Saturday, June 23, 2012

Atlas of Remote Islands, by Judith Schalansky

This was another Lucky Day! book, which meant I had to read it before I read all the other books I had checked out, because I could renew those, after all. Except it's not the kind of book I want to just sit down and read start to finish, though I did try. And it's only three days late. But this book is awesome. I'm probably going to have to buy a copy for my classroom (when I have a classroom again!). The subtitle is Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will. It's translated from the German. Judith Schalansky was born in the German Democratic Republic, though when she was nine, it became part of Germany again, its own country no more. I spent most of my time with this book reading the introduction, and flipping back and forth between the intro and the islands mentioned in the intro. When I finally finished the introduction, I read through the whole book, the fifty islands described. I'd already read the entries for maybe half of them, some of them several times. I loved this book. Highly recommended.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Most Excellent Year; A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park, by Steve Kluger

I just read My Most Excellent Year; A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park, by Steve Kluger. I'd put it on hold at the library ages ago, and it's been on the "to read" shelf for a while. It doesn't help that I don't remember why I put it on hold. Someone recommended it, probably on child_lit. Anyway. It was good. I could've quit reading it at several points, but didn't. I read the whole thing. I'm glad I did. Primarily the story of "brothers" T.C. and Augie's junior year of high school, it's told in a combination of instant messages (between T.C. and Augie, but also T.C.'s huge crush Alé, Augie's boyfriend Andy, and the deaf kid who over the course of the book becomes their little brother--Hucky), emails between the parents and other adults, and journal entries that are a school assignment for Augie, T.C., and Alé. There is also a fair amount of straightforward dialogue, usually narrated by one of the brothers, and maybe some other stuff too. It works. A fun, quick read (in spite of the page count!).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Second Fiddle, by Rosanne Parry

Rosanne Parry posts on the child_lit listserv I belong to, which is where I first encountered her and her work, and which is why I got Second Fiddle out of the library in the first place. As happpens, it then took me a long time to actually read it--but I did, finally, and was glad to! Written in 2011, this book is set in 1990 in Berlin, right around when the Berlin Wall fell. I remember that happening--it was a huge, talked about deal when I was in eighth grade--but it was so abstract to me. I had no sense, really, of what it signified--and in some ways, I still don't really get it. After reading Second Fiddle, I get it more, but I still have such a shaky grasp of it. Anyhow, this novel is about three twelve-year-old American army brats living in Berlin in 1990, all about to be be transferred with their families and split up--it will be Jody's fourth fresh start, and she's sick of it. But her dad's going to retire, they're going to buy a house in Texas and have that kind of life. However, first she and her two best friends are going to have an adventure. It turns out to be quite a bit more of an adventure than anticipated. I like this book a lot. About place, and friendship, and growing up, and history. Recommended.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

This book was on the Lucky Day! shelf at the library, and I'd never heard of it, but it seemed awesome--"14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales"--by some of my favorite writers: Lois Lowry! Sherman Alexie! Louis Sachar! Walter Dean Myers! So I took it home. Turns out that there are fourteen illustrations that were originally published as a picture book in 1984, just the illustrations and their mysterious captions. The book I got is those pictures, with stories to go with them. The pictures are great. Very mysterious and creepy and excellent. Google them. The stories are a lot of fun too. There could be infinite versions of this book, with different stories written about the pictures.