Search on SLJ.com ....
Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Girl Power Goes Global

Lai Girl Power Goes GlobalINSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai is an impressive debut novel in verse that trenchantly chronicles the assimilation of a ten-year-old Vietnamese girl into her newly adopted country: the United States.  It’s racked up no less than four starred reviews and is currently ranked number 2 in the goodreads Newbery poll behind only OKAY FOR NOW.  This one just didn’t quite work for me as a Newbery contender, but verse novels rarely do, requiring both a strong story and strong poetry.  To date, OUT OF THE DUST remains the only one to capture the Newbery Medal.  You might also argue that honor books CARVER and THE SURRENDER TREE are one integrated narrative rather than a thematic collection, but it’s a blurry line.  Publishers Weekly: “The taut portrayal of Ha’s emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. A series of poems about English grammar offer humor and a lens into the difficulties of adjusting to a new language and customs (“Whoever invented English/ should be bitten/ by a snake”). An incisive portrait of human resilience.”

Kathi first mentioned THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING by Uma Krishnaswami on a previous thread: “WhatUma2 Girl Power Goes Global Krishnaswami has done so well is use Bollywood itself as a subtext to inform the story by using all the tropes that that particular genre offers up, including misunderstanding, missed opportunities, kismet, chaos, societal constraints, questionable taxi drivers, and in the process has created something wholly magical and entirely fresh.”  Then Monica seconded the recommendation, mentioning that the book referenced THE WESTING GAME.  Well, I looked up the reviews, looked it up on Amazon, loved the cover and the first three chapters that are available for preview, but despite being a spring title, my library never ordered this book, so I’m left scrambling to find a copy (and, yes, S&S that is an invitation to send a review copy my way!).  Publishers Weekly: “Krishnaswami perfectly captures movie-star infatuation, best-friendship, geographical displacement, and youthful determination in this exuberant blend of American tween life and Indian village culture.”

Septys2 Girl Power Goes GlobalNina nominated CHIME for the most misleading cover of the year, but my own pick for that dubious distinction is BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruth Sepetys, another strong debut novel with four starred reviews.  The cover seems to say, “Noooo!  Don’t you dare confuse me with a children’s book; I am the next Oprah’s Book Club pick where I hope to be read by thousands of middle-aged women!”  But once you get past that cover there is a beautifully written story about a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl forced, along with her family, to follow her father into Siberian exile.

They took me in my nightgown.

Thinking back–the signs were there, family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the linining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work.  My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions.  I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs.  Only later did I realize Mother and Father intended we escape.  We did not escape.

We were taken.

Wendy and Nina started this discussion on the recent nonfiction thread, but I’d like to move it over here.  I’m intrigued resau2 Girl Power Goes Globalby the eligibility issues around this one.  Of course, co-authors are eligible, and Laura Resau is eligible, but is Maria Virginia Farinango?  I don’t want to get into another full blown discussion after Ness and Valente, but check out the Expanded Defintions & Examples in the Newbery Manual, and see what you think for yourself.  I imagine this one will be getting a look from both the Newbery and Belpre committees.  Booklist: “Rooted in Farinango’s true story, the honest, first-person, present-tense narrative is occasionally detailed and repetitive, but it dramatizes the classic search for home with rare complexity and no sentimentality or easy resolutions. Virginia’s conflicts with her birth parents and her employers are heartbreaking, even as she finds a way to attend school and shape a more hopeful future. A moving, lyrical novel that will particularly resonate with teens caught between cultures.”

venka Girl Power Goes GlobalI’ve started ISLAND’S END by Padma Venkatraman a couple of times.  I’m not quite captivated by the first person present tense narrative voice yet, but the author’s note is intriguing and I like the premise of the novel.  Thirteen-year-old Uido becomes the spiritual leader of her primitive tribe on an island off the coast of India.  That understandably strains her relationship with her best friend and younger brother, but she’s got more important things to worry about, namely a destructive tsunami and intruding outsiders.  Kirkus: “Uido’s clear, intelligent, present-tense voice consistently engrosses as she pushes through doubt and loss to find the right path. The beach, jungle and cliff settings are palpable. Perhaps most important, Venkatraman never undermines the portrayed religion.”

