Thursday, February 10, 2011

retroactively January

Normally, the three feet of snow we've had since Christmas would mean evenings and weekends find me tucked up on the couch, coffee in one hand, book in the other.  The addition of the little man means that I get to read on my lunch break, however long I can stay awake before bed, and naptimes.  I don't think I'm going to come anywhere near my normal 120-ish books this year-- unless I can count picture books. :)  The only reason you're getting me now is because, after politely refusing his afternoon nap, the boy conked out on the couch at 6 pm; he wouldn't wake up, so I stashed him in his bed and am hoping he'll sleep through til at least 5 am.

A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kasza.  Apparently this is a classic of adoption picture books; though our (library) copy is older, it's definitely a must-have for picture book collections.  It's very simple, for a younger reader, and doesn't go into much detail or history, but that's appropriate. The mister liked the illustrations.  We read this once, but we read it the whole way through.

Mario Strikers Charged for Wii, by Nintendo.  I checked this out for our 1/26 Library Arcade, on the basis that anything Mario tends to go well.  What a huge hit!  It was monopolized by a few boys who played the whole time, although they did let others rotate in, and without me yelling at them to do so.  It's been a while since I found a game that held their attention for more than an hour.  I wouldn't like the game personally-- it's an up-to-4-player soccer tournament thingy with special skills-- but I'll definitely keep this one on my list.  We missed playing last week; the library was canceled because of the snow.

Goosebumps: Be Careful What You Wish For..., by R.L. Stine.  I haven't read hardly any R.L. Stine, even though I know he continues to be popular with kids.  I missed out on him in my youth (although I was only 11 when this book was published), but I've never been into scary stories anyway.

The story is short, it goes fast without being too challenging, so I can see why young readers might be drawn to this sort of thing.  I didn't find it very suspenseful or mysterious-- it's a rather over-used plot.

The Secrets of Droon: The Sleeping Giant of Goll, by Tony Abbott.  First in a series, you'd really need to have the following books on hand if the reader was into it, as the story didn't answer much.  I felt like a lot of detail was missed (the origin of the world, etc.) that certainly books for older readers would cover.  I would think younger readers would have the same questions.

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type, by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin.  I've covered this one before, but my 3-year-old loves it!

Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich.  This is Star Wars: big hype, big name author, and small plot development with 80% of the material adding nothing to character development or plot development.  If your library provides popular materials for adults, you need to have this solely because of demand, but I'm sad there is such demand.

Almost Chimpanzee: Searching for What Makes Us Human, in Rainforests, Labs, Sanctuaries, and Zoos, by Jon Cohen. There was a ton of awesome brain science stuff in here, which really made me happy.  It definitely has a small audience, but I found it both enjoyable and informative.  I really appreciated that, though there were a lot of scientists and other people the author met and talked about, he would remind the reader if we'd met them earlier in the book, but he was able to do so in a casual, natural way.  As someone who can't keep straight too many characters, this was super for me.

Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, for the World's Most Mysterious Fish, by James Prosek.  Turns out this book isn't really about eels or exploration, but mostly the author's trips around the world, getting drunk and actually not finding out much at all about eels.  He did learn alot of folk tales, and about the first third of the book is about his Maori findings, and then the last third of the book almost exactly the same thing on another Pacific Island nation.  It would have been better for the author to compile the folklore and myths, not go all existential about everything, about how taking and hearing the eel myths outside of the forest ruins them, and put the book in 398 instead of 500.  There is a little bit of factual, interesting information, actual science stuff, but not much.  Admittedly, that seems to be because hardly any exists on the topic, but I'd much rather hear about the different techniques and equipment being used by researchers who are coming up empty handed than how the author got drunk on a local root drink and heard a partial story.

Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting, by Sharon Turner.  This is the 2006 edition (for comparison purposes, I also have checked out the 2010 edition, which appears to be almost exactly the same except that the 2006 has white-background'ed pages and the 2010 is more colorful).  Can I just say how much I love this series.  It is, for me anyway and my learning style, tons better than either the Dummies or Idiot's Guide books.  The plethora of color photos certainly helps.

Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale; illustrated by Nathan Hale.  I know this book had received some good reviews, but I thought it looked pretty dumb, honestly.  But I was getting desperate this week-- I'm preparing for 6th grade booktalks again, and I need to take books of which we have 2 or more copies; not very many graphic novels fit that criteria.  OMG I luv'd this book!  The use of color-- vibrant, dull, or washed out to indicate place and time-- was phenomenal!  The Old West talking was a little strained at times; I think it would have been a good story without trying to wedge that additional element in.  I also feel the need to protest the minor romantic element, but it was delicately developed throughout the story, so it's a quarter-hearted protest at most.  You can bet I'll be getting to Calamity Jack as soon as my schedule allows.

Beast, by Donna Jo Napoli.  I know this author is quite prolific* and much loved, it seems, but I've never really gotten that great an experience from her books.  I had considered this one for booktalks because we have multiple copies, but I don't think I can get away with taking a book for 12-year-olds that, if not graphically, at least concisely, portrays sex so early in the book.  Parts of the book were really great, like the main character's conflict between his lion self and his religious, human self, but other parts of the book were a real let down-- the book ends at the climax, and we have no resolution.

*the other day I was recommending books to 40-something patron and said something like, "and if you like this author, you'll be in luck, because she's quite prolific."  The patron got all huffy with me, like I was trying to make her feel stupid by using big words.  I knew what that word meant before I went to library school, so that puts it in my "everyone has the opportunity to have this" vocabulary.

Mario Party 8, by Nintento (for Wii).  We used this for the 2/9 Library Arcade.  Anything Mario is a huge hit, as I said, with my kiddos, and this was no exception.

1 comment:

Ted Viveiros said...

Wow Sarah. I haven't been to your blog in a long time. It's great to see that you have so many followers who are interested in your blog. There are a lot of readers out there. It's also great to see that although your new son is slowing the reading down a bit, it won't impact things completely.