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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Flashback: August 2005

I’m flashing back to reviews from years past. Here is what I was reviewing in August 2005.

The Shamer’s Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol; Book 1 of the four book Shamer Chronicle. My review: “Like her mother, ten-year-old Dina is a Shamer. When a Shamer looks you in the eyes, you relive all that you have ever done that you are ashamed of; and the Shamer instantly knows these secrets. It doesn’t matter if you stole something, were mean to your brother, or angry at a teacher: if it’s something which causes you shame, the Shamer knows. With one look in your eyes. Needless to say, when people meet a Shamer, they keep their eyes down. No-one wants to voluntarily look a Shamer in the eyes. Dina finds this gift more of a curse — who wants to be friends with a Shamer?”

Tadpole’s Promise, written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross. My review: “Tadpole and Caterpillar meet, fall in love, and promise each other to never change. But, alas, time moves forward and there are some promises that cannot be kept.”

Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won The Girl by D.L. Garfinkle. My review: “Mike is a normal teen dealing with typical things: divorced parents who are dating, a popular older sister, making friends in a new school, crushes on girls. This is that hard to find book: a normal book about a normal teen, that has humor, and is perfect for both guy and girl readers. Guys will see themselves as Mike; and girls will either want to date Mike… or will start thinking about their Mike-like friend with a bit more understanding. This is an Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging for boys. I was also reminded of My-So Called Life, and pictured Mike as Brian Krakow and Gina as Angela Chase.”

Black Juice by Margo Lanagan. My review: “Black Juice reminded me of The Twilight Zone episodes. It takes you a minute to figure out what’s going on; at some point, there’s an aha moment as the puzzle pieces fall together; there’s a message; and there’s darkness. But its not the darkness of vampires or werewolves; no, its the darkness that is in our lives. The agonizing loss of a sister in Singing My Sister Down. The lady who abandons all to run away with the gypsies, told from the perspective of someone who cannot fathom why someone would do that, in My Lord’s Man. And the struggles of an orphan, excluded from society, in Yowlinin (which of all of these, is the one which would make an excellent movie.)”

The Boyfriend List (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, Ruby Oliver) by E. LockhartMy review: ”Following a panic attack, Ruby’s parents send her to a therapist. The therapist asks Ruby to write a “boyfriend list”. Which Ruby does … but she throws the rough draft away. In the school trash. Did I mention the reason this 15 year old is having panic attacks? It’s because of her boyfriend, Jackson. Or should I say exboyfriend. And her friends Kim, Cricket, and Nora. Or should I say her exfriends. And the reason why her friends won’t even talk to her? Well, let’s just say it has to do with Ruby. And a boy. Maybe Jackson. Maybe not. But now she’s the school leper. And she’s being called the school slut. (Hint: boyfriend list, draft, school trash…. I think you’ve put the pieces together.)”

Close Kin by Clare Dunkle; Book II of The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy. My review: “Seylin and Emily live in “the Hollow Kingdom,” the world of the goblins. As human Emily discovered in The Hollow Kingdom, goblins are usually horrible looking creatures. The goblins have a long and proud tradition of kidnapping and marrying elf wives. It’s why Seylin — who is a goblin — is so good looking. It’s that elf blood. The tradition ended several generations ago, after the brutal war that left the goblins triumphant and the elves extinct. But Seylin longs to find out more about the elf part of his heritage; and when Emily refuses his offer of marriage, Seylin leaves the Hollow Kingdom in search of any possible elf survivors. Emily soon follows, looking for Seylin. Both are shocked by what they find beyond the safety of the caves of the Hollow Kingdom. The Good: The goblins are ugly. Hideous. Horrible. And I love that!! I love that its what inside that counts. And I love that what is attractive in one culture is not in another. This is not a simplistic “oh he’s ugly so he’s evil” world. I love the setting that Dunkle has created. THK was a layered story; but Dunkle adds even more layers and depth here. If you want a simple fantasy, with clear examples of good and evil, this is not a book for you. Examples: the enmity between elves and goblins. The strange kidnapping/seduction of elf wives. The distrust that each race (elf, goblin, human) holds for each other. This is a fantasy world that is not a fantasy. The war scenes are short, straightforward, and brutal. I liked what is important: family, traditions, learning, acceptance. And — interesting enough in a fantasy — acceptance is not just the obvious “accept goblins even if they are ugly”, but also accepting that there is good and bad in cultures and in individuals; and accepting the reality of a situation, rather than dreams or fantasy.”

Encyclopedia Prehistorica : Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. My review: “EPD is an amazing pop up book of dinosaurs. Sometimes, Sabuda’s work is all white, which while stark, helps showcase his creations. For this dinosaur book, the dinosaurs are in full color glory. There is a lot of information about dinosaurs and the history of “dinosaur detectives.” Each page has a “big” pop up, but (as Sabuda fans know) on each page are little booklets with more pop ups. My favorite “big” pop up: The sauropod, which includes an elephant and a human to give scale to the figure that is bigger than the book. My favorite mini pop up: the allosaurus, eating another dinosaur. A must own for any dinosaur fan or pop up fan. While at library school, I had the great fortune to hear Sabuda speak about the process of how he creates his books. It was fascinating. If you ever have the chance to go to a place where he is speaking, run, don’t walk! And if you don’t have the chance, here is an interview and here is a peek into the studio.”

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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