Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (2013)

A Goodreads reviewer starts out her two star-review with "kind of horrified."  I sort of felt the same way.  The longer I read the book, the bigger pit was in my stomach.  A pit because the characters were so unlikable.  A pit because I knew something bad was going to happen to them and their stupid, pathetic lives, and I was desperately hoping it was a big earthquake would hit and destroy all of them (spoiler:  it didn't).  A horrified pit that I kept on reading and reading (well into the night, when I should have been sleeping) because I was hoping that something good would happen to someone.  it did not:  they are all bitches.  Every last one.  Except maybe the new lesbian girlfriend.  She seemed nice.

SisterlandSisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought a book about psychic twins would be an on the edge of your seat, riveting, can't-put-down-able whizzbanger.    But it's like this book can't decide whether it wants to be a family drama or a paranormal thriller, and settles uncomfortably (and boringly) somewhere in between.  Add some really, really unlikable and unsympathetic characters, and I ended up with a book that I read well past my bed time into the wee hours and kicked myself for the whole way through.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Provence 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr (2013)

This artfully and exquisitely written; you can practically taste and smell every meal in the book, hear the wine bottles popping open and the wine glasses clinking, and, party laughter and conversation, and the teeth grinding and heavy sighing as these friends and frenemies wine and dine each other in Provence in December 1970.  If it wasn't for the attention to detail and the sumptuous prose, I probably would have put the book down.  Underneath the lavish descriptions of food and people, there really isn't much here.  I think (and lately many books I've read have suffered from this) the book was laden with a heavy subtitle that the book itself couldn't live up to.  The name dropping in the title was bad enough (if probably necessary) but then to add the theses worthy "reinvention of American taste" to the subtitle leaves the book with quite a climb up; I'm not really sure it ever reached those heights.  Read this for the food and friends; the Childs always make good books (and movies); MFK Fisher and James Beard are fascinating; I wanted to know more about the lesbian couple (although this isn't really their book).  Richard Olney is insufferable and ugly (is there anything worse than an artist who knows he is an artist?).  An enjoyable read, if a bit circular (stories kept repeating themselves, as if this were serialized in a magazine, as if to remind us what was written last week or month).

Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American TasteProvence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A heavy handed, long subtitle gives this book the task of climbing a thesis worthy peak ("the reinvention of American taste", wow) which it never quite makes (this seems to be problematic lately, as if pop nonfiction has something to prove). I probably would have put this book aside at some point quite frankly except the writing is exquisite and sumptuous.  Barr can certainly write food, but he also brought this long ago month of December 1970 and these famous people to life.  You can smell the food they are cooking, you are sitting in the kitchen watching them cook, hearing the wine bottle pop open, the clink of glasses, laughter, the smell of cigarette smoke.  The clenching of teeth and heavy sighs as some of the frenemies are forced to deal with each other in the most genteel dinner party of ways.  The Childs area always a great study (in nonfiction and film), but Barr makes sure the other characters are equally interesting and well drawn.  I'd recommend this on those merits, but don't expect a Eureka moment regarding the subtitle.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Parable of Immortality by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
 Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"
 Gone where?
 Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
 Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

I keep collecting bits of really beautiful and moving poetry and scripture at funerals.  The above poem was read at the funeral of a friend's grandfather this morning.  I liked the imagery and hope, and thought it was a comforting way to describe the pain and loss of death.

Henry Van Dyke was also the author of the English words to the hymn version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee.

Interestingly, when I looked for the poem on line, I couldn't find any information on when it was written or where it was published.  I saw it as prose as well, not in poem form.  It was also simply titled "I was standing on the seashore."  And it had two additional endings:

And that is dying...

and then this tacked on as well:

Death comes in its own time, in its own way.
Death is as unique as the individual experiencing it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The New Countess by Fay Weldon (2013)

Really, more of the same deliciously trashy potboiling found in the other two books in the series.  This one had even less sex, far less sex (since one of the plot points was that a couple weren't having sex at all), but far more gays (albeit one is evil, which is lame).  I still think Downton Abbey could use a good injection of some of the lascivious plot points and twists.

