While I was there,
Saturday, January 27, 2007
While I was there,
Friday, January 26, 2007
The Newbery and Caldecott Medals were awarded earlier this week, to Susan Patron for The Higher Power of Lucky (Atheneum/Jackson) and to David Wiesner for Flotsam (Clarion). It was Patron's first win, and Wiesner's third—he's only the second artist ever to win the Caldecott three times. I must admit that I haven't read The Higher Power, but Flotsam is fabulous.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Kip, the main character in Odd Man Out is the odd man in multiple ways. Visiting his Gran along with five female cousins, Kip is the only boy, the only one who isn’t a regular, and the only one who doesn’t know how he will survive a summer where the rules have been turned upside down. Since Gran’s rambling old house will soon be torn down, anything goes (except tearing down load-bearing walls). Gran’s rules are written on the walls, and the most important one seems to be no whining. To make matters worse, Kip is equally uncertain about fitting in back home when his mother and her new husband do finally return from their vacation (carefully not referred to as a honeymoon) in
As usual, Ellis has peopled her popular fiction with quirky characters that jump off the page. Gran’s “anything goes” approach to her impending move, hobo dinners, and trips to the free store are balanced by a vulnerability that makes you as nervous as her grandchildren when she is rushed off the Island suffering from a possible heart attack. And, the “girlatorium” as Kip refers to his cousins are as engaging as they are unique―insists that she is a dog who speaks human. What is different about Odd Man Out though is the increasingly complex and subtle way that Ellis introduces sensitive issues such as mental illness. She is a writer at the top of her game. I can only marvel at her skill and look forward to her next book.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
So, I'm finally back from a wonderful trip to
While I was away, I confess to straying from my passion for kids books into an occasional thriller, a couple of Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction titles, and a few chick lit titles, but on to kids’ books. One that I totally adored was Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen by Glen Huser published by Groundwood Books. Tamara is the ‘Skinnybones’ foster care reject of the title while the ‘Wrinkle Queen’ is the ninety year old former high school teacher and senior care home resident, Miss Barclay. They meet when one of Tamara’s teachers matches students up with seniors at a nearby facility. They pair up on a Thelma and Louise style dash for the coast to indulge their respective passions—the Wrinkle Queen wants to go to the Ring Cycle Wagner operas staged in
Their adventures are hilarious, but what I liked most was the snappy dialogue between the two. Huser tells the story from both the Wrinkle Queen and Skinnybones point of view and manages to successfully skirt sentimentality. Neither Tamara nor Miss Barclay are initially sympathetic of the other. Despite occasionally nodding off mid-sentence, the Wrinkle Queen is as savvy when she’s awake as she would have been standing in front of a classroom of teenagers who’d rather be any where else than where they are. She easily sees through Tamara’s fake movie star smile. Meanwhile Tamara is as tough as they come. She’ll do anything to get out of the foster care cycle and into the glamorous world of modeling including: lying to her foster family and social worker, ditching school, stealing, and helping a ninety year old lady escape from a nursing home. It is when the trip begins to unravel and their respective tough veneers begin to show cracks that the story is at its strongest. Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen is one road trip you won’t want to miss.