Monday, August 31, 2009

"In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women."

A few months back, I watched the Masterpiece mini-series presentation of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford on PBS and found the stories to be witty and touching. You see, this book is really a collection of stories about the women of Cranford that were originally released serially in Charles Dickens' periodical, Household Words. In fact, Masterpiece is showing a Cranford 2 this fall based on more of Gaskell's tales of Cranford.

Cranford is a country town in Victorian England that has developed into a matriarchy -- all of the powerful and influential members of this small society are women, either widows or spinsters. The narrator is a young woman who frequently visits Cranford, especially the sisters Jenkyns. This narrator, Mary, relates both the high points and the low of this town. There are births, deaths and marriages, financial ruin and touching reunions. Though this is a short collection of stories, Gaskell draws the reader in with her vivid personalities and quick wit.

This is yet another "must read" book but I'm not sure it's for everyone. If you enjoy Victorian times and want a different view of the middle class than the standard Victorian fare, then this is a must read. However, I think that some readers may find it a bit sappy and I'm not sure that there's a greater world knowledge to be specifically gained from this book. Still, it's a good introduction to Gaskell and I will be searching out more of her novels quite soon.

Appreciating the strength of the Victorian woman,

Support our site and buy Cranford on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Party in Portland

This last weekend I had the chance to head south to Portland and meet some amazing book bloggers from the Northwest. The bloggers were there representing these sites --

Caribou's Mom
Dreadlock Girl Reads
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Reading Local: Portland
Rose City Reader
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Rose City Reader wrote a good summary of the weekend's events and Caribou's Mom has a great photo of the group (I'm in green) and some of the highlights of the tours. Dreadlock Girl also has some fantastic photos! The Powell's City of Books tour was awesome and I can't wait to get back down there and do a really good shop without a five year old attached to my leg. This was really a great opportunity to talk about books and blogging and I hope that some more of you PNW bloggers join us next time!

In addition to Powell's, some of the bloggers brought books to trade so here are the baker's dozen of books that made the trip back home with us --

In A Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu - I have been looking for a nice used copy of this book forever and found an Oxford edition at Powell's. I will be reading this for my "well-read" challenge and it's one that I'm really excited about!

The Mammoth Book of Dickensian Whodunnits - Since I finished my historical whodunnits during the Mystery Read-A-Thon, I needed a new book of short stories and this one looks fun. I hadn't seen it before but Powell's had it on sale.

The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse - I think I had this on my library list at one point even though it's not there now. I'm not sure why I took it off but this one has an interesting haunted house premise. (ARC)

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti - This is another one that I have been going back and forth on because of good and bad reviews but since it was sitting right in front of me, I grabbed it! (ARC)

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner - You probably recognize this one as the story of Juana, daughter to Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. I've decided that I really need to become more familiar with Spanish history as a whole to get in touch with my heritage and understand my ancestors. This is another small piece of the historical timeline.

Three Junes by Julia Glass - I had never heard of this one but it got shoved in my hand and I was told I had to read it. :) It's a National Book Award Winner and looks to be a quick read.

The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss - Molly Gloss is the author that we met in Portland and even though her book is not in my standard genres, she was just so fantastic at talking about her writing and her books that I got a copy (signed!) and I am really looking forward to reading it.

Malice by Lisa Jackson - This book didn't come from Portland ... it actually came from Redding, CA. I won it from Caribou's Mom during the Mystery Read-A-Thon and it was in the mailbox but it did end up coming back in the house with me after our vacation. Sneaky little thriller.

And lest you think that I dragged Z along with me to Portland for no reason, he had a fantastic time and grabbed these books at Powell's ...

Horton Hatches the Egg (a U.K. edition!) and the Horton Hears a Who! Pop-Up-Book by Dr. Seuss - Z is on a big Horton kick right now and when he found out there was a second book, he started reminding me constantly that we needed to go buy a copy.

