Jan. 7th, 2016

maribou: (book)
The Last Witness, by K. J. Parker
Spooky good, and due to its novella status, clipped along at a much faster pace than I'm used to with this (beloved) author.
(340, O74)

Circle of Stones, by Suzanne Alyssa Andrew
The sort of book that is not usually to my taste, but I read it because it was recommended to me by a student and I'm so glad I did. Super. (Experimental-ish fiction around a disappearing girlfriend, with art school students everywhere and weird crime underworld stuff.)

The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
This is a bit more complicated than the previous volumes - a big plot point is waiting for someone to come home from the war - but still does the same deal, basically: difficult things addressed in a light and comforting tone, mixed with incidents that are smaller but still important to kids. And some funny stuff mixed in. If she writes more of these (or something else), I will no doubt find them just as soothing.

How Machines Work: Zoo Break!, by David Macauley
Oh my goodness! This book is AMAZING. On one level it is the story of many many escape attempts carried out by two zoo animals working together to outwit their keepers. On another, integrated level, it is a pop-up tutorial in the physics of different simple machines (levers, gears, etc.) So fun to play with (it even has a working teeter-totter), and easy to understand. My nephew who got it for Christmas really liked it. If I'd had a copy of it during my first college physics class, I might have done better than a C.
(343, O75)

Baby Love, by Rebecca Walker
Not the classic that Black, White, and Jewish is, but still a very interesting memoir with much to mull over (and a happy ending).

After Alice, by Gregory Maguire
Odd and intriguing. Something of a return to form for Maguire, IMO, after the disappointment of Egg & Spoon. A bit breezier than his usual books, probably due to the short length, but still thought-provoking and hard to put down.

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible, by Ursula Vernon
OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. URSULA VERNON IS THE BEST. SO MUCH SO THAT I CAN'T STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPS. *deep breath* Seriously, I have recommended and given away this book so many times already, and I only read it this fall. The ONLY middle-grade novel I have found that challenges the *assumptions* of princess culture without denigrating princesses. The protagonist is perfectly happy being a princess, she just figures that if SHE likes doing something, it is thus included in the set of "things princesses like to do" and thus refuses to have limitations imposed upon her. But!! The book accomplishes this without being obnoxiously didactic. Mostly by being very funny. AND the illustrations are awesome, often doing that thing I particularly loved as a kid where they are commenting directly or indirectly on the text. AND the story is a ripping adventure yarn. Love love love.

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt and Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Both of these stories tell kids what is going on above and below the titular substrate - at different times of year obviously. Both are beautifully illustrated and factually based, and both are a joy to read. I preferred the story of Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt - there was more there there - but either one would make a great gift for a curious kid. I especially liked that they went further into the ecosystem than just the cheerfully bland part.
(348, 373)


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