January 1, 2011

Final 2010 Reading Round-Up

Happy New Year!

Been away from the keyboard for awhile because those last couple of weeks of school were a bit of a bear and then we went to visit family in Florida and I've just enjoyed catching up on reading.  Some times I just need to consume rather than produce.

I finished Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan which was four-fifths of a great book.  In the reverse of The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John (in which a newly orphaned girl is sent from England to Africa to live with a grandparent), a newly orphaned girl living in early 20th century British East Africa is sent to live with a grandparent in England after a cholera outbreak.  The Dickensian twist is that a greedy couple who have lost their own daughter convince our protagonist to take her place and therefore weasel her way into the grandfather's heart (and his estate) against her better nature.  Like the St. John, the natural beauty of the settings are vividly described and the relationships are strongly felt.  The pace is well done throughout until the final chapters which become more summary that action.

I read the second and third Trenton Lee Stewart Mysterious Benedict Society books, The Perilous Journey and The Prisoner's Dilemma.  I guess this is as good a time to out myself as any.  I read them on my Kindle.  Yes, I got a Kindle back in October.  I'm sure I'll have more to say on that later if you care.  Basically: it's awesome. Anyway,  I was going through books at a good clip and it was getting pricy, so I was delighted to see that I could buy all three Mysterious Benedict Society books as one $10 download!  It was a great way to slow me down and also gave me time to force myself to alternate between some actual physical books on my bedside table.  This is a project I'll still be working on throughout 2011 no doubt, the alternating between my previously bought stack of books (or gifts or loaners) and new Kindle books.

Anyway, I like these books but wouldn't recommend reading them one right after another.  I took a longer break between the first and second one and enjoyed them, but then went right on to the third and wasn't as enthused with it as the other two (though I was pleased with the tone of the ending).  The second one was great, mysterious, adventurous and fun.  The third one took about half way through the novel for the plot to really kick in but the second half was fun.  I will recommend them to a certain kind of student, but if there are more, I won't be reading them.

Between these, I read one of those previously-mentioned physical books: The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman.  This is definitely a middle school aged book, so unfortunately one I can't really recommend to many of my elementary school students.  I do, however, strongly recommend it to everyone else.  I can't say enough good things about this book.  It reminded me of my days reading Paul Zindel in my youth and I hope this finds all the right readers.

To my daughter we finished reading the next Ramona book in Beverly Cleary's series, Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  I'd never realized how connected these are--really one continuous story and how important the economics of the family were to the books.  I can't wait to read the next two to find out how her parents fare in their jobs and schooling as much as I can't wait to see what further shenanigans Ramona gets herself into.  We've just started the next book in Cressida Cowell's series, How to Speak Dragonese.  So far it's as much fun as the others, but quite a shift in tone from the Ramona books!

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

The Schwa was Here

The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection

The White Giraffe

Listening for Lions