Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Possessing the Secret of Joy

Written by: Alice Walker

First line: I did not realize for a long time that I was dead.

Why you should read this book: Tashi, sometimes known as Evelyn, is an Olinkan girl who marries an American missionary boy and straddles the two continents with difficulty, for Tashi carries with her always taboo knowledge that cannot be discussed: the pain of "bathing," or female circumcision, which killed her beloved sister, and deadens her own soul, but without which she believed she could never be accepted as a woman among her own people. Told in a series of very short vignettes narrated by Tashi, her friends, her family, and those people whose love touches her life, this story is a powerful revelation about misogyny and strength, mythology and reality. In dissecting Tashi's journey, Walker opens the reader's eyes to ways in which unexamined beliefs can crush a society, even as individuals embrace as inevitable the terrible outcomes of their choices.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're still angry over the loss of your foreskin.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Search for the Ten-Winged Dragon

Written by: Jean Karl

First line: Once in a time that both was and was not, there lived a boy named Tobias Cummings.

Why you should read this book: It would be a fairy tale if it wasn't so realistic. The story of an apprentice in a toy shop who wishes to build his own wind-up tin drummers and wooden ducks with wheels, this book discusses the birth of imagination in the literal thinker. Determined to discover the ten-winged dragon without which his master says no one can make a toy, the boy learns to see magic in everything and open his mind to the possibilities of the world around him.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You flunked the Rorschach test.

Larry Marder's Beanworld (Book 3): Remember Here When You Are There

Written by: Larry Marder

First line: Mr. Spook and the Chow Sol'jer Army return to the Beanworld by way of the Proverbial Sandy Beach.

Why you should read this book: Wahoolazooma! The Beans are back, and their quest for understanding proceeds apace: Beanish deepens his relationship of Dreamishness, Mr. Spook, the rapidly maturing Pod'l'pool Cuties explore the world and develop their talents, and Heyoka, the upside down and backward Bean who has set forth to learn more about the outside world, returns with greater understanding. There are new inventions, an elusive notworm, and some necessary fighting, singing, and dancing. Marder's afterword explains that that this edition concludes the first quarter of a twelve-book story arc, and seems to anticipate a more hasty delivery of the next installment.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're sure the truth resides in your own back yard.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 4: The Siege

Written by: Kathryn Lasky

First line: Sparks flew off his beak as the owl, mad with rage, careened through the night sky.

Why you should read this book: The stakes have been raised as Metal Beak, revealed as Soren's brother, Kludd, further reveals the depths of his evil and depravity, along with his utter hatred for his brother. Meanwhile, Soren and his chaw of chaws have been entrusted with a terrifying and important mission: to return to St. Aggie's as undercover agents and determine whether the academy has been infiltrated by the Pure Ones. War between the Guardians and the Pure Ones is imminent, and the Pure Ones have on their side greater numbers, superior weaponry, and a fierce rage that drives them onward toward genocide.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a double agent.

Aunt Clara Brown: Official Pioneer

Written by Linda Lowery

First line: Clara Brown made her way past barrels of dried fish.

Why you should read this book: A former slave who bought her own freedom with her own money, Clara Brown never forgot the daughter who she saw sold away from her when the little girl was only ten, and in 1959, Brown goes all the way to Colorado to search for her child. Overcoming racism and the rigors of the frontier, she becomes a wealthy woman who spends most of her fortune helping former slaves build new lives after the Civil War. Shortly before her death, she is reunited with her adult daughter, for a satisfying conclusion to this easy-to-read biography for children.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You give up easily.

The Prince of the Dolomites

Written by: Tomie De Paola

First line: “He’s coming, he’s coming,” the boy shouted as he ran through the streets of the little Italian village.

Why you should read this book: Complete with all the warmth of De Paola’s familiar illustrations, this story tells of the Prince of the Dolomites, who has the misfortune of falling in love with the Moon King’s youngest daughter. He pines for his unattainable princess so long that his people begin to fear him, until an act of kindness to a band of wandering, nature-loving dwarves—Salvani—actually gets him in with his beloved, who he is able to bring back to earth as his wife, but the princess missing the blazing whiteness of her home, and becomes sick with longing, until the Salvani find the solution. This lovely folktale explains the origins of the unusual color of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains along with the lovely, white edelweiss flower.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: Don't believe in love. Or anything, really.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 3: The Rescue

Written by: Kathryn Lasky

First line: The tail of the comet slashed the dawn and in the red light of the rising sun, for a brief instant, it seemed as if the comet was bleeding across the sky.

Why you should read this book: The game is afoot as Soren and company take a note from Harry Potter and begin sneaking out from Ga'Hoole to take on the missions the adult owls are too reluctant or befuddled to organize. Ezylryb, Soren's favorite teacher, has been missing for months, and Soren and his friends are determined to track him down while they learn more about all the secrets being kept from them. At last, the young owls are to become brave doers of great deeds, and, along the way, will penetrate the veil between this world and the next, discover the hidden past, and unmask their greatest enemy.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're trapped in the devil's triangle.