Okay, I haven’t read AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor either, but I’m editing this based on the comments below–and okorafor1 Girl Power Goes Globalearlier on the 2012 Newbery Reading List.  Here’s what some of the reviews have said.  Kirkus: “The worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny’s biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical.”  School Library Journal: “This vividly imagined, original fantasy shows what life is like in today’s Nigeria, while it beautifully explores an alternate magical reality. Sunny must deal with cultural stereotypes, a strict father who resents her being female, and older brothers who pick on her because she’s better at soccer than they are.”

share save 171 16 Girl Power Goes Global
Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the County Schools Librarian at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at hunt_yellow@yahoo.com

Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    AKATA WITCH would have been a great one for this list, too. I didn’t particularly connect with INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN, either; anyone want to talk this one up? The characters were great, and the setting for the Vietnam part was well done, but I thought sense of place and time were lacking in the Alabama part. I probably need to reread.

  2. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve seen AKATA WITCH mentioned in the comments, but haven’t made my way to it. I assumed it was a fantasy (which it may still kind of be), but I was not aware of the Nigerian setting.

  3. Wendy says:

    Oh, it’s definitely a fantasy, along the lines of THE DARK IS RISING–just as that book takes place in “real” England, AKATA WITCH takes place in “real” Nigeria.

  4. It’s become almost a cliche to say that many verse novels are just prose stories with the lines broken up artistically on the page. For the record, I’ve loved many verse novels; OUT OF THE DUST is one of my all time favorites.

    Having said that….

    To me, INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN really DID feel like one of those “prose stories with the lines broken up artistically on the page.”

  5. Jess says:

    Inside Out didn’t impress me the way Out of the Dust did – yes, I know, we’re not supposed to compare them, but I didn’t find it that compelling in comparison to other books this year, either. I can’t put my finger on it, but I might agree with Peter’s comment about it being a verse novel that didn’t NEED to be a verse novel.

    I’ll second Akata Witch – solid fantasy world-building, solid characters, with a fresh feeling to it. I hadn’t thought to compare it to The Dark is Rising, but there are some interesting parallels!

  6. Melinda says:

    Man, I was hoping somebody would mention Akata Witch one of these days. I read it over the summer and it just blew me away, and it was driving me nuts that it wasn’t showing up in these discussions. Glad it finally made it!

  7. Brandy says:

    I really liked Inside Out and Back Again and I don’t usually enjoy verse novels. (I’m not a fan of Out of the Dust.) Maybe what Peter and Jess have said about it not needing to be a verse novel is why I prefer it? I must ponder that further. I felt Ha’s character was the most impressive thing about the novel. I found her voice to be realistic with just the right amount of snark and thought that the other characters were brought to life through her interactions with them. The Vietnam setting is also a strength of this one. I agree with Wendy that the Alabama setting was weaker but Ha’s character developed and showed more emotion in that part so I was able to overlook that when reading it the first time.

    I haven’t been able to read any of these other books because our library doesn’t have them yet. (Frustrated!)

  8. Flo Trujillo says:

    A book every library should have for their tweens.
    THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING by Uma Krishnaswami

    Our library received a wonderful presentation by author Uma Krishnaswami when the book was released this summer. It was part of the summer reading program “One World, Many Stories” and it fit so well!

    Uma’s personal touch with online and hands-on activities with the tweens made it even more exciting.

  9. Nina Lindsay says:

    While I appreciated QUEEN OF WATER and INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN for presenting cultural experiences and perspectives not often found for these readers…and for doing it with a clarity of voice and setting…. they don’t stand out to me in comparison with other titles. Both are weak on arc or plot. I do have an issue with the broken-line-prose in INSIDE OUT. I’m ok with just not calling it poetry…but even for what it is, it’s often jarring, taking me out of the voice. And with QUEEN OF WATER…which, mostly, needed some tightening…I”m ultimately unsettled by the voice/perspective. I’m not quite convinced of it. There are two agendas, each slightly different, in telling this story, and instead of balancing each other out, to me they only heighten the unreliability of this narrator. Don’t get me wrong…I believe the story. It’s an important story. But it doesn’t hold together for me either as a convincingly true fiction, or convincingly true memoir.

