Thursday, August 16, 2012

The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (And An Even Smaller Ant)

The End of the Beginning
By: Avi
This book is simply and beautifully written. The writing style and the thoughts of the universe that the story provoked was very reminiscent of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. If you are looking for a light and airy read that makes you think a bit, but not too much, this book is for you. If you loved The Little Prince, you will cherish this story almost as it's equal. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan
By: Katherine Applegate

You may recognize this author's name because she wrote the Animorphs books, and if you were never an 8 year old boy, you are probably groaning. I am here to tell you that this book is nothing like that, and that you should forgive her for the Animorphs books because everyone needs to make a living.

This book is a piece of art. It weaves emotions, stories, and relationships in such a delicate manner that you won't realize how much these characters mean to you until more than half way through the book. The book is written from the point of view of Ivan, a silverback gorilla that lives in a mall. He is a gentle, understanding animal and artist. Through Ivan and his human friend, the Janitor's daughter Julia (who is also an artist), you are reacquainted with how close we are to animals, and how the definition of humanity is not always clear. He weaves the stories of the relationships between Stella, an older elephant, Ruby, a baby elephant, Bob, a stray dog, and himself all while we learn of each animal's history of how they ended up at the mall. Once you learn of their history, you experience the frustration, love, and hope that Ivan puts into convincing Julia to help them all have a better future outside of the mall. I cried at the end of this book because of the pure beauty and emotional depth. This story put me in touch with places in my heart that I almost forgot were there. Read this. You won't regret it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gabby and Gator by James Burks

Gabby and Gator
By: James Burks
What's better than a story about two friends that solve each others problems? A story where one of the friends is an alligator! In this cute tale about an alligator that is afraid of water and toilets and the little eco-friendly girl that befriends him, we experience yet another light hearted tale about how friendship solves all worldy problems. I was not super impressed by the story line, because we've read this concept time and time again, but I cannot deny that it was cute, fun, and worth the 20 minutes it took me to read it. The alligator is hungry and needs to eat, so it feasts on people's dogs. When Gabby befriends him, it gives her the confidence to step up to bullies and gives them both companionship. Gator, though, is always trying to eat dogs, goldfish, and occasionally people. Gabby calls it an eating problem and tries to feed him vegetable smoothies and asks if he's tried tofu. Cute, but I hate to break it to you Gabby, alligators eat meat, and there is no changing evolution. If you want a cute fun read that makes you produce a mini gasp or two on behalf of Gator's choices, pick this book up at the library!

SMILE by Raina Telgemeier

Smile
By: Raina Telgemeier
Braces. Middle School. Girl Scouts. Crushes. Friends. Nintendo.

Do those 6 words spark vivid memories of embarassment and fondness with a hint of giddy? If so, you are sure to enjoy this full color graphic novel. This novel chronicles Raina's adventures through middle school and half of high school. After bumming out about having to get braces, Raina attends her girl scout meeting, which goes pretty well, considering she's not the only one that has to get braces. Excited and happy after the meeting, when she's dropped off at home, the girls all race her to her door. Well, guess what? She grabs for one of her friends, trips, falls on her face, and essentially loses her two front teeth! She ends up with a cast in her mouth, short teeth, a root canal, fake front teeth in a retainer, braces, headgear, zits, and so much more! This book jogged memories that I had of silliness like school dances, peer pressure, boys, and the stress that goes along with growing up. It will tug at your heart strings and make you want to say, "I FELT THAT WAY TOO!" to let her know she wasn't alone. A quick, fun, and nostalgic read. This one is worth the trip to the library or bookstore!

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Keeping the Castle
By: Patricia Kindl

This book was just what I needed. It's a whiff of fresh air! Althea, who is 17, has the responsibility of marrying rich in order to save the castle her great-grandfather built (which is on the verge of being unlivable). This book is told in first person, and is done seamlessly. As I read, I felt like I was right there beside Althea throughout the book. She lives with her mother, a few staff, her younger brother and her two older (and snobbish/weirdo) stepsisters (who end up in the way, of course).  A ball is to be held to welcome young single men into town and this turns out to be what Althea thinks of as her chance to marry rich. At the ball we are introduced to the rest of the main characters (minus Miss Vincy, who you meet later, and who becomes the center of skepticism and friendship in the story).  Lord Boring and Mr. Frederickson are two of the men among others that she dances with and acquaints herself with at the ball, though she does so sopping wet (you'll have to read to find out why)! As the book progresses, Althea's creativeness and personality never wear out. She makes a riding outfit from an old war jacket, saves people from mine wells, and has to fry minnows from the moat to entertain guests! Funny, light, smart, and witty, you won't want it to end, and when it does, you'll be sad to say goodbye to the characters, as by then, they feel like family.