Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Book Reviews

Thursday is Library Day! Every Thursday my children and I go into the library for a "Wee Read" program and to pick up 4 books to bring back home and read. My eldest is in her element! She is SO enthusiastic, the librarian said she didn't think she's ever seen a 2 year old so excited to read stories! This is the only time she will sit still and do what she is told for that amount of time of her own will. She's putting on a front.

Last week I got 4 of the most wonderful books, entertaining to children, but also a little something for the adults (aka non-mindnumbing). Here they are:

Claire and the Unicorn, Happy Ever After by B.G. Hennessy and illustrated by Susan Mitchell. It starts with "and they lived happily ever after. The End." Then the adventure starts, when Claire drifts off to sleep and finds herself flying on the back of her favorite stuffed animal, Capricorn the Unicorn, through a magical story land in search of what makes someone happy ever after. So cute, and perfect for that toddler who just won't go to bed!

Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk. Showing the softer, more refined side of spiders and insects, this book teaches kids many different things without being painfully obvious, something my child is all too aware of and resistant to. A genteel spider attempts to invite a systematically increasing number of bright, colorful insects to tea, not for sinister intentions, but because she wants company. An inspiring warning against judging a book by it's cover.

Three Samurai Cats, a story from Japan retold by Eric A. Kimmel, Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. A classic, a doggy daimyo's castle is overrun by a wicked fat rat. He seeks help from a Senior monk, who sends him one samurai cat at a time. The first has his ass handed to him, as does the second. Then in limps the most decrepit, pathetic cat. An underdog story, the sad cat defeats the rat by letting him defeat himself, teaching an important lesson; why do today what you can do tomorrow... or soaking dishes in the sink for a couple days before you wash them is perfectly acceptable... or cleaning up is overrated... something like that!

Once Upon a Time, the End, Asleep in 60 Seconds, by Geoffrey Kloske and Barry Blitt. You know the story, it's late, you're on your last story, 3 stories later, and your kid is fighting sleep like a rabid weasel fights a badger. So you cut out a few words (or pages) to get to the end faster... someone wrote a book like that. Fastest version of Little Red Hen and Goldilocks, ever!

So there you have it, great books, I encourage you to look 'em up! Now as for what I'm reading: The Florist's Daughter by Patricia Hampl. This author came to my husband's school for a book reading. I have mixed feelings about it. Although a memoir, this woman, you can tell, is a poet. It is so beautifully written I don't want to put it down. However, the disdain and contempt for her average parents in middletown boring depressing St. Paul drips off the pages like soggy raisin bran flakes ooze out of a pillow case...(how did they get in there?!?!?!) Not to mention the book starts with the painful account of holding her mother's hand as she "lets her go", and recounts every painful memory of how she just wanted to get away from the safe middle, middle class, middle America, because life was just too average to die there. I don't know why, but I just can't put it down no matter how much I want to. That and I've only ever walked away from 2 books, because once I get started I'm loyal to a fault. So its quite a conundrum because Jeremy has met her and claims she has not a shred of disdain or contempt, but really loves her family and life... hmmmm? I'm guessing the book will end in a completely predictable confession of her enduring love from the perspective of hindsight. But I could be wrong.

My next book will be The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon for my cold war class. I hope it's suspenseful, I hope I can follow it with my cotton ball head!

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