Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/16/13

I am excited to be a part of the conversation at #IMWAYR! Thank you to SheilaJen and Kellee for inspiring and hosting this meme.

It's been an excellent week of reading!

Rec. for grades 5-8
I mentioned last week how enamored I was mid-way through The Twistrose Key.  I devoured it as quickly as I could, and yet it still felt like a long and luxurious read, as Tone Almhjell's magical world of Sylver is completely absorbing.  This book reads like a beautiful blend of Narnia, the Golden Compass and Redwall.   Lin, lonely and missing her best friend, is given a key that opens the world of Sylver, a land where animals who have been loved by children go when they die. She reunites with her beloved pet vole Rufus and together they must save Sylver from the forces of evil. This is a gorgeous, rich, deep and dark fantasy!

Rec. for grades 6+
I've become a regular reader of Debbie Reese's blog American Indians in Children's Literature and find her insight quite fascinating.  She recently highlighted How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears by Tim Tingle in an SLJ column and since this book was also on the Kirkus Best Books of 2013 list, I decided it was one I couldn't miss.  Tingle tells the story of ten-year-old Isaac and his family, all of whom were devastated by the Trail of Tears.  Isaac starts out the book telling the story as a boy, but mid-way through he is killed and continues to tell the story as a ghost.  I couldn't help but think of Susan Cooper's Ghost Hawk, which also has a boy-then-ghost narrator.  Tingle's ghost is much more present and "alive," if you will, in his interactions with his family, and essentially becomes a hero to his people.  For whatever reason, it was much easier for me to suspend my belief as a reader in How I Became a Ghost than in Ghost Hawk.  Tingle presents the human connection with ghosts as a natural and reasonable cultural norm, and as such, I really enjoyed the interactions between spirit and human worlds.

For adults
Neil Gaiman never ceases to amaze me.  Just a few weeks ago I read (and loved) his silly, fun Fortunately, the Milk and this past week I devoured his adult work The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  Several months ago I heard an interview on the radio with Gaiman where he was asked what the difference is between adult and children's literature and he said something to the effect that essentially, the books he writes for kids always contain hope, whereas that is not necessarily the case in adult literature.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane is utterly dark, disturbing and (for me) terrifying and yet, I felt that it too embraced a hopeful end.  It is a murky and complicated hope, definitely, but hope nevertheless.   I highly recommend this book, especially to adults who enjoy children's fantasy - you will be amazed by what Gaiman does with this milieu.

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