Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Prophet of Yonwood - Jeanne DuPrau

I really loved City of Ember and The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau so I was looking forward to the prequel to City of Ember, The Prophet of Yonwood. I was almost finished with the book when it had several unresolved issues, and it was nowhere near setting up or connecting to the City of Ember and I started the think DuPrau must be planning to write another book leading up to the City of Ember. I was wrong; a whole novel’s worth of information was just squashed into the last few pages in a chapter titled “What Happened Afterward”.

11-year-old Nickie travels with her Aunt to her late great grandfather’s home in Yonwood to prepare it to be sold. Nickie secretly has three goals in mind: 1. To convince her family not to sell the house and move there with her parents 2. To fall in love 3. To do something good for the world.

Nickie is surprised to learn that Yonwood is not the picture of tranquility she imagined. Before her arrival a local woman had a fiery vision of the future of the world. The woman was terrified into a dreamlike state. The townspeople began to call the woman the Prophet because she had seen the future and most of them did their best to follow her mumblings. A local busybody, Brenda Beeson, appointed herself as the Prophet’s mouthpiece and did her best to translate the prophet’s mumblings into orders for the townspeople. Many of the people believe the vision was a warning from God and if they can surround themselves with a shield of goodness, they will be safe from the eminent war with the Phalanx nations. Nickie follows the prophet’s directions. She tries not to be a sinner and gives up things like singing. She even spies on other people and reports them to Brenda, until the prophet says no dogs. Nickie is not willing to give up the dog she’s been hiding at her house, and she begins to question whether helping Brenda Beeson was the right thing to do.

The book is thought provoking, especially when discussed long with current events, but it is not as well rounded as the other two novels in the series.

On an interesting side note – I listened to this book on CD and it wasn’t your average reading; it included sound effects. If Nickie was outside you heard birds chirping in the background, and if she went through a door you heard it open. They drove me crazy at first because I was just trying to concentrate on the words and I feel like some things should be left to the imagination, but I’m sure other people would enjoy it.

The Thief Lord - The Movie

So many movie adaptations of books are truly awful so when I heard that the new movie of The Thief Lord was going straight to video, I didn't think it bode well for the movie. I figured this was going to be another Ella Enchanted so I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to watch it last night.

There are a few discrepancies (I'm sure I would have noticed even more if I reread the book recently), but overall they were fairly loyal to the plot of the book and the movie captured a little of the magical feeling Funke created in the book.

It might have benefited from being a little longer in order to include a little more from the book, but overall I really enjoyed the movie.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Title Thieves? (I'm kidding, sort of)

OK, after Pirates of the Caribbean there were tons of pirate books, after March of the Penguins I saw all sorts of penguin picture books, but what's with all of the books about thieves? It seems like everywhere I look there's a book with Thief in the title: The Thief Lord, The Shadow Thieves, The Book Thief, The Lightening Thief, Storm Thief, Montmorency: Thief Liar Gentleman, Thieves Like Us, Abadazad: The Dream Thief, Peter and the Shadow Thieves. Why the sudden obsession with thieves? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad these books have been published because some of them are great, I'm just not sure what prompted them. It seems like a pretty random coinsidence.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wendy - by Karen Wallace

I picked up Wendy because I'm trying to prepare to host the Peter Pan prequels month in August. I already know I want to include Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart in our discussion so I've been searching for something different to round things out. Wendy is certainly different. As you might guess by the title, Wendy is the story of Wendy Darling's life before she meets Peter Pan.

This books takes a much more realistic approach than the other Peter Pan prequels I've read. Without spoiling too much, since we may be reading it, Wendy has no control over her life, her parents dictate who she will play with and a tyrannical nanny watches over her day and night. Her only joy is visiting Rosegrove, her uncle's estate in the country, where she spends her days reading to her friend Thomas while he paints. Wendy is stunned when she accidentally sees her father kissing another woman. Not even a summer at Rosegrove can help her avoid her confusion.

Wallace uses the societal constraints set on Wendy and the other members of her family to set up the Peter Pan story in original way that certainly adds depth to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

The School Library Journal & Booklist reviews both question who the intended audience of this book really is. Younger readers looking for a magical expansion of the Peter Pan story will not find what they are looking for in Wendy. Wendy is only nine-years-old and I can't imagine many nine-year olds enjoying the complex relationships in this book.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ophie out of Oz - by Kathleen O'Dell

In college two of my roommates were taking a pop-culture class and they told me that their professor says that the Wizard Of Oz has become so engrained in American culture that you can’t go a day without hearing a reference to it. We all thought that was ridiculous until we started paying attention. Now it seems quite true. If you’ve watched the movie recently and you start paying attention you’ll find out for yourself.

Anyway, since then, all things Wizard of Oz seem to catch my eye so that’s probably why I picked up Ophie Out of Oz at the library. Fourth grader Ophie Peeler had a wonderful life in California and the best friend of her dreams. Her life drastically changes when she moves to Oregon, where the most popular girls want nothing to do with her, her mom is busy with her baby sister, her teacher returns all of her paper covered with corrections, and boring Brittnay follows her around. Ophie hits rock bottom when her mother informs her that they will be settling in Oregon permanently and then Ophie discovers that her beloved ruby slipper no longer fit. She begins to think she’s not as much like Dorothy as she thought she was, and she’s desperate to fit in.

The main character in this book was nowhere near as endearing as Dorothy. In fact I disliked Ophie so much I had a hard time continuing with the story because I really didn’t care what happened to her. Of course once she schemed her way into popularity, she realized it wasn’t really worth it, but she was so wrapped up in herself that I never felt like she truly grew to appreciate anyone else in the story.

There were a few memorable moments that made the book a little more engaging. Ophie’s principal completely understands Ophie’s desire to be like Dorothy and reveals that she too is a glamourous star in her secret heart. And there’s a brilliant scene when Ophie discovers that Brittany has a boyfriend and emails him every evening. Ophie is completely disappointed to discover that all she emails him is a list of what she has for dinner and then he emails her back a list of what he has for dinner.

This isn’t a book I’m buying for my personal library, but I think a lot of preteen girls would enjoy Ophie’s escapades.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Meet Margaret Peterson Haddix

You've read her books, now if you're in Central Ohio you can meet her at the library!

Tuesday, June 20th
  • Reynoldsburg Branch at 11 a.m.
  • Dublin Branch at 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 21st

  • Gahanna Branch at 2 p.m.
  • Hilliard Branch at 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fairest Galleys

This month's issue of the "Children's Bookshelf" newsletter published by Publisher's Weekly had this ad in it. Just in case you can't read it, it says, "Get your advanced reader's copy now! Email your name and address to with the subject FAIREST to receive a galley (while supplies last)."

Wouldn't you love to have a copy?