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate (ill. Ashley Wolff) - Z starts kindergarten this week and obviously he's been thinking about it because he picked this one off the shelves all by himself.

Billy's Picture by Margret and H.A. Rey - I grabbed this one because I've never seen any of the non-Curious George books by this duo. It's simple and adorable.

T even grabbed a book at Powell's -- Tom Swift and His Flying Lab by Victor Appleton II, an old 1950's Hardy Boys type book.

We had a great time with the bloggers and T, Z and I had fun exploring Portland. It's got a lot of things in common with Seattle but is definitely its own town.

At the end of a bookish adventure,
K and Z

Friday, August 28, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Sleeper

We returned to poetry for this week's Poe Fridays with The Sleeper. You can read it here. It's a bit longer poem so I won't reprint it here except for an excerpt --
The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
For ever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!

I'm sure you could have guessed that Poe wasn't going to be talking about someone taking a nap in this poem! This one has beautiful descriptions of the moon at midnight but it gets a bit cheesy when he brings in the worms. This isn't as much of a "dead lover" poem as many of his others. It seems more of a general musing on what does or doesn't happen after death. There are pleasing parts of the poem but I'm not in love with the whole.

I'm swamped with a ridiculously huge reading queue right now so let's grab another poem for next week ... the short Eldorado.

Wishing all those who have passed a peaceful repose,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

R.I.P. Challenge IV

For the first time this year, I am going to be participating in Carl's R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) Challenge. This is the fourth year of the challenge and it's one that many readers love. Last year I did my own spooky reading and made of list of some of my favorite books from my shelves but this year I'm going to use this time to clear some titles from my TBR piles. Here are Carl's rules --

There are two simple goals to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge:

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

As I do each and every year, there are multiple levels of participation that allow you to be a part of R.I.P. IV without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives.
R.I.P. IV officially runs from September 1st through October 31st. But lets go ahead and break the rules. Lets start today!!!

I am going to be participating in

Read Four books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.

I came up with an incredibly long list of possible books as I sorted my TBR stacks today. Though I only need four books for the challenge, I will try and read as many of these as possible in the next two months.

The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Thomas and Dorothy Hoobler
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
In A Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The Unburied by Charles Palliser
The Dracula Dossier by James Reese
The Fig Eater by Jody Shields
Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott
The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale

and books of short stories ...
The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler
The Mammoth Book of Dickensian Whodunnits edited by Mike Ashley

And if I'm not satisfied with these books I own, I also have the following books on my library list --
Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor
Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death by Deborah Blum
The House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam
Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick
The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfarr and Emmanuel Guibert
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Does anyone want to recommend anything from my lists? Any of these books that you love? I'm sure I will read the Palliser book and the Muriel Spark and Joe Hill stories. Otherwise, it's up in the air.

Loving the fall reading season,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Life According to Literature Meme

I saw this meme on Lena's site, Save Ophelia, this week and really liked the idea so here's my version (with links to my reviews) ...

Using only books you have read this year (2009), cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe Yourself: The Uncommon Reader

How do you feel: Inkheart

Describe where you currently live: Bleak House

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Ice Land

Your favorite form of transportation: The Séance

Your best friend is: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

You and your friends are: People of the Book

What’s the weather like: Cold Comfort Farm

Favorite time of day: Neverwhere

If your life was a: Postern of Fate

What is life to you: The Invention of Everything Else

Your fear: Wicked Plants

What is the best advice you have to give: Behold, Here's Poison

Thought for the Day: What Would Jane Austen Do?

How I would like to die: The Reluctant Widow

My soul’s present condition: Revelation of Fire

Wondering what my literary life was last year,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Release: The Puzzle King

I need to be more adventurous when it comes to choosing books. I saw Betsy Carter's The Puzzle King in an upcoming releases list but decided against reading it because it touched on the Holocaust. I thought it would be sad and depressing. However, I received an unrequested copy for review and decided to pick it up immediately. The short of it -- I really liked this book.

