Saturday, February 25, 2012

a little bit of this and that

Some fun commentary on the maps of my favorite childhood places.

In personal news, my son finished a book yesterday and then told his dad he should read it, because it was really good! Our work here is done. Except for the part where he reads the book. That's almost done, since it was pretty short.

The book was one of the "Zack Files" series by Dan Greenburg, which I find amusingly meta, because while I was pregnant, I read Greenburg's Confessions of a Pregnant Father, which was about the birth of his son, Zack.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Monster at the End of this Nook

Partially thrilled, partially wondering if it can possibly work as well as the print book.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

kindle users, act fast

Falcon's Dragon by Luli Gray is free today for the Kindle but probably won't be for long. This is two books in one: I don't think I ever read book 2 and I can't seem to dig up my review for book 1, but I remember thinking highly of it. The blurbs from review journals would seem to support that opinion.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to me!

I just discovered that Sylvia Louise Engdahl's out of print YA books (and some new adult titles) are available as ebooks. They're at all the major sellers, but if you buy them from Smashwords they're DRM free, available in all formats, and reasonably priced.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Celebrate Hanukkah

Celebrate Hanukkah by Deborah Heiligman. National Geographic, 2008 (1-4263-0293-0) $6.95 pb

Aside from a short mention of how astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman spun the dreidel in zero gravity -- "it spins forever!" -- the most notable feature of this nonfiction book is the color photographs, which show Jewish children and Hanukkah celebrations all over the world. How fascinating to see Jews celebrating in India, Uganda and Rome. The text is simple and a little dull; surprisingly, the most interesting sections are in the collected information at the end, which includes a map of where the photos were taken, a glossary of terms, insights into the holiday from a Rabbi, a bibliography for further reading and a photo of Hoffman with his space traveling dreidel. A good basic introduction. (3-6)

(© 2011 Wendy E. Betts

FTC disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher. This blog is completely independent, but I receive a small percentage if books are purchased from Powells Boks via this site.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Admittedly, I haven't read it in many years

... but it is just me that finds it kind of odd that netGalley lists Phillip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe under "Romance"?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I confess -- I cried

So my husband and I just happened to be in the New York Public Library (!) and were checking out their 100 year exhibit. I'd been looking at the few exhibits related to children's books, when my husband nudged me towards a case in the middle of the room I must have walked past without noticing three or four times.

And there they were. Scuffed, worn, dirty, grey... loved. Pooh, Tigger, Kanga. Truly tiny Piglet. Eeyore. (No Owl, Rabbit or Roo -- poor Kanga!) I'd known there were there, but I'd completely forgotten.

Museums and libraries are amazing things.

(This explains why no Roo, but did Owl and Rabbit never actually exist?)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

best headline I've ever seen in my life

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DIane Duane Classic -- get it while you can

First the good news: a good deal on an ebook bundle of Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series. See Books on the Knob for details.

Now the bad news: Duane will be updating the series. (The ebooks on sale are the originals.) I suppose there are some good arguments for doing this, but I hate it. Children who can only read the latest, most modern stories will have no problem at all finding what they like. Not all children need to be pandered to; some like to have their imaginations and outlook stretched. My life would have been much sadder without the "dated" books of E. Nesbit, Lousia May Alcott, Edward Eager, Frieda Friedman, Elizabeth Enright. My son is enjoying some of those books right now, 30+ years later.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

a kid's opinion

My husband was buying some books for a birthday present today (the Wayside stories, you know you want to know) and a certain picture book was prominently featured on the counter. After the purchases were concluded, he discovered our son had picked it up and was reading it. He asked what he thought, to which our son said, "I don't understand what kind of person would tell someone to go to sleep that way."

My husband explained that sometimes when kids won't go to sleep, parents get very frustrated and feel at the edge of their ropes, and told a few choice stories from the past.

To which our son replied, "Well now I feel guilty!"

So to everyone who worried about actual kids reading this book... it's a good thing!

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Little Plum continued

Belinda has just left the first nastygram for Gem and my son asked, "Shouldn't she have left a nicer note?"

I was so pleased to have him recognize that, and how fascinating to see him trying to navigate the world of interactions... I didn't think of that at all when I chose this book, but it's really quite emotionally complex. What better place to learn about people than children's books? It's where I learned.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

plum season

I've been thinking that I haven't been making the best choices for read-alouds; the books I loved to read to myself don't always translate. So tonight I put my mind to finding a book that would sound wonderful and came up with Little Plum by Rumer Godden. I remember how fond I was of the unique way Godden wrote sentences, blending narrative and dialog.

It's going great; my son is responding so well to the cadence and the language. At one point he said he could just tell he was going to like this book. Since he had me read for a solid hour, I'd say so.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

For Those Who Don't Follow xkcd

An unexpected journey for The Magic Schoolbus.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb. Razorbill, (9781595143549) $8.99 pb

This is a hard book to critique, since I’m not the intended audience. It’s very creative, original and funny, which adults can appreciate, but also often gross and offensive, which not so much. Perhaps we're better off giving this to the kids and sticking to Evil Overmom. I did appreciate its cleverness, however.

Our narrator is Oliver, the school fat boy, whom everyone thinks is mentally slow. Little do they know that he’s really an evil genius putting on an amazing front, is fabulously wealthy and unbelievably powerful, and runs everything at their school. Anyone who tries to mess with him is rewarded with flatulence caused by a drug he invented, and he goes about his day enjoying the secret root beer/chocolate milk water fountain he had installed, and the toilet kept stocked with malted milk balls.

Although he admits to being fond of his "shapeless, witless mass of mousy hair, belly fat and boobs" mother ("Do I love her? Am I capable of love? A question even I can't answer) -- Oliver utterly despises his father. But the subtext tells a different story, of a boy desperate for his dad’s approval. When he decides to show up his father by winning the election for class president, he puts forth all his brilliance and tremendous power. But Oliver, being pure evil, doesn't realize how much "humans and their idiotic emotions" could foul up his plans. Emotions are the "only things in this world I can't control." Including, inevitably, his own.

The fantasy world -- or is it? -- is skillfully maintained, and anyone who’s ever been picked on in school will find it hard to resist the fantastical ways in which Oliver expresses his resentments and gets his revenge. I was very curious about how the story would resolve: would we ever find out if this is truth? Would Oliver ever admit to telling a story? I won't say how it ends, except that it was both consistent with the book's internal logic, and satisfying.

Photographs illustrate the story, but I didn’t feel they added much, and you won’t miss anything if you listen to the audio version (which is very well done, albeit tiresome at times. So much venom spewing can be painful to listen to.) I listened to audio for the first part of the book, then switched to an ebook. (Which I don't recommend, because there are numerous comic footnotes and those are a pain in eformat.) (Suggested age range: 13 & up)

© 2011 Wendy E. Betts

FTC disclosure: Both review copies provided by the public library. This blog is completely independent, but I receive a small percentage if you order books from Powell's via this site.

Labels: ,