Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Butt Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

#10 Alanna
It has been many moons since I read the Song of the Lioness series, so I don't remember much about Alanna, but I remember really enjoying the books.  I'm a sucker for a girl disguising as a boy (Go Mulan!) and it's set in a medieval fantasy word (I still want to be a knight).  Alanna was the first girl I remember encountering in this situation in book form.  

#9 Ella of Frell
Ella Enchanted is my favorite retelling of Cinderella.  Ella doesn't wait for her fairy godmother to rescue her; she goes out and rescues herself.  She faces down ogres.  She speaks dwarfish.  She gives up the prince.  She legitimately breaks the spell (I have issues with the too-freaking-easy spell breaking in the movie adaption).  Ella is a fairytale princess we can believe in. 

#8 Princess Cimorene
There's something just charming about a princess who would rather learn fencing and Latin than embroider and marry a prince.  Cimorene has the guts to run away, cook for a dragon, face down wizards, and chase away the bothersome knights who keep trying to rescue her.  The whole Enchanted Forest series is a fun middle-grade adventure.  

#7 Mariel of Redwall
I adored the Redwall series in middle school.  The badgers, otters, and Long Patrol hares  are the true kick-butt characters, but I can't think of any female hares at the moment and  Mariel was my introduction to the series, swinging her knotted rope around defending Redwall Abbey from pirates.

#6 Melinda Sordino
Melinda doesn't go on any adventures in Speak, but I think she's the true heroine among all these other fantasy characters.  She says, "No; you raped me; that's not okay.  It was horrible and I'm a mess now, but I'm not going to stand by and let you use my friend or use me again."  While we may never swing a sword or fire a bow, most of us will be asked to speak out about something.  Melinda is a real heroine.

#5 Hermione Granger
Hermione hardly even needs a justifying paragraph.  She's just awesome.  Though not as proficient at hexes as Ginny, she will sick canaries at your face, stick by you in the face of deranged murderers, and know just the right spell to save your life.

#4  Beatrice of Sicily and Elizabeth Bennett
I love witty and clever characters.  The verbal swordplay in Much Ado About Nothing and Pride and Prejudice is fantastic.  These ladies can hold their own and insult you without you ever realizing it, because you're not smart enough to catch on to their wit.

#3  Katniss Everdeen and Tally Youngblood
Two (1 2) dystopian series with great beginnings.  Two heroines left mentally scarred and just plain messed up by the end of the series.  Katniss and Tally definitely kick butt and take names. 

#2:  Deryn Sharp
Another girl in disguise, Deryn is awesome.  She's smart.  She's capable.  She can fly.  She can swear better than Alek.  She is loyal to a fault and can ride out a storm on the back of the Leviathan.  And she has a talking loris.

#1:  Vin 
If you haven't yet read Mistborn, you are missing out.  Vin is one of the best female leads I have ever seen.  She's strong but vulnerable   She's awesome and capable without being overpowered.  Sanderson is incredibly good at developing believable, interesting characters and Vin is no exception.

What are your top ten picks?  Do you disagree with any of mine?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Rip Tide by Kat Falls

Rip Tide--Kat Falls
May 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Books
320 pages--Goodreads

Ty has always known that the ocean is a dangerous place. Every time he swims beyond the borders of his family's subsea farm, he's prepared to face all manner of aquatic predators-sharks, squid, killer whales . . .

What Ty isn't prepared to find in the deep is an entire township chained to a sunken submarine, its inhabitants condemned to an icy underwater grave. It's only the first clue to a mystery that has claimed hundreds of lives and stands to claim two more -- lives very precious to Ty and his Topsider ally, Gemma.

Now in a desperate race against the clock, Ty and Gemma find themselves in conflict with outlaws, Seaguard officers, and the savage, trident-wielding surfs -- plus a menagerie of the most deadly creatures the ocean has to offer.

Kat Falls brings to life the mysteries, marvels, and monsters of the deep in this fast-paced and inventive action-adventure.

Rip Tide is the sequel to Dark Life, which I really enjoyed reading this summer.  I was disappointed through the first third or so of Rip Tide because it wasn't living up to the standard Dark Life had set, but fear not--the book gets better as it goes on.

