Sunday, December 11, 2005

Weekend Reviews

Amanda Craig contributes a thoughtful review of Cornelia Funke's Inspell for the Times (London). She writes, "Inkspell isn’t a book to recommend to every child. It is a novel of complex ideas, for a reader already in love with literature. But to those for whom a good children’s book is the greatest pleasure imaginable, this is the perfect gift." Second.
David L. Ulin takes a look at Nothing Held Back--"The fourth annual anthology from WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that brings teenage girls together with women writers in workshops and one-on-one mentorships." WriteGirl is the coolest organization ever. I think their work should expand across the country.

Ulin finds Nothing Held Back compelling and writes, "Like all such collections, it's hit or miss, but at best it suggests that reports of literacy's death have been greatly exaggerated, that language remains a transformative force. "
Nicholas Tucker roundsup his favorite picture books, middle grade, and teenage titles for the Independent. It's a great list including some usual suspects (Lauren Child's The Princess and the Pea, Jan Pienkowski's The Fairy Tales, Sally Gardner's I, Coriander, Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry's Wicked Ways, and David Almond's Clay) and some different titles. Tucker also likes René Goscinny's Nicolas (also available now in the U.S.) and Thomas Bloor's Worm in the Blood (not yet available in the U.S.) Tucker writes of Worm in the Blood,
  • Darker in tone but utterly gripping, Thomas Bloor's Worm in the Blood features a 14-year-old British Asian boy named Sam who finds himself gradually transformed after developing an irritating rash. Drawing on British and Chinese folk tales and myths, this strange story eventually sees Sam changing into one of those ubiquitous dragons that keep cropping up in children's books these days. With a sequel planned for 2006, this is stirring, original stuff, easily accessible to readers from around 12 onwards.


Award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions, Framed ) reviews Carl Hiaasen's Flush for the Guardian. Boyce finds, "Flush is convincing, urgent, tense, funny and, well, pretty much perfect really."


Ridley Pearson's The Kingdom Keepers is the Washington Post Book of the Week. The short review begins: "If you've ever wondered what Disney World is like at night, after the park closes, curl up with this book and enter a truly magic kingdom." I have always wondered what Disney World (or Land, in my case) is like at night! What a great idea for a middle grade novel. Here's the skinny from the review:

  • The book's main character is Finn Whitman. He and some other kids have agreed to let their images be turned into holograms that will greet people at the park. It's a new use of technology -- holograms don't get tired, sick or take bathroom breaks -- that seems harmless, until Finn uncovers a plot by evil Disney characters (led by Maleficent) to take over Disney World.
I must get this book!