Sunday, June 21, 2009

good thing there's no penalties

Yep, I've blown more challenges during the past few weeks.

First of all, there was Book Awards II that ended at the start of the month. Didn't finish. The good news, however, is that I did do better than last year. ;) Out of the required ten, I managed seven. And even better, I enjoyed every one.

*Fax From Sarajevo by Joe Kubert (Eisner Award: Best Graphic Album 1997)
*The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett (Carnegie Medal 2001)
*The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Costa/Whitbread 2003 and Alex Award 2004)
*The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (Christopher Award 2007)
*American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Printz Award 2007)
*Looking for Alaska by John Green (Printz Award 2006)
*The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (Pulitzer Prize 1975)

And yesterday marked the end of Spring Reading Thing '09. Again, failure. At least in the absolute sense. But again, I did better than last year. Eight out of eleven...could have been worse.

My list:
*Fax From Sarajevo by Joe Kubert
*The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
*Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby
*Nation by Terry Pratchett
*The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
*The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going
*...I never saw another butterfly...: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944
*Step on a Crack by James Patterson

Books to read to boys:
*Looking for Bobowicz by Daniel Pinkwater
*The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater
*Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig

Also ending yesterday was Once Upon a Time III. And hooray...this one I actually finished!!! But I gotta say, I'm really sad to see this one coming to an end already. It really seems like it just started.

*The Sandman: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
*Legend of Chun Hyang by CLAMP
Fairy Tale:
*The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
*The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech
*Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
*Fables: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
*Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham
*Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig


Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig.

(Not that it matters in the slightest, but I couldn't find a picture of the cover we have.)

I think I've mentioned before how I've really fallen in love with fantasy books aimed at the 9-12 year old set. And while I didn't find this one of the very best of those, I couldn't have enjoyed it more...and that's because the boys couldn't have enjoyed it more. They positively loved this book!!! There wasn't a single night that they weren't begging for more, even on nights when I read an hour or more.

And there really was a lot to love...

"All the creatures!"--Gray

"It was funny and fantastical!"--Max

"It was exciting!"--Gray

"I love scary stories!"--Max

"If it wasn't fiction, it would have been really scary!"--Gray

"The witches could turn into cats!"--Max

And I have to agree that all those things did make this a magical story. And for the most part, I too, loved this book. The creatures were wonderful, from the huldres to the trolls and the Tomtegubbs to the Slemps. And my very favorite of all, the Truth Pixie. For the most part, I was impressed that the author seemed to give kids a lot of credit by not simplifying things or toning down the "scariness." But there were a few lapses. For example, I felt that the story of how the "bad guy" came to be a "bad guy" was a bit too simple. Not that I wanted some in-depth psychological analysis or anything, but it just came off a bit too goofy to fit along with the rest of the book. And can I just be totally petty for a moment? The accent Haig gave Aunt Eda drove me freakin' nuts...not that she wouldn't have that Norwegian accent--"effer" for "ever" and the like--but it seemed to be used very unevenly. Or maybe that was just my imagination. Anyway, I have to admit that after a few chapters with Aunt Eda, I just stopped "reading the accent" aloud altogether.

Sheesh...I didn't really say a darn thing in regards to what the book is actually about, did I? Okay, super short intro here:

The Blink family is on an outing to celebrate Martha's birthday. But tragedy strikes in the form of a careless logging truck driver who losses his load...with one log landing soundly on the Blink parents. So orphans Samuel and Martha are shipped off to reside with their only living relative, Aunt Eda, who lives in Norway. An aunt they don't even know. With the death of the Blink parents, also came the death of Martha's voice, which leaves Samuel feeling even more lonely. Samuel isn't feeling particularly cordial towards his aunt, and he is less than thrilled with this new life that is laid out before him. As if things weren't bad enough, Aunt Eda has no close neighbors. Heck, she doesn't even have a TV. The only thing of interest at all is the forest...and without explanation, Aunt Eda has definitively declared it off-limits. But no silly rule is going to stop Samuel. Luckily, however, something else (I don't want to say what) does. But then when Martha feels herself mysteriously pulled into the forest, Samuel has no choice but to disobey Aunt Eda despite the dangers he now at least somewhat understands...

Okay, my babbling leaves a lot be desired here...even for me. :) Bottom line, I really did like the story, but I absolutely loved the experience of reading this to the boys. Because they gobbled it right up! And yes, we will definitely be on the lookout for the next book in the series.


Chris said...

I can't believe that Once Upon a Time is over either :( Quite sad. That challenge always goes by way too fast! I actually finished that one too! I'm ecstatic :) Don't feel bad about not finishing all of your challenges! I never finish mine either, lol. All that counts is that you got the essence of the challenge and read some new to you books!

Samuel Blink sounds fun :) I'm a big fan of 9-12 fantasy too. So you know what you need to read if you like fantasy for that age group? Fablehaven! ;)

Staci said...

I've not heard of that series but I am truly going to look it up!! Great job on the challenges too!!

Literary Feline said...

I don't believe in failures when it comes to book challenges. ;-) Any amount of progress counts as a success! Okay, so I have to think that way for my sake too, but I think it's a good philosophy to have in regards to the reading challenges just the same. It's all about fun, right?

You really did do very well with your challenges! Congratulations!

Eva said...

Whatever: I think you did great in the challenges! :) I'm sad OUAT is over, but I'm happy it's officially summer. And who's to stop us reading great fantasy books all year round?

Scrap girl said...

I think the Once Upon a time challenge should be year long! Well done on getting part way through the rest of the challenges.

Kailana said...

The Once Upon a Time Challenge being over just means it will soon be time for the RIP challenge! I like that one, too. :) You read a lot of good books, and I read some of the books that you planned on reading thanks to your posts, so you could pretend that you read them? lol

Oh, btw, I finally read Maurice! Good book!

Shanra said...

Time goes too fast! And don't feel bad about not finishing challenges. It's the journey of them that's more/most important, surely. *hugs* (And hey 'better than last year' does mean something, right?) I agree with Eva, you did great on your challenges!

And yes Samuel Blink sounds like a fun book. (I think I'll definitely be passing the title along to a friend of mine. She's always looking for books for the boys she teaches and this sounds right up their alley!)

Nymeth said...

I can't tell you how much I love Max-Gray-Debi reviews :D And like I think I told you before, Max and I seem to have a lot in common :P THE WITCHES COULD TURN INTO CATS!!! Say no more :P

Once Upon a Time went by so fast this year :( But like Kailana said, it only means it will soon be time for RIP!

valentina said...

Loved your kids comments to the book!!

and well done with the challenges, you're doing a lot better than me;)

Trish said...

My favorite thing about what the boys loved is all the exclamation! What excitement--and witches that turn into cats. Oh my.

I've been doing rotten on my challenges as well, but I've got a few more I'm about to join. Oh well, it's fun enough just to make the list.