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

Flashback June 2006

A flashback to what I was reviewing in June 2006:

Poetry Friday: The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith. From my review: “Penny is the understudy in the school play and when her big moment comes — they end up cancelling the play. When she gets her first kiss — she faints.But it’s also serious, as she tries to figure out who she is, what she wants, and whether to stay or go. Penny looks to her older sister for guidance, but her sister is busy, so Penny watches, trying to pick up cues about what it means to have a boy fall in love with you. Penny also falls for the boy; and whether it’s because she loves him, is competing with her sister, or just following the steps her sister left is unclear.”

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull. From my review: “Teen celebrity runs away to an anonymous, working class world, finds love, acceptance, and herself. . . . .[This] answer[s] the question, what if Britney/Lindsay wanted out?

The Red Judge by Pauline Fisk. From my review: “Zachary/Zed Fitztalbot feels responsible for his older sister’s accident; and his father also blames him, and dumps him at the abandoned house of his recently deceased grandmother. It’s unclear how much of the next week or so Zed dreams, imagines, or is real; Welsh myth and legends come to life, reality changes, as Zed confronts his own guilt about his sister, his failure to fit into the Fitztalbot family, and questions about his own past.”

Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers. From my review: “Starts with a quick intro of people and plot; which was just as well because somehow I missed the 3rd in this series. Basically, refugee Fables (Pinocchio, Rose Red, Prince Charming) have been living among us in Fabletown, in Manhattan, having fled their magical homelands because of the mysterious Adversary, who hunted and killed the Fables. This series is about the Fables as they live in exile. This is not a cute retelling; it’s dark & gritty.”

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. From my review: “Evil governesses, stolen fortunes, prison like boarding school, escape, shipwrecks, poor & sickly Aunts, brave kids, orphans, last-minute surprises, kindly people, mean people, food, funny names, secret passages, grand houses, poverty, and of course wolves; it has it all.”

Sir Thursday by Garth Nix, Series: The Keys of the Kingdom. From my review: “Why Garth Nix is fabulous: he’s created 2 alternate worlds and, through all the books, remains consistent. The worlds do not contradict their rules; the realities make sense; and they are incredibly complex and layered. Nix has to keep track of a lot of things and I wonder if he has a “bible” with lists and rules and maps and the like. Because I cannot believe he can keep this all straight in his head. The world of Keys to the Kingdom is just too dense, too intricate. What is also interesting is that in Book 1, I thought Arthur was of “our” world, going into the “other” world. But as details of Arthur’s world emerge, I realize his Earth is not our Earth. (Truth be told, there may have been details that revealed this earlier which I just thought were Australian things rather than otherworld things.) Not only do I wonder about Arthur’s actual origins, but now I wonder about Emily, his mother, who seems a bit too quick on the pick up when dealing with Denizen-inspired disease.”

Permanent Rose by Hilary McKay. From my review: “How much do I love McKay’s writing? I almost want to go right now to the bookstore and buy everything she has written, because it’s the type of writing that is enjoyed so much it must be owned. Love the Cassons; love that even Bill, who I should hate, I just forgive. I love the messy, untidy, loving family that should be dysfunctional but isn’t. And how McKay does make so much of the every day things of life, turning the normal into adventure.

Woof Woof by David A. Carter. From my review: “See a shape; guess what it is; turn the page and find out if you’re right. Watch as the shapes take form. This appears to be a simple story; but it has more layers than that. It requires thought and input from the reader, making this an active book, rather than a passive story. To look at just the words would result in missing the point of the book.

March by Geraldine Brooks. From my review:  “It’s 1861, and March is an Army Chaplain for the Union. He tells not only of his wartime experience, but also thinks back on different times in his life: as a wandering tinker in the South 20 years before, meeting his wife, raising his four daughters . . . . What I liked about March: as historical fiction, it’s almost perfect. Brooks has done her research; no “it’s fiction so I can make up whatever I want” to be found here. She researches her time, her place, and both the March and Alcott families. (Do I even have to tell my readers that the March family was based on Louisa May Alcott’s family?) Most importantly, Brooks never has March or any other character be a modern person set down in the past. March, Marmee, and the others remain, at all times, people of their time period; progressive in some areas, even ahead of their time, perhaps, but never with a 21st century mindset. One thing that remains is snobbism and classism that most historical fiction books like to either ignore, or to have their characters realize and change. . . . ” And then my explanation of why I hate March, the character.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. From my review: “Helen panics when a boy notices her in school. It’s been a while since someone has looked at her and truly seen her. Not since she’s been dead. Helen is a ghost; and humans don’t see ghosts. But this one sees her. Helen discovers that it’s another ghost who can see her; and that James has found a way to inhabit a human body, Billy. Helen has a second chance at living — and at love — if she, too, can find a body. Jenny seems not to care about life, so Helen slips in and becomes her.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka. From my review: “The nameless narrator visits her grandparents. The “hello, goodbye” window is the kitchen window. When coming to visit, it’s the Hello Window; when leaving, the Goodbye Window.”

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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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