I know I suggested that certain titles should have been read in 2006, based on those end-of-year "Best" lists... but what with being named Time Man of the Year and all (or was that You
?) I haven't had a lot of time for reading those particular tomes. Here is a short summary of what I have been perusing instead:
From KidzWorld:George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
by Gaylia Taylor and Frank Morrison.
The story of the inventor of the potato chip with lively, vibrant illustrations. Very engaging, good multicultural resource, and doesn't gloss over the obstacles Crum faced trying to become a chef.The Last Dance
by Carmen Agra Deedy and Debrah Santini.
Childhood sweethearts steal away and dance around the graveyard in the moonlight, grow up, marry, and promise that the last one standing will dance on the other's grave. Some may find this sweet... I found it as creepy as the mother who crawls in the window in Love You Forever.D is for Dragon Dance
by Ying Chang Compestine and Yongsheng Xuan.
Gorgeous ABC of Chinese New Year traditions, full of information about Chinese culture. Not really an ABC for little children (Hello? V is for Veneration?) but successfully uses the ABC and picture book format to describe holiday preparations.Duck and Goose
by Tad Hills.
Loved it! Simple illustrations and a charming story about a duck and goose who try to hatch a soccer ball. This little gem about sharing and cooperating is definitely a good pick for little children.Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story and Hokey Pokey: Another Prickly Love Story by Lisa Wheeler and Janie Bynum.
Sweet, charming, funny. Cushion the porcupine awkwardly attempts to woo other animals at the petting zoo and finally finds true compatibility with Barb the hedgehog. In Hokey Pokey, Cushion asks various animals to teach him to dance.
Mabela the Clever by Margaret Read McDonald and Tim Coffey.
Mabela... Melba... get it? The illustrations are unique and strong in this story of an alert little mouse who outwits a scheming cat. For those who like their literature with a lesson, this retelling of an African folktale conveys some important cautions for children and would be an excellent story hour choice.
A Movie in My Pillow/Una Pelicula En Mi Almohoda: Poems
by Jorge Argueta and Elizabeth Gomez .
English and Spanish texts are provided for poems contrasting life in El Salvador with life in San Francisco. Bold, bright illustrations create context and enhance the poetry.Big Susan by Elizabeth Orton Jones.
I am a sucker for dollhouse books and this one is enchanting, originally published in the 1940's and perfectly portraying the world from the dolls' point of view. Again, the illustrations do much to enhance the text and help to convey the innocent life of the dolls who come alive on Christmas eve. But please, someone, where was Big Susan? What happened to her? Why was she gone?
From TeenLand:Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck.
I love Richard Peck's books, big fan of the Blossom Culp series, and thoroughly enjoyed The Teacher's Funeral. But who are these teens he writes for? I have never been able to interest one in these nostalgic comedies and the humor really seems lost on them. I'm sure every librarian in the world bought the book, but I am not sure they should have bothered.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Recommended by a patron who assured me I would cry, this book should also have an adult audience. It is narrated by Death, set in World War II Germany, and is indeed full of heartbreak. The book is beautifully crafted and appeals on many levels... any book lover can understand the young heroine's need to read, even to steal the books that help her preserve her sanity, and many of the main characters are unbearably touching: foster father Hans; Jewish refugee Max; and best friend Rudy. Even odd incidental characters like the mayor's frizzy haired wife present a complex human puzzle. Perhaps that is the book's strongest point... no one is solely good or evil, but more fully portrayed and shaded. Apparently, the book is based on the experiences of the author's grandmother and yes, I did cry.
Big People Books:A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell.
Is it me? It must be me. This is a complex historical novel set in World War II Italy, centered on the efforts of the Italian people to rescue and harbor Jewish refugees. The characters were very interesting, particularly the young heroine, Claudette, but I just couldn't hold my interest as story lines switched back and forth rapidly. Perhaps it was the rush of the holidays that made me lose my place so often and drop this Thread. Russell has a solid fan base for her futuristic writings and I believe a more focused reading of this work would have been more rewarding. I believe this book is a composite of true stories and experiences.
My Life in France by Julia Child.
Although I listened to the abridged audio version of this autobiography, I would definitely recommend it to those interested in the culinary arts, France, and/or Julia Child. It's full of fascinating information about all of the above and great details about Julia's love affair with France... and how she tested all of the recipes (248 lbs. of flour for baguettes!) for her landmark cookbook. Brush with Fame moment: I once saw Julia Child at the Somerville Star Market in Boston and shamelessly gawked.
Christmas at the New Yorker: Stories, Poems, Humor, and Art by the New Yorker and John Updike.
A large collection to be enjoyed for many holidays to come, full of beloved New Yorker cartoons and those lovely period pieces about office parties and discontented couples.Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres.
Just getting started on this Women's Studies Book Discussion choice and so far engrossed in the story of a young girl and her adopted black brothers in the midwest. More later....