Thursday, February 18, 2016

Battle Stations

 Battle of the Books

It is once again time for a bunch of bloggers over at School Library Journal to pit THEIR favorite children or teen books against one another.   The books might be chosen from floods of suggestions and maybe they are but, when all is said and done, three people make up the list of contenders.

 I have reasons for pointing this out.
Reason #1:  I have only read two books on this year's list.  I think that is my lowest count so far.
Reason #2: At least, two totally awesome books did not make this list and I am thunderstruck.
Reason #3:  I did not know this.  I thought that the books were chosen from the floods and floods of book suggestions.

I usually enjoy following this battle - even when I don't read every single title on the list.  And here is a link to the action. I linked you to the list of The Contenders but if you look to the right, you will see "the brackets".  It all starts on March 7th, with one book I haven't read going up against another book I haven't read.  Oh well.  Stop with the whining already.  Perhaps, by then, I will have read them BOTH.

As I age, I continue to wonder who decides what books should be published for children.  I wonder about a lot of things.  For instance:
1. Why do people put all their stuff on Facebook?
2.  How many reruns of Rockford Files can one person watch in a row?
3. Doesn't anyone stay in one place anymore? (apologies to C. King)

But just what criteria publishers use to choose the books that get published - this is a quandary.

Here are MY criteria for a good kid's book.
1.  Simple - ish.  As the kids get older the simplicity can fade.
2.  Makes the kid think.
3. Takes the kid somewhere they have never been - not necessarily geographically
4. Teaches the kid something
5. Funny at least part of the time
6. Makes the kid feel like part of a bigger world

Current? Well, sure, but that changes in a wink!
Diverse?  Yes.   This is not a shopping list, though.
STEAM, STEM, CORE, ???? Don't work so hard.
Difficult subjects??  Anything that makes a person suffer is a difficult subject.  Asking a three year old to hop on one foot before he is able to can make him cry!  See what I mean?

I am venting here.  I will stop now.  And go back to wondering what to do with a 4 year old princess for a week - besides reading.


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Hollow Boy

The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3)I did not sleep well last night.  It might have been my bedtime reading.  The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud continues the ghost fighting adventures of Lockwood & Co.  Lucy Carlyle, our narrator, wants everything to remain stable in the Lockwood household.  She, Lockwood - the founder of the company, - and George of the thick glasses and love for research are busier than ever.  However, they have NOT been called in to help with the HUGE outbreak of paranormal activity in Chelsea that has resulted in deaths and large scale evacuations.  Of all the ghost fighting businesses, Lockwood & Co., alone, has been ignored.  You can imagine that doesn't sit well with Lockwood.

In the meantime, any other ghostly problems have landed on the Lockwood doorstep and Lockwood wants to hire an assistant.  George has no opinion.  Lucy wants things to stay the same.

So, what happens when the assistant is hired in Lucy's absence?  And then there is the case of the bloody footprints and its aftermath.  Lucy is tempted to enter the forbidden room.  And the Haunted Skull gives a running sarcastic commentary on everything Lucy does.

Expect specters.  Expect odd behavior on the part of the non-talented adults.  Expect hanging threads that need to be followed up.  Well, I can't tell you what else to expect because honestly, if I were a little more superstitious, I may NEVER have gotten to sleep.

Just one question for you; have you ever gone into an older department store and felt, hmmm, I don't know, a presence from the past?  Yeah, me, too.

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud.  Read it, preferably in the daylight.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

All the Pretty Princesses

Princesses everywhere.

I am not the most girly type of woman.   But even I wanted to be a princess when I was little.  I did not want to be an actual princess, who has to learn to be diplomatic, attend boring meetings, discuss policy with councilors, and put up with the attentions of not necessarily handsome princes.  I wanted to be a fairy tale princess - beautiful, cosseted, rich and talented.

So, to celebrate Princesses everywhere on this Carnival Tuesday, here is a list of my favorite princess books:

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  A dragon destroys everything - including a princess' wardrobe AND kidnaps a handsome prince.  Dressed in a paper bag, our princess hunts down the evil lizard. (Picture Book)

The Magic Fishbone by Charles Dickens.   Alicia manages the castle and the little princes and princesses quite well with just her cleverness.  The magic fishbone in her apron pocket must be saved for just the right wish. Happy ending, everyone!!! (Short story suitable for ages 4 through 10, and for adults who like Dickens)

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.   Miri and the other girls in her mountain village must learn how to be princesses because one of them will marry the prince.  Also - bandits try to kidnap them and they have to protect themselves.  Bad guys; jealousy; mean teachers; resourcefulness! (Middle grade through teen)

Hmmm, there are many, many more princess books around then are dreamt of in your philosophies, dear Horatio.  But here is just one more.

I am going to add I am Princess X by Cherie Priest because the story is a bit incredible but the combination of graphics and text and the suspense, clues, and sleuthing add up to a roller coaster ride of a book. (Teen - action-adventure, violent crimes, risk taking)