Monday, July 26, 2010

Vacay Reads parte el dos.

Here are the rest of the books we read while on vacation.   It's quite a list, I now realize!

The Moon Might Be Milk, by Lisa Shulman; illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.  On our last visit to the library, the Little Reader was asking for a "book about cookies," and this is one of our choices.  It's a good book for his age: a cumulative story featuring animals who are having a disagreement.  I enjoyed the illustrations; they weren't spectacular, but I appreciated their clarity and simplicity.  We only read this book once, but we did read it the whole way through the first time. 

Christmas Cookies: Bite-Sized Holiday Lessons, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Jane Dyer.    I liked the style of this book, but it wasn't quite perfect.  The author has certainly come a long way in a short time to have produced this and then Duck! Rabbit! so close together.  The writing in this book seemed a little forced, not completely natural.  I found myself reading in my brain two or three words ahead of what was coming out of my mouth, and sometimes making alterations that I thought fit better.
The concepts seemed to me to be a little advanced for my LR, but he was obviously doing some hard thinking and we did indeed finish the book. They aren't words he'll be adding to his vocabulary any time soon, but this book was all about cookies, which was our point in checking it out.
I really didn't like the mix of people and weirdly drawn animals.  I'm not sure it exactly detracted from the book, but I think the illustrations would have been better/made more sense/seemed less creepy if it had just been one or the other.

How Are You Peeling?: Foods with Moods, by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers.    The LR found this one easier to understand than One Lonely Seahorse.  In the seahorse book, he liked the counting, but there was the difficulty of determining both what sort of sea creature it is supposed to be and what sort of vegetable it really is.  In this book, LR didn't have any problem seeing the faces in the vegetables, so he wasn't as distracted.  I think this is a good book to read with him; he seemed to benefit from some of our discussions about emotions.  When pointing to a face on a page, he initially either classed it as "happy" or "sad,"  but we were gradually able to expand that to "mad" or "angry" on his own, and he seemed to understand "jealous" and "shy" and a few others.  I don't know how many emotions regular 2-year-olds can identify, but I think we are doing well here.

10 Little Rubber Ducks, by Eric Carle.    This boy instantly fell in love with Carle's illustrations.  He was touching the inside front cover and petting the oceans, definitely attracted to the colors and patterns.  Still working on counting, he really loved this book: we read it 3 times!  This is one of the author's that I had missed a few years ago, when I read everything of his I could find for a library school project.  I'm glad we found this one.

The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, by Eric Carle.  "Buggies" are a very interesting thing to this little guy, so he liked this story.  We read it a few times, but only to get to the last page, where we played with opening and closing the back cover for 10 minutes at a time.
I wanted to share the lonely firefly story, since my current state has fireflies, something I never saw growing up on the West Coast, but, although the library had two copies, neither of them actually lit up, so we didn't end up getting that one.

Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis.    Before spending time with the Little Reader, I thought the concepts in this book would be too advanced for him.  But his brain is imagination central.  He wasn't really excited about this, but we did finish it, and I could see he was thinking about the concepts.  He read Not a Stick with my husband and his reaction was about the same.  I will definitely be purchasing these to have at home.
He also read Curious George with my husband.  I did not realize how long that book is!  But he listened to the whole thing and kept pointing out George in all the pictures.  He and my husband also repeated some of the books I read with him.  The LR would sit and listen to picture books for half an hour at a time, which was a bit of a surprise to me, but it meant we got some nice quality time that did not involve me as a jungle gym.

The Berenstains' B Book, by Stanley and Janice Berenstain.    This was a fun book to read.  LR read it twice with my husband first, back to back, and the next day asked for back to back readings from me.  We all found the alliteration quite fun.

And-- finally-- some books that I read just to myself.

Thief of Time, by Terry Pratchett.  I continue on my quest to finish this series.  I remember no typos or misprints in this one, which I always appreciate.  Lu-tze is becoming a bigger minor character, with several appearances now, and in the one I'm currently reading.  I really like him.

Well Witched, by Frances Hardinge.    I had to weed this from my YA collection because it wasn't circulating at all, but I thought the plot sounded interesting, so I brought it home.  And lugged around across 4 time zones (and back across 2) before abandoning it in the waiting area for one of the gates for one of the legs of my flights home, having only made it to page 40.  I should learn to trust the circ stats on my YA books; those kids can tell when a book isn't worth lugging around.

