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review 2018-06-25 02:39
Silent Days, Silent Dreams
Silent Days, Silent Dreams - Allen Say

In addition to the well known Caldecott and Newbery Metals, the American Library Association gives a number of other awards, including the Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

 

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say won the young reader (0-8 years old) category this year. In Silent Days, Silent Dreams, Allen Say provides a capsule biography of folk artist James Castle.  Like most, I had not heard about Jimmy Castle before. Castle is described as deaf, mute, autistic, and probably dyslexic, yet he was a self-taught artist, who left thousands of drawings and other folk-art objects. 

 

All of the art in Silent Days, Silent Dreams was created by Allen Say, either in the style of James Castle or slightly modified copies of drawings Castle did himself.  While I think that Allen Say did a good job, I wish that the book had included Castle’s original art instead of just new drawings and objects created in Castle’s style. 

 

If you want to let James Castle “speak” for himself, some of his art is available at http://jamescastle.com/

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review 2018-06-25 02:31
2018 Caldecott Award
A Different Pond - Bao Phi,Thi Bui

I often use the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon as an excuse to catch up on the Caldecott Award and Honor Books, and while I borrowed several picture books from the library, I’m only now getting to them (something about them being due back to the library on Monday finally bringing them to the top of my list).

 

My favorite of this crop of picture books was A Different Pond by Bao Phi illustrated by Thi Bui, which was a Caldecott Medal Honor book .  A young boy and his father, a Vietnamese immigrant, head out fishing long before dawn.  Over the course of the gorgeously illustrated pages, you discover that they are fishing not for pleasure, but to put food on the table.  With the current attention on immigrants and also on economic disparities, A Different Pond is a very timely story and a fine way to introduce young readers to multicultural protagonists. (4 stars)

 

Wolf in the Snow - Matthew Cordell 

 

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell is the winner of the 2018 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.  This almost wordless book tells the story of a young girl and a wolf cub lost in the snow and how they eventually both made it to safety.  While nicely done, Wolf in the Snow just didn’t hold much for an adult reader without children to share read-alouds with. (3 stars)

 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut - Derrick Barnes,Gordon C. James 

 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut  by Derrick Barnes and Illustrated by Gordon C. James follows a young African American boy as he gets a haircut.  I loved the concept and the prose of this Caldecott Honor book, but the accompanying paintings just didn’t speak to me. (3 stars)

 

There are 2 other Caldecott Honor's books this year:  Big Cat, little cat,” illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper and “Grand Canyon,” illustrated and written by Jason Chin.  I'm planning to give Big Cat, little cat a pass, but have Grand Canyon on reserve at the library

 

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text 2018-06-03 22:44
May Musings

Still haven’t been feeling the urge to review as much, so here’s another quick month-end summary. I read 4 pieces of fiction and parts of 3 non-fiction books during May.

 

Fiction:

 

A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton 

 

A is for Alibi is the first book in the long-running “Alphabet Mysteries" series. While the novel was originally contemporary, it now reads as a period piece from the days before cell-phones.  While there were some wobbles, I’ve been looking for a new mystery series and I’m curious to see what kind of writer Sue Grafton matures into.  Ms. Grafton, unfortunately, died at the end of 2017.

 

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee 

 

Ninefox Gambit was the winner of the 2016 Locus Award as wells as being nominated for the 2017 Hugo, Nebula And Arthur C. Clarke Awards. I read Mr. Lee's first full-length novel because the sequel was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award.  The start of Ninefox Gambit was very confusing start as you are thrown headlong into a very inventive world.  But I very much enjoyed the story once all the players were in motion. I’m likely to re-read this since I feel like I missed a lot of the nuance.

  •  
  • All Systems Red - Martha Wells 

 

I’ve been seeing  glowing reviews of All Systems Red  on my feed for a while, and was able to download the ebook for free from Tor.com in April.  The story won the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella. I'm glad I spent the time with Murderbot and I hope that my local library makes the sequels available.

 

The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling 

  

Meh.  See stand-alone review of the The Protector's War  

 

 

Non-Fiction:

 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot  A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup  

 

I finally finished I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, which was the March selection from the Flat Book Society. The story of the microbiome was interesting, but for whatever reason, I found it hard to maintain the attention needed to follow Ed Yong’s well-researched summary.  I love that, while I Contain Multitudes was clearly written for a general audience, the back 20% of the book was still footnotes and citations of primary documents.

 

My IRL book-club read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for our mid-May meeting.  I’d read it several years ago as an audiobook.  I didn’t start until a week before the meeting and had finished about the first 1/3 by our discussion.  After the meeting, I just didn’t feel like taking the time to finish, so moved on to other things.

 

I read a few chapters in A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie  by Kathryn Harkup, which was the Flat Book Society selection for May.  As a non-Christie reader, I didn't find it all that compelling and chose not to finish.

 

Happy Reading!

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text 2018-04-17 02:57
Dewey's and Caldecott

It's a bit over a week until Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon on Saturday, APRIL 28, 2018.

 

 

Reader Sign-ups are open:

http://www.24hourreadathon.com/april-2018-reader-sign-ups/

 

There are over 700 people signed up already.

 

I've made a tradition of reading the  2018 Caldecott Award winner and some of the Caledcott Honor books as a change of pace between novels during the Spring Deweys.  You can find the winners of the Caldecott, Newbery and other awards from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2018/02/american-library-association-announces-2018-youth-media-award-winners 

 

This is nicely compatible with the low-key Readathon I'm planning, since there is also a visiting scholar at my synagogue and the local Earth-Day celebration competing for my attention.  I don't expect I'll actually read much, since I'd rather spend my time social media-hopping and cheering others on.

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review 2017-01-30 02:33
Beggars in Spain
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress uses speculative fiction to explore two fundamental questions – What happens if you genetically engineer a group of people  so that they are radically different from the rest of the humans – in this case by eliminating the need to sleep in a group of children (potentially accompanied by other intelligence enhancing modifications)?   What do the strong/wealthy/more intelligent owe to those they deem lesser? 

 

I don’t remember if I read the Hugo and Nebula winning novella that forms the first section of the book, but I did read Beggars in Spain in print when it was new.  Somehow I missed that Ms. Kress had written two sequels.  So I picked up the audiobook of Beggars in Spain 23 years after the original publication of the full length novel.  Some books hold up to time and to re-reading and others quickly become dated. Beggars in Spain belongs in the first category. 

 

I enjoyed my reread, though it’s been a bit surreal reading this story of xenophobia with its extended musings on what society owes to those deemed non-productive at this specific moment in US History. 

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