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Entries in Books (39)

Thursday
Oct082009

Winnie-the-Pooh Sequel on NPR

NPR has a great peek into the Milne estate-approved sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh series, The Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. While the book is getting some mixed reviews from fans and critics, some readers might still enjoy the respectable attempt made by author David Benedictus and illustrator Mark Burgess. The podcast is definitely worth a listen.

I made my wariness of this project known when I first heard about it, but ultimately I think I’m going to pick this up. It may not match the whimsy of the original exactly, but I believe it lives up to the spirit of the characters. Plus, I’m fortunate enough to have nieces and nephews who aren’t as picky as I am and who will surely enjoy this.

Thanks to Elayna Alexandra for the tip!

Sunday
Sep132009

Book Review: The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'll tip my hat to fellow Minnesotan Kate DiCamillo for this book: the characters are interesting and have a lot of depth, the story is both very sweet and equally disturbing at times, and there is ample proof of DiCamillo's ability to weave quite the "fairy tale"-like adventure story. Everything feels fresh and new while the theme remains in the classical realm.

I did not, however, understand the purpose of the 2-pages long chapters. The book is beautifully and maturely written in a way that totally envelopes the reader, and breaking up the text in such short chapters quickly became very annoying. I'm pained to admit it, but it was so irritating that I found myself not even bothering to read the chapter titles so as not to disrupt my pace. Some folks have suggested to me that the breaks are to make reading the story to children at bedtime much easier, and I guess maybe I'll have to take their word for it.

The dark and disturbing parts, while pretty original and devious, were unfortunately rather jarring conceptually. Even for someone like me who normally loves the stuff, they felt so stark in comparison to the cute parts that they seemed almost out-of-place in this book. Sure, classic fairy tales have plenty of murder, dark plots, and child abuse in them, too, but for some reason I couldn't fully appreciate DiCamillo's dark side in her world of adorable talking mice.

This was my entry into DiCamillo's children's book, and while I only found it "okay," it doesn't deter me in any way from reading the rest of her books. I plan on reading them all. There is a good reason she won the Newbery Medal for this work, and it's likely just my own personal proclivities that are, regrettably, keeping me from truly understanding why.

View all my reviews on Goodreads >>

Sunday
Aug302009

Book Review: Probuditi!

Probuditi! Probuditi! by Chris Van Allsburg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Probuditi! is yet another classic story from Chris Van Allsburg that will surely delight readers. The book follows Calvin, a young boy celebrating his birthday, and his friend Rodney as they race to halt the hypnosis they haphazardly affected on Calvin’s pesky little sister, Trudy. Trudy is led to believe that she is a dog, complete with barking, panting and lapping up milk. When they can’t snap her out of it, the boys go to great lengths to avoid trouble from Calvin’s punitive mother.

The sepia-toned illustrations are excellent and really convey a sense of summer heat and a city atmosphere. I appreciate the genuine sibling rivalry in the story (especially since Trudy gets the last laugh), the multicultural characters, and the chafing dynamic between Calvin and his mother. It's not often that a children's book comes out with a boy being punished on his birthday by his own mother, but having experienced that myself after tormenting my own siblings as a child, I can relate to the characters.

Van Allsburg seems to love a twist ending, and while they certainly delight some folks, it may require some additional explaining for really young readers. I personally found the end of Probuditi! to be a bit of a downer, but some kids will love it. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is unique enough to hold something of interest for everyone.

View all my reviews on Goodreads >>

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