This is the story of Simon Phelps, a young boy who came to America by himself when he was nine years old and also the story of his bride to be, Flora Grossman. Flora and her sister came to America from Germany in their teens while their mother and sister stayed behind. Simon is an artist and we see his growth from a young immigrant into a successful businessman. He invents the cardboard puzzle and becomes very wealthy. Yet he is always haunted by the fact that he can't find any evidence that his family in Latvia survived after he left. Flora has to deal with the fact that her sister, brother-in-law and niece could be in danger because they are German Jews. This novel is about love, loss and the ways in which we redeem ourselves by saving others.

Carter has written this novel based on her family history and it is an incredibly sweet and touching story. Even at the saddest moment of the book, I had no tears because I felt like destiny was running its course. None of the characters are perfect but you feel that most of them are trying to be the best they can be.

This novel has just been released by Algonquin Books. The hardcover artwork is beautiful, isn't it?

Learning through the lives of others,

Support our site and buy The Puzzle King on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Moonlight fell on Elinor's bathrobe, her nightdress, her bare feet, and the dog lying in front of them."

I didn't want to wait any longer and so I read the third and final book in Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy, Inkdeath. There was a lot that was satisfying, some that wasn't but this book definitely kept the same feel and spirit of the other two books.

It's hard to summarize the plot without giving away tons of stuff from the other two books. I know there are some of you who are reading the series so I'm going to skip it. The general idea of the story is just that everyone has to keep maturing, figuring out what they want from life and deciding who to love and trust. In the second book, I complained that some parts seemed to move too slowly but in this book I would actually complain the opposite. This book could almost be expanded into two and, at 663 pages, it wouldn't have been the worst idea! There were some parts that seemed to be missing transition elements. I would think that Funke wrote them originally but then they got cut.

Now that I've finished the series, I'll give you my final series opinion. If you want to read just one book, read the first. It's well executed and could easily stand alone. The other two books presuppose too much character knowledge. To be honest, I didn't love the second and third books as much as the first. Some of the characters became too set in their annoying ways until the very end. Still, if Z wants to read this series at some point, I see no reason why he shouldn't. There are certainly some violent elements that I wouldn't want him reading at too young of an age but it is a unique idea and a strong story.

Looking for the next series,

Support our site and buy Inkdeath on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Do You Discuss Unfinished Books?

Today's discussion topic is something I've been thinking about for a couple of weeks -- unfinished books. I definitely follow some bloggers that write about books that they weren't able to finish. But I've also seen bloggers who have said that they don't review unfinished books. So I'm wondering what everyone's opinions are here.

My personal view is that all information about a book is useful to perspective readers, including the reasons why someone left a book unfinished. Especially in the blogging community where we seek out bloggers with similar tastes, this can really help in choosing books. Here are a few things that I think it's important to share when discussing a book you didn't finish ...

**Let me know why you chose the book in the first place. Perhaps it's in a genre that you normally read but it's a poor example of the genre. That's useful to know! Maybe it's an author that you normally read but this one novel just didn't do it for you. Whatever the reason, it could be the same as why I am looking at the book.

**Tell me how far you got in the book. Did something in the first chapter turn you off or did you slog through hundreds of pages until you set aside the book?

**Be constructive and tell me what ended your reading of this book. Was it the subject matter, the writing, the plot details? This way I could guess if I would have the same issues.

**Finally, it would be awesome if you could suggest another book instead. Is there a novel that you've read that is similar but you liked better? This is helpful if I'm interested in the same topic but now am choosing not to read the original book.

So, what do my readers think? Would you or do you discuss unfinished books on your site? Are there any other things that you would want to read in someone else's review of an unfinished book?

