Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Recently Read... (a Mixed Bag)

The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry. More in the series set in a small rural area in Kentucky and a very good memoir. Old Jack was a young boy during the Civil War and this tale is told from the vantage point of his old age--staring off into the distance, Old Jack is back in his past. Again, Berry makes strong points about communities, the beauty and struggle of agricultural life, and paints an insightful portrait of a brittle marriage. It's nice to see how the pieces of the series overlap, with scenes from Hannah Coulter reflected in Old Jack's eyes. Very enjoyable, made me think of the old farmers I grew up around...

The Amber Cat by Hilary McKay. I picked up on this author from a children's literature listserv I monitor. I am always on the watch for good children's fantasy or science fiction, as it is not my favorite genre. However, this book was delightful, full of adventure and a little suspense, but the characters were really the prize. Two, later three, boys at home with chicken pox are entertained by a quirky but realistic mother who relates a mysterious tale from her own childhood. I understand there are more in this series also...

Double Yoi by Myron Cope. Come on, the Steelers are going to the Super Bowl! What's not to like here? Fortunately not an audiobook, Cope's memoir relates stories of his early days as a sports reporter and writer, accounts of famous characters he has known, and important Copiana like how the Terrible Towel was invented. Did you know the profits from Terrible Towel sales go to the Allegheny Valley Schools? Some of which are located in Slippery Rock? An interesting life of an accidental broadcaster and natural storyteller, who seems to have a heart for charity as well as a passion for Pittsburgh sports. And... GO STEELERS!!!!

Skeleton man by Joseph Bruchac is a little unsettling, but all is well that ends well. This is a story about a young native American girl whose parents don't come home one night. She is sent to live with a ghoulish old man who claims to be her uncle. The most memorable feature of the book is the narrative interweaving of a Mohawk legend and the young girl's dreams... dreams that help her escape evil and solve the mystery of her parents' disappearance. The legend is pretty scary all by itself, but I was also frightened by the ease with which the "uncle" was able to claim the girl from the authorities.


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