The New Countess (Love & Inheritance Trilogy, #3)The New Countess by Fay Weldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's really too bad these three books weren't just one long   big potboiler; I thought the quality (I use that term very, very lightly) suffered by the end and felt almost like a treatise rather than a book. Connecting the three together maybe would have helped retain some of the continuity.   Far, far less sex than the first book (that's even a plot point) but more gays (four of them!).  These books made a terrific time waster (don't expect to learn anything here), and I wish I'd been surrounded by a beach or plane full of people while I read them (they are perfect for this).  They would make an even better television show; I can think of one particularly series set in almost the same time period that could definitely use an injection of some of Fay Weldon's lasciviousness.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Long Live the King by Fay Weldon (2013)

Goodreads has these three books as the "Love and Inheritance" trilogy, which makes them sound far more sappy and romantic than they actually are. That's a marketing title, and a pretty piss poor one at that.  Not one place on the actual books themselves have I seen "Love and Inheritance."  I may not have picked them up if I'd seen it.

Marketing and profit is also why I assume this is three books instead of one big book.   It would have made a quite good Michener-sized novel.  Cut out some of the explanations of the last book found at the beginning of the first book, add some "years gone by" exposition, and I think this could have easily made a 900 page saga.  However, three 300 page novels make more money than a 900 page saga.

Long Live the King is more of the same.  Habits of the House was more triangular and had sharp points; Long Live the King  was softer, more humorous, a little less sexy (although not by much), more circular.

Long Live the King (Love & Inheritance Trilogy, #2)Long Live the King by Fay Weldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't start Long Live the King first; pick up and read Habits of the House or you will probably be lost. Long Live the King is as fun and good as Habits of the House; Habits is more triangular, with sharper points and a little sexier; King is more circular, more humorous, softer (but not gentler).  The characters are still all this strange cross of despicable and sympathetic.  I didn't really like anyone in the book, but I certainly wanted to stick to the journey to see where they were going and where they would end up.  

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Habits of the House by Fay Weldon (2012)

When I was in high school, I discovered that if you read books by John Jakes and Judith Krantz, they always had good sex scenes in them.  I like to say I learned everything I need to know about sex from a handful of 1980s trashy bestsellers.  North and South ("Push it in... all the way in... Oh. Yes... She had been wild with the urge to take a man... It had reached her ears that he was a magnificent male specimen..."  Princess Daisy ("His second orgasm was much more intense than the first, coming, it seemed, not just from his penis and his testicles, but from his whole spinal column.  The fourteen-year-old boy lay, momentarily exhausted...").  My love of historical fiction, perhaps, comes from the sex scenes of John Jakes.  I suppose there was Jackie Collins thrown in there as well at some point, and others I can't remember the titles of. These, plus my mother's Redbook, taught me much and little about sex.   I remember various descriptions of vaginas and breasts and womens' public hair (or lack of it) and vampish women who said things like "Which one of you bitches is my mother?"  (I had to google that - it's Lace; who knew - I always thought it was a Judith Krantz line).   As a gay teen, I was trying to find myself in these stories, but I don't remember ever reading a gay sex scene until I was much older.

