Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: A Tale of Two Castles

A Tale of Two Castles
A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am not terribly fond of the mystery genre for kids. Too often the mysteries seem to be more contrived than genuine - a large cast of suspicious characters, blatant clues, blatant red herrings, etc. This book had some of those characteristics, but not to excess and they were balanced, luckily, by some interesting characterizations. The dragon, IT, seemed especially interesting to me, but several other characters were also intriguing.

I found the use of the words mansioning and mansioner to be slightly distracting and I don't quite understand the impetus for their use. "Acting" and "actor" would have served just as well for me.

There were some slow spots in the narrative that didn't especially appeal to me - for example, the cavorting of the monkey and the long description of the play-acting with the guards. Those might appeal to kids, however, so I am discounting my impatience with them.

All in all a reasonably interesting book.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: Always, Abigail

Always, Abigail
Always, Abigail by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I found this book predictable and even a bit clich├ęd, it still held my interest enough to finish the whole thing. The author is especially good at capturing the "mean girl" behaviors that seem to be endemic to the tween age group, roughly 10 through 13 year olds.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: El Deafo

El Deafo
El Deafo by Cece Bell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good graphic novel. I wasn't terribly fond of the choice to illustrate the children as rabbits, but the rest of the book is really good. I admire the honest exposure of both the main character's feelings, but also the honest and varied reactions of other children (and some adults).

The only thing that puzzled me a bit was that the teacher didn't turn off the mike when she wasn't in the presence of the main character. I have worn mikes like this and even though I am a sub, I have been quickly instructed to turn it off when I wasn't talking about things that the student needed to hear, e.g., when I was directly helping another student.

I appreciate the discussion at the end of the book of deaf culture and the varied degree of acceptance of hearing aids and sign language.

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