Rip Tide is just as action-packed as its predecessor.  Dark Life begins with a shark attack in paragraph two.  Rip Tide shows a bit of restraint and waits all the way until page four or five before setting a squid on us.  While the first book sometimes feels like no more than one escape after the other, Rip Tide has a more developed, intricate, mystery-driven plot.  Ty is more proactive and the plot ends up being better for that.

I love the setting of these books.  With the rise of the oceans and flooding of the land, most of the world's population lives in stacked, UV-scorched cities; but Falls puts her characters in the deep sea as pioneers with a bit of sci-fi technology.  We still get the Firefly vibe in this book, though not as strongly--no Reavers this time around.  [Side note.  If you haven't checked out Firefly yet, do.  Space cowboys!]  Falls' books just have that rough-and-tough, independent, tame-the-land feeling, complete with the good-hearted settler, the vigilante sheriff, the crooked smuggler, the town mayor, etc.  It's a western, but underwater.  I realize it sounds kind of weird, but it's good.

The main characters/good guys aren't developed much (typical teenage boy protagonist, determined, good at heart, a bit naive), but Falls does a great job with her villains.  We never really know where Shade is.  Fife is the sleazy showman that you can't underestimate.   Radder is the dumb,brute strength with a twist.  However, Captain Reavus' character felt a bit contrived.

Even though these books are part of a series, the plots of each book stand alone rather than forming one huge story arc.  Little in this book depends on you having already read Dark Life. I appreciate series like this.  We aren't left with a stupid cliffhanger designed to make us buy the next book.  It's just a satisfying story.

I like the reader for this audio book.  Keith Nobbs fits Ty's voice well. He occasionally struggles with dialogue a bit, especially with differentiating Ty's voice from Gemma's, so it's sometimes hard to tell who's talking.  But aside from that, it was a good listening experience.

One other teeny tiny complaint.  I don't want Ty to die, but a salt water crocodile will ALWAYS win in a fight against a human.

All in all, Rip Tide is a great book, especially if you're looking for something a bit different in the flood of post-apocalypse novels.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Princess of the Silver Woods

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at the Breaking the Spine.  

So, this is not going to be a regular feature here on my blog because I don't usually follow books that have not yet been published.  I tend to find books by browsing library shelves and by seeing what other people are reading.  However, every now and then I do have a book I waiting for.  When I do, I'll share them with you.

I am super excited for Jessica Day George's The Princess of the Silver Woods.  If you haven't already checked out her other books, get yourself to a library or bookstore now.  They are all fairytale-esqe and tend toward younger YA with some middle grade, so they're great for curling up in a blanket with a cup of cider for the afternoon.  I absolutely loved her Dragon Slippers.  Spunky heroine, different take on dragons, fairytale references.  It is definitely one of my favorite books.  

Princess of the Midnight Ball was good and Princess of Glass was one of my favorite Cinderella retellings (after Ever After and Ella Enchanted, of course).  Different from other retellings, Cinderella is not our main character.  She's actually ignored for the first chunk of the book, which makes the book much more interesting for me.  Now, I am really interested to see how Day George handles Little Red Riding Hood.  And a Robin Hood tie-in?  I'm in.  I love archery.  I love fairytales.  I love Day George's books.

The Princess of the Silver Woods--Jessica Day George
December 11, 2012--by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
336 pages--Goodreads 

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

Is anyone else waiting for this one?  Are there other books coming out soon you're waiting on?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

A Spy in the House--Y.S. Lee
March 2010 by Candlewick
335 pages--Goodreads

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

This is an out and out good mystery.  I haven't read a pure mystery novel (as in, not just a mystery weaved into a larger plot a la Harry Potter) in a while.  It feels a bit dues ex-ish a couple of times when a clue just falls into Mary's hands, but that is part of the genre.  The mystery is well paced.  The reader gets enough information to put things together without figuring everything out way before the characters.  But, one of the biggest rules in mysteries is to never show a gun unless you plan on that gun going off later in the novel.  So why did Yee make such a big deal about the river and then never do anything with it?  This was just a minor qualm; it did not seriously detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I like the narration from two points of view.  That's hard to carry off in a novel, especially a mystery novel, but Lee does it well.

