I rescued a baby kitten from our garage about a month ago. His names are: Little Baby Cat (for he is a wee thing), Donut (for he is like a favorite character from The Wire, always stealing cars), Benjamin Button the Cat (for he is graying, and frail, but is getting stronger with age!) and Little Piggie Cat (for he enjoys noshing on everything). Anyway, that doesn’t have anything to do with Books, but he likes to sit with me when I read so that counts for something. Here he is with his big brother cat:
Other Books I’ve Read Recently 06/21/2010
I listened to this on audio on my super-long solo drive down to Gulf Shores over Memorial Day weekend (which, apparently, was a great time to go, seeing as how to oil arrived on the shore the following weekend). Jesse Eisenberg (of Adventure– and Zombie- land fame) narrates, which was weird for me when I rewatched Zombieland last week because I kept assuming that the movie was about Cassel (the main character of White Cat). Cassel comes from a family of curse workers (magicians, if you will), but he doesn’t have any powers! For shame! Except…he keeps sleepwalking and ending up in all sorts of compromising positions. And this white cat keeps showing up randomly in his dreams! And that’s all I will give away about this awesome book.
Anyway, this is the first in a series and was highly interesting and entertaining. I liked the new take on the supernatural; it’s none of this tired vampire and/or werewolf and/or zombie buisness. It kinda makes me wish I had magical powers and lived in a world where everyone has to wear gloves for fear of touching someone/having someone touch you and getting cursed. Thumbs up.
Oh look, another cat-titled book! Not on purpose, I promise. Fat Cat was one of those books that took me by surprise, mostly because I didn’t pay attention to the synopsis on the cover (there is a fancy word for this but it escapes me currently). Anyway, I like it better that way. Cat, our “fat” narrator, gets stuck with an interesting year-long project for her science class – she decides to change her habits and live as the hominids did. To as much of an extent as a millenium’s child can, at least. She starts walking to school, gives up her phone and television, eats natural foods. I thought the book had a great message – not that it’s bad to be fat, but that maybe we ought to reexamine our habits and see if we can’t better our lives.
Of course, Cat gets the boy in the end, her former best friend whom she stopped speaking to years ago because she overheard him calling her fat or something, but to me that was a) bound to happen anyway and b) harmless/not over the top.
As far as girly YA books go, this wasn’t exactly Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or Gossip Girl. Fat Cat stands on its own, a neat little subgenre of fat literature where the protagonist spends less time hating herself (she’s unhappy with her body, but aren’t we all) and more time trying to be proactive and not whiny. Thumbs up.
This was a really delightful re-read of one of my absolute favorite books from 5th grade. It was also the first book I read on my new, wonderful Sony Reader, which I was worried about purchasing because I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Well, I like it. I like the flexibility of checking out a book whenever I want to and not having to worry about returning it on time. Returning books on time isn’t really an issue at my library since I am there every day and can monitor my circ records…but if I happen to check out a book from another library, then sometimes I have issues.
Anway. Harriet, as the title suggests, is a spy. She is also an extremely interesting narrator — great thoughts, great observations, uninentionally hilarious. She keeps tabs on everyone she knows in her notebook, which gets her into mega-trouble when she leaves it at school. Everyone ends up hating her, and Harriet has to learn to deal with that. She’s not a Mean Girl…she just has yet to realize that the truth is sometimes hurtful, and a little fib (or keeping thoughts to yourself) is necessary now and then.
I will always, always love Harriet. She got sent to a child psychologist for Pete’s sake! 14 million thumbs up.
Okay, have you heard of Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars on the Disney Channel? Here’s a great review from educating alice. And here’s the trailer. Sigh.
You can read the book, alternatively, but I highly suggest the audio.
Maniac Magee 05/15/2010
Little, Brown, 1990
Newbery Medal, 1991
Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll, #17
Maniac Magee is a homeless orphan who unknowingly breaks an unspoken rule in his new town: he’s a white boy who wanders into the black part of town, and is taken in by a black family. Even when he finds out what he’s done, he doesn’t care. Because to Maniac, it just doesn’t make sense. (Ain’t that the truth?). He tries his best to bring the two sides of town together, but naturally, learns that some people are just set in their ways, and some kid who can untie a knot better than anyone else ain’t gonna change everything.
Racism. Homelessness. Identity. Pretty heavy for a children’s book, but somehow Spinelli’s story doesn’t seem heavy at all. It’s got great characters: from Mars Bar, the kid who got his nickname from the candy bars he eats, to Amanda, who carries her entire library around with her in a suitcase to protect her books from her younger siblings, and Maniac himself, who is a little Forrest Gump-ish in his naiveté (and his knack for running). It’s one of those rare books that could be handed off to a boy without much complaint, which in my book, is top notch.
Sarah, Plain and Tall 05/11/2010
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Newbery Winner, 1986
Top 100 Childrens Novels, #90
This is the shortest book I have ever read. Just kidding. There are 5 picture books that are shorter. In all honesty, I finished this book in about 2 hours (2.5 hours total, really — I took a nap about halfway through).
It’s about a family in the Midwest who lost their mother; their father places an ad in a newspaper for a new wife. Sarah, from the sea, introduces herself as “plain and tall” in her first letter. She’s looking for a change. Her brother is getting married, and she feels that the house isn’t hers anymore.
The children, Anna and Caleb, are of course freaked out that they will become attached to Sarah only to have her leave them. (She doesn’t.)
Perhaps what is the most intriguing/fun/interesting aspect of Sarah is her refusal to play by the rules — it’s almost as if in her first letter, she lets Papa know that she is a woman of her own. She’s got a cat who’s coming with her no matter what; she plays in the rain; she goes to town by herself (much to the chagrin of Caleb, who is convinced that she will either die or never return). I like Sarah. She’s the kind of lady I would want to have been in the 19th century.
Okay, the Newbery Award. Given by the American Library Association to the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” for a given year. Pretty heavy, I suppose.
Here’s where I will tick off the titles that I’ve read so far (I’m starting from scratch; anything that I read as a child is going to be reread for this challenge). A tally, if you will. If there’s a line through it, demand that I write about it!! (You don’t really have to do that; it is mostly for me.)
List of Newbery winners, 1922-present (2010): (more…)
In an effort to keep myself blogging, I’ve decided to set up a few challenges for myself.
I’ll be writing about the following (in no particular order):
My Newbery Challenge: Read Newbery Winners, 1922-present
Top 100 Childrens Novels Challenge: Read winners of the Top 100 Childrens Novel Poll by School Library Journal Blogger Betsy Bird
Top 100 Picture Books Challenge: Read winners of the Top 100 Picture Books Poll by School Library Journal Blogger Betsy Bird
I’ll try to write about these as I go (although I’ve already started), and I’m also planning to re-read books that I read in school. And I’ll be writing about new stuff, too, but mostly stuff I like.
Alright K, start blogging!