  10. Wendy says:

    Huh. I had basically the opposite reaction to QUEEN OF WATER–that the protagonist was so convincing and real, if no other character had come to life at all it almost wouldn’t have mattered. The way you write about it makes me wonder if your reaction would have been different if it weren’t being billed with co-authors.

  11. THE GRAND PLAN takes its inspiration from Bollywood: the MC, Dini, is obssessed with Bollywood musicals, and with one actress in particular who is central to the plot; Krishnaswami also uses an exuberant and improbable Bollywood-style structure as a frame for Dini’s story. The setting (Swapnagiri, an Indian mountain village) is evoked beautifully, but I think the third-person narrative voice really carries the day here. All of these elements seemed stronger in THE GRAND PLAN than in INSIDE OUT. I think of all the titles mentioned here that I’ve read (all but THE QUEEN OF WATER), this one has the strongest voice and the most satisfying plot, but perhaps that’s because of that intertextual framing device, which is unique to its subject matter.

  12. KT Horning says:

    Having lived in Ecuador in high school, I was very eager to read QUEEN OF WATER, but was sorely disappointed in it. Neither the voice nor the perspective rang true to me. Both seem so incredibly Western to me, and they’re way too old and worldly for the character of Virginia, especially in the beginning of the book when she is just seven years old. (Compare to the excellent way An Na portrayed a young child’s sensibilities in “A Step from Heaven.”)

    The character of La Doctorita is flat and stereotypical, and that’s unfortunate; as an educated woman living in a small town in Ecuador, she should have been so complex, even if the child didn’t understand that. (By contrast, think of the way Rita Williams-Garcia portrayed the mother in One Crazy Summer.) I got really tired of the number of times her “rolls of fat” were described as if her size were a character flaw– this for me was an example of where the Western perspective really shone through. Most Andean Indian women and men a very stout because their lungs are twice as big as Europeans’ lungs; it’s a corporeal adaptation called “barrel-chested” that has evolved over time due to the thin mountain air. So a fat woman wouldn’t have looked odd to a 7-year-old girl who had spent her life among los indios. (It’s not even very Ecuadorian point of view, because La Gorda is a term of endearment there.)

    Little things like this made me wonder just how much of this story is really from Virginia Farinango, and how many liberties Laura Resau has taken.

  13. Wendy says:

    You can read a lot about that on the author’s blog. I’m not going to get defensive about this because it’s neither my argument nor my field of expertise–I haven’t lived in Ecuador, for instance, though I’ve spent a fair amount of time in other parts of Latin America–but I would note that not only was Farinango apparently heavily involved in the book, Resau is an anthropologist, with extensive field work and travel in Latin America. Perhaps this is a difference of opinion/experiences rather than a case of “getting it wrong”. I don’t want anyone to think I’m blind to faults in the book and not accepting anything but praise, but this book certainly seems to have the proper credentials.

  14. KT Horning says:

    Laura Resau has a Masters Degree in Cultural Anthropology and has done field work in Oaxaca, Mexico. She has no particular expertise or experience in Andean cultures (quite different from the Mixtec culture she did her fieldwork in), other than her friendship with Virginia Farinango, whom she met at a community college in the U.S. While her website indicates that she traveled to Ecuador to do research for “The Queen of Water,” there is nothing to suggest that this was much more than tourist-y. I’m sure the book was written with the best of intentions, but I am not convinced that she broke out of her Western world view. My own impressions of it are more of a gut feeling — I have given it to an Anthropology professor at our university who is an expert in indigenous Andean cultures, and am waiting to hear what he thinks of it.

    I am not saying that no one can effectively write from outside their own experiences. I think that Trent Reedy did a remarkable job of this in “Words in the Dust.” Granted, I don’t know as much about Afghanistan as I do about Ecuador, but speaking as a woman, I was amazed at how well he depicted the perspective of an adolescent girl.

