Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Celebrating Children's Books, edited by Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye

This book includes essays by authors, artists, critics, editors, and publishers of children's books. Given the great number of different authors, the writing covers a wide range of styles, some very gripping, some enlightening, and some, frankly, boring. It tackles such topics as imagination, realism, the grammar of story, the standards for critiquing scientific works, how to select a reviewer, and the role of librarians in putting the right book in the right hands.

I would recommend it to anyone interested in children's books, or in gaining a backstage view of the publishing industry. But then, I love reading books about books, and especially books about children's books.

Some favorite passages:

"Indeed, one of the purposes in presenting the past is to develop the watcher in children, for the living of life and the watching of life are bound by one cord...And I want them to be exposed to those specific and unforgettable bits of information and snatches of anecdote that cling to memory like barnacles, part and parcel forever of the momentous occasions, the tragedies, the shocks that each generation suffers." Jean Fritz

"Young as Alex is, already he has learned to detest history. The only history he has been taught is obviously not very good history: dates and boring facts--littering the textbook, dirtying the blackboard, befouling the wall charts; and on the quizzes the unrelenting demand for the names of presidents and battles...{Learning history} 'is a step aside from self, a step out of the child's self-preoccupation, and therefore, a step toward maturity'...To have a sense of history is to have a sense of one's own humanity, and without that, we are nothing...In totalitarian countries, governments amputate the collective memory." Milton Meltzer

"...many science programs reinforce the notion that doing science means memorizing facts, jargon, and numbers that seem irrelevant to everyday life. As a result, the public feels that science is much too complex for ordinary folks, and that it is a source of final, absolute answers rather than a continual search for truth." Laurence Pringle

At any rate, I have now put off that ironing pile yet again.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

This was a long (in terms of number of pages and the amount of time it took me to read) and broad (in terms of how many characters and how much action it encompasses) book which I would describe as a sort of light-hearted Harry Potter for adults (and yet I don't know why someone old enough to read Harry Potter wouldn't also be able to read this). I would recommend it to people who enjoy works of fancy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Master Georgie, Beryl Bainbridge

This novel relates the story of Master Georgie's life, as told in first-person narration by three different people who know him: a servant girl, his brother-in-law, and a sometime employee. I thought the author did a great job of revealing the character of each narrator in the narrator's voice. The ending did not satisfy me. I find as I get older that the hopes and desires of fictional characters seem hollow to me. I used to enter the secondary world with great gusto, and could almost believe myself an inhabitant of it. Now I am more aloof.

My Old Man and the Sea, David Hayes and Daniel Hayes

A father and his son bought and finished a 25-foot sailboat, and then sailed it around Cape Horn. They became the first Americans to sail around the Horn in a boat less than 30 feet long. They alternate telling the tale of their adventure. The most touching aspect of this book was the love they display for one another, and their musings on the father-son relationship and all that it entails.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Announcement, and an Explanation

It is with great joy that I announce the safe arrival (nearly four weeks ago) of the baby boy we expected. This is for those of you (I think there's at least one!) who read my blog but are not friends with me on facebook. Thus the lengthy break since my last book blog. I am several books behind now, and am foolishly hoping that someday soon I'll have the opportunity to sit and type out verbose opinions about each book. Ha.