The novel spends a great deal of time on the societal position of women in the Victorian era.  This occasionally makes the book feel too feminist, to the point of being anti-men.  Now, I'm all for strong female leads who can take care of themselves, but we don't need to take cheap shots at the entire male gender either.  So often when women are encouraged to explore options and do something in their life that they find fulfilling (a good thing to encourage), marriage gets immediately dismissed as something that a woman shouldn't aspire to, which bugs me.  This aspect of the book just didn't jive with my personal philosophy, but aside from that Yee gives us a good look of the very very very limited options of Victorian women.  Upper class:  marriage or spinsterhood.  Lower class:  marriage and work, either on a farm or in a factory.  Prostitution:  open to women from all classes.  With no choices whatsoever, many women were unhappy or dissatisfied.

What it really necessary for Mary to find a book of porn while snooping?  What was the point?  It adds nothing to the plot except perhaps to emphasize the relative societal positions of men and women.  But I felt it was unnecessary.  It's brief and not graphic, to those of you worried about content, but not at all needed.

Neither spunky nor feisty is the right word word to describe Mary.  She's forceful, quick thinking, to the point, and most definitely not demure.  She is enjoyable at times and rubs me the wrong way at others; in the end I liked her. Was her mixed heritage supposed to be a surprise?  You can't introduce your main character as "Mary Lang" and not expect your readers to put it together that she's part Chinese or at least part Asian.  And honestly, the Irish and the Chinese do not look alike.  Lame cover story.

Yee has a few show don't tell issues.  We are simply told Mary's character in a list of eight or nine traits rather than putting her character together through her actions.  And we don't see anything of the month Mary spends training to be a secret agent.  However, in this case Lee likely wanted to speed us along to the main adventure without getting distracted on side plot, but I wanted to see some spy training.  

It's the kind of series I would have really gotten into as a kid, but now it's less appealing.  I liked the novel and it was hard to put down, but I didn't connect with the characters.  Good, but not fantastic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Book List

I am super excited for Halloween.  It's all about dressing up, eating candy, and getting scared out of your mind.  And, now that we live in a residential neighborhood instead of college apartments, we might just get trick-or-treaters.  This possibility is lessened by the fact that our landlords have started renovating their house (we live in the basement) and there is a giant hole where the driveway used to be.  No matter.  I've bought candy in preparation, and if necessary I will sit on the sidewalk with a blanket and the candy bowl.  

In honor of the upcoming holiday, here's a list of Halloween-appropriate reads.  I don't read a lot of horror, paranormal, or ghostly books, so while I know Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Rot & RuinCoraline and other modern Halloween reads are out there, I haven't read them and can't vouch for them.  So instead, you get a slightly classics-heavy Halloween Reading List.

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
This was one of my favorite books during 4th grade.  It's more on the humor end than the horror end of Halloween reads, but who doesn't love a vampire bunny?  Or trying to get rid of said vampire using raw steak?  It's only about 130 pages, so you can easily finish it while passing out candy on Halloween night, and it's a great read-aloud for younger kids who can't handle the scarier stuff.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I, unlike everyone else including the Newbery Award committee, only moderately liked this book, but it's chock full of ghosts so I can't not include it.  Maybe Gaiman just doesn't fit my reading style or maybe I read this with the wrong mindset.  Anyways, fans of Coraline and Gaiman's other works will probably like this.  Ghosts, murder, mystery, creepiness.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" or anything else written by Edgar Allan Poe
Crazy narrator, murder, chopped up bodies, tortured soul--Poe is the king of creepy and suspense.  I love Poe's writing--I'm weird like that. I just get chills (or nightmares) at "the beating of his hideous heart!"  If gore isn't your style, try "Cask of Amontillado" instead.  Or "Pit and the Pendulum."  Or "The Raven."

Harry Potter and the Anything by J.K. Rowling
Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Potter book, and it has a werewolf, but it is not the only Halloween-appropriate read of the series; any of the Potter books would work well.  In addition to the regular cast of witches, wizards, and ghosts, something interesting always happens on Halloween:  a troll is set loose in the dungeon, Harry attends a death-day party and someone is attacked, Sirius Black invades the castle.  It's a day that's just safer if you stay in your dormitory or even take a short vacation from Hogwarts, but where's the fun in that?

Macbeth by Shakespeare
Grisly murder, ghosts, madness, what else do you need for a good Halloween read?  You could also read Hamlet, but Macbeth is darker, more violent, and just plain creepier.  Don't have time to read the whole play?  Watch PBS's production starring Sir Patrick Stewart.  So good!  And it has the creepiest witches I have ever seen.  Ever.  Bloody witch-nun-nurse things.  Blogger won't find the Youtube clip I want to include, so here's a link to it.  Creepy nurse-nun things.

