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Archive for the ‘children’s fiction’ Category

Carrie lives in Eatonville, Florida, along with her two best friends are Zora and Teddy. Not only does Zora possess a wild and uncontrolled imagination, she also tells fabulous (and true!) stories better than anyone else in town. So when Zora says that shy and reclusive Mr Pendir is really half gator, half man, Carrie and Teddy believe her. But when Ivory and Gold come to town, and then a headless body is found by the railroad tracks, it takes more than the ability to spin a tall tale to put all the pieces together. Zora, Carrie, and Teddy are determined to figure out what really happened, despite the fact that they’re “only” kids. Along the way they learn some ugly truths about the world they live in, but their determination is rewarded.

This is an excellent book, and I hope it becomes a classroom standard in schools. The story is sophisticated, the characters are engaging, and the mystery is satisfying. The solution was not obvious, and the authors did not condescend at any point to their audience. And most importantly of all, the realities of the world that Carrie, Zora, and Teddy live in are not glossed over; they are not the primary focus of the story, but life is realistically depicted. It is clear that Eatonville is unusual in its status as the first incorporated black township in the US, and also that its residents enjoy an unusual degree of freedom in how they are able to live. The early 1900s were not a good time for most non-white, non-male citizens, and that reality is firmly depicted in the story while still remaining appropriate for the intended audience.

I had read Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school, and enjoyed it very much–the entire class loved it, in fact. Zora and Me makes me want to read more of Zora Neale Hurston’s work, especially Dust Tracks on a Road, which was a source that the authors used for recreating Hurston’s childhood home. This book is also the only work not written by Hurston herself that is endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston trust.

Official site
NY Times article about how the book came to be

Winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award and 2011 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Juvenile.

Source: borrowed from library

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Books due out later this year that I am looking forward to:

Argh, I hate waiting.

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Bambi

My friend Jazi gave me a very nerdy and totally awesome Twelfth Night present. She gave me a copy of Bmabi.

In the original German.

I think at one point I knew that the Disney film had been based on a book, and I might even had known that the book had originally been published in German. But that knowledge had long since been lost in the mists of time.

Until I opened my present, and shrieked and bounced in excitement.

I can’t want to read it!

AND there’s a sequel, which I will have to track down.

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Bink and Gollie are the best of friends despite–or perhaps because of–their very different approaches to life, the universe, and pretty much everything. They remind me a lot of Piggie and Gerald, not to mention Frog and Toad.

“Don’t You Need a New Pair of Socks?”

“It’s a sock bonanza!” said Bink.
“Indeed it is,” said Gollie. “An extremely bright sock bonanza.”
“I’ll take this pair,” said Bink.
“Bink,” said Gollie, “the brightness of those socks pains me. I beg you not to purchase them.”
“I can’t wait to put them on,” said Bink.

“P.S. I’ll Be Back Soon”

“I cannot talk right now,” said Gollie.
“Why not?” said Bink.
“Because,” said Gollie, “I am high in the pure air of the Andes Mountain.”
“All righty, then,” said Bink.

“Give a Fish a Home”

“Fred wants to roller-skate,” said Bink. “Fred longs for speed.”
“Fish know nothing of longing,” said Gollie.
“Some fish do,” said Bink. “Some fish long.”

I found all three stories absolutely delightful; the illustrations are marvelous as well. This is a beginning reader, so the text is short and to the point, but it’s amazing just how much personality can be captured in a few short and pithy sentences. I certainly hope this is not the last we’ve seen of Bink and Gollie!

Winner of the 2011 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award, given to the most distinguished American book for beginning readers.

Bink and Gollie official site

Source: borrowed from library

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ALA has announced the 2011 Youth Media Awards. Congrats to all the medalists!

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Here’s some interesting bookish links:

Kirkus 2010 Best Books for Children and Teens I have sadly read only a very few of these books. But should I ever run out of things to read, this will be a good place to start.

A Screenwriter’s Hogwarts Decade I had no idea that the same person had been the screenwriter for all but one of the Harry Potter movies. And I also had no idea how closely JK Rowling had been involved with the movies.

James Frey’s Fiction Factory and James Frey’s Next Act which combine to paint a horrific picture. Liz B has an excellent roundup of related links over on A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. It’s not so much *what* he’s doing as *how* he’s doing it that’s the problem. That contract is BAD.

The Bookseller Who Doesn’t Read Novels He clearly cares about the business and is working very hard to make it succeed, so I’ll just cringe mildly and move on.

My bright idea: English is on the up but one day will die out Language nerd alert! He makes good points, and I think he might have a case. But we won’t live long enough to see if he is right or not. C’est la vie.

The Book Collection That Devoured My Life No comment.

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Linus and his family are moving from Ohio to Liberia, thanks to his dad’s new job with the US embassy. Rather than freaking out about the move (as he secretly sort of wants to), Linus decides that this is the perfect opportunity to reinvent himself: from now on, he’ll be Cool New Linus. As soon as he steps off the plane in Monrovia, he sees a black mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in Africa. His parents insist that mambas are incredibly rare, and that Linus has nothing to worry about. But as Linus goes about establishing his new identity and making friends, he constantly encounters mambas. Rather than hiding and feeling scared (that’s what Old Lame Linus would have done), he becomes convinced that he is a kaseng, and that the shares a bond with mambas. But his actions have unforeseen consequences, and Linus has to decide what to do.

I really enjoyed this story. Part of why I like it is that I identify so much with Linus–I wasn’t an Embassy Brat, but I was a Military Brat, so I know *exactly* what he is going through. But even someone who has lived their whole life in one place can identify with Linus’ desire to reinvent himself as a cooler and improved version. I also really enjoyed Linus’ interactions with his family and friends.

On a personal note, there aren’t very many books out there that even begin to address my experiences growing up, so anything that comes close, even if it’s not a fantastic piece of literature (oh, The Great Santini, I’m looking at you), is sort of important to me. The fact that this book is actually a GOOD book makes it even sweeter. Don’t believe me? The New York Times thinks so too!

Mamba Point lunch party at The Red Balloon Bookshop

Kurtis Scaletta’s site and blog

Source: ARC from Kurtis, but have since bought my own

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