Dead in the Family, by Charlaine Harris.    So there I was, Phoenix airport (I think), with three audiobooks I couldn't hear over the sound of airplane noise and nothing to read on a four-hour flight, a one-hour layover, a 30-minute flight, and an hour car ride.  I looked at all the paperbacks I could find, but the airport was full of Dan Brown, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel, and little else.  I hadn't really wanted to read this book, but it was literally the only book I could find in the entire airport that I was even remotely interested in.  I'm so used to buying books for the library-- at a substantial discount through our distributor-- that paying the list price made me blink.  Hardcover books are $25?  No wonder I stopped buying them for myself!
This is not a fantastic series.  It used to be pretty good, but the author is now just spitting them out for the money and the fans, and the story isn't much.  It's been a while since I read the previous series installment, so there are quite a few things I'd forgotten, which left me a little adrift in parts.  These books follow a formula I associate more with children's or YA books than adult novels (like Harry Potter or The First Test): mostly boring, boring, interpersonal, boring, with a big action ending and no resolution.
This book worked out to $5/hour and did succeed in keeping me busy on the long plane ride, which I think is a fair cost-to-use ratio.  I've listed the book on Craigslist, and it would be nice to get some of that money back; it's not like I'll ever read it again.

Jane Bites Back, by Michael Thomas Ford.    This was the one adult-level book I checked out from the library we were visiting; I wanted something to read in the evenings or during the LR's naps, and I didn't want to go through the few things I had brought with me.  Like most avid readers (I would think, anyway), I have a big list of books that I've come across that I want to read, but haven't made the time commitment to yet.  I meant to bring this list with me, but of course I forgot.  I could only remember a few of the titles, and none of them were checked in.  I browsed the (rather small) fiction section and did not find anything I wanted.  This was in the new fiction section and, while I have shunned the Jane Austen fan wagon, I was at a complete loss and decided to at least give it a try. During the first 10 days of my stay, I didn't read more than 2 pages at a time, usually before becoming unconscious, but my last full day there, I ended up having quite a bit of down time while people had to go off to meetings and I was home alone.  Then the LR was home but decided to nap for 3 hours.  So I finished the book, which was nice for me.
It wasn't too bad, actually.  Even never having read a single work by Austen (yes, I know, how *did* I ever get my English B.A.?), the book made perfect sense; there were very few references to the original works, which, had I been a huge Austen fan, I'm sure would have frustrated me.  The writing was ok; the sentence structures were good, but overall the plot was a little... strange.  Mystery?  Not really.  Fan fic?  Romance?  Doesn't fit that either.  I like books that know what they are; this book just tried on different genres but couldn't pick a favorite.
I was surprised, after finishing the book, to notice that the author is a dude.  I totally wasn't getting that vibe.  I'm so terrible about picking up on that.

And now that I'm back at home, some books from my own library:

Tabletop Fountains: 40 Easy and Great-Looking Projects to Make, by Dawn Cusick.    I love fountains.  My favorite coffee shop in Pullman had an awesome little-ish one on the back patio, made from an assortment of gardening and kitchen implements.  One of the blogs I follow had a short thingy on fountains the other day, so I thought I'd take a look at what we had in the collection.
This book has good instructions and is pretty easy to follow.  The pictures are pretty great.  I won't be making a fountain yet because it would be a little bit of money, and I don't yet have all the tools, but it's on my list of things to do once we have a house.

This World We Live In, by Susan Beth Pfeffer.    I should have been reticent about this one.  It was totally not up to the standard of the first two.  The series would have been better if it was just the pair.
I don't like to do spoilers of any sort, but I can't properly complain without giving away the middle of the book.  I'll just say that I didn't think some of the characters were as truly portrayed as they had been.
Also, there's definitely forced-feeling romance, and a very, very careful non-mention of anything sexual.
I'm let down by this book overall.

Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett.    Hmm, two books in a row about time.  Do I have thoughts about this?  I don't know.

Woolvs in the Sitee, by Margaret Wild; illustrated by Anne Spudvilas.    I'd heard some good things about this, but I don't remember from who I heard them.  I'm kind of let down again.  There isn't enough story.  Why is the world so dark?  Why is the child living alone?  The world needed to be more drawn out.
The watercolors were awesome, though.

Phew!  That's quite a list.


SandyS said...

If your readers are in the area of Amherst, MA, please visit The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It's an amazing place full of picture books, 3 galleries of original picture book art, a reading library and an art studio and auditorium. Eric Carle will be here August 13 and 14.

sarah said...

Thanks, Sandy, for that information. I've looked longingly at the Eric Carle Museum's online presence, but visiting the East Coast is not a place I imagine visiting. But for readers who may be up that way, what a great opportunity!

Ms. Yingling said...

Good to know ahead of time about the last Pfeffer book. I had my suspicions when I found out the characters from the first two books would meet. I'll still read it, though. Darn.