Something wicked this way comes.

What are your favorite Halloween reads?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review: Summer Reading is Killing Me! by Jon Scieszka

Summer Reading is Killing Me!--Jon Scieszka
1998 by Puffin
80 pages--Goodreads

Okay, this is just going to be a mini review.  Short book will usually equal short review.  I normally include the synopsis/jacket flap/back of the book blurb from Goodreads, but Goodreads didn't have a good blurb for this book. So, here's my own attempt:

Joe, Sam, and Fred get sucked into their summer reading list.  The characters from Peter Rabbit, Treasure Island, Frog and Toad, Charlotte's Web, The Twits, and other children's classics get all mixed up, with the villains, of course, conspiring to take over the stories.  (I actually want to read the villian dominated stories:  Frankenstein in Wonderland, The Devil in the Willows, Green Eggs and Dracula, etc.)  The boys must set all the stories straight and somehow make it back home before getting eaten by an octopus, crushed by an enormous stack of library books, or bored out of their minds by the girly series.

Really, anything by Scieszka is going to be funny.  The book both pokes fun at and pays tribute to summer reading and children's literature.  I love how the characters from the different stories interact; metafiction is just fun.  The summer reading list at the back is a great idea, giving kids who loved the story an idea of where to look next for a good read.

Other reviewers commented on the excellent illustrations, but I read this in an anthology of children's literature that, crime to humanity that it is, did not include the illustrations.  I imagine they would have been fun.  Lane Smith + Jon Scieszka = funny.

It's short and sweet and fun.  Librarians, teachers, and anyone who read a lot as a kid would get a kick out of this.  I haven't read any of the other Time Warp Trio books, so I don't know for sure how this one compares, but I'd probably introduce young readers to the beginning of the series before having them read this one.  While this book is a lot of fun, its humor relies mostly on literary references that they might not catch.

A short read you can kick out in less than an hour and a lot of fun.  Nothing spectacular, just fun.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina--Rachel Hartman
July 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
467 pages--Goodreads

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Oh my gosh, this book is amazing! I don't remember when I got so involved with a book. More than once, I neglected more important tasks (say the three papers that were due for midterms, the lesson I'm teaching tomorrow, the paper that's due tomorrow, the draft that's due tomorrow) because I just had to know what happened. Absolutely excellent.

I read Serephina by listening to the audio book (this is the only way I can keep reading for fun during the school year), and the reader was great. I get annoyed with some readers, particularly when their voice doesn't fit the main character (cough, cough, Cinder), but Mandy Williams fit the part wonderfully.

Hartman's take on dragons is original. Writing compelling characters who do not feel emotion is challenging, but Hartman nails it, as she does the dragons in human forms, struggling to understand and control their human emotions. The political and cultural situation was also well developed. Dragon culture, human culture, fighting forms, music, philosophy, saints, the Son's of St. Ogdo, court politics, discrimination against dragon-kind, the residual fear after forty years of peace. It's all there, interacting and conflicting. It's not as complexly interwoven as Sanderson's novels, but Hartman writes just as compelling novel with 300 fewer pages. Hartman doesn't info-dump her world on us. Essential information is given to us at just the right moment.

The book is full of little understatements or quips, for lack of a better term, that add humor. It's not witty in the style of Austen or Dickens, and I can't think of any modern authors with a style that compares. Read it for yourself and you'll see it. The closing paragraphs are a teensy, teensy bit corny, but I'm willing to forgive that as Seraphina was in an exulting mood.

The characters were awesome. Endearing Abdo and Lars. Frustratingly aloof Orma. Seemingly ditsy, but actually savvy Glisselda. Seraphina's growth doesn't feel contrived and even the minor characters are fleshed-out past their usual stock roles would be.

I enjoyed the romance in Seraphina more than I have in any other novel in a long time. Soooooo many YA novels do the Twilight-love-triangle thing now with the girl who just can't decide between two perfect boys, some variation of the nice-guy best-friend guy and the jerk-face bad boy (cough, cough Legend of Korra, Matched, Hunger Games, Clockwork Angel, nearly every synopsis I find on Goodreads these days, etc). Ugh. This is my biggest pet peeve and is often the deal breaker preventing me from even picking up the book. And even when a novel features a traditional one-on-one romance, it's often overdone, sappy, or just an unconvincing cover-up for a lack-luster, underdeveloped, poorly-executed plot. Seraphina's romance is a subplot but is integral to her character development and it is wonderful. It isn't forced, insta-lovey, sappy, or any other romance trip-up I can think of. It is just satisfying. We feel her slowly falling for Lucian, experience her pain at having to lie to him, and scream in frustration at every obstacle that gets in the way.

