Tuesday, October 31, 2006

King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher

Crutcher, Chris. 2003. King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography. New York: Greenwillow Books.

The young adult author of books such as "Stotan" and "Whale Talk," Chris Crutcher, tells tales of growing up in his hometown of Cascade, Idaho and how events and people in his life shape his stories and him into becoming a writer.

If you are a Crutcher fan then this book explains all! Even if you aren't much of a Crutcher fan (which was me, I knew of him but hadn't really read him) or have never read any of his books, you can enjoy his poignant reminiscent stories of childhood. I like Crutcher's writing style, and how he doesn't worry about telling things in chronological order -- he just tells the story without a hidden agenda. The connections he makes between the characters in his stories and the people in his life is interesting, refreshing, and sort of a behind-the-scenes glimpse of writing (or at least his writing). As I was reading, I was wondering how he was going to pull it all together, but he does it well, leaving the reader with a sense of knowing him better and yet knowing that that wasn't everything about him, and pulling it back to his writing and drawing inspiration from the world, peopled with his characters, around him.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Donnelly, Jennifer. 2003. A Northern Light. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc.

In 1906, Mattie is determined to get her high school diploma and attend college to become a writer against her father and fiance's wishes. She takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. While the story of Mattie is fictional, the events she finds herself surrounded by are based upon real happenings.

Told in flashbacks, you find yourself cheering for Mattie to go to college and pursue her dream of being a writer and at the same time agonizing with her on her new found love with a local boy. Will she marry the handsome Royal Loomis? Or will she come to realize that she cannot live her life for others and go to college?

A Printz Honor Book, A Northern Light evokes a sense of stepping back in time to the turn of the century and is a great find for lovers of historical fiction. I was very satisfied with the story and I think the fact that it centered around real happenings kept me reading -- however, I didn't find it to be a story that just really sucked me in - one of those books where I can't put it down even though I have other things to do. Characters are portrayed in a realistic sense and Jennifer Donnelly doesn't sugar coat the hardships they face. Throughout the book Mattie and her friend, Weaver, have 'word duels' that at times I found distracting, but on the other hand, it does help make the character and Mattie certainly wouldn't be Mattie without her love of the English language.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Funke, Cornelia. 2003. Inkheart. New York: The Chicken House/Scholastic.

Meggie finds out that her father Mo, who is a bookbinder, can by reading aloud turn fictional book characters into real people. The downside is the character from the book switches places with a person who is listening to the story. This is what happens to Meggie's mom when an evil character, Capricorn, freed from the novel "Inkheart" that Mo read him from years earlier takes her mom's place. Capricorn has been hunting Mo down ever since he learned the ways of the new world he ended up in and wants to force Mo to read an immortal moster from the story. There are many twists and turns of the plot but in the end Meggie must think of a way to save them all.

I like Cornelia Funk. I've read some of her other books and short stories, however, I just couldn't work up the love for Inkheart. The story just kept going on and on. Maybe I just like a faster pace, but if you think you're going to whiz through this one like the Harry Potter novels then think again. The writing style is slower and doesn't move the plot along quickly. However, her central idea of characters coming to life and leaping off the pages is very engaging. What avid reader hasn't wished that at some point? Also with it being a book about books, book lovers will love the quotes from classics above each chapter that set the tone what is coming. Overall, it is a well-written if lengthy battle of good versus evil.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon. 2005. Princess Academy. New York: Bloomsbury Children's Books.

A Newbery Honor book, Princess Academy is about fourteen-year-old Miri who lives with her family on Mt. Eskel. Miri wants more than anything to work in the rock quarry with the others but her father considers her too delicate for such a job. When the priests in the kingdom divine that the next princess will come from Mt. Eskel, then a 'princess academy' is established to prepare all eligible girls to become princesses. Miri sees it as her chance to prove herself to her father and discovers unknown talents within herself while attending the strict academy.

I enjoyed reading Princess Academy, the imaginary world created by Shannon Hale has strong yet vulnerable characters and the imagry is easy to follow and picture in the mind creating a vivid mental picture of the setting. Although it falls into the fantasy catagory, don't look for any fatastical creatures in it. The main fairy tale elements deal with how the people on Mt. Eskel communicate with each other (which is a kind of magic), the rags-to-riches hope, and the love of a prince. My only real complaint is that it was sometimes hard to keep all the girls in the story straight, but the story wraps up nicely with a little unexpected twist.

Hello & welcome...

Hi, welcome to A Book Look.

In this blog, I will initially be discussing 10 young adult literature novels to fulfill requirments for Option B of the Final for LS 5623 Advanced Young Adult Literature and while I welcome any comments please keep in mind that this is a course project in progress.

I do hope to keep expanding upon this blog upon completion of the course so check back for more!