Friday, June 23, 2006

Catching up...new/old/assorted

It's not that I don't read. It's that I'm not always good about keeping records.

Liked and will buy:
Mackel's Can of Worms because it is a funny science fiction that boys will like. Sending out an interplanetary SOS does have its consequences! Beware the sentient poodles!

Pinder's But I don't want to be a movie star because it amused me greatly. English girl stays with former movie star grandmother who is waiting to make a come back. On eve of that, grandmother breaks leg on granddaughter's skateboard and gets granddaughter to impersonate her. Utterly silly, but I am always looking for more "Pink" books for my insatiable girl readers!

Durrant's My Last Skirt, based of the true story of Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers, an Irish girl who came to America and fought in the Civil War. She was the only woman who kept her pension after her true identity was discovered. The 8th grade does a historical ficition unit, and this is especially great since someone lost my copy of Clapps' Deborah Sampson last year, and it's out of print.

Meacham's A Mid-Semester Night's Dream, because the girls who like pink books generally hate fantasy, and this one about a fairy godmother's help in a romantic situation is perfect, if just a tad simplistic. The print seemed abnormally large, but I did enjoy it. Again, someone lost my last copy of Bank's The Fairy Rebel and I've yet to see about replacing it.

Still not sure about Giblin's The Boy Who Saved Cleveland. Better for the elementary schools, because it is a very slight story, even though it is pertinent to Ohio history.(1798 malaria epidemic.)

Will buy Willo Davis Robert's Kidnappers because it is thrilling enough, but not Blood on his Hands, because it is more of a problem novel.

Also am slogging through the M's. Joan Lowry Nixon's Maggie series, which was okay but a bit dated, O'Neal's In a Summer Light which just didn't capture me particularly, Naylor's Bessledorf series, which will be good during mystery units for children who like comedies (did like these, but they are slightly young). John Neufeld's Almost a Hero was a good story about homeless children and community service, but everything he has written pales in comparison to Lisa Bright and Dark. Park's Playing Beatie Bow was time travel, but set in Australia and therefore slightly odd. Neville's It's Like This, Cat was interesting, but I don't know how many children are going to care about every day life in NYC in 1963, even if it won a Newbery. Paterson's Come and Sing, Jimmy Jo was pretty good once I got into it. Country music stardom for reluctant 11 year old.

Won't be buying Klause's Freaks: Alive on the Inside. Good, but not as good as her other stuff, and a harder sell. Her vampire and werewolf books are popular, but circus freaks? No.

Also no to Wittlinger's The Long Night of Leo and Bree. Boy's sister is killed. Boy's family loses it. Boy goes out and kidnaps girl in short skirt to kill because she's "asking for it". Boy and girl bond. Just, no.

Whew. See, I'm reading, just not near a computer every day.

Catching up...new/old/assorted

It's not that I don't read. It's that I'm not always good about keeping records.

Liked and will buy:
Mackel's Can of Worms because it is a funny science fiction that boys will like. Sending out an interplanetary SOS does have its consequences! Beware the sentient poodles!

Pinder's But I don't want to be a movie star because it amused me greatly. English girl stays with former movie star grandmother who is waiting to make a come back. On eve of that, grandmother breaks leg on granddaughter's skateboard and gets granddaughter to impersonate her. Utterly silly, but I am always looking for more "Pink" books for my insatiable girl readers!

Durrant's My Last Skirt, based of the true story of Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers, an Irish girl who came to America and fought in the Civil War. She was the only woman who kept her pension after her true identity was discovered. The 8th grade does a historical ficition unit, and this is especially great since someone lost my copy of Clapps' Deborah Sampson last year, and it's out of print.

Meacham's A Mid-Semester Night's Dream, because the girls who like pink books generally hate fantasy, and this one about a fairy godmother's help in a romantic situation is perfect, if just a tad simplistic. The print seemed abnormally large, but I did enjoy it. Again, someone lost my last copy of Bank's The Fairy Rebel and I've yet to see about replacing it.

Still not sure about Giblin's The Boy Who Saved Cleveland. Better for the elementary schools, because it is a very slight story, even though it is pertinent to Ohio history.(1798 malaria epidemic.)

Will buy Willo Davis Robert's Kidnappers because it is thrilling enough, but not Blood on his Hands, because it is more of a problem novel.

Also am slogging through the M's. Joan Lowry Nixon's Maggie series, which was okay but a bit dated, O'Neal's In a Summer Light which just didn't capture me particularly, Naylor's Bessledorf series, which will be good during mystery units for children who like comedies (did like these, but they are slightly young). John Neufeld's Almost a Hero was a good story about homeless children and community service, but everything he has written pales in comparison to Lisa Bright and Dark. Park's Playing Beatie Bow was time travel, but set in Australia and therefore slightly odd. Neville's It's Like This, Cat was interesting, but I don't know how many children are going to care about every day life in NYC in 1963, even if it won a Newbery. Paterson's Come and Sing, Jimmy Jo was pretty good once I got into it. Country music stardom for reluctant 11 year old.

Won't be buying Klause's Freaks: Alive on the Inside. Good, but not as good as her other stuff, and a harder sell. Her vampire and werewolf books are popular, but circus freaks? No.

Also no to Wittlinger's The Long Night of Leo and Bree. Boy's sister is killed. Boy's family loses it. Boy goes out and kidnaps girl in short skirt to kill because she's "asking for it". Boy and girl bond. Just, no.

