Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mock Printz: A Million shades of gray by Kadohata

A million shades of gray by Cynthia Kadohata

Notes from the catalog: In 1975 after American troops pull out of Vietnam, a thirteen-year-old boy and his beloved elephant escape into the jungle when Viet Cong attack his village.
The Good: This is a historical fiction firmly in the middle grade level which looks at a side of the war in Vietnam that is often overlooked. What did happen in Vietnam after the US left? It's also classic Kadohata. It's tender and the writing solid.
The not so good: Lets start with those notes in the catalog. The attack mentioned doesn't happen until ½ way through the book so they (and the flap text) dismiss the first ½ of the book! They are incorrect or at least misleading. All that is of course not about the book, but about the flap notes and cataloging summaries.

So why wasn't I thrilled with the actual story? For a story which takes it's title from the animal that Y'Tin cares for, it contained little about them. I never felt the personality of Lady, Y'Tin's family's elephant. The 3rd person narrator told the reader what she was like and what Y'Tin thought of her etc, but I was never able to connect to her. When Y'Tin had to contemplate sending her away to save her life, I couldn't feel his pain. None of the characters seemed to have much depth to them and that was disappointing since I loved Weedflower.

All in all this one will not be on any of my fav lists for the year.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Current favorites as of 4/19/2010

Caldecott Faves:
Bildner, Phil                      The Hallelujah Flight
Kimmelman, Leslie            The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah
Schoenherr, Ian                Don't Spill the Beans
Tavares, Matt                  Henry Aaron's Dream

Newbery Faves:
Paulsen, Gary                 Woods Runner

Printz Faves:
Green, John and David Levithan               Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Sonnenblick, Jordan                                     Ever After Ever
Stork, Francisco X.                          Last Summer of the Death Warriors

Agree with these faves?  Disagree?  Read other books you think should be considered?
Read and comment here on the blog or on the Bccls Youth Services Listerv!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mock Printz: Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

This British import might sound like a stock novel if you just look at the quick summary.  Boy is bullied, ends up dead, his friends are working through thier grief and trying to understand what happened.  But if you pass up the experience of reading this book you'll be missing some laugh out loud moments of teen boys doing what they do best; getting into trouble, hanging out, and being friends.

Blake, Kenny, and Sim have all been friends with Ross for years.  Kenny since they were tots, Sim since primary, and Blake since he and his mom moved into town years ago.  So when Ross is killed in a car accident and some of the people who made his last weeks alive miserable show up at his funeral, the three of them decide to take revenge and to give Ross the funeral he deserved.  The one they think he'd have wanted.
This kicks off an insane weekend where the boys bond with each other, fight with each other, break friendship and strengthen it.  By the end, the three friends learn that they didn't know everything they thought they did when the whole thing started and that though they understand alot, there is just as much they won't understand any time soon.  The ending is a bit abrupt, but it also suits the story in an odd way.

This book isn't a serious dramatic lesson on bullying.  It isn't a funny road trip book.  It somehow manages to be both and neither at the same time.  Expect to laugh out loud at some of the images, or maybe that's just my twisted sense of humor.  Expect it to make you think when the guys joking suddenly turns into some fairly philosophical discussions of friendship, death, and afterlife.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mock Newbery 2010: The Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Title: The Woods Runner

Author: Gary Paulsen

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

ISBN: 9780385738842

In Woods Runner Gary Paulsen presents a side of the American Revolution that is not always discussed in juvenile literature. Instead of the glorified rebellion, the 13 year old Samuel is dealing with a dark war that is on his homefront. Samuel has learned to survive in the wilderness of the Pennsylvania colony, although his city parents are not as accustomed to the wild as he is. When Samuel hears about the rebellions in the Massachuesetts colony he rushes home to tell his parents, but finds their farm burnt and his parents gone.

Samuel narrates the story as he uses his survival instinct to track his parents. Chapters are broken up with brief descriptions of some of the more unknown historical details. Paulsen's newest was a quick read, fun, and never a dull moment. Descriptions were detailed and placed the reader in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Paulsen's pacing never slowed and the writing was superb. This is definately a great book to sell!