I was pleasantly surprised and kind of thrilled to get a taste of this in Habits of the House by Fay Weldon. I picked this up because it was supposed to be like Downton Abbey.  It is.  There are even characters named Robert and Isobel, one of whom is some sort of earl (or perhaps a duke).  Every single character in this book could visit or work at Downton Abbey, and fit right in.  Although the Downton characters would, in all likelihood, kick their asses in a fight.  Edith, in her best days (apparently and sadly behind her now, to the viewer's regret) could wallop Rosina the earl's daughter in a cage match and come out without even a broken nail or mussed up marcel.  But there was something far more enjoyable about Habits of the House than mere Downton envy.  It's sexy.  It's not 14 year old Russian boy being trained to have sex by his very own courtesan sexy (I wanted a courtesan of my own, when I was sixteen, only a male one).  But there are perky pink nipples, and descriptions of pubic hair, and a threesome (which the know it all bluestocking daughter refers to as troilism, a word I had to look up and which wasn't coined until the 1940s, a bit of anachronism that bothered me for only a moment before I dove back in).  Actually TWO threesomes, one described in some detail (not Jakes or Krantz detail, but enough), the other mentioned.  Princess Daisy is the grandmother, of sorts, of Habits of the House.  That made it more fun.  Sometimes, especially recently, Downton has a stick up its ass and has lost some of the raw sexuality from the first season.  Thomas will never, ever get laid again.   Edith has sex, off scene, and ends up with a baby out of wedlock, rather than a either a good time, or a dead man in her bed.  Anna gets raped (in Krantz-esque books, don't women get raped and then like it?  That always seemed to the icky, dark side of those types of books; that happened in M.M. Kaye's Trade Winds, a book that otherwise I loved as a young adult).  Habits of the House is the how Downton used to be, with the sex added back in.

As a novel, Habits of the House is simply written, with short, punchy sentences.  The characters are like little prizes in the Christmas cake; as you eat your way through the deliciousness, you keep finding new characters to like.  No one is quite despicable enough to hate - or quite likable enough to sympathize with.  Everyone is a hero, and everyone is sort of a douchebag, which surprisingly I liked - I tend to hate ambiguity like this.  The descriptions of clothes and parties and food and the lives of servants are terrifically fun.  The Prince of Wales is a bloated, lecherous pig who controls every bit of society - which is probably how it really was, both despised and courted (like all princes).  Weldon adds historical touches and figures as sort of icing, to add some credibility to the story, as all good historical fiction writers do.

I tried to read Margaret George's Elizabeth I before picking this book up, and was so disappointed (I don't think I've read a Margaret George I've liked since her Henry VIII book, which I think was her first).  Everyone so flat and boring, and expected.  Queen Elizabeth and company acted and talked and walked like they stepped out of a history book, absolutely expected.  And boring!  Habits of the House did the opposite of this; Fay Weldon took a standard historical plot from the Gilded Age (poor English aristocracy seeking wealthy American heiress) and added enough interest and flavor and color to the characters that it turned into this engaging romp.

Is this trash?  Probably so.  I can't think of much redeeming value here.  It will most likely slip through my brain like water through a sieve, leaving not much behind.  But it was an incredibly enjoyable few hours of reading, and that says something.  Hurray for trash!

Habits of the House (Love & Inheritance Trilogy, #1)Habits of the House by Fay Weldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is this trash?  Probably so.  I can't think of much redeeming value here.  It will most likely slip through my brain like water through a sieve, leaving not much behind.  But it was an incredibly enjoyable few hours of reading, and that says something.  Hurray for trash!Judith Krantz and John Jakes and Jackie Collins visit Downton Abbey; Habits of the House is injected with historical sex and scandal.  As a novel, Habits of the House is simply written, with short, punchy sentences.  The characters are like little prizes in the Christmas cake; as you eat your way through the deliciousness, you keep finding new characters to read about.  No one is quite despicable enough to hate - or quite likable enough to sympathize with.  Everyone is a hero, and everyone is sort of a douchebag.    The descriptions of clothes and parties and food and the lives of servants are terrifically fun.  The Prince of Wales is a bloated, lecherous pig who controls every bit of society - which is probably how it really was, both despised and courted (like all princes).  Weldon adds historical touches and figures as sort of icing, to add some credibility to the story, as all good historical fiction writers do. I'm sure you've read historical fiction where the cardboard characters march out onto the page one after the other.  Weldon, however, doesn't do this to us.  Weldon adds enough flavor and verve, vim and vigor to make this a really rollicking romp!

