Next category: kid and young adult. Within this category, there is a subcategory called “Books Supplied by Elizabeth.” Into the Wild was the first of these. I loved the concept of the book. The fairy tales have an incredible power of their own to force people into archetypal roles. The power has been overcome once, but threatens to take over again. Two thumbs up, plus Rapunzel (my favorite fairy tale).
Dragon’s Keep explores speciesism while deeply entertaining. Plenty of girl power and lovely writing. The Door into Fire gets points for sexual preference inclusiveness. I enjoyed the ride, but did not feel deeply changed or anything from having read it. Dragon’s Bait was not so fabulous. Actually, it was fine until the end when the girl goes off with the dragon-hottie. I thought the story had great potential that didn’t really pay off.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, however, which I read on loan, was difficult to return because I loved it. Talking animals are a little dicey for me now that I am theoretically a grown-up, but these particular ones didn’t get too cutesy or annoying. Emmy’s ability to overcome all sorts of evil plans rocks.
Finally, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos made me very happy. An extremely smart and educated girl who lives primarily in a museum! Ancient Egyptian artifacts! Stowaway adventures! Loved it!
The rest of the kid and young adult category comes from discards, read and unread, of my own kids since I’m trying not to buy books. Feed is a dystopian book (that and post-apocalyptic books ended up kind of a theme…) with excellent writing. It explores the dark side of the plugged-in culture taken to extreme while acknowledging the difficulty of opting out. That sounds boring, but the book is not boring at all. Space travel, consumerism, boy and girl trouble, and weird parents.
Based on the cover, I thought The Secret of Platform 13 was going to be a bad Harry Potter imitation. Not at all. An excellent book about worlds that touch and people who live into their destinies.
The Headless Cupid was engaging. The take on blending families felt a little old-fashioned (who has a housekeeper anymore?), but the issues were honestly explored. Extra bonus points for great good humor and silly pseudo-witchcraft.
Al Capone Does My Shirts was a book I wasn’t sure I would finish, but I’m glad I did. At first, it seemed like the book would just be about kids who lived on Alcatraz when it was a prison and their various pranks. About halfway through, it settled down to be a story about how a family deals with an autistic child. It is funny and life-affirming as well as thought-provoking. There are sequels, but I do not need to read them. Speaking of books with sequels I do not need to read, I read The Dragon’s Eye, the first book in the Dragonology Chronicles. It is competently written, but feels like a factory product. On the other hand, it might be perfect for a younger audience obsessed with dragons.
Speaking of sequels, I read The Willows in Winter, a sequel to The Wind in the Willows. The whole concept of a sequel is close to heresy. Whether you love the spiritual Ratty-and-Mole side of things or the picaresque adventures of Toad, it is hard to swallow the very concept of a sequel. That said, the book is mostly successful. I think the Toad portions work best, but Ratty and Mole remain charming and sweet.
I also read the third book in a series, which turned out to be a prequel. The Prophet of Yonwood is part of the Ember series. It takes place before the apocalypse and investigates how people often deal with trouble with superstition rather than sense. A worthy entry into the series.
I had one last Alison Utley book hanging around, Stories for Christmas. It's out of print, so no link. It was perfect for reading in December, a reminder of other ways of celebrating Christmas and of simpler things.
Grown-up books, nonfiction, and poetry tomorrow.