Taking the good with the bad,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

This week's Poe Fridays short story was the creepy and grody The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. If you want to play along, you can read it here. This story gets a bit repulsive so don't read it right before you're planning on eating. Yeah right, you say? How about the phrase "profuse out-flowing of a yellowish icor ... of a pungent and highly offensive odor". Now add to that the fact that this came out from under a man's eyelids. Blech!

This is our follow-up to the mesmerism story from last week which was quite high-falutin' and philosophical. Poe took the other direction with this story to tell of mesmerizing a man about to die of tuberculosis. He apparently manages to keep the body of the man in a preserved state until after seven months he decides to break the hold on the man. What follows is not good. Apparently, the man had been dead for a LONG time.

Ahh Poe ... just when you start thinking that his writing has a depth and poetic quality, you move on to a story like this with "detestable putrescence" in it. This is definitely a stereotypical story for him. Strangely, I miss the poetry. So for next week, let's go back to a poem ... The Sleeper.

Putting off lunch for a little while,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And The Stacks Grow Taller ...

Another visit to the local indie used & new bookstore, another four bargains! Here's what I bought recently --

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope -- After a few recent reviews on other blogs, Trollope was on my "must get to this author" list. This was the best looking used paperback there, a nice Penguin edition. I really want to read the Chronicles of Barsetshire series but I think this will be a good introduction to the author. It's technically the third of a series but they are only grouped together because of a recurring background character so I don't think this will be an issue.

The Unburied by Charles Palliser - This is a Victorian suspense novel set at Cambridge. I read his book The Quincunx and though it stressed me out, I enjoyed the experience. This one is supposedly slower but it should be okay. A couple of the blurbs name drop Wilkie Collins, which is quite the fashion these days, but I am sure they're not really comparable.

The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte - This is about the effect that a Spanish war photographer has on the life of one of the subjects he photographed. I will read anything by Perez-Reverte so this was a no-brain choice.

Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott - I had forgotten about this book but with her new novel, The Coral Thief coming out, I thought I would see how she is. This one is a thriller and focuses on a scholar studying Sir Isaac Newton. Very few people seem to love this book so I hope that it's at least enjoyable.

Have you read any of these books?

Building the stacks to dangerous heights,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dr. Seuss Is In Our House

Do we have enough Seuss? Is there such a thing? This stack comes from Z's own shelves. He's got more than enough Seuss books for one a day for two weeks. There are three that he has that are technically not written by Dr. Seuss but are in the Seuss library. And there are many others books that we don't own (Amazon lists 111 entries on their Seuss page).

Why do we have so many? Because kids love them. They hit a certain age and it just clicks -- they connect with the rhymes or the simple drawings or just the silliness. And that feeling never leaves, does it? So when it comes time to stock the shelves for a new addition to your own family or to choose a gift for a new niece, nephew or grandchild, many of us turn to Dr. Seuss. Whether it's Horton-- "a person's a person no matter how small" --or the Sneetches with "stars upon thars", the Lorax who speaks for the trees or Sam I Am and his obsession with offering green eggs and ham, there is something for everyone here. Now if we can just get everyone to spell Seuss' name correctly ...

Long live Dr. Seuss,
K and Z

Support our site and visit the Dr. Seuss store on Amazon or find his books at your local library.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Release: Ice Land

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I am fascinated with Iceland. I have a thing for a few Icelandic bands and I think it's a beautiful island country. I would love to visit some day. However, I have read very little fiction that takes place in Iceland. When I saw an offer for Betsy Tobin's Ice Land, I jumped on it. Though I didn't totally fall in love with the story, I fell even more in love with Iceland through this book.

Set around AD 1000, there are a few narratives weaved together to form this book. First, we meet Freya, the Norse goddess of love. In Tobin's vision, Asgard is located behind a mountain in an unreachable part of Iceland. Freya learns from an old seer that it is her destiny to find a powerful and precious necklace, the Brisingamen, crafted by the dwarves that live in the extended reaches of the volcano Hekla. Then we join Fulla, an orphaned girl living with her grandfather. She is soon coming to the age of marriage just as her grandfather is considering the end of his way of life as Christianity spreads on the island. The final main character that we follow is Dvalin, son of the Dwarf King and a swan goddess. He is one of the four makers of the Brisingamen and he was also the best friend of Fulla's father.

