Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep

Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep by Gail Carson Levine
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I normally like re-imagined fairy tales and I like a lot of Gail Carson Levine's work, but this isn't one of my favorites. Part of the reason is my own bias about especially smart people. I actually LIKE them.

One of the fairies gives Sonora the gift of being 10 times as smart as everyone else. That means, according to popular imagery, that she is an obnoxious know-it-all, even as an infant. She even makes up answers to a few questions that are quite wrong, but she, and everyone else, takes them as word, since she is so much smarter than everyone else. Princess Sonora's intelligent brain makes everyone dislike her and she has no friends - not even her parents who also don't want to be around her or listen to her. Sigh.

Prince Christopher, who did not get any fairy blessings, is depicted as naturally curious. He loves to ask questions and listen to the answers. So, the smart guy is OK; the smart girl is obnoxious. Sigh, again.

View all my reviews

Review: George

George George by Alex Gino
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a difficult review. The topic of transgender kids still is a bit uncomfortable to me. Part of the reason is that the idea of gender for kids is often much too stereotyped for my liking. When my own children were little, each one of them went through what I call the gender identification stage - the stage where, even though previously all they wanted to wear was pants or shorts, they now needed to wear dresses. I am not sure where they got the idea that girls needed to wear dresses; I VERY seldom do. Then, they each got over that stage and went back to wearing mostly pants. Neither one seemed especially interested in the makeup part of femininity, because I don't use makeup either. But dresses and makeup seem to be often the whole outward manifestations of femininity. So, to some extent, I find that cultural expectations are tied up with the transgender choices. And it makes me think: what is it that makes a child feel like they are the wrong gender? This book doesn't really answer that question for me. It assumes that the outward manifestations of gender - clothes and makeup - are the most important parts. If that were true, then I should identify as male, since I prefer pants and don't use makeup. I do not wear high heels and I do not enjoy shopping. There has to be more to gender identification than those outward signs, but what. Motherhood, certainly. But what about people who don't have children? What does femininity mean?

I guess I have to give the book credit for at least causing me to wonder about all of this.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: A Handful of Stars

A Handful of Stars A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not a big fan of dogs or dog books, but I have to admit I enjoyed this one. I like the realistic and honest characterizations of the main characters. The book feels real and speaks to some typical problems of this age group. And I like the honest resolution. Worth reading.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I wish I liked better, because it is so well written and it has such emotional depth. But the truth is, I couldn't wait to finish it. I just wanted to find out what happened and not have to read through all of the extremely well-written, but lengthy parts. I guess I should stick to children's books.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Thursdays with the Crown

Thursdays with the Crown Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The logic behind some of the plot twists in this book sort of went by me without registering, but it is interesting enough that I did keep reading. It will appeal to middle grade readers. Not a huge amount of depth, but still a fun read.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Ms. Rapscott's Girls

Ms. Rapscott's Girls Ms. Rapscott's Girls by Elise Primavera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an enjoyable book for middle grade readers. The full name of the school that Ms. Rapscott runs is Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. While the premise is a bit sad - the parents of these girls are too busy to take care of them, the book takes a light-hearted approach to teaching them some much needed life skills. It it just tongue-in-cheek enough that it doesn't seem didactic. Fun and a quick read.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review: Anastasia Krupnik

Anastasia Krupnik Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was recently looking at a web page that compared the covers from various editions of this book and this spurred me on to read this book again. Lately, I have been wanting to read some old favorites, anyway. They seem to be soothing to me, when I am disappointed that I don't especially like books that others are raving about. At any rate, I enjoyed my re-read of Anastasia. It is a straightforward, old-fashioned, comforting book about family and about changing your mind about things in life.

But, I must say, I agree with the Comparative Cover Art person: they never DO get Anastasia's hair color right on the covers. This wouldn't be a big deal, except that her hair color IS mentioned over and over again and is one of the connections between Anastasia, her father, her grandparents, and, yes, her new baby brother.

View all my reviews