Sunday, August 07, 2011

Weekend Reading

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Bird in a Box.
Three children in 1930s Elmira, New York find their paths intersecting. Hibernia, the daughter of the local Baptist preacher, wants to be a singer like her mother (who abandoned her). Willie is in a nearby orphanage even though his mother is still alive, mainly because his stepfather ruined his hands after Willie threw an amateur boxing match. Otis is also in the orphanage after the deaths of his struggling but loving parents. The boys, and Hibernia's father, are all enthralled with the journey of boxer Joe Louis as he is battling his way to the top of his field against fighters such as Max Schmeling. Alternating narrators between

the three, the way that these three intersect is slowly revealed.
Strengths: Very good period details about the economy, plight of African Americans, and social mores of the time. If Bud, Not Buddy is popular in your library, this is a must have.
Weaknesses: As much as I like historical fiction, this didn't quite grab me. I don't do well with alternating narrators, so that might have been why. I was surprised to see that The Happy Nappy Bookseller had the same reaction.

Rennison, Louise. Withering Tights.
Tallulah is thrilled to leave her wacky family behind and travel to the Yorkshire Dales to attend an arts camp. She ends up living with a local family and being disappointed that there are no boys in her program, even though this doesn't stop the cousin of Georgia Nicholson from finding some hotties in other places! Tallulah makes friends easily, enjoys being part of the Yorkshire community, and does her best to find an art form through which she can express herself-- with sometimes frightening but funny consequences. This funny book is light on plot, but fans will just be glad to have something new from Rennison.
Strengths: Good local flavor, funny situations, embarrassing stories that middle school girls love. Not quite as repetitive and precious as Angus, Thongs got to be.
Weaknesses: The Georgia books are not for everyone, and while this is not as quirky, the same may be true. They are funny, but the head long style gets tiring.

Allen, Elise. Populazzi.
Cara's family moves far enough away that she has to go to a new school but close enough that she can keep in touch with her friend Claudia through texting. Every year, the two think that they can change their lives and be popular, but it has never worked. Claudia comes up with a plan involving a Ladder of dating in order for Cara to become more popular. After being thwarted in her heart felt attempts to date Archer, Cara throws herself into a cycle of dating, starting with a Danger Zone boy and working her way into the popular crowd. Once she's there, does life improve?
Strengths: Love the voice, and the Plan is a well thought out one. This was fun chick lit that examines why people are popular and was very true to life.
Weaknesses: DEFINITELY YA. Cara smokes pot with danger zone boy, ends up in several unclothed situations-- there's just too much. I didn't even want to give it to Older Teen Daughter. Amusing, interesting, but perhaps a bit too instructional for a school library. This is too bad. It could easily have been made acceptable for the middle school audience.


  1. I was really looking forward to Bird in a Box and was dissappointed when it didn't work for me.

    Did you have any problem distingishing between the voices of Willie and Otis?

  2. I didn't have too much trouble distinguishing between Otis (who has the good parents) and Willie (who didn't), but none of the characters were particularly likable or vibrant.