Book Review: Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
“The Indian boy lay hidden in the tall grass.”
Sugar-coated version of contact between native Americans and English explorers and settlers. A young reader’s book published in 1954. Disregarding all the historical inaccuracies—not to mention politically incorrect vocabulary—it still serves its function to entertain as well as, perhaps, encourage further reading.
Little is actually known about the native American who, speaking English, welcomed the Pilgrims at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Intense journalists that the Pilgrims were, his role with them is well documented. Before that, not so much. Bulla’s version is supported Continue reading
Book Review: Amáne of Teravinea: The Chosen One by D. Maria Trimble
“Ever since I can remember, I’d aspired to be brave and strong; to have a mission in life; to be worthy of a quest. But one problem plagued me—I was born a girl.”
A fun fantasy for young readers. Good story with a good heart. Lots of teen angst; little humor. Clunking, amateur writing.
“Gallen anticipated my reaction. He ducked just in time to avoid the spray of tea that spewed from my mouth. ‘Next time you have alarming news to tell her, you could at least refrain from telling her at meal times?’”
If Amáne’s mother and the Healer had any inkling she might be the Chosen One, you’d think they would have trained her and watched her. For who and what they were, they were Continue reading
Book Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
“I guess it is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different–unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.”
The Diary of A Young Girl for an apocalypse. Told from the first-person point of view of a southern California tween in the near future, The Age of Miracles pulls readers into Julia’s world and engages their emotions as the normal is stripped away with the rotational velocity of the earth. Well written.
“We were a different kind of Christian, the quiet kind, a breed embarrassed by the mention of miracles.”
The characters are realistic and varied–Christian, atheist, Mormon, Jew–except they’re all white. It’s understandable that Julia’s neighbors might look like her, but Continue reading
Book Review: Dragon and Slave (Dragonback #3) by Timothy Zahn
“They were slaves, and she was a slave, and the only place to hide from that reality was inside herself.”
I liked it; it’s a good read but the series is becoming formulaic. (See previous reviews here and here for the good news.)
“He wasn’t going off the deep end of the pool like some junior K’da warrior. All he was doing was paying back a debt. He probably would have felt better if he’d believed that.”
Book Review: Dragon and Soldier (Dragonback #2) by Timothy Zahn
“You’re innocent until they absolutely prove otherwise. And for ten minutes after that, too.”
Good story, consistent with the high tone set in the series opener, Dragon and Thief. Jack makes bone-headed decisions typical of a fourteen year old. Zahn, having saved the reader the apparently-mandatory Hogwarts school experience in the first tale, lays it on us now.
“You know, Darycos, for being such a clever poet-warrior, you’re kind of slow on the uptake sometimes.”
(Sorry I don’t have more quotes: read the ebook version on a trip. Highlighted quotable sentences, but my cell phone has done the u-boat routine since.)
Book Review: Dragon and Thief (Dragonback #1) by Timothy Zahn
“Jack muttered a word that had once cost him a week of desserts.”
Entertaining science fiction for young readers that harks back to the early days of SF, before we got all cynical and crude. Not that our fourteen-year-old protagonist isn’t a cynic, but that’s part of the fun. Thinking smarter you know everything at that age is such a burden, and a delight to those around you.
“It is interesting, is it not, that people so often turn out to be different than we expect.” “Don’t fool yourself, kiddo.”
Lots of typos which appeared to be OCR scanning errors. Someone at Open Road flunked proofreading. Still, we appreciate their making these books available.
(Ship named Essenay? Pig Latin (Es-See-Nay) for Nessie, perhaps, as in Loch Ness’ Nessie?)
Book Review: Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriet Gillem Robinet
“What you reckon owning land be like?” “We’ll wake singing and go to bed laughing. We be having both joy and peace.”
Historical fiction of the best sort. Robinet looks into the lives of freed slaves in the post-Civil War South through the eyes of a young freed slave. Pascal has a heap of challenges, but how he learns to face them makes for entertaining and educational reading.
“White folks should be glad we free so they don’t got to be so mean no more.”
Thoroughly researched. Of necessity in a story this compact and intended for young readers, Robinet simplifies her peripheral characters to allow extra depth to her central cast. Nevertheless, the spectrum of characters presents Continue reading
Book Review: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
“There’s things worse than bombs.”
A deep, honest look at life on the cusp of a great war and the end of childhood. Told penetratingly deep from the perspective of a young girl whose life is turned upside down by the evacuation of children from wartime London.
“The house looked asleep.”
Writing that may not appeal to adult readers has a simplicity and directness that sounds authentic. Despite the many decades elapsed since I was ten, I can attest that it comes uncomfortably close to how I sometimes felt during that awful and wonderful time of life.
“You’re in luck, then because I’m not a nice person at all.”
Winner of numerous awards for young readers.
“Saying something stupid doesn’t make you stupid. Luckily for all of us.”
Bought it for our granddaughter. (Don’t tell her.)
“I had so much. I felt so sad.”
Book Review: The Cay by Theodore Taylor
“I remember smiling in the darkness. He felt neither white or black.”
Award-winning young readers novel set in the Caribbean Sea during World War Two. A white boy and an old black sailor find themselves adrift with little hope of rescue … and the boy is blind.
“Voodoo is silly, I knew, but also frightening.”
Published in 1969 this is good story telling. The eleven-year-old protagonist sounds and feels real. His attitudes and reactions ring true. He grows … a lot.
“But dis year , d’sea is angry wid all d’death upon it. D’wahr.”
The text is straight-forward and should be easily read by young readers, except the pidgin spoken by Timothy. While Taylor’s dialogue captures some of the lilt of Caribbean, it makes hard reading. The dialect could have been eased, reflecting Phillip’s greater understanding of Timothy’s tongue.
“Timothy are you still black?”
Many good lessons about life and death. All its recognition justified.
“Take him, God, he was so good to me.”
Book Review: Hand of Adonai: The Book of Things to Come by Aaron Gansky
“Trust us. We know what we’re doing.” “Speak for yourself.”
Think: Breakfast Club does a Christian Dungeons and Dragons via Tron. It works better than it should. One of the brightest angles is the creators wondering why they fashioned the game as they did: making living through their creation difficult.
The D&D-role-playing game created by two of the high-school-age characters is as cheesy and illogical as you’d expect. That worked for me. “Writing demonstrated control and subtlety” didn’t. The set-up is good, and the cast right. The emotions seem authentic and well-considered. Even the sudden appearance of heroic skills is adequately explained.
“Hope, that feathered pest, perched in her heart again.”
The target audience are tweens. The cast is a study in stereotypes both before and after (If I tell you what that refers to …), but Continue reading