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Monday, March 31, 2008

Young Adult Literature Challenge

Peter Pan was an experience well worth reading. I had thought that I had read it long ago, but as my son and I listened to the book, I realized that my experience with Peter Pan was solely through the myriad ways he had seeped into our popular culture. I'm so glad that I took the time to go back and to hear Barrie's original (well, OK, one of his originals. The Peter Pan stories took many forms).

I've also written numerous reviews for the remaining books in the challenge and will be posting those at Book Help Web over the next couple weeks.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Combining categories

I've finally decided what I'm going to do for the two final categories in the juvenile literature challenge (I'm still working on the graphic novel).

I'm listening to Barrie's Peter Pan on CD. So that will cover both the classic and the book on tape categories.

The third Leon Goss review is now posted.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Leon Goss III

I'll get back to writing about the young adult literature challenge in my next post, but I'm going to take a slight (very slight) detour.

Toward the end of last year, I stumbled upon a new children's book author. He published four titles that came out on the first day of 2007. All of them were children's picture books with empowering themes. What I especially liked about the three titles that I read was the sense of humor. Most of them had a fairly light touch and were amusing as well as uplifting. Leon Goss III has formed what he dubs an entertainment company that includes a publishing arm.

The main page of the company's Website refers to other books that they're publishing, but the publishing pages of the Website lead to dead links.

Speaking of digressions, I absolutely cringed at the press release talking about their donation of 150 books to a congresswoman for dispersal to needy readers. In a quick read of the two paragraph release, I found eight spelling and punctuation errors as well as content challenges. It was a bit painful for a site that promotes literacy.

Book Help Web now has reviews for two of the three titles that I read and the third one, Selfus Esteemus Personalitus Low, is on the to-do list. My favorite was In Your Seat, Mr. Pete because it took such a delightful outlook on a young, creative, rambunctious boy. However, I was also tickled by both the illustrations and storyline of By the Light of the Moon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Challenge Readings: Contemporary/Realistic fiction

I read two books that fall into the contemporary/realistic fiction book for the young adult reading challenge.

Actually, I should say that I read two books that self-classify themselves as juvenile fiction. The first, The Pale Surface of Things, might more rightly be categorized as an adult fiction book that is appropriate for young people. In fact, it would make an excellent nominee for a Christopher Award.

It was an enchanting book in a setting that was, to me at least, unique. I'd never before read a book set in modern Crete. It tells the story of several people who are forced to make choices between their own self-interest and what is best for the community. It begins with a runaway groom, fleeing from a grasping, materialistic bride into a world of unexpected kindness and violence.

The author is an excellent storyteller with a great command of mood and language. My one complaint is that the book wraps up a little too neatly and has a few too many coincidences in it. However, he also created characters who really have to question what moral courage means and the situations are compelling and filled with suspense.

I'll plan to get a review posted of it before too much longer.

The second book was Emmy's Question. I approached this book with a healthy amount of skepticism. It's the sort of topic you expect to be addressed on after-school specials. When done well, it can be a memorable classic, when not done well, it can be turgid and heavy-handed. I was pleased that this book firmly fell into the first category. From the very first paragraph, I was hooked and couldn't stop reading until I'd finished the book.

Emmy is a young girl with an alcoholic mother. The entire story is told from her perspective as she struggles to understand something far beyond her experience. She takes the reader with her as she learns more about her mother's disease and how not to take responsibility for it.

Both books were highly satisfying reads.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Edward Albee quotes

I was updating some profiles on Book Help Web today (adding new publication, death dates, new awards, etc.), when I came across these wonderful quotes by Edward Albee:

What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn't lived it?

A usefully lived life is probably going to be, ultimately, more satisfying.

Writing should be useful. If it can't instruct people a little bit more about the responsibilities of consciousness, there's no point in doing it.

If you're willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly.

That's what happens in plays, yes? The shit hits the fan.

Creativity is magic. Don't examine it too closely.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Challenge List

Yesterday I blogged about the Juvenile Fiction challenge. Here is the list I'm working with:

Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Emmy's Question
The Pale Surface of Things

Poetry, Drama, or Humor (any of these will work)
The Triple Chocolate Brownie Genius

Sports, Mystery, Supernatural/Paranormal (any of these will work)
The Secret Zoo

Fantasy or Science Fiction
The King and Fire Chanter
Seeing Redd

Historical Fiction
The Red Scarf
The Pirate Hunter: Book II

Voices from the Village

Classic “juvenile” fiction (first published pre-1920)
Undecided--I'm going to have to take a trip to the library before I decide on this one. I may go with "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll. I think I've only ever read excerpts from that one.

Graphic Novel
Still thinking; "The Sandman" isn't really young adult literature

Still thinking--again, it will require a trip to the library.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Juvenile fiction/Young Adult fiction

I'll confess, I'm a juvenile fiction junkie. It frustrates my husband to no end as he thinks I should be reading something with more substance--or at least more adult in nature. For now, I've bought time because I tell him that I'm evaluating books for our son to read.

However, he and I both know it goes beyond that. It really is one of my favorite genres. There is a great deal of discipline involved with writing young adult fiction and it takes a very talented author to do it well. Some of the best writing takes place in so-called children's books, especially when the authors have a real respect for their audience and don't buy into the philosophy that you have to use small words when talking to children.

I've been on a juvenile fiction kick lately, reading one or two novels a night from a stack of books that were published in the past two years. I've been really impressed with what I've read, especially since some of them I was skeptical about the chosen topics and didn't have very high expectations for them. One in particular (which I'll review and blog sometime soon) absolutely blew me away.

At any rate, in my wanderings over the Web, I came across this challenge. It's a Young Adult Literature Challenge. It's a challenge that was too fun to pass up. I'll blog about it here--I need to get back in the book blogging habit anyway and share some reviews along the way.

If you find this sort of thing interesting, let me know and I'll dig up a few more. Perhaps one day we'll even have a Book Help Web challenge.


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