July 23, 2009
The Book of Three (AR 5 . 3 )
by Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Threeis a story that takes place in Welsh mythology. The main character is a boy named Taran who lives in Caer Dallben. Caer Dallben is one of the places in the island of Prydain. The story starts when Taran goes off to wash Hen Wen the oracular pig and she starts frantically digging holes and escapes from her pen.
After she escapes and runs into the forest, Taran goes after her. He encounters the evil Horned King and is saved by a man named Gwydion. Only later does he realize that Gwydion is a prince.
He finds Gwythaints, Fair folk, and also a creature named Gurgi. My favorite part was when they met Gurgi — crunchings and munchings.
Most of the story is spent trying to track down Hen Wen, but there are occasional battles along the way. This book would be good for kids who are 10 and up.
July 16, 2009
Equal Rites (AR 6. 1 )
by Terry Pratchett
(ISIS Audio Books)
Just before he dies, the wizard, Drum Billet, journeys to the smith’s shop so that he can pass on his wizard staff to the eighth son of an eighth son — sure to be a wondrously powerful wizard. Let’s just hope that Billet was better at wizarding than he was at inheritance law because he forgot to check the gender of the newborn girl.
It falls to Granny Weatherwax to teach Eskarina magic — who better to teach a girl than a witch? After all, it isn’t like a girl can become a wizard. Too bad no one sent Eskarina the memo.
I simply cannot believe that Pratchett’s books were unknown to me until this summer. All through high school I was a major sf/f reader but somehow I managed to remain oblivious.
Pratchett’s Discworld Novels are an excellent choice for teens who are advanced readers. The humor is simultaneously wacky and devilishly sarcastic (think Douglas Adams), the situations are bizarre and just about anything can happen.
There are references to sex but nothing specific and nothing happens on-screen.
At 7.5 hours, the audiobook might even get you there and back on a weekend trip.
July 10, 2009
Because I am Furniture
by Thalia Chaltas
This post is riddled with plot spoilers but if you read it, you’ll understand why.
When someone recommended this book to me, I hesitated. I’m not 100% sold on stories told in verse, and, when it is a story of abuse, I even more uncertain. Fortunately I decided to pick it up. This is an incredibly powerful book.
Anke isn’t certain what goes on behind closed doors at home. In full view, her father slaps her older sister and brother to the floor before chastising them in private. At least, Anke tells herself she doesn’t know what is going on. Deep down, she knows. She also wonders why. Why don’t they tell? Why are they the ones he abuses? Is she so valueless that he can’t even be bothered to smack her around?
Then the coach invites Anke to try out for volleyball. On the court she finds her voice when she has to call the ball. On the team, she finds friends. And at school, she finds a boy. A boy she doesn’t know how to react to because she really does know what her father is doing to her siblings and, if that’s bad, how can this be good?
But Anke has found her voice and eventually she demands to be heard.
Know — this book is YA. That means teens and tweens. Not your 10-year-old no matter how good they read. Really.
Because it is told in verse, there isn’t a lot of detail. If a young reader didn’t KNOW about sex, he or she probably wouldn’t pick up on the exact nature of the “behind-closed-doors” abuse.
Do we really need books like this? Sadly, we do. And for the kid who needs an example of how strong even a girl from a severely disfunctional home can me, this is the book. For the girl who needs it, it is here.
July 9, 2009
by Deva Fagan
(Henry Holt and Company)
Fortunata (or Nata) doesn’t believe in magic or special powers. Ever since her mother died, her father’s abilities as a shoemaker have vanished. Instead of the fantastic creations he was known for, he now makes outlandish footwear such as boots that look like bumble bees. Nata just wishes he would clean his tools and get it right instead of waiting for elves she doesn’t believe in.
When a fortune teller tries her tricks on Fortunata, the girl quickly catches on to the prompts the woman uses. While Fortunata may not believe in magic, she believes in using her brains to survive and telling fortunes let’s her put food on the table.
When she finds herself forced to tell the Prince’s fortune, the girl spins a fabulous tale, worthy of the handsome young man. Only after she is done does she learn that if the fortune does not come true, it will cost her father his life. Now she must make sure the impossible happens even if it means turning her love (the prince) toward another girl.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know I’m a sucker for fantasy. This is a great one for tween girls. There’s romance and adventure and this is one smart, spunky heroine. Her father frustrated me beyond reckoning but I think that was Sue the Parent getting frustrated. Tweens are already rolling their eyes at us grownups and would roll their eyes at my reaction too.
This would make a quick summer read for the fantasy lover in your family.