Saturday, February 11, 2006

Saturday's Sunday Reviews

Elizabeth Ward reviews Lauren Child's But Excuse Me, That Is My Book in her column, "For Young Readers," for the Washington Post.

Poor Lola's favorite book is out at the library and Charlie has to convince her to borrow another, equally good book. Lola really wants to check out (again) Bugs, Beetles, and Butterflies and is quite upset when it's gone. Ward explains, "what stays with you is not the happy ending but Lola's perfectly rational passion for the book that makes her laugh."

In the spirit of "'extra specially special,' as Lola would say," Ward provides capsule reviews of the following titles:
  • The Squeaky Door, a retelling of a Puerto Rican story by Margaret Read MacDonald ("laugh-out-loud hilarious")
  • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (A penguin, a boy, and "more sadness, more comedy and an ending so sweet it hurts")
  • Fly, Little Bird by Tina Burke ("similarly affecting")
  • Bess and Bella by Irene Hass ("a text as gravely funny as the pictures")
  • The Six Fools adapted by Joyce Carol Thomas ("glee at the sheer range of human folly")


Regina Marler reviews Julian Houston's New Boy for The New York Times.

New Boy is a debut novel and has received a lot of favorable press. It tells the tale of Rob, the "first black student at Draper, a Connecticut prep school." Marler finds, "Crosscurrents in the civil rights movement are well represented in New Boy, and Rob's quick transition between 'good colored boy' and fledgling activist makes sense (and, judging from the author's biography on the book jacket, are also part of Julian Houston's own story). This is history without sensationalism, in which small acts of resistance eventually change the rules."

  • Also in today's New York Times, Rebecca Zerker considers Happy Feet: The Savoy Ballroom Lindy Hoppers and Me by Richard Michelson (with "exuberant" watercolors by E.B. Lewis)
  • Elizabeth Spires reviews two new Young Adult titles--Polly Shulman's Enthusiasm and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. Both novels are firsts for their authors and take on the challenges of adolescence and romantic obsession. Spires concludes: "Teens with a taste for unbridled romance may respond to one or both of these books. It's my guess that the bright perky set will prefer Enthusiasm, the ones with dark circles under their eyes Twilight."
  • James Gorman reviews The Outlaw Varjak Paw by S.F. Said, a novel on my "to read" pile. Gorman finds The Outlaw Varjak Paw "is another swift, compelling tale. And Varjak is an appealing and believable hero — a small cat, by turns fierce and tender, grandiose and despondent, always trying to do the right thing while coping with a community in the grip of an apparently invincible gang."


Louisa Young (one half of the writing team that is Zizou Corder) talks about what happens when your writing partner turns thirteen for the Guardian. (Surely this is an unusual situation!) Young and her daughter are the authors of Lionboy: The Truth. Young concludes, "However I have a cunning plan. I am going to buy her children off her. It's going to be fabulous."