Thursday, August 13, 2009

Love, Hate (In that Order).

Buck Fever, by Cynthia Chapman Willis. What a great book! I logged on to Baker and Taylor first thing this morning (well, before doing this, at least, and within the first hour of work, which is pretty first thing for me) to order a copy for my YA Room. I paid very steady attention while reading this book but I didn't even find a typo. It's probably on the top ten of best-written books I've read all year: no grammar errors, the dialogue feels natural, the characters are realistic and the reader has reason to feel for them. I did feel like the drama at the end (quasi-spoiler: that whole foot business) was a bit abrupt and it nearly felt contrived, but it wasn't bad. I do feel like the ending in general is a little happily-ever-after (the parents are a little too happy, rescued their marriage a little too easily) and I almost feel like Joey is in denial about his injury, but it's not inappropriate for the target audience. I don't really like the cover art (depicted at left-- my ARC has just a green cover). This book can reach out to kids, girls and boys, who are realizing they aren't quite what their parents expected, but I feel like the cover will put off many readers. It makes the book seem like it's about hunting, and in actuality the hunting is just an expression of loyalty and tradition in the family. This won't have the cult following of Percy Jackson, but it perhaps surpasses it in all ways except action. This is a book you can use in the class room and in book discussions. M is for Majestic:A National Parks Alphabet, by David Domeniconi; illustrated by Pam Carroll. This book is worth it for the illustrations alone. I'm intrigued by how the illustrator painted photographs, and painted them taped to the page. It's an interesting choice and works well. The picture of the Olympic National Park and Ho Rain Forest aren't really correct, but it's close enough for a children's book. Unfortunately, the art is about the only reason to check this book out. The margins of each page have informative prose on the illustrated park, as well as any others that start with the same letter. This isn't bad, but it isn't amazing. What is terrible are the little poems for each letter. The keywords (I'm making this up as I try to explain, so bear with me) are good choices, but the connecting words (mostly prepositions) seem totally random. The comma use is atrocious: random extra commas, but other commas suspiciously missing; the author doesn't show a consistency in his misunderstanding of how to use a comma: they seem literally sprinkled, following no rules. An example: "H is for Hawaii Volcanoes / a restless park that grows, /when fiery mountains erupt and red-hot lava flows" (unpaged) or "M is for Mesa Verde, / cities built long ago, / by an ancient people / whose name we'll never know" (unpaged).

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