Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Game

Diana Wynne Jones
Penguin, 2007

I am ashamed to admit that this is my fiftieth review on this blog, and only my first review of a Diana Wynne Jones book!

Time to set things right.

Haley has never met her cousins before. Her strict and fussy grandmother has always kept her away from the rest of her unruly family. But Haley has crept off to the forbidden mythosphere before, a place woven of colorful story threads, threads with ends that trail through the ordinary world. She's delighted to find that her cousins know about the mythosphere too, and joins them in their secret game, a sort of scavenger hunt where the players collect glass slippers, dragon scales, and golden apples.

There's more than mythical baubles out in the mythosphere. Haley finds clues to the location of her missing parents, her true identity, and the reason her Uncle Jolyon banned the family from the mythosphere in the first place.

Uncle isn't going to be happy.

This book is Diana Wynne Jones at her best--full of wild, world-hopping magic, bubbling with jolly chaos, bristling with danger, and grounded in honest emotion. A little piece of perfection, "The Game" blends real mythology and real life in fantastic ways. For readers twelve and up.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Behind the Bedroom Wall

Laura E. Williams
Milkweed Editions, 1996

Korinna thought she had nothing to fear.

A loyal German, a staunch member of the Nazi Youth organization, Korinna dreams of the day when Hitler will restore her country to greatness. If some of her neighbors are arrested for treason, it is only for the good of the Fatherland. She jots in her small, black Jungmadel notebook when she notices anyone showing less than fervent adoration for Hitler and his New Germany.

Then she discovers the unthinkable. Her parents are hiding Jews behind her very own bedroom wall.

It is her duty to report her parents as traitors, but traitors are shot!

In this book, Laura Williams explores the emotions of a young girl caught in a world of hate and fear, where things are not what she's been told and there are few people to trust. Will she betray her parents and the fugitives they harbor, or pay the price of standing for freedom?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dogs Don't Tell Jokes

Louis Sachar
Alfred A. Knopf, 1991

Gary Boone's classmates and teachers are tired of his constant jokes. He wants to be a stand-up comedian, but all he can get from his friends are groans. When Gary announces that he wants to tell jokes at the school talent show his parents issue him a difficult challenge - keep his humor to himself until the performance. Will giving up telling jokes for weeks result in a final, incredible explosion of talent, or will Gary just lose his touch? And is someone planning to sabotage his act?

This is my favorite book by Louis Sachar. I like it even better than Holes. It's a story about an artist coming to terms with his muse, about the fine line between a weakness and a gift, and about how every disaster is a triumph waiting to happen. Great reading for ages nine and up.