  15. Wendy says:

    Other readers might be interested in an in-depth interview regarding the author’s approach to writing about other cultures. http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2009/10/intersection-of-fiction-and.html

    I read THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING today and it’s one of those books where it’s difficult for me to separate my own preferences from what’s actually good, or even distinguished, about a book. I didn’t like it that much, for all the reasons that it might be called distinguished–that whole Bollywood, kismet, cheerful theme. When the movie Slumdog Millionaire came out, people complained about the same things–that the story was so unbelievable with the rags-to-riches and the kismet and the happy ending–but that was the point there, too. I can see the comparison to THE WESTING GAME–or, really, THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF LEON (I MEAN NOEL)–but the depth that makes those books really special, in my mind, isn’t there. This isn’t exactly a problem, and certainly it isn’t in the criteria, but one generalization I feel comfortable making about Newbery winners is that they always have depth. Except maybe GINGER PYE. THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING does exactly what it sets out to do–is that enough?

  16. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’d love to hear more about WORDS IN THE DUST. It’s currently listed as number 9 on the goodreads mock Newbery poll, but mostly from single first place votes, making me think it’s a grass-roots marketing campaign rather than a genuine reflection of Newbery buzz.

  17. DaNae says:

    For me THE GRAND PLAN fell short of it’s promises. I didn’t find the ground work laid very well for young readers to understand the Bollywood connection.

    Talk about cover difficulties. I’m having a hard time convincing my boys to read INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN despite the allure of the shortened text. Let’s hope the paperback art looks less like a fairy princess story.

    BETWEEN THE SHADES OF GRAY has been overwhelmingly appricated by my 5th and 6th grade Newbery readers. In a discussion about the age range of the award I told them that BTSPG may be too disturbing for some of them and they shouldn’t feel compelled to read it. All copies instantly cleared the shelves.

  18. Sam Bloom says:

    Concerning Words in the Dust… I didn’t read it myself, but as we were trying to decide on titles for our Mock one of my colleagues mentioned that she really liked it. However, she clarified her thoughts with these words (and I hope you don’t mind me quoting you in this way, Charlene!): “I’m not sure if the writing quality is as good as some of the others we’ve read, but it was an incredible, touching story.”

    It sounds like for one reader, at least, this was a book that was high on emotional impact, and maybe not so much on at least the language/style criteria.

  19. Wendy says:

    I think I would go along with that. There’s a sort of self-consciousness to the style that is offputting to me. I thought at first that the book had too many plot threads, but they come together surprisingly well. The characters of the father and the protagonist are standouts; the stepmother did not feel consistently developed to me. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending of the stepmother thread felt like a big “here’s what happened”. Overall: better than I expected, not in my top ten, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see it on the podium.

  20. KT Horning says:

    Thanks for the link, Wendy. I’m sorry to be so negative about the book — I probably approached it with expectations that were far too high, due to the setting and the fact that I have loved Resau’s earlier books, especially RED GLASS, and was sorely disappointed.

    I also think the eligibility issues, outlined above by Jonathan, would keep it out of the running.

  21. Genevieve says:

    I put this in the wrong thread — in the Tween thread, instead of this one where the book is being discussed. So, re-post, sorry!

    I think The Grand Plan to Fix Everything was one of the best books for tweens I have read this year. It is cheerful, and I liked that (being in the mood for cheerful), but I don’t think that a lack of darkness should disqualify a book from the Newbery. Far from it. The Newbery can encompass books of all types, as long as they are distinguished.

    I don’t think that an overall cheerful tone has to equal lack of depth. Dini is certainly not upbeat and happy throughout the entire book — her plans make a mess of things and embarrass people, she feels humiliated at times, she feels progressively sadder about the separation from her best friend and her feeling that they’re growing apart (common concerns for tweens, exacerbated here by the distance of thousands of miles). She is not depicted as sinking deep into gloom and depression, but I don’t think that equals lack of depth, and neither does a happy ending. I didn’t think (to compare to a previous Honor book, though I understand that the Committee can’t do that) that Dini’s feelings here were presented in less depth than the narrator of Where The Mountain Meets the Moon, though I haven’t read that since the year it came out. I definitely don’t object to books where the main character has darker experiences — Okay For Now is one of my top choices this year for the Newbery — but I also don’t think that a more joyful book is disqualified. This book appeals to a somewhat younger reader than many we have mentioned, and I support having Newbery winners and honor books that appeal to the 8-11 year olds.