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Monday, February 10, 2014

In Quest of Jesus by W. Barnes Tatum (1982)

This was a text book I had back in college, 10+ years ago.  It was a class about the gospels (of some sort) and a real thinker; I remember be astounded by the different versions of the Nativity story.  I wanted to re-read the book again, and see what was so shocking.  This second time, so many years later, didn't really teach me anything new; probably because it was all ingrained all those years ago.  I did learn a tidbit about the book of Mark.  When Jesus is being arrested, a little boy wakes up, throws a blanket over himself, and goes to watch.  Mark 14: 51-52  "A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked."  It's this total piece of slapstick, right in the middle of the Bible.  I wonder if those early Christians thought it was funny?  Tatum writes that some Biblical scholars think the boy was Mark himself, and that the house where they were at was Mark's mother's house.  I asked some people about this story, and none of them had ever heard it before.  Interesting!

I think in the end the class was far more interesting than the book.

In Quest of Jesus: A GuidebookIn Quest of Jesus: A Guidebook by W. Barnes Tatum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I first read this in a college religion class around 20 years ago.  It was a class about the four gospels, and at the time it really blew my mind (and made me more agnostic, unfortunately).  I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about; I didn't really learn anything new from this book.  I think the class itself was far more interesting and fun than just the book.  It was really more of a source book crossed with a textbook.

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Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick (2013)

Someone needs to explain the appeal of this book to me, because I just didn't get it.  It's not poorly written - more simply written.  It's written for teens, but I wasn't quite sure why it was written for teens.  Why wasn't it just published as an adult book?  Because it was too simple?  I get it, its about reincarnation - but why?  What's the point?  I did keep on reading it, because I wanted to see if there was some grand moment of philosophy or science fiction or fantasy or something at the end that tied everything together.  There was not.  Another one of those books that I feel like I supposed to like - it's an award winner, for Christ's sake - but don't really understand, and end up feeling stupider than I did after picking it up.  If this was supposed to be deep, it was too deep for me.  Maybe I was trying to read too much into it - but there was absolutely no take away for me here.

MidwinterbloodMidwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I completely didn't understand the point of this book.  If there even was one.  It's too deep for me.  Who exactly is the audience for this book?  Perhaps because it's written for young adults, you have to be a young adult, or nearer to young adult age, to get this book.  I no longer fit into either of those categories, so I'm left out.  It's about reincarnation and love and sacrifice - so what?  Too many strange loose ends for my taste.

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Dead Ends

Elizabeth I by Margaret George didn't really have anything new to say about Queen Elizabeth I or her time.  I thought it dragged, and put it down after a game try.

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle (2013).  I picked this up because it was an award winner.  I so wanted to like it, but I just didn't like the bounce-all-around voice.  Disappointing.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (2009)

I loved this book so much, I got hooked from almost the very first page.  I was frightened at first because I liked the characters so much that I didn't want anything awful to happen to them.  Bad things do happen to them, but not so much that I couldn't stomach what happened.  It's not an Oprah book (abuse porn).

Tacho steals the show; I liked how Urrea wrote him in such a away that you think he's a man, when in actuality he's only a little bit older than the girls (if that).  The attitude and language towards Tacho bothered me; it's really realistic, and Urrea doesn't gloss over how straight males disrespect Tacho and females treat him like an exotic pet - until he comes into his own, that is.  I hope he goes back to the doctor in Tijuana.  Those chapters made me really happy.

As a southern Californian of Kansas descent, I'm actually surrounded by Mexicans  all the time, legally here, illegally here, visiting, been here since California was Mexico, etc.  I think a lot of us are like Matt, oblivious, unsure, occasionally xenophobic and racist, and also really attracted and fascinated.  Mexican culture can be so different from typical American culture, the northern European culture I grew up with; and this book does a great job of comparing and contrasting the two.  The book also compares and contrasts Mexican American and American culture to some degree as well.

Clearly, Urrea has upset the gender cart, and some of the macho Mexican men get a come-uppance in the book.  The real heroes are a girl and a gay guy, with the old aunt thrown in. Of course, there is Atómico, who I also came to adore, but he doesn't really fall into the traditional male role.

