Monday, January 30, 2006


Author: Judy Blume
Reading Level: 7th and up

I need a good book! What a streak of non-too-impressive reading experiences!!! This infamous book that is no. 8 on the most challenged books list deserves no more but mild distain from me, mostly because its lack of subtlety. It's like reading a really dry "how to" book on teens' first sexual encounters. At least the ending is NOT too pat.

In Search of a Good Book... suggestion please??

Last of the Really Great Whangdoodle

Author: Julie Edwards
Reading Level: 3rd - 5th

is a re-read. I loved this book upon first reading -- more than 10 years ago. This second reading surprised me. I don't remember ANY of the details, and I am usually really good at recalling details. Every scene and character was brand new to me -- and not in a good way at all. I detest the didactic tone and the transparent "messages" of all the benefits of the imagination! (I don't detest imagination, of course, just the way its worth is being handled in the book -- and hey, whose idea is it that adults lose their imagination? I have a lot more imagination than some of the youngsters I know!)

Over all, I couldn't believe that I once LOVED this book, as an adult, although I can see why so many children still love it -- for its vivid descriptions of the very rich and imaginative details and the adventures the children embark on.

The Penderwicks

Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Reading Level: 4th - 6th

This National Book Award Winner failed to intrigue me, either. It is nostalgic -- faint echoes from old favorites such as Little Women and the E. Nesbit books. Some of the humor seems forced to me and the general complaint from other adult readers that the grown-ups in the story have almost no depth at all is a valid one. And to an extend, the children are stock characters themselves, each embodies a set of characteristics without surprises or changes. Their predicaments also don't concern me much as a reader. Maybe I am too cynical and maybe this is a book for much younger children?

Shakespeare's Secret

Author: Elise Broach
Reading Level: 4th - 6th

This title is mildly amusing but never did get me completely hooked.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green
Reading Level: 8th and up

I read the first half prior to the Printz Award Announcement and the second half after it had won the Printz. It was quite an amazing read and I could see how many of my students will truly enjoy this novel. Those who have embraced Perks of Being a Wallflower and A Curious Incident of a Dog at Night Time are ideal readers for this very thoughtful and intense read. I did find the "After" part a tad longer than necessary. Too much emphasis on the soul-searching side without the help of actual incidents to move the story along. Still a worthy winner of 2006.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglass Adams
Reading Level: Middle School to Adult

This wacky science ficition story is read so amazingly well by Stephen Fry! I thoroughly enjoyed the listening experience. Now I must go on with the rest of the series! Of course, I can see that maybe some of the slapstick jokes can get a bit tiring after being repeated a few more times than absolutely necessary. Fortunately it is a short tale. I don't think I could have withstood the funny blasts much longer!

Monday, January 2, 2006

Buddy Love, Now on Video

Author: Elene Cooper
Reading Level: 5th-6th

I enjoyed reading this one: the main character is likable, the pacing is fast, and the problems are not that simplistically or easily resolved, although the story is a little bit outdated and does not include a real climatic scene.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Author: David Sedaris
Reading Level: High School and Adult

Edition: Audiobook, read by the author

This one, read by Sedaris, too, was thoroughly enjoyable. Witty, at times bitter, and other times revelational, it presents the modern American life's many quirky sides. (Of course, it's such life viewed via a very strange mind indeed.)