(less)
Ha! This book is a GEM. Moxy spends this entire book avoiding her summer reading assignment (due tomorrow) of Stuart Little. The adventures and mayhem...moreHa! This book is a GEM. Moxy spends this entire book avoiding her summer reading assignment (due tomorrow) of Stuart Little. The adventures and mayhem! The definitions of useful words and the photographs of the action! Moxy is a fantastic, quirky character and the short chapters made the read a clever one. Great fun. (less)
Very clever idea. All of the fairy tale characters we've ever read about are real and are living their lives in a sleepy town in the Northeast. When D...moreVery clever idea. All of the fairy tale characters we've ever read about are real and are living their lives in a sleepy town in the Northeast. When Daphne and Sabrina's parents go missing, they end up in this town with the grandma they didn't know existed. Sabrina and Daphne come to find that their family is responsible for helping to keep the peace among all those creatures as well as to solve the mysteries that come up among them, with the help of some interesting and familiar friends along the way.
I read this one out loud to my kids, and while it seemed a bit long and occasionally wordy to me, my children hung on every word. They loved when a new "Everafter" would show up and they'd yell out the character's fairytale persona. The plot was fairly intricate (I had to explain a few things to my children, especially the idea of "revolutionaries") which I appreciated and it was so fun for me when (**spoiler coming up**) my 5 1/2 year old son looked at me with huge eyes and said "MOM, I think that JACK is on the GIANT'S SIDE!!"
The only thing that ended up being a problem was the fact that the parent's disappearance is not resolved in this book (it's the first of a series). My eight year old daughter started CRYING - serious tears - when she realized the story was over and we still didn't know where the parents were. We had to go straight to the library website and reserve another book about these adventurous sisters.
A book that kept the interest of a thirty year old, an eight year old and a 5 1/2 year old. Not too bad :) (less)
I think the main reason this book gets five stars is thus: it made me laugh, cry, ache, think, and absolutely believe it. Maybe it's because I come fr...moreI think the main reason this book gets five stars is thus: it made me laugh, cry, ache, think, and absolutely believe it. Maybe it's because I come from a family of eight that I can relate to the tension and love, discord and harmony that are a big family. The characters are so real and flawed that as they grow up, I really found myself cheering them on as they changed their lives and saw their family as something worth fighting for.(less)
Although I truly feel like this book has changed my way of thinking, I cannot give it four stars because it was incredibly difficult for me to get thr...moreAlthough I truly feel like this book has changed my way of thinking, I cannot give it four stars because it was incredibly difficult for me to get through. I appreciated so many of his ideas and I felt like he has very important things to say - he just was not concise enough for me. Several of the essays seemed to be about the same things and even within essays I sometimes felt like he was talking in circles. That said, however, some of these essays are truly astounding. They can change your outlook and make you want to take action about the way we treat our earth, eat our food and participate in our culture's economy. Worth reading.(less)