logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: kids-stuff
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-06-14 03:27
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Wintrop
The Castle in the Attic - Elizabeth Winthrop

William is having a hard time adjusting. He's just found out that his beloved Mrs. Philips is leaving him to return home to London. She's been his companion since he was born, but now he's old enough to look after himself, and, hey, his parents are going to spend more time with him now. William is taking it so hard, because Mrs. Philips is family, but also because he's a bit of a loner, with only one friend not a British nanny, and - dare I say a - crybaby? I scrubbed away a lot of this characterization when I was little, so it was surprising to read it now. That is not why the book has faded for me. William's character, as atypical as it is for such an 'early' kids novel, is vital to the success of the story. His success is so much more meaningful knowing his struggles.

My problem was everything else. 'The Castle in the Attic' was full of mystery and magic, and I imagined myself exploring the castle, meeting Sir Simon, learning swordplay and, why not?, gymnastics. The prophecy was thrilling, the danger so clear. As an adult all of this faded into the simple language demanded at the time. The world William travels to didn't feel convincing, and the nanny problem seemed absurd to me. Has William never really bonded with his parents before this? Who would hire a nanny knowing that was the result? Winthrop likely didn't intend this, but it felt as if Mrs. Philips was responsible for coddling William and her presence isolated him most of the other children.

This is still a worthy book for kids, but I'm afraid its another one lost in the nostalgia wars.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-06-06 15:14
Blue Window by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
Blue Window - Adina Gewirtz

This is the portal fantasy with teeth you didn't know you were waiting for. Many authors have explored this territory, but very few have gotten the danger across without their books ending up intended for a grown-up audience, think 'The Magicians' and 'Wayward Children'.

Gewirtz has five siblings fall through their living room window after it mysteriously turns a deep blue and they end up in the world of Ganbihar. The rules are subtly different. The dangers of Ganbihar are its people. Language and intent and the people themselves are twisted, made somehow bestial by a great wrong of the past. The story's narrative is told in the third person and is passed in turns to each of the five children. It is a long journey for them, and the reader must share that, as they travel from the wilderness into a strange city and must flee to a sanctuary that isn't what it appears to be.

There is a message here, and I often have issues with books that that try to impart a lesson on a reader, but I feel Gewirtz handled the story well. The children's characters were distinct, the setting creepy, and the ideas underpinning the fabric of this world were fascinating. Echoes of Narnia are inevitable, but 'Blue Window' doesn't suffer from the comparison in my opinion. I'll be keeping an eye out for Gewirtz's next book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-06-06 01:19
The Lifters by Dave Eggers
The Lifters - Dave Eggers

'The Lifters' made me question my decision about not reviewing books before their release date. I hated this book so much, I felt like it would be unfair.

I know, I know, someone was kidding themselves about their influence on bookface. I also didn't realize I'd stop reviewing books for six months. So many of you have read this incredibly lazy book who could have avoided it!

Dave Eggers was my favorite author the summer I read 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius', but he was replaced after, and none of his other writing have ever sparked my interest aside from an essay here and there. So, when I saw the arc for his new MG book I was pleased to bring it home.

Granite, or 'Gran', is unhappy because his family has been forced to move away from the coast to his father's old hometown in the middle of nowhere. Worse still, his father must commute so far to get to work that he's often not home.

The town of Carousel is full of quirky residents who are divided on POLITICAL ISSUE and are so distracted by it that they ignore the many problems of their community, including the sinkholes opening all over town. Gran discovers one girl, Catalina Catalan, who is a Lifter, who sneaks out at night and works underground to combat the forces gnawing away at it.

I found nothing to wonder at in this story. Eggers goes and explains most everything that isn't a lazy allegory right away. The allegory of the force tearing apart the town (and the WORLD) is driven home eventually and is all the more...uninspiring...for the waiting.

This is a humorless book written by a smug adult who doesn't remember why kids love reading, or fantasy, and delivers a knee-jerk of a novel that gives the illusion of instruction. What kid wants to sit through a 'it'll get better if you just believe in yourself' sermon that doesn't actually give them any tools to MAKE it better? So I'm shelving this with 'The Education of Little Tree', 'Go Ask Alice' and 'Mein Kampf', because fuck this book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-14 19:38
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson,Judith Gwyn Brown

I know for a fact I read this book in elementary school, but I didn't remember anything about it. It turns out The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is about how the Herdmans, a gang of ill-bred ruffian poor children, hijack the Christmas play at Church because they thought there would be food, and they end up teaching everyone in town the lesson that.....they have feelings? I think that's it. It was marvelous.

The narrative, from the perspective of the daughter of the woman who ends up having to direct the pageant, is deadpan and with the humor mostly being carried by the dialogue between her parents and a lengthy segment where the hard-bitten urchins are disgusted by the treatment Mary and Joseph receive in Bethlehem and the poor quality of gifts offered by the wise men.

The humor is great, but there is a core of genuine sympathy in the book. Robinson cleverly cuts through all of the 'expected' traditions and finds a way to express the, yes I'm going to say it, the true meaning of Christmas. There isn't much resolution, but it does raise many questions, which can be a good thing when one enters into the dicey territory of Christmas fodder. This is a quick read for Christmas day and can be supplemented by the 1983 television special.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-14 03:39
Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones
The Islands of Chaldea - Diana Wynne Jones,Ursula Jones

Aileen is a young girl and comes from a magical bloodline. It is her destiny to follow her aunt and late mother as a Wise Woman of the Islands of Chaldea. There are four islands to the world, three of them cut off from the largest because of a spell cast a little over a decade before. The feel is generally Celt-ish.

There are shortages of certain goods and some political turmoil because of the division of the islands, but Aileen's biggest worry is that her magic has not revealed itself yet. She is apprenticed to her aunt but she worries she may never be a capable leader.  The worries are pushed aside when she finds herself, her aunt, a handsome prince, and an orphan are sent out on a quest to end the division of the islands.

Diana Wynne Jones was a fantastic author and Islands of Chaldea has many elements of her successful stories. We'll never know what the final novel would have looked like, but this was a fun diversion. I'm glad to have read it, but it doesn't stand out of the pack of her other, finer, work.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?