The climax is amazing. It is perfectly set up so that you can make guesses along the way, but don't see the real answers coming until they've arrived, but then it all makes perfect sense looking back. I of course had to listen to this scene right as my American Lit class was starting. Cruel torture!
This is definitely one of my favorite reads from this year. I can't wait for the sequel (another plus: Seraphina works as a standalone as well as the start of a series).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

My Life as a Book--Janet Tashjian
July 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.
224 pages--Goodreads

Summer’s finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek’s dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” his mom has pushed him to read “real” books—something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.

As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers! no less), he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls.

I bought this book having little idea what it was about, but it looked fun and only cost a dollar.  I ended up really liking it.  Derek gets himself into all sorts of Calvin-and-Hobbes-esque trouble, ending up on the roof with croquet mallets at one point. I loved his huge imagination.  He throws snark in the blatant attempts of parents and teachers to force him to learn. 

The doodles on the side of the pages were fun.  I didn't know until finishing the book that the illustrations were done by the author's teen-aged son.

The book gets a bit sappy at the end.  It just wraps up too tidily and rosy-eyed.  The book blends together Derek's summer antics and the serious side-story of a young woman who drowned.  This combination is a bit tricky, and their meshing bugged me; the two stories felt a bit incongruous.  However, that is not enough to keep me from wanting to read the sequel.  I think middle school kids would get a kick out of the book, especially fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  It is clever and it is fun, even if the ending is a bit bland.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Haul #1

Yay!  The first book haul of my blogging career. This probably won't be a regular feature, because I don't have the budget to by books often, but this month was a little different.  

I'm not sure how the video and sound got unsynched.  Please forgive me.  You can look away from the screen if it truly bothers you.

The Giver  (also mentioned Son)

Let me know what you think of the books if you've read them.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reveiw: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

The Humming Room -- Ellen Potter
February 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
182 pages Goodreads

Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life. 

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.

Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.

This is an excellent book, a charming retelling of The Secret Garden.  Potter doesn't bind herself to the original story, nor does she just take the original and drop it into a modern setting: She gives it her own flavor while remaining true to the original spirit.  Even though I knew what would happen, the book didn't feel predictable.  It is an enchanting read.

I love Roo.  She has some real-life-hard problems that I wasn't expecting out of a middle grade novel: her mother ran off, her father's a drug dealer, her father gets murdered.  I can't decide whether or not I wish Potter had developed those story-lines more.  I would love to see how those issues would be handled for a younger audience; at the same time I think they would have gotten in the way of Potter's story.

Mary from the original is a snotty, bratty child.  Roo, by contrast, is more withdrawn, intentionally isolating herself in an effort to protect herself.  Finding herself in large spaces exposed "made her feel so horribly trapped, like a wild young fox that someone had snatched from the woods, dropped into a strange cavernous room, and then left all alone" pg 25.  She's wonderfully deer-like--quiet, watching, easily startled--but the river brings her out.  I love Roo's growth as she becomes more comfortable with the world and with people. 

Her friendship with Jack is gentle and wonderful.  I love his character, but Jack shouldn't be on the cover.  I'm picky about that.  The cover should focus on Roo.  Aside from that, the cover is gorgeous.

I love how the narrator brings us into the story at the very beginning, focusing our attention on the image of the trailer, then leading us to crawl beneath it to find Roo.  After the prologue, however, the narrative style switches over to traditional 3rd person omniscient.  It's not until the very end that the storyteller comes back.  I found that a bit jarring at first, but looking back on it I like the bookended-ness.  

My one criticism of the book is that it wraps up too quickly; the resolution is rushed.  Mr. Fenshaw comes back, they talk, and then everything is all better.  Aside from that, it's a lovely novel.  It would be a great introduction to the story of The Secret Garden for young readers or a wonderful revisiting of the old adventure in a new way for older readers. I see myself coming back to this book again.


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