Tag Archives: review

Maurice Sendak: 3 Picturebooks

Bumble-ArdyBumble-Ardy by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Layers of awesomeness that push the genre of picturebooks. Children will enjoy the rhymes and the distinctive Sendak illustrations. Adults will enjoy the innuendo. A great final send-off by the single greatest picturebook author/illustrator who ever lived.

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In the Night KitchenIn the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A recent re-reading to my storytime group: this book is amazing. It demonstrates childhood imagination, adult colonization on children’s imagination and still harkens to historical picturebook art history.

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Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I also read this to my storytime group today. Seriously, this must be the single greatest picturebook of all time. The layers of meaning, of implication, of suggestion are just so dense, so deep and yet so simple that this book appeals to EVERYONE. The three year olds love it (especially gnashing teeth and EAT YOU UP!), the parents love it, the children’s lit scholars love it (the perfectly balanced word to illustration ratio expanding as Max travels to the Wild Things, three full page spreads that bleed off the page and then the same opposing ratio to the final page “it was still hot” with only words gives me shivers). It has been analyzed to death, but it cannot be loved to death.

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The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

The UnidentifiedThe Unidentified by Rae Mariz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Following along my dystopian kick, I picked this one up after hearing someone discuss it at the ICFA in Orlando. I thought the concept was spot on and it had a combination feel of Monica Hughes’ Invitation to the Game, MT Anderson’s Feed and So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld.

Rampant consumerism, consumerized education, branded styles, trendsetters and cool hunters, popularity and technology all surround apathetic Kid who is more concerned with making music and just getting by than trying to get noticed by sponsors and get branded. But after she witnesses a disturbing stunt, she starts to do some research. She stumbles upon the UnIdentified–a group committed to staying below the controlling technology and constant feed access of the Game. But Kid has been noticed now, and she stumbles onto something more than a bunch of teenaged rebels.

An interesting read, and some interesting characters. Overall I enjoyed the story arc and the world building, noticing that the focus on the microcosm of the futuristic high school kept the story quote controlled and not overwhelming in regards to world building. However, I was disappointed that the novel ended where it did…it felt sudden and unsatisfying. Realistic, yes, but I would have like a few ends to be tied up. It seems that this might continue into a trilogy, though I don’t think the existing story has enough momentum to do so. So, we’ll see.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an awesome book. Unexpected, a little bit creepy, but impossible to put down. The photographs inspired a fantastic story that stays with me weeks later. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Definitely one of the best books I have read in recent memory.

After the strange death of Jacob’s grandfather, Jacob visits a small British island where his grandfather sought refuge as a child after his parents were killed in the Holocaust. Here Jacob searches for clues to his grandfather’s past that he hopes will help him recover from his grief.

This novel offers the unexpected constantly; it is peculiar, and mysterious, slightly creepy and yet heart-warming. You should probably read it.

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Our Posthuman Future by Francis Fukuyama

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology RevolutionOur Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This 2001 book offers very practical and utilitarian approach to biotechnology and what it means to be human in regards to human nature and human dignity. Fukuyama brings in information from philosophers, scientists, Darwinists and a host of arguments that suggest we are in a posthuman age, trying to define who we are, yet unable to reach a true consensus. A fascinating read.

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Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

WonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the man who brought us the Caldecott-Medal-winning novel Hugo Cabret (incidentially which translated wonderfully to the big screen), this graphic novel about deaf culture crosses two generations; one story told first in pictures and one told in words. The two characters become intertwined into a beautifully crafted story of illustrations and words that emphasizes family, acceptance and how one grows and changes over a lifetime.

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Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien

Prized (Birthmarked, #2)Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gaia continues to the Dead Forest to discover that there is civilization outside of the Enclave. Here she discovers information about her family, especially her grandmother and her role in this community. But every community has its problems and Slyum is no exception.

I really enjoyed Birthmarked, but, I loved Prized. It is a rare occurrence that a sequel is better than its initial in a trilogy, but Prized exceeds the standards O’Brien set in her first novel in this trilogy.

This book is exceptionally well-written, with exceptional character development. Gaia’s character evolves further in this novel, suggesting that Birthmarked was only a small glimpse into Gaia’s personality and strength. This dystopia sets up a promising conclusion to the trilogy that will combine the first and the second.

I really cannot say enough about how excellent this book is. So many dystopias miss an aspect–perhaps pushing the society, or a love triangle, but falling flat in some other aspect. While there was a “love square”, O’Brien handled the romantic intrigue with great care so that it did not feel forced or as if Gaia’s decisions and personality relied on the inclusion of a a boyfriend in order to complete her as a person.

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Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed by Ally Condie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crossed picks up where Matched leaves off…There is alternating first person perspective between Cassie and Ky which allows for a deeper characterization of both characters. While I like the ambiguity surrounding the Enemy vs. Society with the added tension of the Rising, I hope that Condie has enough stamina to continue revelations into the third book. I enjoyed the back story and addition of new characters; I also enjoyed the suggestion that the Society is doing something even more secretive and deceptive than originally expected. Is the Enemy a fabrication of the Society? Is the Rising? These questions are interesting enough for me to continue into the third book when it is released. However, while there is more action in Crossed than in Matched, I found myself annoyed with all-too-YA-common-themes. I am truly sick of love triangles. I don’t care what they represent, I have had enough with them. I was also distracted by numerous typos in my print copy. Overall, I liked it, but think it could have used another couple months of revisions and editing.

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See my review of the first in the series, Matched, here.

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