Sunday, November 23, 2008

The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau

Yes. I recommend this book.

I was loaned this book from Griffin, and at first I thought it would be just like The Giver. However, after I got through the first couple of chapters where the kids get their work assignments, I didn't have that thought again.

The City of Ember is a little dark, but there are many kind people. The main characters are in sad circumstances, but there was enough hope and small happiness that it didn't get me down.

I loved some of the details of the story. The way the characters save every little thing because it might be useful. I loved the scene when Lina bought her pencils, and then the one after when she and her sister drew with them.

Although I hated the thought of this horrible dark underground city, I enjoyed the adventure of the story. I liked the sweet main characters, Lina and Doon. I think Doon's insight from his father about anger was very insighful, unexpected consequences.

Just a warning, there are two more books in the series, and although certain situations are resolved, it is a bit of a cliff hanger! Griffin has the second book requested from his school library, so lets hope the students get it turned in soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

This is a sweet story that takes place in London in the 1930's. It was first published in 1937, but I hadn't heard of it until Betsy mentioned it.

I enjoyed reading it. It is about three orphaned sisters who start at a ballet school. I liked the nice flowy writing style. The characters are cute, if stereotypes. It is a little bit like a fairy tale.

I would think elementary school girls would especially like it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Just when I think I've read every sweet young-adult-coming-of-age novel out there, my young hip friends (you know who you are) recommend one I've never even heard of.

I loved it, no surprise.

I liked that it was written from the perspective of a teenage boy. I loved that he was probably more realistic than many characters. Although I did feel myself pulling for him to just man-up, I think that's the point.

Stargirl, herself, is a cool character. The author managed to make her unique, and she didn't quite fit in to any normal highschool stereotype--like hippie, outcast, or cheerleader. You of course like her and kind of wish you were her. I especially like her genuine kindness.

Just a little side note. Stargirl, the character, reminded me of who so many people at my highschool were trying to be. Unlike most highschools in books or movies, it was all the rage to be original or outrageous at our school. Way cutting-edge, I know. But even the jocks and cheerleaders were piercing their noses, making their own jewelry, and writing poetry. Which leads to an entirely different idea of being unique.

I think the character of Wayne Parr was a lot more interesting than Hillari Kimble. I loved the line, "Wayne Parr did not much care. Neither did we."

I also liked the description of the mud frogs. I don't want to ruin it by trying to paraphrase, its just good.

And the part that I could totally feel, and made me feel nostalgic is when Leo is at Stargirl's and thinks, "I didn't want to leave. I wished I could curl up right there on the driveway and go to sleep."

I did get a little distracted with some of the philosophising of Archie. I think it almost distracted from the purity of the story. But what is a coming of age novel without a wise mentor?

I think this book has a honest ending. Not entirely predictable.