Friday, October 31, 2014

Ella Enchanted

Written by: Gail Carson Levine

First line: That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me.

Why you should read this book: Her childhood destroyed by her mother's premature death and her own particular curse of immutable obedience, Ella presents the Cinderella story in a new and modern light, a tale about a girl concerned with social equality and her country's health as much as she cares about her own well-being. Ella's terrible secret is that, thanks to the world's worst fairy gift, she cannot disobey any command given to her by anyone, even her terrible stepsisters. Ella's journey to break her own curse is a delightful tale that stands up to repeated reading.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You'd have to be some kind of terrible person not to enjoy this modern classic.

Under Stars

Written by: KJ Kabza

First line: Beneath the four of us was a patch of bare earth, which Yuri had anchored into reality with a screw he'd muttered.

Why you should read this book: The short fiction of KJ Kabza is full of surprises, whether in the form of the world's shortest vampires-in-space flash fiction, the merging of the beach and punk genres, or a story set inside a dictionary, where all the characters are English words. This second collection of unusual tales breathes new life into old conventions and awakens the readers mind by presenting modern quandaries around ancient ideas. Trolls, mad scientists, unicorns, and dragons are all available for your perusal, and are all depicted as you've never seen them before.

Why you shouldn't read this book: The final section present sixty-nine kinky, nerdy limericks, which are by and large pretty filthy. If this does not sound hilarious to you, you may want to move on.

Read my complete review on In the Weird.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Danny the Champion of the World

Written by: Roald Dahl

First line: When I was four months old, my mother died suddenly and my father was left to look after me all by himself.

Why you should read this book: In some ways, it's Dahl's deepest, most complex and nuanced book for young readers, and while it is basically devoid of the fantastic magic and nonsense seen as the hallmark of his children's stories, it holds a powerful naturalistic magic, expressed in a boy's love for his father and his father's love of the boy and the natural world. At the age of nine, Danny learns that his father's one manic passion in life is poaching pheasants from the woods of their horrible neighbor, a villain with no redeeming qualities who is rude to children, kicks dogs, sucks up to rich people who also hate him, and otherwise deserves to be robbed; and Danny, who adores his father, is eager to help him embarrass this reprobate. It's a quiet story that builds up a powerful head of steam as it goes, roaring toward a satisfying conclusion that mingles wonder and loss with the perfect bond of familial love.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a one percenter who voraciously devours the scribblings of Ayn Rand and feels that money justifies any rotten behavior.

The Baby Sister

Written by: Tomie dePaolo

First line: Tommy had a mother, a father, two grandmothers, one grandfather, lots of aunts and uncles, an older brother, Buddy, a dog named Tootsie...and lots and lots of cousins.

Why you should read this book: When Tommy learns his mom is pregnant, his artistic soul yearns for a baby sister with a red ribbon in her hair. The family prepares for the new addition to their family over a space of many months as excitement and suspense mount in the boy's mind. This book present an accurate and caring portrait of a young child's long experience of waiting out a pregnancy in the days before sonograms or chicken pox vaccines.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't approve of children knowing where they came from.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

Written by: Eric Carle

First line: Before Monica went to bed she looked out of her window and saw the moon.

Why you should read this book: A doting dad gets the moon for a little daughter, who wants it for a plaything. Kids like the extra-huge, folded pages showing dad arriving on the moon and then climbing down the ladder. As per usual, Carle's textured collage illustrations bring the story to life.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You know that the earth is a quarter of a million miles away from the moon, and that the weight of the moon on earth would crush a small child.

The Water Hole

Written by: Graeme Base

First line: Down to the secret water hole the animals all come.

Why you should read this book: Children adore this beautiful animal themed counting book, which features cutout pages, gorgeously painted animals of all shapes, sizes, and continental origin, and a naturalist story about seasonal rains. Kids will want to count along as the the water hole shrinks and the number of animals in need increases. Includes short informational blurbs about the featured animals at the end.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're really thirsty.

Night Monkeys

Written by: Dana Simson

First line: Night Monkeys are full of mischief.

Why you should read this book: Mischievous monkeys in charge of the sunset taunt the Dreamcat who juggles phases of the moon. When monkeys steal a crescent moon, Dreamcat steals it back, replacing it with crescent-shaped bananas. Sort of a psychedelic new age origin myth.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're looking for a book that explains how earth's shadow falls across our major satellite to produce the illusion of changing shape.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trickster Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection

Edited by: Matt Dembicki

First line: When Mother Earth was extremely young, things were not as they are now.

Why you should read this book: I adored this well-thought-out collection, which pairs Native American storytellers with the graphic artists they felt best represented their stories. These tales run the gamut from humorous to serious (sometimes both at the same time), and, as most trickster tales do, explain acceptable modes of behavior or origin stories (or both) with characters who are always trying to get something for nothing or do something that no one has ever wanted to do before. While trickster tales can also run toward adult subject matter, this collection is appropriate for children with nothing more shocking than a few humorous illustrations of animals' backsides, although I get the sense that some sexual content was edited out of the story, "When Coyote Decided to Get Married."

Why you shouldn't read this book: You hate trickster tales, or you hate graphic storytelling. Otherwise, anyone who doesn't find something to enjoy in this collection is probably a massive crank.