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

Flashback May 2008

What I was reviewing in May 2008:
flashback 31 500x307 Flashback May 2008

Supernatural Rubber Chicken: Fowl Language by D.L. Garfinkle, illustrated by Ethan Long. From my review: The best thing about some books is the title says it all: Supernatural. Rubber. Chicken. I mean, c’mon, it doesn’t get better than that, does it? OK, twins Nate and Lisa, 10, are given the Supernatural Rubber Chicken by their older brother, surfer dude Dave. They don’t believe him when he says that the chicken has magical powers; I mean, he is a surfer dude who lives in Arizona. But then they discover that the chicken really does have powers. Not only that? He talks. Or should I say, complains. And — his name is Ed.”

The Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty. Personal copy. From my review: “Bindy Mackenzie is the most successful girl in Grade 11. She works hard, and she has the grades and the class standing to prove it. It’s not just in school that she excels; she also works three jobs. And she cares about her fellow students—why, last year Bindy held lunchtime advisory sessions! So what if her parents have moved to the city, leaving her to live with an aunt and uncle? . . . Bindy doesn’t need anyone. She does quite well by herself. So when she is forced, FORCED, into the new “Friendship and Development Project” (she notes the acronym FAD), with a group of people she has nothing in common with (they are coarse of language and not the brightest), she is upset. It is a waste of time, time spent better studying. . . . . Bindy is a makeover book, with its protagonist evolving from an isolated, arrogant, lonely teen to someone with friends and who knows how to be a friend. Along the way, a mystery or two is solved. Makeovers are tricky—we don’t really want everyone to be alike, and we don’t want to say that there’s only one right way to do things. Bindy is cautioned by her brother Anthony to not lose herself or disappear. What works is that Bindy doesn’t; Bindy is actually a pretty cool teen. What’s not cool, though, is her ingrained habit of judging everyone, and finding them wanting. And letting them know that. Why Moriarty is a genius is she takes this unlikable character and makes her lovable. You root for her, you cringe as she makes some serious missteps, you cheer her accomplishments.

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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.

Comments

  1. Eliza says:

    Oh, I discovered Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield books last summer and LOVED them. As I said somewhere else when discussing this series, what I love about her writing is the slow buildup of character and story development and how they all came together in the end. But, here’s the key to the genius of her writing, you were never frustrated while the story was building. The story and characters were strong enough to pull you along. Like you said, Bindy starts out annoying but by the end you, and the other characters find out how awesome she is. These really are character driven books. Yes, there usually is some mystery or other but it’s really just watching the characters that’s the joy. I say “watching” because Moriarty’s writing is so clear and vivid it’s like the story is playing out in front of you. Love those books.

    Each book is a stand alone. However, I love how an incident in one of the books gets mentioned in another. Not in a way that if you hadn’t read the first one, you’re missing something but in a way that’s makes the world complete and you feel like you’re a part of it. They’re usually small incidents or asides that are mentioned casually just like you’d do in a conversation with friends you’ve known for years.

    These are the perfect summer reading if anyone is putting together their summer lists.

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