Thursday, July 27, 2006

Firegirl, Francine, and Penny

Just finished these three, and they eerily flow naturally from one to the next.

Firegirl. Well, frankly, I'm unimpressed. It's a lovely story, and worthy--but I can barely remember it a week later. The characters never felt like more than pawns to me. Whereas:

in The Loud Silence of Francine Green, another quiet-protagonist-befriends-outsider-new-girl-at-Catholic-school story, there's so much more. Francine's accomplishment at the end is believable, and worthy enough, and not the over-the-top transformation I feared was coming. The history (because this is historical fiction even though it's only 1950) works with the story and despite it (whereas in Firegirl the story never kept stride with the message) ... and does exactly what history is supposed to do: leaves readers with a sense of what they themselves can do today to make their own world better.

Same time period, opposite coast: Penny From Heaven. (Ok: who picked the awful cover?) Holm, like Cushman, is a writer who knows her characters. Penny is instantly engaging, and each member of her extended Italian-American family is vivid in my mind weeks later, even though I met them (uh, read about them) at the height of my ugly sinus-viral thing in the middle of a heat wave. Luckily, my memories of that week are of 1953 New Jersey: the Falucci's butcher shop, Uncle Dominic's car, Scarlett O'Hara peeing on the rug, and the poor, poor milkman. A "period piece"perhaps--but so excellently done.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


This is a beautifully and meticulously crafted book--clearly allegory, but it somehow works on a literal level as well--perhaps because Lowry is just so good at setting a scene and invading the minds of her characters (non-human characters included). I'm intrigued by the fact that though the title character seems to be the central character, she's not necessarily the main character...the woman and the boy seem equally "main."

Is this a book for young people? And for what age? Reviews suggest 10 and up...but the nostalgia for pre-adolescence may actually make the book more appropriate for teens or adults. Anyone used this with kids yet?

Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen

Funny books tend not to win the Newbery. Why? I think it's just that difficult to write a fantastic funny book. But M.T. Anderson may have done it. It's a short book, hilarious, and surprisingly multi-faceted and even deep. Read it. I'm adding to the list...and am adding the others you've posted. Between a funky connection, a two-week virus, and just being a slow reader, I'm having trouble keeping up with you all...but that's why I started this blog--to get you to do my work for me.

(Funny Newbery's? Holes and Westing Game...but they were also great mysteries. Some funny recent honor books: Al Capone, Surviving the Applewhites, Everything on a Waffle, Joey Pigza...but these also had family/relationship storylines going for them. Lederhosen is really JUST about being funny, and I'm interested to see if it will stand up against others.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Eligibility question: Lugalbanda

I don't have a copy of Lugalbanda handy...but it may raise the eligibility question of "original work." Here's from the criteria:

"In defining the term, "original work," the committee will consider books that are traditional in origin, if the book is the result of original research and the retelling and interpretation are the writer's own."

If anyone has some insight (source notes printed in the book?) on whether this version would constitute an "original work" under this criterium, please comment! In the actual committee, this sort of question often gets handled between the committee chair, her "Priority Group Consultant" (a member appointed to handle issues for all award committees), and the ALSC President.

See the list

I've created a "wish list" on to capture suggestions so far. The link on the sidebar should take you straight there.

(Note, I've created a dummy email to establish this list, which is also what you use to find the list on if you don't have the direct link: I won't ever check this email account, and if you decide to send to it anyway, you'll get a message back saying so. Post a comment here instead.)