Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reading My Library -- Approaching the End of Part III

Image of RentonAnother step in my Reading My Library Quest is almost complete! I've finished Picture Books, Series Books, and have the last few shelves of J Fiction waiting to read. After I finish W-Z I'll be on to J NF, which is mostly picture books. That will be fast! And just before I finish those, they will close the library for renovation and I'll have to start all over again. I'm looking forward it it.

Listen!, Stephanie Tolan. Dog books attract tragedy like fleas, but at least in this one all the sad stuff happens before the book opens -- the mom dies, the dog is abused. I liked the slow growth of trust between the girl and her pet, and how caring for the dog obviously helps Charley deal with her grief but this isn't belabored heavily. The insights into her mother's photography were powerful, as there was a real reason for sudden images to really mean something to Charley. The weakest part was the psychic link or whatever that gave Charley the ability to sense where the dog was; in a work that had built up their relationship with solid realism that magic just drained the suspense and power from the page. Lucky it was only a small part of the story.

BreadcrumbsThe Shadow Thieves, Anne Ursu. Wow. This one was a lot of fun. It looks like a lightweight children's fantasy adventure, and it's a good one, but the characterization is spot-on, the humor is masterful, and the prose is delicious. The cover is dull, but I think that's been addressed in later editions. I've just put all of Ursu's backlist on my TBR list, and I really wish this wasn't due on Thursday because I bet my kid would love it. I think I'll give it to him anyway; he can easily finish it in a day.

Navigating Early, Clare Vanderpool. Two grieving boys in Maine go on a river journey to learn about themselves with the aid of amazing coincidences. I liked the independence of the boys, and how hard the narrator had to work to become loyal. I was suspicious of the "boy on the spectrum" thing, but Vanderpool does a good job portraying a kid who is a bit different than his peers expect. 

photo-paperboy-coverThe Paperboy, Vince Vawter. Vawter does an excellent job showing how it feels to stutter and how it affects communication and self-esteem in non-obvious ways -- the boy nicknames his friends based on words he finds easier to say and plans out his conversations to avoid known land mines (I liked how he skipped collecting payments at one house because it moved the amount from a series of impossible syllables to a more manageable phrase). Simultaneously Vawter presents a view of segregation era Memphis, where black and white roles are rigidly set but nannies can sometimes move between the groups (a nanny with her white charge might be sitting anywhere on a bus).
Coyote AutumnCoyote Autumn, Bill Wallace. Set in Oklahoma, which jumped it up the queue. This turned out to be a coyote book rather than a dog book, although it had dogs too. (I thought it would be about a dog called Coyote.) I liked the family dynamics, which started out as cardboard antagonists but then developed more depth and emotional clarity.

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, Ellis Weiner. I chose this because I knew my younger son enjoyed it. I see why. Actually, I had thought he had refused to read it but apparently he just reads faster than I realized, and when he saw me reading it he laughed again. I appreciate the summary questions at the end of each chapter, and I'm getting the sequel for my son. Too bad I can't read it until April. (See Triple Dog Dare)

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