The narrative switches chapter by chapter between these three characters and intersects where their journeys cross paths. This is one of the shortcomings of this book. The narrative switches too frequently at first to let the reader engage with any of the characters. It is like a soap opera with one short scene at a time. Yet once the stories are better established, the movement is not as noticeable. I've read some complaints about the terseness of the writing but I think it's meant to have the same cadence as the old stories, the Icelandic Myths and Norse mythologies. It definitely reads more like an oral history written down. Again, it takes a bit of getting used to but then it fades away into the background.

I think the main strength of the book is the author's love for Iceland. It comes through in every description of the land and the people. I have seen many photos and videos of the country and I feel that Tobin really succeeded in confirming my mental picture of the landscape. If you enjoy mythology and a bit of fantasy, this could be a good fit. This book will be released next Tuesday, August 25th.

Imagining a stone-lined natural hot spring on a cool afternoon,

Support our site and buy Ice Land on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"There is something terribly wrong with Mr. Augustus T. Percival."

It isn't every day that you come across a book with a title like The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone. When Alea mentioned this new book from Dene Low on her blog, I knew I had to read it! She admits to being in love with it and I will second that. The writing is charming and witty and Petronella is a fantastic lead character.

Petronella is a sixteen year old orphan being raised by her guardian and uncle, Augustus T. Percival. On the day of her coming out party, Percival inadvertently swallows a beetle during tea. In a strange turn of events, this causes him to have an insatiable appetite for insects. He runs around the yard, snatching spiders from corners and ants from their hills, eating them whether dead or alive. This isn't the worst of Petronella's problems though because a Panamanian diplomat and an actress end up being abducted from her party. Luckily, she and her friends are bright and inventive and they set out to solve the kidnapping.

One of the things I loved most about this book was James, or should I say the idea of James. He is the older brother of Petronella's best friend, Jane, and is the young man that Petronella fancies. She always notices the way he looks, wonders if that slight intonation in his voice was a confession of love, wishes that he would stand a bit closer. It's so perfect for a sixteen year old character! And it wasn't written in a mushy way but just in that perky but angsty way that any teen will recognize. It really took me back and once again, I wished that this book had been around when I was a young teen.

You should really visit the author's website. It's adorable! It also says that Low is working on two sequels to this book along with eight (!) other books. Let's hope that these ones make it to the top of the to-be-written pile. I can't wait to spend more time with Petronella. She's smart and brave and resourceful and fun to read about.

Hoping the kids fall in love with Victorian England and Petronella,

Support our site and buy Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone: The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SUSPENDED: New Challenge: Re-Read Challenge

This challenge has been suspended until next spring or summer. Please read about my decision here. I will still give credit for re-reads if you post the link on the suspension post.

I decided (with a bit of encouragement from Tif) that if I am going to hassle some of you for not re-reading your books, I should give you a chance to redeem yourselves or, if you are already a re-reader, to enjoy yourselves. So let me introduce The Re-Read Challenge. Yes, I know ... it's an incredibly snappy name! Luckily, it's quite an easy challenge and I hope that you will all participate.

Here are the details:

When: Between September 1 and November 31.

What: Read at least one book from your shelves (or the library if you don't keep books) that you have read at least once before. For each book that you re-read and write about, you will get one entry into the prize drawing. All books are acceptable for this challenge except picture books. Collections of short stories or poetry will count as one book and must be read in their entirety to count.

Who: All bloggers and readers around the world are welcome to participate.

How: Just link either your starting post which you update with re-reads or link each post that you write about a re-read in the Mister Linky below. If you don't have a blog, you can tell us about the re-reads in the comments of this post. I will update this post before the prize drawing (in the week after the challenge ends) listing everyone's numbers as reported so that you can correct me if I've missed anything.

