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Thumper’s Dad (A Roundup)
Once upon a time ago, over on Heavy Medal, Jonathan very boldly (and wittily) ran a post with just a title and the cover of the book.
His point was that sometimes you just don’t have anything good to say about a book, so why say anything at all?
I’m not nearly as bold, nor are my opinions so strongly unspeakable, but today I’m aiming to be very nearly as brief with a crop of books that that just won’t go the distance.
Mackler is a previous honoree and one of those authors I will always read. This one has huge appeal; in fact, I’ve just field nominated it for BFYA. The concept is worth noting (five narrators, 4 years, so that there is a very large story encoded in very brief vignettes highlighting the ways near strangers can orbit around one another and how lives intersect), but the effect of that concept is that a lot is crammed in. I might be dismissing this too easily, though; the reviews have been largely glowing.
Another book I looked at with an eye to previous winners and honorees. This is fun; a sort of send up of superhero stories, and compulsively readable (the tagline is “X-men meets Heroes,” which probably tell you everything you need to know). It never quite hit a level that made me sit up and take notice beyond “fun;” I do find myself wondering if a second read would find more, given that there is some genre subversion happening, but it struck me as surface level subversion. More critically for the Printz conversation, this is first in a trilogy. I’ve written about this before (also here); looking at a series book against stand alone books is like putting a chapter from one book up against complete books. Too often, book one has great set up, but too much is left trailing because it’s only a piece of a larger work rather than a complete work in and of itself. Eligible? Sure. Likely to get very far? It would take a much rarer book than this.
I am 100% willing to hear how wrong I am on this one. I enjoyed it plenty, but didn’t see the brilliance several of you saw. However — and this is a Sarah-style “big but” — I bought and read this in e-copy, because I was impatient. And I think e and footnotes are a bad match, so it may be that the less than optimal format deeply affected my reading. So bring on the counter arguments; Juby is another author I love, and humor never gets the props it should, meaning this is one I would love (so much love in this tiny paragraph) to be wrong about.
Confession: I only read the beginning of this, and then jumped to the very end. Given the many many conversations about diversity and cultural appropriation we’ve all been having, I had some immediate discomfort with the Japanese setting, primarily in the shape of questions about authenticity. On the other hand, four stars and an unusual premise (well, sicklit isn’t unusual, otherwise we wouldn’t have that terrible descriptor, but the sickness depicted is one I’ve never seen in any book) have me thinking I could be convinced that this deserves another chance, so I am open to arguments about other readings or insights from those who, you know, actually have read this all the way through.
I LOVE this book. It’s heart warming and delicious and full of positive body messages. Definitely a must read, definitely deserves attention. I just don’t see it being Printz attention, although (I can ALWAYS argue both sides), it’s possible I’m doing the automatic dismissal of women’s fiction thing. I don’t think it’s that, but it’s possible. This wins on theme (the body positivity is a piece, but it’s more finding and declaring your own self, in all ways) and has a great voice, it’s just not quite top 5. But if you’ve been ignoring this, do yourself a favor and read it.
So there you have it, 5 books in roughly 500 words. Brevity, yes. Accuracy? You tell me; comments are open.
Filed under: Books to look for
About Karyn Silverman
Karyn Silverman is the High School Librarian and Educational Technology Department Chair at LREI, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (say that ten times fast!). Karyn has served on YALSA’s Quick Picks and Best Books committees and was a member of the 2009 Printz committee. She has reviewed for Kirkus and School Library Journal. She has a lot of opinions about almost everything, as long as all the things are books. Said opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, YALSA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @InfoWitch or e-mail her at karynsilverman at gmail dot com.
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