Book Reviews

Thursday, June 3, 2010


by Louis Sacher

Stanley Yelnats is a teenager who's wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of sneakers. He is sent off to dig holes in a correctional facility. Once he arrives he meets a bunch of misfit boys and a vicious warden. Sacher's Newbery-award-winning book weaves one boy's story in with a much larger tale of greed, racism, outlaws and curses. It's also a great story about friendship and the odd places you sometimes find it. The book is well-written and fun to read. You know it's a great YA book when you learn something, have great discussable issues and you actually enjoyed reading it.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
by Tiffany Baker

Truly has had a rough life. She was born huge and her mother died in childbirth. Her beautiful sister gets pregnant by a selfish man named Bob Bob and Truly is left to clean up the mess. She helps raise the troubled boy while putting up with Bob Bob's insults for years. Along the way she discovers the secret of Bob Bob's grandma's herbal remedies and begins to use them to help the people around her.

Truly really grew on me (no pun intended). At first I just wanted her to stand up for herself and realize that she had a lot to offer people. But gradually I began to understand her better and see how years of being put down could break a person's spirit. I loved watching her become more comfortable and confident. The book really felt like a celebration of misfits to me. Most of the main characters had something that set them apart from "normal" people. But it was those people that the reader loves the most. Overall a good book, not great, but good.

by Ian Falconer

This delightful children's book features an energetic pig named Olivia. I love that the book uses actual pieces of art (that Olivia sees at the museum) mixed in with the cartoon drawings. The book's illustrations are done in black, white and red, which makes the well-known paintings stand out even more.

Silver Wedding
by Maeve Binchy

Desmond and Deirdre Doyle are about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Binchy's novel profiles each of the important people involved in the original wedding and the couple's three children. The groom, bride, each of the adult offspring, the best man and the maid of honor all have individual chapters telling their story.

I've always had a soft spot for Binchy. I love her character-driven tales and have read almost everything she's written. This is definitely not one of my favorites. It's a quick read with some interesting aspects, but I won't remember the characters. If you want to try her out I would recommend Evening Class, Circle of Friends or Tara Road.

The Slippery Slope
by Lemony Snicket

The 10th book in the Series of Unfortunate Events gives readers more of the same. The three orphans are still battling Count Olaf and his crew, but they have been separated from each other. Olaf has kidnapped the youngest, Sunny and the two older siblings, Violet and Klaus, are trying to rescue her. The book does a lot of rehashing of the previous books. It felt like the author was just trying stretch it out to cram more books in the series than the story needed. The only major plot advancement was the introduction of Quigley Quagmire, the third triplet who is believed dead before this book. I know I'll finish the series, because my curiosity must be satisfied, but I think the series' plot could easily have fit into 10 books.

Photo by moi.


Hannah Stoneham said...

Thank you for your review of the Binchy. My Aunt loves her work but has not read this one yet - so I think I might get it for her!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Great! I hope she likes it. Someone suggested I try her books when I was traveling in Ireland and I was hooked.

Jenners said...

Well this is a diverse collection of books. And I started the Lemony Snicket books but then gave up around book 5. I think I'll revisit them when my son is older.