Monday, February 23, 2009

Grip of the Shadow Plague and Sucks to Be Me

Brandon Mull's third installment in the Fablehaven series is as much fun as the other titles. Seth and Kendra are still at their grandparents magical preserve, and there is still trouble afoot. Seth, who continues to make bad choices, helps two Satyrs steal gold from the nipsies, and in doing so realizes that the nipsies have turned dark. This is just a sign of things to come-- fairies turn dark, and all is not well at Fablehaven. In the meantime, Kendra travels to a Knights of Dawn meeting, and goes from there to Lost Mesa to retrieve a crucial artifact.

There is lots of adventure, and the characters are all likable despite their flaws. They are the best part-- I love seeing Kendra struggling to use her powers to do what is right, and what needs to be done, even though she would really rather be doing anything else! I must admit to being slightly confused about the plot, since it's been a while since I read the other books, but my 7th grade son kept me in line. Book 4, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary is coming out on March 24th and I will definitely buy that! If you haven't read these, put the first one on your Must Read pile!
Pauley's Sucks to be Me is an excellent vampire novel. Mina's parents are vampires, but she is not, and when the vampire council finds out about her existence, she must attend classes and decide whether or not she wants to become a vampire. Like the wonderful Vampire High, this is handled in a clever but mundane way. The vampire life style is not romanticized-- Mina's father is an accountant, and her mother teaches middle school. I especially loved that one Goth girl in the class is not allowed to become a vampire because she is so negative, and one boy decides not to because the reality does not align with his preconceptions. The fact that Mina's language arts class is studying Dracula also makes for some interesting myth busting. There are other things going on in Mina's life-- a great best friend, boys, prom, and a strange uncle who is responsible for the whole mess which give depth and texture to the story. Given the ending of the book, which I won't spoil, there is bound to be a sequel. I've already bought two copies.
But I am a little irked that I did, for one small and one large reason. First, the small:
(Best friend studying Latin, pg. 40)
"Facio, facere, feci..."
"Fee-cee? Did you just say what I think you said?
"Shhj! Conjugating!"
First, it's FAKE-eee. Secondly, she's listing the principal parts, not conjugating. What have I said? Authors, before you attempt Latin, check it with me! It's been 15 years since I taught it, but I know people. We can get you the help you need. Yes, I know I'm the only one who is bothered by this, but please do not use Latin unless you get it right! In Ecclesiastical Latin, this would be Fay--chee. At the very least, Google it.
I know that my Latin concerns are silly, but the large reason hurt my feelings very much. Page 238 describes Mina's trip to the library and introduces us to "Ms. Reed, the librarian and Study Hall Nazi", who seems very helpful but is described with "If there's one thing she likes better than catching someone doing something they aren't supposed to (italics mine), it's figuring out what book you want." Then, when Mina picks up Teen Pregnancy: Your choices, Dreams and Decisions ("Why the heck do we even have that book in our library? I can only think of one girl who got knocked up this year, and she wasn't exactly much of a reader, if you know what I mean."), Ms. Reed comments on the title aloud and "looks scandalized".
Yes, there are mean librarians out there, and yes, I do have a study hall which I monitor, and I do make them sit quietly. This makes me a Nazi? And even in middle school we have books on drug abuse and teen pregnancy, and I assume that students investigating these subjects come to me because they have a need to know about these matters, not that they are necessarily using drugs or pregnant. Maybe they have a project.
Authors, if you don't get the Latin right, I will make fun of you but quickly forget it. But don't forget the people who buy your books and get them into the hands of students. School librarians. Please treat us kindly, and make it a point to meet enough of us that you don't fall prey to stereotypes.


  1. Urgh, librarian stereotypes. My pet peeve is homeschool stereotypes. I have yet to find a YA (or ANY fiction) where homeschooled students weren't portrayed as rabidly religious, cult members or reborn flower children. Aargh!

    On a different note - I would love, love, LOVE your adventure lists. My e-mail is Thanks!

  2. I loved Sucks to Be Me--it was cute AND hilarious! (:

  3. Wow, definitely my bad on the Latin. Believe it or not, I took it in college...but it has been a LONG time. I shouldn't have trusted the page that I googled...(and I did actually google it).

    As for the librarian thoughts, I'd left you a comment on my site. I didn't actually see the librarian as that bad! I thought it was nice that she told Mina that she could come talk to her if she needed help (when she thought Mina must be pregnant because of the book). And Mina tended to give nicknames to everyone...and while I'm sure the librarian in the book didn't feel that she was a Study Hall Nazi, from a teenager's point of view when trying to sneak talk to a friend...well, I think you see what I mean. But I certainly didn't mean to insult librarians! Honestly, you're the only one out of the many librarians I've talked to that even mentioned that at all. But I am sorry it offended you!