Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: Drama

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read 3 of Raina Telgemeier's books recently and liked this one the best. I think the thing that made it work for me is that the whole thing fits together better than the previous books. It is more focused and coherent.

The best part about this book is that it clearly brings out the ambivalence and widely changing emotions of this age kids. It portrays a difficult and confusing time as difficult and confusing, but not hopeless.

I may get into liking graphic novels yet.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: Golden Urchin

Golden Urchin
Golden Urchin by Madeleine Brent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel a little self-conscious about liking this book, because I think there are a number of problems with it, but I actually did enjoy it. I don't know enough about the ways of aboriginal Australians to judge whether that part was accurate, but if it is, I must admit that that part was very interesting to me.

The mystery of her past and the intrigue over her heritage was interesting enough for me to continue with the book, even though it reads a lot like a bodice-ripping romance and was a bit predictable.

One of the things that is also intriguing is that she could smell people well enough to identify them using only scent. I read an article recently that indicated that liberals and conservatives actually smell different. Perhaps this idea isn't as far fetched as it sounds.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Sisters

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since I am a middle sister, this book sounded quite familiar: sharing rooms, arguing, fighting in the car on long road trips, snakes. Brings back old memories. I think this will sound very familiar to lots of kids, too.

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Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book in one sitting and I liked it better than I expected to. Somehow, the goldfish thing led me to believe it would be a bit sillier.

The best thing about the book is that it presents interest in science as a positive thing - not nerdy, just interesting. And even relevant. The second best thing about it is that it doesn't shy away from the moral implications of science. Since it is a book for kids, it doesn't dwell on the negatives, but it does mention them and it leaves them open for thinking about.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: The Dragonet Prophecy

The Dragonet Prophecy
The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up to read while I was subbing. I try to read at the same time that the students do when there is silent reading time, modeling the appeal of reading. Besides, I really enjoy kids' books. I didn't manage to finish the whole book then, but it had an unexpected appeal for me - there are so many dragon books right now, I thought this one would be just more of the same. In a way, it is more of the same, but I think it has a bit extra. I don't think the story line is extraordinary, but the characters appealed to me.

At first I had a hard time keeping the various types of dragons separate in my mind, but as the story progresses, they become more distinct. I was a bit surprised that the main focus of the narrative was the MudWing Clay, but, in retrospect, it provides an appealing progression. At first, he seems bumbling and incompetent, but gradually the characteristics that make him seem bumbling as a presumably fierce dragon leader - his lack of fighting skills and the will to develop them - become the traits that distinguish him as a leader. I rather like the idea of learning to know yourself and your strengths, rather than just accepting what people tell you you are.

I have heard that this series gets darker as it progresses. I am a bit squeamish about really dark story lines, so I am not sure if I will continue with it, but I am tempted.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Review: Smile

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is nicely illustrated and has a good story line. It has the typical problems for me that I have with most graphic novels - not quite enough depth. The illustrations are almost enough to make a complete story for me, though. There are more character nuances than I find in most graphic novels. I definitely like this better than most of the graphic novels I have read.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Right now, I am rather annoyed at this book for the way the character Eli was handled. I doubt if there could be many more smart kid stereotypes used for him. I am also very annoyed at the way the school for gifted kids was described - no playground, no recess, bathroom breaks that were timed, on and on - anything that could make the school sound like a prison, in direct contrast to the wonderful public school. I wonder if the author has actually ever visited a school for gifted kids or has interacted with very many of them. I have - and I am really tired of such worn out stereotypes.

There may be positives to this story, but a lot of it seems filled with showing how a family with two dads is just great and a curmudgeonly neighbor was just concerned about his elderly mother and the imaginary friend of the youngest son was really a real girl, but with wheat and dairy allergies. The oldest son was a fantastic athlete, but also was a star storyteller and actor. Politically correct, much.


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