    I found the setting (a tiny mountain town in India) distinguished, as it was depicted beautifully and brought the reader to that spot, monkeys in the water tank and all. I also found the plot and style distinguished – the plot brought many intricate threads together (with extreme coincidences, but that was done on purpose to emulate a Bollywood movie), and the language is considerably richer than a typical tween novel, with Dini’s language (both spoken and narrating) being close to that of her best friend Maddie but including some slightly more poetic and idiosyncratic phrasing picked up from her Indian-born parents (and perhaps some from the movies she loves). E.g. “Then she stops, as if she has only just seen Dini’s face, only just heard her voice.” “The day goes by in a flurry of no-no-no and how-can-this-be-happening.” (I don’t have the book with me, so those are from the first couple chapters I can see on Amazon – there are better examples later, I think.) Also in terms of style, Dini sees her life as a movie script and is constantly trying to rework it, and I think that works very well in the story. (or does that go under theme?)

    The interpretation of the theme/concept was well done, including all the aspects of Bollywood movies, including particularly coincidence.
    “There it is again, that thing that most people call coincidence. Lal prefers
    to think of it as kismet. Some people would say kismet means fate, but really
    it is a far more beautiful idea—it is the idea that in spite of all the obstacles,
    some things are meant to be.”

    I love how Dini notices every detail about the movies, finding more and more through rewatching, such as singing every song from Dolly’s latest movie and then later realizing that this movie, unlike all her others, has only sad songs — leading her to try to find out what has gone wrong in Dolly’s life.

  22. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Like Genevieve, I was simply in the mood for THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING. I found it charming and engaging in all respects. I appreciated the third person present tense narration, the whimsical display of language, the convoluted coincidental plot, the trappings of Bollywood. I bought it all–hook, line, and sinker. I’m not sure it rises to the very top of the heap for me, but I’m happy to have it in the conversation, and would love to hear other responses as people finish the book.

  23. Kathi Appelt says:

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I have worked in the past with Uma on the faculty at Vermont College, so I know I’m jaded, but I just want to piggyback here on what Genevieve said about GRAND PLAN, and especially to address the idea of depth.

    While it’s true that Bollywood provides an overlaying theme, the underlying theme here is friendship. Underneath the whimsy of this story is Dini’s very real need to maintain her friendship with Maddie. Dolly Singh is their connection, their hero, but Dolly is missing, the key word being “missing.” This story is one for our day–it asks us to question how much technology can do to keep friends together? Dini and Maddie have access to the internet, after all. They’re frequently in touch. But how far can “in touch” take them without being in the same physical space? As well, not only are the two girls spanning the globe, they’re spanning cultures. So the book is asking that question too–can friends survive their families’ cultural differences? They’re crossing time and space and culture. Another author could have made this heavy-handed, suggesting that there were so many things to overcome that any friendship might be on the verge of impossible. Thank goodness she didn’t go there.

    As well, Krishnaswami paints a vivid picture of her setting. The details she gives us are pungent and vivid, a fully-fledged all-five-senses engagement with the place.

    But what I think works so well above all, is the grappling that the story does with kismet. Is there coincidence? Yes. But each seemingly coincidental moment is riven with the notion that fate is at play. To a certain extent, every story has its share of coincidences. The question is always, “will the reader buy it?” or will that same reader be left going, “sure, yeah, like that would really happen.” In the case of this story, each coincidental plot point makes sense. We can see whatever reason precipitated it, and are allowed to become fully swept up into the events as they unfold, and at the same time, we’re willing to buy the idea that fate just might be interjecting itself a wee bit. If there is magic in a movie, can’t there be magic in real life? Dini is hoping so. Even the name of the place, loosely translated to “magic mountain,” suggests this, but that is also balanced with the everyday, realism of Dini’s mother’s work at the women’s clinic.

    But regardless of Dini’s knowledge of Bollywood-style magic, she is not one to stand by and let fate take its natural course; that would be out of character, yes? So, perhaps because she’s a child of two cultures, she gives fate a nudge over and over. She sets things into motion with the writing of that letter. She defies hope. Such a twelve-year-old girl kind of action. And yet, from the very beginning, she experiences those moments when “she has heard of hearts sinking” and knows that that is exactly what her heart is doing. The reader begins to feel that if Dini cannot find Dolly, then it’s highly possible that she cannot hang onto Maddie. What an amazing feat.

