January 10th, 2016

book
  • maribou

Friendship Kitten; Happiest Woundabout Color; Summer Raindrops Mess

Lumberjanes, vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy and vol. 2: Friendship to the Max, by Noelle Stevenson
This series is marvelously FUN. I know I use that word a lot, but seriously. Kids running around having PARANORMAL scouting adventures and saving each other's bacon in clever and varied ways. And the characters are ALSO varied, every single one of them has some personality! What a hoot. I wish I could be 10 again just to read these.
(360, 415)

A Brush Full of Color, by Margriet Ruurs
A beautiful picture book biography of Ted Harrison that reminded me how much I love his stuff and sent me on a bit of a tear.
(361)

Woundabout, by Lev A. C. Rosen
I was a bit cautious of this one because I really dug both of his adult novels for different reasons, and was worried he wouldn't successfully make the transition to upper-middle-grade. Silly me. This is a lovely book, only didactic in the way I *like* such books being didactic, and full of memorable ideas and images. Also has a sufficiently high excitement quotient.
(363)

When I Am Happiest, by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
This series! How utterly charming and Scandinavian and humane it is! Possibly my favorite early reader series of all time (which puts it up against some VERY stiff competition!!!).
(364)

Mess, by Barry Yourgrau
This was hard to read, because I am always involved in a complicated dance with my own clutterbug tendencies, and some of my dear ones have it far worse than me in that department. But it was funny and honest and wry and, in the end, triumphant. More memoirs like this one, please.
(365)

Raindrops Roll, by April Pulley Sayre
Pretty but not otherwise memorable. I think very young kids would like the alliteration and the macros.
(366)

Summer Birds, by Margarita Engle
Such an incredibly beautiful book. Not only are the images astoundingly lovely, the story is written with care, delicacy, and verve. I think perhaps the writing evoked Merian even better than the pictures did. <3 <3 <3 <3.
(368)
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    Stars and Stripes Forever
bookshelf

Books 1 & 2: Teleny, and A Murder Most Foul

Book 1: Teleny, or the Reverse of the Medal - by Anonymous (often mistakenly attributed to Oscar Wilde)

This was a fascinating read, to say the least. Initially, my interest was piqued by the possibility it was some long, lost Wilde gem, although it's blatantly obvious that whilst 'Teleny' may have had two or more co-authors, he was certainly not amongst that number. I confess my final opinion on both book and its subject matter to be somewhat divided. Having read it to gain insight, I can say with honesty it did provide that in spades, and the initial half of the story does convey a deep love between Teleny and Camille with such a lyrical prose, I had to put it aside at intervals just to recover.

Then comes the latter half, wherein after a symbolic "marriage" takes place, Teleny brings Camille to some pseudo-bacchanalian orgy, where the only reason, it is explained, they do not take part is because they are still "honeymooning". Implying very strongly the next time around, they would, despite having pledged themselves to one another.

Along those lines is the tragedy of the ending, whereupon, to relieve himself of debts, Teleny sleeps with Camille's own mother. Thereby, what the author shows us directly contradicts that which he has been telling us throughout the story, and unintentionally undermines his own message. In the end, Teleny commits suicide due to Camille's learning of this incident, and whilst it began well, Romeo and Juliet this was not, regardless of the denouement's tragedy.

Nonetheless, this was an interesting and really most insightful book.

***

Book 2: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Being such a voracious mystery enthusiast, it was high time I rectified having never read Dame Christie's first novel, and our introduction to that Belgian Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot. Admittedly, I have my gripes with Christie's method of storytelling, but here she proved beyond a doubt what a plot she could weave! I actually found this to be stronger than other of her more lauded works.

A veritable puzzle-box of a mystery, this book was crafted with mathematical precision, if, at times, it suffered from stilted characterizations and read not unlike a rough draft. The latter has been my major complaint of Christie - that her work suffers from so much attention to the plot she neglects all other aspects to a fault. But here, the mystery is so convoluted that particular problem becomes more easily overlookable. She pulled the reader along by the nose at every turn and made an art form out of planting red herrings.

She certainly managed to pull the wool over my eyes, and as a seasoned mystery reader who more frequently than not is able to guess the "whodunit", it was wonderful to have been so thoroughly hoodwinked at every turn.
book
  • maribou

Quick Splendid Inch; This Is King Yeti; Come Wolf-Birds World

Quick as a Cricket, by Audrey Wood
I checked this out wondering if it was one I'd liked as a kid, because I vaguely remembered the title. BUT NO, it was one I thought was dead boring as a kid. Le sigh.
(369)

A Splendid Friend, Indeed, by Suzanne Bloom
Not much of a story, but what's there is quite cute, and the illustrations are adorable.
(370)

The King and the Sea, by Heinz Janisch
This is a wonderfully absurd and strange series of fables that manages to be koan-like for adults and also make sense for kids. Plus the illustrations are very perfectly child-like (which is harder than it sounds!).
(371)

Inch by Inch: The Garden Song, by David Mallett, illustrated by Ora Eitan
This was my favorite song as a little kid so I thought I would explore some different ways of enjoying it. This picture book was among my favorites. Bright, potent pictures accompany the text of the song, and then at the end there's a musical setting so folks can learn to play/sing it. Absolutely excellent.
(372)

No Yeti Yet, by Mary Ann Fraser
Pictures that buzz with affection and humor, and a text that shows the author is quite familiar with sibling dynamics. I really liked this, enough that I bought it to give to a little kid I know whose older brothers read to him a lot.
(374)

This Is Sadie, by Sara O'Leary
What a splendid, splendid book. The story is inspiring (which is what I call didactic stories which a) I like and b) I don't find heavy-handed) and the illustrations fly and sparkle. Bought a copy for each of my nieces for Christmas and the jury's still out on whether I will buy myself a copy too. I hope eventually I will get to read it to both of them.
(375)

The Wolf-Birds, by Willow Dawson
I very much enjoyed this story about the relationship between wolves and ravens, but the violence level and the apparent age level are... not terribly consonant. I mean, if *I* read it when I was the age the text is aimed at, I would've loved it, but I was a very odd child who watched a great deal of nature television.
(376)

The Night World, by Mordicai Gerstein
My inner 5-year-old informs me that this book is just a little bit scary but mostly it is very exciting and full of pretty things. Sounds about right to me.
(377)

Come On, Rain!, by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
I was wary of this book because most of Karen Hesse's YA/middle-grade books have depressing enough themes that I've avoided them. But it's not like that at all, it's an expression of pure joy. Beautiful. And of course Muth manages to match that joy in his illustrations.
(378)
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