I'm assuming that most re-reads will either be books that you loved or books that you can't remember and need to visit again. Either way, it will be fascinating to read the posts about your experiences with these books! So start thinking about your list or just begin a re-read today.

Dusting the shelves for everyone,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Poe Fridays: Mesmeric Revelation

The short story I chose for this week's Poe Fridays is Mesmeric Revelation. You can read it here.

I'm having major internet issues and it doesn't stay up for any reasonable amount of time so this will be a quick analysis, hopefully with a window of connectivity to get it out to my fine readers ...

Poe, or the narrator "P", postulates that a person who has been mesmerized multiple times is able to sense things from another plane. He has a friend that he has been mesmerizing that is very ill (probably with tuberculosis) who thinks he has insight into the mystery of God and wants Poe to mesmerize him and ask some questions about God and the soul while he has access to the other plane. Thus begins a long and detailed discourse comparing matter and mind and well ... let's leave it to philosophers to debate what Poe states is true about the nature of God and man.

This was incredibly tiresome but so incredibly Poe. I always think of him as that irritating friend (we all have one unless, god forbid, you are that person!) who always acts like they know everything about anything. No matter what the subject, they will jump in and go off (sometimes in obvious wrong directions) until they have killed the conversation. This is how I imagine a drunk, boorish Poe on a bad night!

For next week, let's have some gory fun with the mesmerism topic and read the short story The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.

Taking philosophy out of the hands of drunks,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"When Hayley arrived at the big house in Ireland, bewildered and in disgrace, rain was falling and it was nearly dark."

Every time I open a new (to me) Diana Wynne Jones book, I prepare myself for an adventure. The Game definitely was an adventure but it was one of the few stories that I wasn't quite satisfied with.

Hayley lives with her Grandma and Grandad because she is an orphan. Grandma is overly strict and controlling but, if she finds him alone, Grandad will usually teach her about "forbidden" things like the solar system and cartoons. One day, he tells her about the most forbidden topic of all -- the mythosphere. This is a network of strands that circle the Earth and contain the various myths from human culture. Strands grow thick when similar myths are combined by topic. Then one day, Hayley meets a man who takes her for a walk on one of these strands. This opens up a new world to her and she is happy. Unfortunately, her grandma doesn't see this as a good thing and banishes her to an aunt's home in Scotland. As a stopping point, Hayley visits another aunt in Ireland. Here she finds a troop of cousins and she joins them in a secret game played in the mythosphere. Apparently, this is the true home of her family and Hayley soon learns that there is much more to her history than she ever knew.

This story was incredibly unique and interesting. However, I found myself wanting more. Even though this is a YA book, I think it could have gone into a bit more detail with the myths and such. If you aren't familiar with things like Roman gods and the Zodiac-- which I would venture most American teens are not --then it would be hard to catch on to the nuances of this book. Still, this was a nice little fantasy book that I enjoyed. Now if they could just get a less freaky cover ...

Trying to catch a star,

Support our site and buy The Game on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Strangest ... Picture Book ... Ever

Z has a knack for choosing odd picture books at the library and I think this one takes the cake. Cowboy & Octopus by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (design by Molly Leach) is the most bizarre idea I have ever seen. Illustrated with vintage-type cut-outs, this book has seven very short stories about this duo. They meet on a see-saw and "shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands, and shake hands" and on and on. The cowboy makes beans, the octopus dresses like a shark and they tell knock-knock jokes.

I think Z was confused by this book even though he thought some parts were funny (like the word "beans"). It has a lot of dry humor and uneven banter. Of course, I'm not sure what we should have expected from this picture book! Has anyone else seen this book? What is the strangest picture book you know of?

Trying to imagine an odder couple,
K and Z

Support our site and buy Cowboy and Octopus on Amazon or find it at your local library.