May 24, 2018

Catwings Return by Ursula K. LeGuin, illustrated by S. D. Schindler

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 8:35 pm by suebe2

Catwings Return
by Ursula K. LeGuin
illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Orchard Books

In this, the sequel to Catwings, the four winged cats, Thelma, Roger, Harriet and James, have settled into life on the farm.  They are being cared for by Hank and Susan who check out the young cats daily and are careful to keep them a secret.  They are afraid how people would react to the wonder of flying cats.

For their part, the cats are curious about how their mother is doing.  James and Harriet decide to make the trip.  It is longer and more tiring than they remember, perhaps because James isn’t as strong as his sister because of an old injury.

In the city, they discover that their old neighborhood, a group of ramshackle slums, is being torn down.  The problem is that Mom is nowhere to be seen but they’ve discovered a winged kitten.  Finally she let’s them approach.  Together, they are reunited with their mother and discover that this is their little sister.

James and Harriet promise to care fo the kitten and slowly they make their way back to their new home.  All of the necessary background information can be found in this book, but the first book is such a pleasure. Why skip it?

Given the short format of this story, it is only 48 pages long, the characters are not as fleshed out as they would be a longer book.  But the writing is lyrical and poetic.  The short format and spot illustrations will be a great draw for third-grade readers who are still intimidated by full-length novels.

As in so much of Le Guin’s work, she explores good vs evil and what it is to belong.  She also delves into reality and how we perceive it because, although two workmen see the flying cats they do not think it was cats that they saw.  How could it be?  Cats don’t fly unless you are reading Ursula K. LeGuin’s Catwing books.

–SueBE

May 6, 2018

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:27 am by suebe2

ghosts of greenglass houseGhosts of Greenglass House
by Kate Milford
Clarion Books

A year has past since the events of Greenglass House.  It is time for Christmas but Milo just isn’t feeling it.  Frost is not the same as snow and he’s missing Meddy.  Sure, his friend is a ghost, but she promised she’d be back and it has been a year.

Once again, Christmas isn’t going to be a peaceful time.  There’s someone at the end to study the stained glass and he just won’t leave.  He seems pleasant enough but something about him just isn’t right.

Then a group of carolers show up.  They are from the local asylum.  Tradition says that they can come inside and your home will be blessed.  When he was younger, Milo was afraid to invite them inside – one caroler poses as a skeletal hobby horse.  But this year Milo invites them in and things begin to go wrong.  Two carolers are clonked on the head, one is mildly poisoned and things start to go missing.

If your young reader likes mysteries, fantasy and adventure, pick this book up.  But you might want to start with the first title, Greenglass House.  Milford does a great job with the characterization but there are a lot of characters to keep track of.  That said, they are delightfully quirky and worth the effort to keep straight.

As in the last book, the plot is full of twists and reversals including who is a good guy, who is a bad guy and what is the difference?  And how do you tell the real ghosts from tricky living humans? Readers will also have the opportunity to examine the multiple meanings of the word asylum.  Things are not always as they seem in or near Greenglass house.

This would make a great book for family reading but don’t be surprised when no one wants to give you a break.  This is a tough book to put down.

–SueBE

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