Into the Beautiful NorthInto the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an incredible novel, with an animated plot and memorable characters that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.    Urrea uses The Magnificent Seven and Seven Samurai as a mold of sorts, but if anything it's  an old-fashioned mid-century jello mold, where he mixes  all sorts of strange fruits and meats into the lime green wonderfulness to create something unusual and beautiful.  He flips gender on it head and pokes holes in stereotypical Mexican machismo (our heroes are a kick-ass girl and a hot, tough gay guy). He compares and contrasts American culture and Mexican culture and Mexican American culture.  Nothing is simple here - the black hats aren't necessarily the bad guys - or maybe they just aren't the worst guys.  And the good guys have sharp edges with shadows - their hats are really gray (but don't we all wear gray hats).  Nayeli, our heroine, has two guys in her life who will do anything for her, and quite frankly both of them steal whatever scenes they are in.  They are completely original characters.  Tacho, a sassy, mature-before-his-time gay guy in a small village who has become tough - but underneath the bitchery lies love and heroics; and romantic, sloppy modern day ronin Atómico, who lives in a dump and wields a sword for love and freedom.  I can't decide who I ended up being in love with more.  I wept at the end of this book; which to me, is the ultimate sign of greatness - but I laughed too. This isn't a downer; it's clever and humorous and really fun.

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Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong (2000)

Apparently, I'd read this before, but I remembered zilch about it.

Armstrong's book is merely okay.  It's well written, but dryly so.  What annoyed me towards the end was the profusion of Arabic words in italics, some of which had definitions in a glossary in the back, but some which did not.  It was really arbitrary as to which ones did and did not - it seemed like all the words I couldn't remember the definitions for were also the ones that didn't have definitions in the glossary. Murphy's Law at work.

This is most definitely "a short history" :  Islam is a truly enormous subject to squash into 222 pages; 1,404 years of history, tradition, custom, culture, mores, tenets, men and women probably needs 1,404 pages or more to truly to do it justice.  Most of the romance, mystery, intrigue, and personality of the religion was necessarily stripped out to fit into a small book.

Still, even within 222 pages, there were some takeaways.  Mohammed (like Jesus, and probably like all founders of religions) gets a bum wrap from Western thought and religion, but Armstrong (while providing neither hagiography or hatchet job) writes about Mohammed in a respectful and unbiased way.  He sounds like a really neat guy, who had the interests of the poor and downtrodden always in mind.  The social gospel of Islam, something I  was unaware of.  Also, that Islam was a religion of peace, and still predominantly is, and that unbelievers weren't discriminated against but welcome to practice their own religion.  Also, that Islam was and always be a political religion, more interested in government and how it treats those less fortunate. There is no "church" and "state;" the government and religion are the same thing, and attempts to Westernize this concept have failed.  This is way, way oversimplified, I realize, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

This was written prior to September 12, 2001, when the American world (and to some extent, a majority of the world) suddenly changed, prior to Afghanistan, prior to Iraq.  The last chapter has certain hints of things to come, and its interesting to see a pre-9/11 perspective on modern Islam, so close to that fateful event. This is also ten years before the Arab Spring as well, and Syria.  I'd like to know what Karen Armstrong thinks of the last ten years; maybe this book needs an addendum.

Islam: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles)Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A short history is right and sort of a shame.  1,404 years of history squashed into 222 pages (including index and two glossaries) - its possible to do, but the result isn't much fun.  This is mostly a case of "just the facts, ma'm" with much of the personality and romance of Islam pretty much stripped out.  It's well written, but dryly so - the "wet" of history lies in those personal stories.  One of my biggest complaints about the book, however, was the tremendous amount of Arabic words, italicized, that weren't defined in glossary in the back. What's the point of having a glossary if all the unfamiliar words aren't listed in it?  What was interesting was this is a pre-9/11, pre-Afghani & Iraqi War, pre-Arab Spring and pre-Syrian uprising - but just barely so.  The last chapter hints at things to come; Karen Armstrong isn't a fortune teller, but she did have a good idea at the clash of Islam and the West would continue.  That last chapter was the best; several new chapters could easily be added.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (2013)

