I really wanted to like this book -- it had all the elements of a story I like, but they were placed together so predictably. Now granted, I am not th...moreI really wanted to like this book -- it had all the elements of a story I like, but they were placed together so predictably. Now granted, I am not the target audience, but I like to give kids a little more credit than this. There was extremely obvious foreshadowing in some parts, and then out-of-the-blue new facts in others (that of course you could predict were somehow going to tie together, but they were still disjointed at the time introduced).
The ending was actually surprisingly well plotted and complex. I just wish Mr. Colfer could have put a bit more of that cleverness throughout the book.
I do believe he has it in him, so for a first foray into the Land of Stories (it's obvious he is setting up for others to come), it was decent. I'd definitely read subsequent books.
As for the theme, I didn't care for the message: "...villains are mostly just people villainized by circumstance." I think this is a dangerous message for young minds. Of course, everyone has had their battles, but when we are telling them that murderers (I'm not giving anything away here that you wouldn't know from reading any telling of Snow White) are to be understood and pitied is simply a poor understanding of human nature, at best. (Following this logic, perhaps we should sit down and hear Bin Laden's version of the story. I'm sure somewhere along the road, some girlfriend broke his heart, and that's why he shouldn't be judged so harshly.)
I probably wouldn't let my children read this based on that particular theme alone, let aside that there is just better literature out there. I believe you'll notice most of the high reviews come from Glee fans. Take Chris Colfer's (who, I'm sure, is a lovely young man) name off the author page, and I doubt anyone would find this book quite as well-written.(less)
If I had to pick one book to symbolize my childhood, it would possibly be Homer Price. At any rate, it's definitely my favorite of childhood stories.
I...moreIf I had to pick one book to symbolize my childhood, it would possibly be Homer Price. At any rate, it's definitely my favorite of childhood stories.
I'm always dismayed at how many people know "Make Way for Ducklings" but not the treasure of the Homer Price stories by Robert McCloskey. I still can't bite into a donut without hoping to find a bracelet someday.(less)
I have an obsession with reading parenting books even though I'm not one. This was just fantastic, common-sense parenting. I have some dearly loved fr...moreI have an obsession with reading parenting books even though I'm not one. This was just fantastic, common-sense parenting. I have some dearly loved friends who seem to have lost themselves parenting. The French get a lot wrong, but it seems their parenting is old-fashioned and balanced, where the parents are in charge and the children respect that they are comfortably not.
The author gives some wonderful tips on how to deal with mealtimes, nutrition (I was astounded and hopeful at how well-balanced French children seem to be... Some of her sample menus made my mouth water... No doubt you would never see a Pediasure anywhere near a French kitchen), allowance, conversation, and parents' sex life (no kids in the bedroom except for good reason).(less)
I want to like the Harry Potter novels, I really do.
After years of trying to stay away (and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about small childre...moreI want to like the Harry Potter novels, I really do.
After years of trying to stay away (and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about small children being exposed to wizardry and such), many trusted Christian friends assured me I had nothing to worry about from a spiritual standpoint. So I finally dove in.
I will say this, I suspect that a great many of the adults who are reading HP books are really far more in love with the setting than the actual stories themselves. I adore the thought of a snowy, cozy boarding school with feasts and friends and dusty old curriculum.
But, as a former educator who still reads a LOT of children's fiction there is MUCH BETTER out there, friends. Much better. I find the story oversimplified, even on a child's level, and I don't find the plots and themes a little hollow.
The characters are charming enough I suppose, and I believe this is why they are so popular.
I'm going to keep slogging through the series, because I want to be clued in on such a pop culture phenomenon, but HP just isn't my cup.(less)