Friday, September 30, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Young Adult novel

This book is peculiar.  It definitely has three acts and I want to write about those later, but for now I'd like to comment on the photos by saying, WOW!  Even if I hadn't found the story compelling (which I did) I would have read the book just for the photo tie-in.  The cover photo alone was worth the price of the book.  The images are haunting.  The photo of the two white "clowns" is perverse.  Why is the one clown feeding the other ribbon?  Or is he pulling it out of her mouth?  Either way, it gives me chills.  I felt like to pictures added to the story without being too gimmicky.  That's hard to pull off in a young adult novel.

The story is really separated into three parts.  Act 1 was the unimpressive back story.  I was worried that I would never connect to Jake.  I found him totally unlikeable and self-absorbed.  I love Grandpa Abraham.  I had a hard time understanding why he felt so connected to Jake, enough to share is bizarre history, but thankfully that is explained later.  I thought the author, Ransom Riggs, introduced us to some unnecessary characters in the beginning, but I actually found myself liking that I didn't like Jake and his parents very much.

Act 2 is when we get to learn about the island, Miss Peregrine's home and all of the quirky "peculiars."  I loved this part of the book.  I thought the time loop was a great plot development.  Who doesn't love a little bit of time travel?  I sometimes felt like the explanations were a bit vague.  I wanted to know how Miss Peregrine made the loop.  I also felt like I wanted more information about the peculiar kids.  Why did they still act like kids?  What was their history?  Maybe Ransom Riggs will treat us to another installment and answer some of these questions.

Act 3 is fast.  Traveling in and out of the loop got a bit confusing.  I had to do some rereads.  I loved the idea of the wights and the hollows.  Creepy, evil and monstrous with just enough mystery to keep me turning the page.  They are definitely worth destroying.  Again, I hope Riggs continues his story.  He certainly left us with a cliffhanger.

Tell me what you think:

Did you find the photos intriguing or distracting?
If Ransom Riggs continues the story, will we run into Grandpa Abraham in the past?
Does Emma love Jake or Abraham?

Blog you later!

Ali B

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bridge To Terabithia

I wanted to start my first "real" blog post with a discussion of one of the most wonderful MG books of all time, Bridge to Terabithia.  This book should be on every child's personal bookshelf.  It should be on every adult's personal bookshelf.  It is about fear and strength.  It is about difference and sameness.  It is about love and loss.  The story is timeless.

I love the characters in Bridge to Terabithia.  Jess and Leslie are best friends who act like real kids with real problems and real lives.  I love how they escape their sadness by creating Terabithia and ruling an imaginary kingdom when their own true world holds them down.  You can't help but admire Leslie for her guts and her loyalty and you can't help but want Jess to win.

I am always amazed, like I am in so many other books with a sad plot crisis, that I still wish for a different outcome.  I know that Leslie is going to drown in a tragic accident, but I hold onto hope that Jess will come home from Washington D.C. and find her alive and well in Terabithia.  I still want her to be in that one place where nothing bad can happen.  But something bad does happen there, and this book is about Jess, not Leslie.  Jess has to accept Leslie's death in order to move on and find his own braveness, and that can't happen in Terabithia.

I have some questions for lovers of this book:
* Why do you think Jess plans to build the bridge to Terabithia?  Why not let it die with Leslie?
* Why do you think the author, Kathleen Paterson, chose gender-neutral names for her characters?
* What role did "class" play in the relationship between Jess and Leslie?

Thanks for being here.  ~ Ali

Monday, September 26, 2011

Literary Lunchbox ~ Blogging about Kid Lit!

As a huge fan of children's literature, I decided to write a blog about the ever-growing world of books for kids.  I want to discuss great books and not-so-great books, authors, genres and the market and marketing of books targeting the 18 and under crowd.

I love to read!  I'm a huge fan of adult fiction, memoirs, funny essays and historical dramas.  I also love to revisit my childhood favorites (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bridge to Terabithia) and am increasingly drawn to YA standouts like The Book Thief and The Hunger Games Trilogy.  I try to read most of what my nine year old son is reading, but it's getting hard to keep up.  Thankfully, he has an almost didactic memory and loves to share a good story on the ride to school.

My mom was a librarian and her passion was children's literature.  There were stacks of books all over our house just waiting to be read.  In our house, the only sedentary occupation allowed was reading.  Turn on the television and mom immediately found a chore for you to do, but crack open a book and she'd leave you alone for hours.

I've written a MG book and am currently working on the sequel.  I love it!  Now, I just need an agent who loves it too.  I'm querying my little heart out!  More on that later...

I'm glad you've found my blog.  Let me hear from you.  I want to know your opinions and suggestions even if they don't match mine.

Blog you soon!

Ali B