The last of the Caldecotts this year, an Honor Book.  Even though this isn't my favorite out of the bunch (I think Mr. Wuffles nudges out Journey just barely), I still liked this one far better than the actual winner.  Interestingly, the three honors were all wordless, which I found interesting.  As I've written here before, wordless picture books aren't necessarily my favorite kinds of picture books.  In this case though, all three were quite strong.

The color scheme - predominantly Mamie Eisenhower pink - and the cover title font gave the book a real retro feel, like it was a one of the Parents Magazine Press books that I've also written about before.  But the illustrations, although harking back, still have a very modern feel to them. It's a whimsical little book, and while it's not going to be one of my favorite books ever (it didn't make me cry, for example), it still is a strong book.

Flora and the FlamingoFlora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Mamie Eisenhower pink color scheme and the title font give this book an almost retro-flair, but the modern illustrations definitely counter that, but not in a jarring way.  There is a anti-bullying message that flies out of this, but the real take away is just the free feeling of joy that comes from dancing (to the tune of your own drummer).  What's nice about having no words is that we can insert ourselves very neatly into the story:  we're all flamingos, and we're all slightly chubby little girls in bathing caps, at one point or another in our lives.

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The (few) complaints on Goodreads have been about the book having no story, mostly due to the book having no words.  And while I don't agree with that sentiment (one person complained essentially that books for children were to teach reading, and without words, what was the point, which is incredibly ignorant and close minded and just plain stupid to me), I do think that the story does suffer somewhat from lack of plot.  It does sort of sit between somewhere between art and story, heavily on the art side.  That made me re-think calling it a strong book; it's strong artwork, but not necessarily a strong book.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (2013)

I went into this one thinking I wasn't going to like it - I was totally wrong! I loved it!

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend" seems to be the message here.  Was there also something about how religions begin?  That seemed to be how it ended.

A wordless story, but really really detailed and intricate - there is a lot going on here,and all of it interesting and good.

I was reminded of The Witch's Button by Ruth Chew, only superficially.

David Wiesner is a fantastic storyteller.  Loved this!

Mr. Wuffles!Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For a book with no words, Mr. Wuffles is rich and complex storytelling.  Without going into too much detail, this is a science fiction romp, a cat-lover's dream book, and has a not so subtle message about working together against a common enemy ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend").  You'll get sucked in right away.  Great fun!

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Journey by Aaron Becker (2013)

A friend told me to read Journey, wondering why it didn't win the Caldecott Award (it's an honor book instead).  The political machinations of the Caldecott are many and wide, never to be revealed because of the legal code of silence surrounding the deliberations, so who knows why one thing wins while another doesn't.  I agree with her that Journey is a far more lovely, and interesting book than the winner (which I put down after only a few pages - and it's a PICTURE BOOK).  I'm not sure we are seeing anything new in Journey -   Captain Kangaroo had Simon back in the 1970s ("You know my name is Simon, and the things I draw come true... they take me, take me, take me climbing over the garden wall with you.").

Still, Journey does tell a story (without words) about the power of art and imagination to stave off boredom, and how art and imagination can even lead to new friends.  And there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Unlike Simon, the illustrations in Journey are astounding and gorgeous.  I want to go to this world that Aaron Becker, in the character of this little girl with the red crayon, has created.

JourneyJourney by Aaron Becker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I had a red crayon that could take me to the world Aaron Becker has created here. Lushly illustrated, intricate, and quite beautiful.  We always needs new stories that champion the power of art and imagination to stave off boredom and connect to one another.  This is a lovely addition to that canon of children's literature.  To paraphrase e.e. cummings:  Aaron Becker has created a hell of a universe here, and encourages us to create our own as well; let's go!

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