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text 2019-05-07 09:20
Literary Chicken Soup ... of a kind
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great - Judy Blume
Freckle Juice - Judy Blume,Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Deenie - Judy Blume
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope - Berkeley Breathed
Bloom County: Best Read On The Throne - Berkeley Breathed

This last week I've been knocked out with a cold - the kind a lot of people would call the 'flu, but is just really a bad, bad cold.  The type where you either sleep or just lie there staring listlessly into space because watching tv or listening to audio hurts your ears, and your eyes don't want to focus on anything, and never mind your brain; your brain is too focused on trying to figure out why it feels like you've just swallowed razor blades, and trying not think about anything else at all.


So when I finally started feeling vaguely human yesterday I needed comfort and ease, and a reason to laugh.  I needed Judy Blume and Berkeley Breathed.  All of these I've read before, but all of them survived the reunion.


Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great - Judy Blume:  Well, ok, I hadn't read this one since I was a kid and remembered it as less than a favorite.  I remembered correctly as it's the Blume book I like the least (relatively speaking, b/c everything she wrote for kids is brilliant).  Sheila had a problem with honesty and even as a kid I did not care for the way she fabricated lies to prop up her ego.  Blume tries to show the reader Sheila does this out of fear, but it never really engaged my sympathy, although Blume might have been writing about me in the scene involving the swimming test.  Still, 3 stars.


Freckle Juice - Judy Blume:  I've always thought this book was great.  Definitely written for the younger kids; the gross factor is high and the storyline simple and straight forward, though I particularly enjoy the tiny twist at the end more so as an adult.


Deenie - Judy Blume The Blume book I found Most Confronting as a teen, and still found painful to read.  Scoliosis terrified me growing up and this book did not help matters.  My later diagnosis sent me into paroxysms of hysteria, even though mine is so mild it wasn't worth treating.  Decades later, this book is still hard to read, but what stands out the most is this is one of the rare Judy Blume books that feature active parental interference.  In a note at the end of this edition, Blume acknowledges this, saying she wrote Deenie as a way to explore how parental expectations can shape and pigeonhole children.


Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope - Berkeley Breathed and Bloom County: Best Read On The Throne - Berkeley Breathed:  Bloom County is one of those things that you either get or you don't.  It shaped my teen aged years in ways I cannot adequately explain and Breathed's comeback in 2015 felt like a cherished part of my life had been returned to me; to stick with comic strip metaphors, it's like Linus getting his blanket back.  And the blanket has a hilarious sense of humor.

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review 2018-07-05 08:43
The Trouble with Thirteen
The Trouble With Thirteen - Betty Miles

Well, that was an embarrassingly devastating re-read.  It's been ... a number of decades (which I refuse to think about), since this book was relevant to me, but I couldn't resist when I found a copy.  I remembered nothing about it save it was one of those books I read as a pre-teen.


This isn't so much a story, as it is a snapshot of a moment in time that's nothing but constant change for any tween, but poor Annie and Rachel get hit with a trifecta of monumental changes all in a few short months.  Best friends and neighbours since nursery school, Rachel's parents are divorcing and moving her to NYC.  This is a snapshot, as told from the POV of a 12 year old, of the way life's changes are often completely outside your control, happening whether you like it or not.


Honestly, this book made me a weepy, sniffly mess.  I can't believe how relevant it is at its core after almost 40 years.  There's a conversation on a landline, something most kids won't recognise today, but the rest of this very short story entirely focuses on the things that are timeless: friendship, jealousy, guilt, sorrow, it's all here.  There're no quick answers or fixes offered, just a very empathetic narrative that doesn't talk down or preach (although I suspect the writing style would be considered too simplistic in comparison to today's titles).  I'd have no hesitation giving this to my nieces if and when it's relevant - along with a packet of tissues, just in case.

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review 2018-02-28 07:29
Horrible Histories: The Groovy Greeks and the Rotten Romans
The Groovy Greeks And The Rotten Romans (Two Horrible Books In One) - Terry Deary

Eh.  Gross overuse of the word "Groovy" in the Greek part, and generally not as well laid out as the HH on World War I.  For me, that is.  For the teens it was written for, and as a teaching aid, it's great.  A lot of quizzes that were far more interesting than any I had to take in school during world history class.  I especially liked the sections where they described how to play the games of ancient Greece and/or Rome, and the sample Roman menu is a great idea of you're reading this with teens.  I personally plan on making a camera obscura with my niece one of these days.


As always for me, the cartoons in these books are the best bits.

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review 2017-10-09 04:16
The Blitzed Brits
The Blitzed Brits - Terry Deary,Tracey West

I knew what these were when I bought them (I bought three) – written for a much younger audience – but given the woefully little I know about world history, I figured anything was better than nothing and as I tend to think straight history texts rather dull, ultimately, I probably wasn't that far outside its target audience after all, in terms of attention span.


I started with this one as it was the thinnest, and thankfully, I knew most of it already - I'm not that ignorant after all! - but there were a lot of details I didn't know.  The obliteration of everything that indicated a location, for example.  Business signs that indicated the town/village/city name had that name painted over; public transit station names were removed.  I also didn't know there was such a time gap between the first blitz and the second.  And I will always know that in a stream of terrible years, 1942 was by far the worst for the homefront in terms of legislated deprivation.


Some of the stories were funny, of course.  The one about the girl who, listening to her mum about strange men approaching her during the blackout, accidentally put her own father head first into a pig scrap bin had both MT and I giggling.

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review 2017-10-01 05:04
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, #2)
Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

More often than not, I struggle to like the second book of a trilogy and Hollow City is no exception.  To me, the second book feels like all the boring bits between the excitement of discovery and the thrill of the finale stretched out to 'make do' as a book.  In other words, book two is all existential navel gazing and I get bored.


Hollow City was not without excitement though; there were plenty of battles between the peculiar children and the hollows, and Jacob gets to use and stretch and refine his power, but mostly it's children bonding (go team!), true love (*eye roll*), evil plot to end the world revealed in all its evil glory (*gasp*) and existential navel gazing.


I'm being a bit cheeky; I did enjoy, it just wasn't great.  There are a couple of twists at the end; one I really didn't see coming and the other was, I suppose, inevitable, and it ends in something of a cliffhanger with the tried and true 'friends in peril' plot device fully engaged.  I already have the third book so it's definitely going to get read, but I'm not in a rush.


I read this for the Chilling Children square and it was more apt than I could have dreamed, as the power of one of the peculiar children is, in fact, freezing whatever she touches.  Chilling children indeed.


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