Monday, July 28, 2008


The Sad Truth

...About Happiness by Anne Giardini (HarperCollins, 2005) is that it isn't a very good book. Stuff happens, stuff is talked about (by the narrator) and you don't know why. It seems like the writer took everything she ever thought about and threw it in. There's egregious description, too: what Husband and I call "skyed sparrows" (thank you, Steve Martin). I went through on seven-league boots, and missed only one significant detail.

Continuing on my pursuit of Malorie Blackman, I read Noughts & Crosses (Corgi, 2004), which was good—turning the whiteness of the Western world on its head--mostly. Unfortunately the bottom dropped out of her created world for a moment when she slipped some real-world historical references into her invented history classroom. It didn't make sense that the Crosses, up high on the top of society, would make a fuss over McCoy's invention. (I hate it when an agenda takes over a story.) We'll see what the sequel is like.

Finally, a reread: Breath by Donna Jo Napoli (Atheneum/Simon&Schuster, 2003). One of my favourite by this author. An historical take on The Pied Piper story, in which 12th century Hameln is seized by a mysterious illness. The magical thinking of medieval times just can't cope, and the innocent suffer. Despite the scientific thinking behind the illness and its ramifications (and the doings of a coven of witches), the author still has that piper magic the children away, though.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008



BeforeI can go jaunting off and do some cottage reading, here is some reading I've done in between my real life:

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic Canada, 2007): All right: first off, this is an excellent story by an excellent storyteller, and now I want to go and visit Buxton. Elijah is a funny character, and his relationships with the adults around him very interesting. The moment when he stares slavery in the face for the first time is horrifying, and very well executed. However, I found the dialect hard to wade through, though it did get easier as I went along. I wonder, though: how, in the way Elijah spoke, did others hear that he was educated? Okay, MaWee of the circus had a lthicker way of talking, but Mrs Chloe wasn't so different. Hm. Also, I would like to to know how "fra-gile" sounds different from "fragile."

Fish by L.S. Matthews (Random House, 2004): Borrowed from a workmate. A family of aid workers leaves the drought-stricken village where they leave, just in advance of soldiers. It seems to be Africa, but not necessarily. They have a guide with a donkey and a fish in a pan, which the child in the family rescued from a mud puddle, and which she, or he, it isn't specified (the narration is first person, and they all call the narrator by a nickname, "Tiger") continues to guard until they get to their destination, a refugee camp at the border. In the final metres, the fish is being carried in the child's mouth. What a wonderful book--perfect for a class, say, that's been talking about refugees.

Cut by Patricia McCormick (Scholastic Inc, 2000): Because I came to this book through a second one, which is about child sexual slavery in Asia and is called Sold, I thought this was going to be about infibulation. It isn't--it's a psych ward novel, about a teen who self-cuts.

Little Emperors: A Year with the Future of China by Joann Dionne (Dundurn, 2008). Since the author's year was the year Hong Kong was returned to China, the story is a picture of the past, which she acknowledges. This was interestingenough but I didn't get a picture of little emperors, really.

And then there was about half a dozen graphic novels which I returned to the library precipitously, alas. One was devastating--about the aftermath of the Rwandan massacre. I hid it in my room so Son would not read it. Oh, and there was the book I didn't read, but must mention, because it was so provoking: The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve. All the conversation is in italic type--why? To make the people seem dry and affectless on purpose? Feh. I threw it aside.

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