Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recent Reads

That nasty reading slump is history, thank goodness! I've just finished some excellent reads:

Bad Kitty for President

I get such a kick out of the Bad Kitty books; they are so much fun to read!  I just went through Publishers Weekly's Spring Announcements for children's/YA books, and there are a significant number of election-related books on the horizon, as you can expect. I think it will be hard to find one as hilarious as Bad Kitty for President.  Not only is it a fun read, but it also explains campaigning (including commercials and attacks on your competition), delegates, conventions, financial contributions (including super PACS!), and other matters of the modern electoral process extremely well!

Beneath a Meth Moon

This thoughtful and mature novel tells the tale of young Laurel, who lost her mother and grandmother to Hurricane Katrina (never named as such) when it devastated their hometown of Pass Christian, MS.  Grief-stricken Laurel, her father, and her younger brother move to Iowa. Meth addiction is a big problem in their small Midwestern town; Laurel falls prey to the drug, which allows her to escape her trauma and to connect with her new boyfriend.  Told in sparse chapters, this is a quietly moving and authentic novel dealing with a very real problem in many rural communities.  This is another winner from Woodson.

Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

I'm a sucker for most dog books (although I'm a little over the "how my dog changed our family" memoirs), so Show Dog was right up my alley.  Show Dog takes us behind the scenes of the elite dog show world through the experience of young Jack, an Australian Shepherd who starts his show career with a stack of wins, yet increasingly finds it hard to compete against dogs with more experience, stronger reputations, and more predictable behavior. In between shows, Jack plays Frisbee and sires puppies (warning: do not make the mistake of reading the "Welcome Halle B" chapter while goes into, shall we say, great detail regarding Jack's attempts at fatherhood).  A parade of eccentrics, high-strung individuals, and impressive dogs introduced by an involved, witty, and bemused author create a colorful read.  Dog show politics, including subjective judges, the waning of owner-handlers, a (surprisingly) bitterly divided smooth fox terrier community (really), the evolving nature of dog breeds, and other canine concerns add weight to the story.   Josh Dean casts an irreverent (yet not mean) eye on this unique world, talking to owners, breeders, handlers, judges, and even "the voice of Westminster," David Frei. Plus: cute doggy pictures!

And the reading streak continues, because I'm reading another fine story by Katherine Applegate.  This one already has some quiet Newbery buzz. However, as we've learned from Okay for Now last year (which had loud, loud, YIKES TURN IT DOWN Newbery buzz) and any number of books before that, that can mean precious little come awards time. It's definitely on my short list (see the lists to your right). 

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