Note: In order to preserve past reviews yet keep this page from getting out of control, all previous book reviews can now be found at www.thecrislersbooks.blogspot.com. Hopefully this will also serve as a helpful database for our family, because as anyone who reads lots of books knows, it's too easy to forget exactly what you've read and what you liked about it. Take a look!
(Blogger appears to be having some formatting problems right now, so ignore the wonky text and picture layout, please. I'll fix it as soon as possible.)
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
There's so much to love about this series, but perhaps my favorite thing is Collins's (who is also author of the Hunger Games trilogy, by the by) unique ability to create characters that, in reality, you would treat with revulsion, but in her fantastically crafted world, you come to care about deeply. Anyone who can make me love and cry over cockroaches must be brimming over with talent. While I think is a wonderful series for any middle grade reader, I think it would be an especially good hook for young boys who haven't shown major interest in books in the past. They're that good. (Adults should read them, too! Perfect escapist literature!)
Odd Interlude by Dean Koontz
Odd Thomas- the lovable fry cook who sees dead people, but then, by golly, he does something about it- is back in this installment that reaffirms my love for this series. Odd and his new, enigmatic friend Annabelle happen upon a small coastal hamlet, and although everything appears to be normal, his supernatural radar is on high alert. He quickly discovers just what this small town is hiding- then determines to do everything in his power to save its traumatized citizens.
This was actually first published as an e-book released in three separate installments, and came out between books 4 and 5 in the series. I reviewed book 5 awhile back, and while it was a bit dark for my taste, Odd Interlude renewed my love for the Odd Thomas series.
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen- journalist, novelist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and now, memoirist- touches on everything from marriage to friends to this strange life stage she's currently inhabiting, where her friends and colleagues are reluctant to retire but her twenty-something year old children are desperate to find room in the workplace. I loved reading about how her perspectives have changed and matured toward a wide variety of topics: a woman's place in this world, the importance of girlfriends, what it means to be a parent. I had trouble identifying with her at certain parts, not so much because of the age gap, but the socioeconomic. On one page she writes about how frightening it can be meeting with her financial advisor- what if something terrible happened and they lost it all? Then also speaks of her house in the country and her house in the city and the necessity of Botox. Boohoo, Anna Quindlen. Yes, you're obviously brilliant and I can't help but be entertained by your thoughts on life in general, but I also have trouble relating to you and the stratospheric caste you and your family live in. If you're rich and writing a book, think twice before complaining about financial woes- especially when there's a chance the rest of us- you know, the peasant-folk- are going to be reading it.
And wow. I hadn't realized what a strong reaction I'd had to this book until I wrote the review. It's really a pretty good book; she just had the misfortune to stumble upon one of my pet peeves.
The Holy Bible
He highly recommends it.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud is a ten-year-old boy trying to survive the Depression-era foster care system when he finally decides to run away in search of a jazz musician whom he believes to be his father. When he finds said musician and supposed father, he receive quite the welcome he'd anticipated. Fortunately, the band surrounding this man take him under their collective wings, making Bud feel that he just might have finally found his family.
I was expecting Adelaide to perhaps be a little subdued during and after reading this book- it is rather dark and gritty subjective matter- but she spent much of the book giggling away, and afterward said she really liked the book. Winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award.
Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell
Gail Halvorsen, a US Air Force pilot, took a motor tour of bombed-out Berlin immediately after the end of WWII and was so saddened by the plight of the children there (themselves recovering from the war and still being cut off from food and provisions by Stalin, who was trying to starve the Germans into Communist acquiescence) that he- along with friends and funded by the USAF- spent two years dropping candy by tiny parachutes to the children waiting below.
Adelaide loved this book, and took great satisfaction in correcting me. ("So did they drop big boxes of food with regular parachutes, or what?" "NO, MOM, they dropped individual candy bars with these little parachutes, see?") The book is full of photos and includes letters written to "the Chocolate Pilot" from the children he helped.
The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honeybee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns/ Illustrated by Ellen Harasimowicz
Heavy on text but punctuated by color photographs and vivid diagrams, I thought perhaps this book would be a little too dry for Adelaide, but she seemed fascinated by the subject matter: honeybees, the inner workings of a hive, and the recent decline of the honeybee and its far-reaching, dire potential consequences. I will say she didn't read it all in one sitting, like she does most books anymore; instead she read about 30 minutes a day from it before setting it aside for lighter fiction. This was another find from our public library's "Best Juvenile Nonfiction" list.
Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
I loved this book. Adelaide loved this book. It was way over the boys' heads, however. It's text-heavy, and the humor is found in short fables ending in morals like, "You should always tell the truth. But if your mom is out having the hair taken off her lip, you might want to forget a few of the details." Quirky, off-beat humor and silly illustrations make this a fun book for the middle-elementary crowd and their parents.
Dino-Football by Lisa Wheeler/ Illustrated by Barry Gott