Flashback October 2006

And now, a look back at what I reviewed in October 2006!

Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Jamel Akib. From my review:The story is framed by the Hindu holiday Rakhi, a holiday that is about brothers and sisters. Arun wishes he had a sister so that he could celebrate Rakhi. A few months later, he finds out the family is going to adopt a little girl from India, the country where Arun’s father was born. The story ends with the baby, Asha, (now about one years old) arriving just in time for Rakhi. It’s a holiday I was unfamiliar with; but it’s a perfect holiday to celebrate children becoming siblings, and it’s also one that will be easily understood by children hearing the story.

Jericho TV Show. From my review: “Jake (Skeet Ulrich) has returned to his small Kansas hometown of Jericho after a five year absence; he was only supposed to stay a couple of days, but on his way out of town their was a mushroom cloud in the distance. Is it an accident? It appears that other US towns have also been hit (Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego). Terrorism? An attack? The folks in Jericho have no way of knowing; and they are struggling for answers, trying to figure out what to do next. . . .  I like the townsfolk trying to figure out answers, trying to hold off anarchy, wondering what to do next. In a crisis like this, at what point is money going to no longer matter? Can democracy continue? Is it OK to eat the corn that was caught out in radioactive rain? And who owns that corn, anyway? Sure, they have guns, but what about when the bullets run out? I also like how this type of World Ending Disaster turns everything topsy turvy. Jake had been the world class screw up; but with the WED, he’s become the golden boy. It’s like he’s the McGuyver of the Apocalypse; and all those talents that meant nothing in the Normal World mean everything now.

The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano by Margarita Engle, art by Sean Qualls. From my review: “Engle uses poetry to tell the story of Manzano, born a slave in Cuba in 1797. Manzano’s first owner made him call her Mama; his second owner was sadistic. He did not have any type of formal education; but due to exposure to poetry and poets and his own thirst to learn, he became a poet.

Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison. From my review: “Gilda Joyce, aged 13, lives an ordinary life with her widowed mother and older brother. But Gilda doesn’t want to be ordinary; so she dresses up in outrageous costumes as an investigator, practices her psychic skills, forces a distant relative to invite her to visit for the summer, and finds a mystery to solve involving a dead woman, a locked tower, an unknown cousin (Juliet) and a ghost.

Edu Manga: Anne Frank. From my review:Before I read this, I thought, you’re kidding me. Having finished it, my thought remains the same. (I don’t have the copy with me. It was returned to the library.) Has anyone read this? Yeah, yeah, I don’t do negative reviews… but Anne Frank? And Astro Boy?

Anatopsis by Chris Abouzeid. From my review:Anatopsis (Ana) is next in line to take over the family business, Amalgamated Witchcraft Corporation. Ana, like her mother, Queen Solomon, is a witch and immortal; mortal humans are workers for the ruling class; workers like Clarissa, Ana’s servant who is also Ana’s best friend. Ana enjoys making mischief with her magic, trying to not get in too much trouble with her mother, especially since her mother is more concerned with the family business than her child, and getting the attention of her father, Sir Christopher, a knight errant. Ana finds out that important exams are approaching for her 14th birthday; and for some reason, she must study with Prince Barnaby, the son of her mother’s business rival. All Ana cares about is teasing Barnaby; and since Barnaby is the worst witch ever, it’s fairly easy to do this. But there’s more to the test than her mother has told her; more to Clarissa and humans than Ana can guess; and more at stake than who which business company will end up on top.”

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos. From my review: “Ivy’s mother used to work for the Rumbaugh twins, Abner and Adolph, in their pharmacy, so it makes sense that they are Ivy’s babysitters, even if they appear a little odd; so identical no-one can tell them apart, seeming to need only each other. While playing in the basement, Ivy stumbles upon their secret and discovers the love curse of the Rumbaughs. As she grows up, she tries to understand the curse, and how she is connected to it. OK, no way am I going to be able to do this without some spoilers, so be warned. And I won’t spoil everything. For the spoiler shy, let’s just say that it is dark; it is twisted; it is unique; and yet … yet it is not scary. It is horror without the horror, if that makes sense. Which it won’t, until you read the book. . . . Here’s the first spoiler. Love Curse described in one sentence: Psycho without the murders. A horror story told from the point of view of those doing the unimaginable. See, the brothers Rumbaugh have a hobby. Taxidermy. And this may be the only young adult book that explains exactly how taxidermy works.”

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. From my review: “Annabel is about to start her junior year. Last year her life seemed perfect; good friends, a modeling career, a picture perfect family. This year, her best friend won’t talk to her, and the entire school is following suit in ostracising her. Annabel never wanted the modeling career that consumes her mother, yet she cannot say no. Her perfect older sister is being treated for an eating disorder. The only person who will talk to her is fellow outcast Owen. . . .  “Just Listen” refers to Annabel listening to others, people listening to Annabel, and Annabel listening to herself. It is also about music; Owen loves music, and insists that Annabel listen to it. And while Annabel doesn’t always agree with his taste, she finds her voice by saying what she likes about his music and what she doesn’t like; and as she learns to speak up about music, she begins to speak up about other things. Like the real reason why her best friend no longer talks to her and makes her life a living hell.”

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. From my review:JJ Liddy, 15, is part of a family that has played traditional Irish music for generations; the tradition is so strong that JJ bears his mother’s last name, not his father’s. It’s nice to have a sense of traditional in a modern world, especially a world so busy that there never seems to be enough time. So many things to do, so many places to be,; people speak wistfully of the past when there was enough time to sit, have a cup of tea, get to school on time, listen to music. Where does the time go? JJ is about to find out that it’s not a matter of looking back at the good old days; there really is less time than there used to be.

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel; sequel to Airborn. From my review: “Matt is now in the Paris Airship Academy, struggling with both academics and with being a working class student; the money difference is not only at school, but also makes itself known in every interaction with Kate, his very wealthy maybe girlfriend who is also studying in Paris. (For those of you new to the series, this is set in an alternate Edwardianesque world where air travel is by airships, not planes.) Matt is on a training mission when he spots the mythical floating ship the Hyperion; not only is its very existence one of rumor, it’s also supposed to be full of gold and treasures and scientific discoveries; but the training mission ends in near disaster, with no one believing that the ghost ship was really spotted. No one except Kate; and the mysterious Nadira; and the self made millionaire, Hal. Together, each for their own reasons, the four go in pursuit of the ghost ship. And they are being pursued by treasure hunters, willing to do anything to get the treasure.

Story Of A Girl by Sara Zarr. From my review: “Deanna Lambert was thirteen when her father caught her in the back of Tommy Webber’s car; Tommy was seventeen and her brother Darren’s best friend. Three years later, Deanna is still defined by that moment, in her father’s eyes, by the school gossip and in her own eyes. Defined as the psycho/slut who wanted it, who cannot be trusted, who is defined by her sex and by sex. . . . This story has layers and layers. It examines how this one moment not only defines who Deanna is, it is also about how, and why, Deanna lets herself by defined by that one moment.

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