Whew. See, I'm reading, just not near a computer every day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

15 minutes of fame

Don't know how long this link will be up, but the Columbus Dispatch had a nice article on little ol' me at:
http://www.dispatch.com/news-story.php?story=dispatch/2006/06/12/20060612-B1-03.html

The nice thing is that on some computers you can listen to The Overdue Blues. The paper didn't thank John Morgan, my former neighbor and world's nicest guitarist, for his work in getting the guitar accompaniment and recording done. They really should have credited him with this.

Little did you all know how famous I am. And yes, Hortense was VERY annoyed!

Shiloh

Okay. I admit it. When I read in the paper that Angelina Jolie named her daughter Shiloh, I thought "She named her after a DOG?" Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's series was the first thing I thought of, and since I am working on the N's anyway, I had to read it.

I was surprised. I liked all three books (Shiloh, Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh), although they weren't at all what I expected. I thought they would be about the dog, in the tradition of Where the Red Fern Grows or Sounder. But they really weren't. They were more about the abusive, drunken former owner and the boy's attempt to help him. They gave an excellent picture of a hard life in rural West Virginia; the third one especially covered the late fall and winter holidays and was quite enjoyable. I will recommend these to students who like problem novels but HAVE to read one about animals-- they will be pleased.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Rebecca

Had a teacher want this for a student last year. She was shocked I didn't have it in my library. Hmmm. Found a copy at the thrift store and read it last night. I think that most middle school girls are not going to want to pick up a gothic romance set in 1930's England, but then, I could be wrong. I'll give it to the particular student, see how she likes it, and if she thinks it is fantastic, I'll add it.

Read Phyllis Naylor's Bodies in the Besseldorf Hotel (1985). Pretty good. Fast paced and funny, so students who HAVE to read a mystery will like it. There is a series, which students also tend to like.

Nothing has been jumping out at me as really fantastic lately. I admit to reading a lot more adult fiction lately. There's so much Naylor and Nixon, not to mention Garth Nix to get through, that I'm lacking motivation. I'll take my list to purchase in the fall and see if the public library has the books in yet.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Stephen King

Not something I would pick up myself, but when I asked the librarian for a recommendation, that's what she suggested. Picked up Carrie (1974) and Thinner (1985).

Students frequently ask if I have any King. Maybe they are thinking about his movies, because the books weren't all that scary. A bit gory, yes, and extremely vulgar (note: "shocking" does not equal "good"), but not nearly as thrilling as my favorite, Anthony Horowitz. I may read a few more, but from the frequency of use of the f-word, and the descriptions of certain bodily functions, I am thinking this has no place in my collection. Just not enough to recommend it.

The librarian also recommended Welsh's Trainspotting, which was also vulgar and dealt with drugs, but the dialect was so bad that I really couldn't discern a plot.

In the way of YA fiction, I read a holocaust novel which I can't remember. Write about that later.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Naylor's Alice

Well, it is summer, and I am not glued to the computer the way I am at school, so I won't be posting as frequently.

Also, it took a while to read through 20 of the Alice books. I do like them, realistic fiction being my favorite genre. They are rather like Lenora Mattingly Weber's Beany Malone of Katie Rose books in that the main characters have an assortment of problems. Whereas Beany was concerned about necking, Alice has bigger worries. I know that these books have been challenged a lot, and I can see why. They talk about a lot of "8th grade health class issues", but the tone is so educational, dry and clinical that I can't see why people would complain. I will be a little more careful before recommending them to all and sundry, however.

Also read Garth Nix's Sabriel. Didn't much care for it. Fantasy, the undead, an Abhorsen who wants to make them stay dead while figuring out why her father is missing. I think it will be good for the students who like fantasy with a touch of evil. My son is a big fan of Nix's Seventh Tower series, so I may have to pick those up.

Zibby O'Neal's A Long Way To Go, about the women's suffrage movement circa 1917, was a good, quick historical fiction. There is a whole series of these; Once Upon America, I think.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Having finished the M's, I'm working my way through the N's. Read Starting with Alice, Alice in Blunderland, and Lovingly Alice. Eh. They were okay, although I was surprised in the third book, when Alice is in 5th grade, when there is a blow-by-blow account of how babies are made. Good thing I was reading ahead; my 3rd grade daughter is liking the first one, and I at least want to be prepared. They are not a run-of-the-mill series for girls. Lots of "issues" addressed. I am liking the real first book The Agony of Alice a little better, but poor Alice. Lots of embarassment.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Carolyn Meyer/Veronica Bennett/Kristen Kladstrup

Meyer's Maria, Dancing (2006) was wonderful-- set in France in the late 1800;s with Dega painting a wretchedly poor ballerina with a drunken mother and a troubled older sister. Doesn't fit a curricular need, however, and will have to pass on buying.

Same with Bennett's AngelMonster(2006). The story of headstrong, young Mary Shelley is stranger than fiction- she buried four children before the age of 22 AND wrote Frankenstein at 20. The title refers to her idiot of a lover/husband, the poet Shelley. The 8th grade girls would love it, and it is delicately done, but I'm reluctant to buy it. Did read it all, however-- I love fictionalized biographies.

Kladstrup's The Book of Story Beginnings (2006) has an interesting premise-- a notebook that makes the stories one writes in it come to life-- but I found that I wasn't at all interested in the stories that the children wrote about, so when they started living them, the book looked VERY long at 360 pages, and I gave up.

Next on my agenda-- reading all of the Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Alice books in order. I'll spend most of the summer on Naylor and Joan Lowry Nixon, when not reading new things for purchase in the fall.
 
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