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Search tags: summer-carnival-of-children-s-literature
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review 2016-09-06 20:57
The Golden Compass / Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called "Gobblers"—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.


The Golden Compass was the last hurrah in my 2016 Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature.  It just squeaked in under the wire, as I read it during the Labour Day weekend.


I rate it at 4.5 stars.  I found it completely engrossing and hard to put down.  Published about 15 years too late for me to read as a child—but how I would have loved it!  It is a dark novel, full of mysterious daemons, a threatening Church, plots of uncertain origin, sinister disappearances, and duplicitous adults. 


All the stuff that I still enjoy!  Unfortunately for me, this first of the series came out just as my own life was imploding and I have only recently recovered enough to get seriously reading again.  Twenty years delay in discovering this marvelous introduction to His Dark Materials.

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review 2016-09-06 20:08
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban / J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

As a newbie to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, I’m amazed at the devoted following that J.K. Rowling has built!  Child and adult, those who read it as children but continue to adore it as adults, devotées of all ages.


I love the names that she assigned to characters—of course someone named Lupin is going to be a werewolf!  (The French for wolf being loup.)  It’s these little treats that appeal to adults reading this series.  Rowling nails the angst of school, too, with the dread of being mocked by one’s peers, the fixation on who wins what game, the anxiety about test scores, the rows with friends, and doubting one’s abilities.  These are the worries of childhood which morph into our adult problems.  Everyone can identify.


And the teachers!  As Robertson Davies wrote in Fifth Business, “If a boy can't have a good teacher, give him a psychological cripple or an exotic failure to cope with; don't just give him a bad, dull teacher. This is where the private schools score over state-run schools; they can accommodate a few cultured madmen on the staff without having to offer explanations.”  I personally sometimes learned interesting life lessons from the teachers who hated teaching or who were on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  They may not have been the best at teaching chemistry or English or whatever, but I learned to cope with people who had power over my life and who were not having a good time.


Read as part of my Halloween Book Bingo 2016, to count towards the Witches square.

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text 2016-09-03 18:53
Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 435 pages.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling


Rowling really writes the school experience well--worrying about what your classmates think, dealing with bullies, and trying to do decently in academics.


She nails it!

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review 2016-08-27 21:35
The Ninja Librarians : The Accidental Keyhand / Jen Swann Downey
The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand - Jennifer Swann Downey

Just a little story about your average sword-swinging, karate-chopping, crime-fighting ninja librarians

Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor's closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch's Library -the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.

Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?


***Wanda's Summer Carnival of Children's Literature***


Dorrie is not your typical little girl—she lives to re-enact swordplay and loves her acting coach. So imagine her excitement when she and her brother Marcus fall through a hole in a closet in their public library and discover the mysterious world of Petrach’s Library.  Training for ‘lybrarians’ here is somewhat different from our world, including cataloguing, deception and impersonation, publishing law, stealth and illicit entry, library organization, unarmed combat, research skills, armed combat, book repair, fire and explosives, patron relations, horsemanship, water training, espionage, escape and concealment, meteorology, geography and field survival, amongst other skills. 


I never went to library school, but this one sounds a bit more intriguing!


Dorrie and Marcus have lots of obstacles to overcome and it is a grand adventure. Very entertaining even for adult readers (at least those who love libraries).

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review 2016-08-20 19:34
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet (Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue, #2) - Zack Giallongo,Ian Lendler

The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.


***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

The second installment of this graphic novel series and it is every bit as cute and smart as the first one. More lessons on what theatre is all about. The lion, who played Macbeth in the first book, now plays Juliet’s parent-approved love interest, Parry. When a young monkey in the audiences says, “Look, there’s Macbeth,” his mother explains to him about actors and that in this play the lion is Parry.

The two old vultures in the upper balcony reminded me strongly of the two hecklers in the Muppet Show, although they merely comment on various topics rather than heckling the actors.
Romeo is a rooster from a petting zoo and Juliet is a bear, living in “the wild” (say that like the penguins in Madagascar for an authentic feeling, I think). Romeo longs to walk on the wild side, while Juliet spends some time contemplating what it would feel like to be petted. They both just want to be best friends and have regular play dates. The whole petted vs. wilder dichotomy is reflected in the audience too, as a young monkey and a lamb begin as kids who don’t like each other and progress to build a friendship.

There are running gags, like bears always wanting to pee on woodchucks and the roosters putting on Lone Ranger type masks and being perfectly disguised. Once again, the elephant arrives late (this time with a date) and blocks the rest of the audience during a crucial scene.

Very cute. If you enjoyed the Macbeth version, you will also enjoy Romeo & Juliet.

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