Thursday, September 30, 2010

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus

I planned to boycott this book, upset that anyone would touch by beloved A.A. Milne's Pooh.  However, I finally caved in wanting to see how badly it had been hashed.  Within a few pages, I was my little girl self again listening to my mother read a Winnie the Pooh book to me.  I smiled at the animals misadventures, at Christopher Robin's obvious care for them, and at their love for him.  And, as I turned the last page I almost teared up at the gentle reminder that Christopher Robin is, after all, a boy and a boy must grow up.  Not Milne, but not bad... I can still here Pooh going "bump, bump, bump" up the stairs behind me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

This is the promising first book in an intriguing new series.  Miss Penelope Lumley, age fifteen, is both excited and nervous about her first job.  Having been raised in the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope is confident of her knowledge and skills but unsure of this first experience on her own.  The animal-loving girl soon finds that she is the perfect fit for her astonishing new role.  The Lady and Gentleman of the house have discovered three wild children on their property - possibly raised by wolves.  Penelope is expected to teach them the basics (how to dress, how to say their names, and so forth) in addition to the more complicated topics of reading, geography and Latin.  When she is told to have the children ready for a fancy Christmas Party, the young governess is more worried than ever.  And, when that party takes a disastrous turn, Penelope is left wondering if the gentleman of the house has the best interest of the children at heart.  On top of questions about his motives there is another mystery  - what is that mysterious howling and is there something living in the walls?  This excellent book is part Jungle Book, part Sherlock Holmes, part Mary Poppins, and a nice touch comedy.  Maryrose Wood has created a truly entertaining outing with this title and I am personally wishing number 2 were published yesterday!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer; Read by Nathaniel Parker

I just finished listening to this 7th volume in the Artemis series.  When I read the first book a few years I really disliked Artemis and I find it interesting how much that has changed over time.  Colfer has done a nice job creating a unique, intriguing, not-at-all perfect character that has changed for the good without changing to the boring.  In this episode, Artemis is facing the greatest challenge of his life.  He has developed Atlantis Complex, a disorder generally found in guilt-ridden fairies.  The Complex leads to obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia and, worst of all, the development of an alternate personality named Orion.  The Orion character lends itself to plenty of humorous moments as he constantly declares his unending love and devotion to Captain Holly Short of the fairy police.  Of course, throughout the book, the usual cast of characters are battling a dangerous foe - this time a maniac determined to escape from fairy prison at all costs.  Holly, Foaly, and Butler get a little more play time in this outing as Artemis struggles with his illness and the fear that he will lose his mind completely.  I always enjoy the fast pacing of this series and especially liked this episode as it added some new dimensions to Artemis Fowl.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

In somewhat of a departure for me, I just completed Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins gripping Hunger Games trilogy.  Along with scores of others, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for this installment to come out.  I really wanted to listen to the audio as I did with the previous titles in the series.  However, I was too far down on the waiting list at the library and couldn't bear to wait for 2 or 3 months.  So, I checked out the book and finished it in two days.  Like the other titles, this one left me feeling breathless and plenty horrified.  The reality of war cannot be denied in Collins dark tale.  While reading, I often found myself asking if humans could really sink to such lows and sadly realized, in many ways we already have.  As soon as I turned the last page, I rushed to find someone to talk to about the experience.  My co-workers all agreed that this is not a title to read and close without another thought.  It begs for thoughtful discussion - and maybe a little group therapy.  Excellent from the beginning of the series to the final page of Mockingjay (a final page that I re-read several times before I could let the book go), this is one of the top Science Fiction novels I have read.

I Love Bugs! by Emma Dodd

Emma Dodd's celebration of bugs is just right for sharing with large groups.  The large, bright, colorful illustrations are full of kid-appeal and easy to follow.  for the bug-loving child this is just right and for the child who isn't so sure about creepy crawly critters this is a fun introduction to their positives.  Everything from slimy slugs to "flouncy frilly flutter bugs" to "eight-legged scary bugs" are saluted with Dodd's inviting pictures and rhyming bouncy text.  I love to share this title with our Bugs storytime and it is even brief enough for our little Book Baby guests at the library.

Drum City by Thea Guidone; illustrated by Vanessa Newton

"Drum.  Drum.  Boy in the yard drumming so hard, calling all kids to come drum in the yard."  From one little boy banking on a pan, to an entire city drumming on anything they can find, this ode to drumming is a catching jubilee.  Packed with action and fun, I think it would be a great addition to a Noisy Storytime or one celebrating instruments.  The illustrations nicely capture the joy that the children feel as the DRUM!!!