Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

What I Have Been Reading (and Hearing)...

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

In real live, hold-it-in-your-hands book form, I recently read last year's Newbery Award winner, Kira-Kira, and was enchanted. The story of a Japanese-American family transplanted to Georgia is related by the younger sister of the family and it is refreshing to see the world through her innocent but critical eye. "Kira-kira" is a Japanese phrase for glittering or shining and expresses how Katie's older sister, Lynn, emphasizes the positive and wonderful side of life. The story becomes enormously sad when Lynn develops lymphoma; the period leading up to her death is very realistically written... difficult to remain dry-eyed.

The River Between Us by Richard Peck

I have been listening to some young adult audiobooks in the last few weeks, all historical fiction and each told in the voice of the main character. The River Between Us is a Civil War tale in flashback...detailing the arrival in Grand Tower, Illinois of some "startling" evacuees from New Orleans, who shake up the sleepy little river town. Tilly Pruitt's mother takes them in and all of their lives are changed forever. This book does an excellent job of portraying the way the national tide of events plays out on the small stage, in a community and in a family. A little history, a little racial identity, a little romance make for effective storytelling and an entertaining listen.

A House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff

Another audiobook that suffered from my fumbling while driving and also by comparison with The River Between Us and Milkweed--A House of Tailors is the story of a young girl who immigrates to America in her sister's place and resists the tailoring trade her family has practiced for generations. The story was interesting, but not as enthralling or engrossing as the others in this series. To be fair, the fact that I mistakenly listened to CD #2 first and the last CD was missing from the case did absolutely nothing to help the narrative along! I understand the story is based on the author's grandmother's experiences.

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

Powerful... and Spinelli's best, imho. Set in Warsaw during World War II, a small boy who initially believes his name is "Stopthief!" narrates a harrowing tale of survival in a simple, direct observational style. Although the impact is lightened by occasional humor and the daring adventures of Misha and his friends, the suffering is heart wrenching, frightening, and moving. The tone, the yearning for family, the "running" of the central character reminded me a bit of Maniac Magee. This one stays with you.

All of these materials are in the library...the three audiobooks are available in the Reading Room.


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