Flashback October 2005

I’m flashing back to reviews from years past. Here is what I was reviewing in October 2005.

Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams. My review: “Ingrid Levin-Hill is 13, loves soccer and acting, and is impatiently waiting for one of her busy parents to pick her up at the orthodontist. She decides to start off for the soccer field on her own, gets lost, is helped out by an eccentric woman, and accidentally finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Ingrid is a great teenager. She has friends, she’s smart, she’s got courage. But she isn’t perfect; she isn’t annoying; she isn’t always right. She makes mistakes. She learns. And the whole time, she’s guided by what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s necessary as she tries to discover who murdered Kate. Ingrid realizes that things don’t just happen — you have to work for it, whether its studying for the math test or memorizing the streets of her hometown so she knows her way around.”

Hitler Youth: Growing Up In Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell BartolettiMy review: “SCB traces the history of the Hitler Youth from its start in the mid 1920s, to the 1930s and 1940s when membership became mandatory. She explains why it was attractive — why it was something teens wanted to be a part of. And she shows how it was used to indoctrinate.

Serenity by Keith R.A. DeCandido. My review: “So, why read the novel version of a movie? Especially since I also bought the screenplay? For the same reason I read books-upon-which-movies-are-based. I want more; I want to find out what characters are thinking, maybe get multiple viewpoints on the same event. I want to read scenes that weren’t in a movie, because it was only two hours long. I want background. And while I know how the story will end, I also know that a book will tell a story a bit differently from a movie. I want to read that different version.”

I’m Not The New Me by Wendy McClure. My review: “Just like sometimes, I watch grownup TV, sometimes I read grownup books. . . .  The book had been described to me as “a hilarious and sometimes poignant look at the absurdities of weight-loss culture from an appealing and original new voice.” As I’m always dissatisfied with my weight, I read this memoir. This is so much more than another book about our culture and weight. It’s also about relationships and modern life. ”

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. My review: “How much did I love [this book]? While reading, I never once flipped ahead to see how it would end. I read the last 50 pages slowly, because I didn’t want the book to end. And, even tho it’s over 600 pages, when I got to the end I wished for more.”

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach. My review: “Meet Hero, the delightful heroine of Shakespeare’s Secret. She’s in 6th grade, and a dismal looking year may turn itself around, thanks to the next-door neighbor, Mrs. Roth. And the mystery Mrs. Roth shares with Hero: a diamond from a 500 year old necklace is hidden somewhere in Hero’s new house. And cute, popular, 8th grader Danny is interested in the mystery and in Hero.”

Dinosaurs by Benedicte Guettier. My review: “One of the things I love about picture books is the details that you don’t get the first time around. The details that you pick up only by multiple readings and looking close. (Heck, I’ve done storytimes where I’ve asked kids to comment about pictures in a book and that’s been the first time I’ve learned about some of the details!) What my third reading revealed: Tyrannosaurus is chasing after five dinosaurs, but all you see are the tails. Look closely at the shape and color of those tails, and you realize its the five dinosaurs that were introduced on the earlier pages.”

Poison by Chris Wooding. My review: “Poison is the name of the main character, a girl raised in the Black Marshes. One bleak night, her baby sister Azalea is stolen by phaeries and Poison resolves to get her sister back, no matter the cost. Poison is a lover of stories, including phaerie tales. As she goes out into the world beyond the Black Marshes she discovers that having been a reader helps her out: much that is in those phaerie tales turns out to be true, or, at least, to have enough truth in them that Poison can triumph against the endless hurdles thrown in her way. But then — about two-thirds of the way through — just as you are thinking that this is just another fairy tale retelling, another fantasy that is paying tribute to other fantasy works — there is an unexpected, brilliant turn. Keep reading. I won’t say any more.”

The Costume Party, written and illustrated by Victoria Chess. My review: “It’s raining, and Nico, Fanny, Claude, Daisy and Rose (five dogs) are bored. Madame Coco has the perfect solution to boring raining days: a costume party, just like when she was little and it rained and rained. . . . Sometimes kids get rushed out of picture books because the books are viewed as suitable only for those who can’t read “real” books. As soon as a child is reading on his or her own, away from the picture books and on to the “real” chapter books. But this ignores that we live in a visual world, a world that is not just words but is also pictures. Good picture books help us to pause and look beyond the words. (On another post I’ll talk about picture books that, because of the story, are for older readers or adults).”

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