    Who couldn’t love a character like that? And because we do, it’s as if the whole world joins in to give her a little boost. Karma steps in. (Leading us to another whole topic of discussion).

    On top of all this, there is misunderstanding, there are issues of loyalty, there is romance, there is arranged marriage, there is tea.

    I also really, really love the idea that art, in this case film, can go a long way toward both illuminating and bridging our cultural differences. Maddie and Dini are proof.

    And while the ending is so richly satisfying, it doesn’t come with a neatly tied bow. The questions about the girls’ friendship are mollified, but not necessarily answered. We’re left wondering what fate still has in store for them, as well as for Dolly Singh.

    Does this story have depth? There is plenty of depth here.

  24. Kathi Appelt says:

    So sorry about that comma between “everyday” and “realism.” Sheesh!

  25. I loved THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING, but wasn’t sure how to articulate why it deserved to be considered here. So I’m thrilled that Genevieve and Kathi have done so with such verve. I especially loved the kismet aspect of the story. All and all, a charmer. Now to go and reread.

  26. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I appreciate the lighter, joyful nature of this book, and I find I’m gravitating more toward those this year. I just want to make sure we’re speaking the same language here. Being lighter in tone does not mean that a book lacks depth (and I’m not at all saying that Wendy implied that). When I use that word it means that I want to be able to appreciate the nuances of the book even more on the second read.

  27. Genevieve says:

    Now I need to read the book a second time, looking at all the points Kathi made about the different layers of the story. Looking forward to it!

    (and I am so, so honored to have my post mentioned by the author of Keeper!)

  28. Wendy says:

    Just finished Between Shades of Gray. I thought it was good, and mostly very vivid and well-written, but it isn’t a standout for me. It’s difficult for me to judge it objectively–like so many kids, I went through a long phase of reading everything I could find about the Holocaust, and am now oversaturated. (I know this book isn’t actually the Holocaust, but the time period and many of the elements are the same.) Martha P brought up The Endless Steppe (a similar book) in the Getting Serious post; I see what she means about “more nuanced”. BSOG feels somewhat mannered and overdone compared to other such books–the central framing device of the protagonist being an artist, for instance, felt tiresome and at times unreal to me, because it was worked into almost every scene (or so it felt). And the epilogue just struck me as cheesy and unworthy of the rest of the book. I know such things have been found, but the writing, the situation, the Dear-America-esque implication that the story is “true”–none of that worked for me.

    Comparing this book to other WWII books is the best way for me to talk about it objectively, strange as that might seem. Otherwise, with this book, with The Queen of Water, with Inside Out and Back Again, it can be difficult to form any literary criticisms–anything I say makes me feel guilty, as if I’m criticizing the experiences of the people who lived these stories (whether memoir or historical fiction). Comparing BSOG to, say, The Upstairs Room (a brilliant book that I appreciate more all the time) or The Devil’s Arithmetic gets me comparing apples and apples.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a really good book (except for the epilogue), and I’d have no objection to seeing it on either Newbery or Printz platforms. The Lithuanian culture of the deportees, especially, is splendidly described and never heavy-handed or didactic. I would love to know more about the Baltic countries.

  29. I’d like to add a word or to about the excellent cast of characters in

  30. I’d like to add a word or to about the excellent cast of characters in

  31. Sorry–(that almost was just a word or two)

    about the excellent cast of characters in THE GRAND PLAN. Aside from Dini and her family, Dolly, and Dini’s friend Maddie, there is Mr. Chickoo Dev, the potato-nosed owner of Sunny Villa Estates; his niece Priya, who clues Dini in to some of the goings-on; super-postman Lal; and Mr. Soli Dustup, desperate fillum producer. All of these characters are distinct and well-drawn, and each contributes something directly to the plot. When each of these characters comes on the scene to do his or her part, I can almost feel the plot moving toward its resolution. There is nothing wasted here. Especially not the monkeys in the rain barrel.

  32. Wendy says:

    It freaks me out when there’s proof that authors are reading this blog, but this post about The Queen of Water that speaks to some of the comments above (without naming names) will be of interest. http://lauraresau.blogspot.com/2011/10/using-my-anthropology-background-in.html

Speak Your Mind

*