Thursday, February 21, 2013

Three (+1) For Thursday

It's Thursday, which means that it's time for another "Three for Thursday" post.  Actually, I have four books to tell you about, but who's counting?

I'm definitely keeping Victoria Rebels in mind for future YA historical fiction requests.  Historical fiction assignments can be tricky, since it's not always a preferred genre for many students.  Many people have an image of a dour, proper, and stern Queen Victoria, but in her youth, she was quite the partier (she delighted in dancing and celebrating until 4 or 5 AM) and rebelled against her stifling home life (which will resonate with young readers!).  If you're familiar with Queen Victoria's writing style (she was a prolific letter writer and diarist), you know that she frequently used BOLD LETTERS, lots of underlining, and MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!  Carolyn Meyer employs Victoria's writing style throughout the story; this took me a few pages to get used to it. Thankfully, it's not overdone.   Once I got over it, I was taken by this entertaining tale (which ends with her coronation) of a young princess finding her own identity and destiny. 

Elizabeth Bird thinks that Hokey Pokey will be the divisive children's book of 2013, and after reading it and reading other reviews and comments, I think she's right.  Hokey Pokey is quite the unique story.  I'm not going to even try to discuss the plot; as an otherworldly story about the end of childhood, it's a complicated and bizarre tale.  You will either love it or hate it, and you'll probably know within a few pages if you'll love it or not.  Frankly, it drove me crazy, but I'm glad to have read it, because this will definitely blow up the Heavy Medal blog once it returns in September.

 Finally, I've made progress in my Newbery Medal/Honor challenge.  I'm happy to say that I finally, finally, FINALLY read The Dark Frigate and can declare the 1920s Newbery era to be done. Note that I'm only reading medalists/honors that we actually own.  There are a handful of Newbery Honor books from the 1920s and two Newbery Medal books (one from the 1930s and one from the 1940s) that we don't own; they have been out of print for ages, I'm sure.  When I'm done with my Newbery project, I may do interlibrary loan requests; frankly, from what I've read about them, I'm not missing much and no one seems to be missing them, so I'm not too anxious to get to them.   Back to The Dark Frigate, though--it's definitely a mark of its time.  To be fair, I don't enjoy pirate/sea novels all that much, so that was my stumbling block at the very beginning.  Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. But, I read it!  Yay!

I also finished The Good Master, which is one of Kate Seredy's Hungarian novels.  Seredy must have been well-known and respected in her day, because she won the Medal in 1938 and won two Honor citations in 1936 (The Good Master) and 1940.  The Good Master takes place in the Hungarian countryside and is centered around a young boy and his city-dwelling badly behaved cousin, who comes to live with his family in order to "recuperate" from illness, although she certainly doesn't act like a delicate invalid.  As a glimpse into Hungarian life at the turn of the last century, it's interesting enough.  Unfortunately, scenes involving Gypsies are a little....uncomfortable, and young readers may wonder why Jancsi's father winks at him when he buys cousin Kate a prize at the fair, and won't understand that it wouldn't have been thought strange in that time period and culture. It's all very innocent, it's a very short scene, and it may go over young readers' heads anyway.   Scenes involving Easter celebration were intriguing. 

Once I'm finished with Pecos Bill and Bright Island (both 1938 Honor books), I will be done with the 1930s! Pecos Bill is an odd collection of tall tales about the cowboy raised by coyotes, and the recently reissued Bright Island sounds like a very cool read.

Let's take a short look at the 1920s Newbery books:

1922: The Story of Mankind (read in 2007)

1923: The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle (read in 2008)

1924: The Dark Frigate (read in 2013--see above)

1925: Tales From Silver Lands (read in 2008)

1926: Shen of the Sea (read in 2012)

1927: Smoky the Cowhorse (read in 2011)

1928: Gay Neck, The Story of a Pigeon (read in 2012)

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow (read in 2008) (Honor book: Millions of Cats: if I've read it several times, I don't reread it.  This is one of the rare Medal/Honor books that isn't a novel. Fun picture book about a man and a woman choosing among a ton of cats. )

Wow, it only took me five+ years to get through the 1920s and most of the 1930s. I'm being sarcastic--yikes!  Luckily, my attitude is vastly improved about the 1940s-onward.  I'm actually looking forward to the rest of the books. 

Our new books shelves will be filled with the recent ALA Youth Media award winners and new books for February!

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