Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time Travel

First, we go back to 1961 with Cynthia Voigt's 1982 book, Tell Me If the Lovers are Losers, which is still in print, although I couldn't find a web site for Voigt. I had a hard back copy, and the cover art is different but still incredibly 1980s. Anne is excited to be Stanton, a college for gifted women in the east, because learning is easier than social interaction. Niki, the rebel in jeans from California, is biding her time before switching to Berkeley. Hildy has one year before she must return to the Midwest and marry a farmer. The three are roommates and connect through a shared interest in volleyball, and support each other through a variety of travails, including a sad, sad ending.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It painted an interesting picture of college life. Read this during testing, and one of the first students in the library afterwards was the only girl in school to whom I would think to hand this. Her reaction will be interesting.

Ted Bell's Nick of Time is actual time travel-- there is a Tempus Machina and everything. Nick lives with his family in a lighthouse on Greybeard Island in the English channel. His father loses his job because of spying on the Germans. There is just cause to do this-- U boats are roiling the water off the coast. Nick and his sister end up meeting Lord Hawke and Hobbes, who are really spies, and the trouble begins. Hobbes has created a time travel machine (which sounds a little like the Voyagers! omni), and Hawke and Nick are sent back to 1805, where they are involved in pirates and naval battles. Hobbes and Kate are left to outwit the Nazis, which was somehow the more riveting plot. Winston Churchill is involved in the end, and I would be at all surprised if there were a sequel. There's some Latin, which is decent but maybe not quite right. I'm checking. This is more of a war book than fantasy, but perfect for students who like both. It starts out with Nick getting caught in a storm, and has enough action and adventure to satisfy readers who want a lengthy book.

A student requested The Palace of Laughter by Jon Berkeley. She described it to me, and since I didn't have a copy, provided her with something that sounded similar-- but I can't remember which student or what book. I was NOT in a mood for a thick fantasy book, having seen too many of them recently, so I didn't enjoy this as much as I think I would have otherwise. My son has it now, so I'll get his take on it. Will probably buy the series-- it was sort of Lemony Snicket meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Cirque du Freak. It had an ineffable quality that I liked and yet couldn't identify, hence the damning with faint praise.

In a quasi-Victorian time, Miles Wednesday runs away from the orphanage where his life has been miserable, and lives in a barrel. When the Circus Oscuro comes to town, he wants to sneak in to see a tiger but insteads ends up rescuing Little, a Song Angel. After narrowly escaping being ripped to shreds by the circus Null, the two set off on an adventure to find the Storm Angel and get Little back to where she belongs, as well as Tangerine, Miles' beloved stuffed bear. They are aided by a talking tiger and have lots of interesting adventures.

Again, I liked this one and think it will circulate well in my library, but I really wanted to read Beany Malone, and had trouble getting my mind around, well, the talking tiger. Perhaps I should make it policy to never review books with talking animals in them, since I can never do them justice.

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