Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Orphan’s Tales


Title: The Orphan’s Tales; Volume 1: the Night Garden & Volume 2: In the Cities of Coin and Spice
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Rating: 5 /5

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Summary (From Amazon):

The Orphan’s Tales; Volume 1: the Night Garden A Book of Wonders for Grown-Up Readers

Every once in a great while a book comes along that reminds us of the magic spell that stories can
cast over us–to dazzle, entertain, and enlighten. Welcome to the Arabian Nights for our time–a lush and fantastical epic guaranteed to spirit you away from the very first page….

Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history. And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars–each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered “mermaid” to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales–even, and especially, their teller. Adorned with illustrations by the legendary Michael Kaluta, Valente’s enchanting lyrical fantasy offers a breathtaking reinvention of the untold myths and dark fairy tales that shape our dreams. And just when you think you’ve come to the end, you realize the adventure has only begun….

Volume 2: In the Cities of Coin and Spice

Catherynne M. Valente enchanted readers with her spellbinding In the Night Garden. Now she continues to weave her storytelling magic in a new book of Orphan’s Tales—an epic of the fantastic and the exotic, the monstrous and mysterious, that will transport you far away from the everyday….

Her name and origins are unknown, but the endless tales inked upon this orphan’s eyelids weave a spell over all who listen to her read her secret history. And who can resist the stories she tells? From the Lake of the Dead and the City of Marrow to the artists who remain behind in a ghost city of spice, here are stories of hedgehog warriors and winged skeletons, loyal leopards and sparrow calligraphers. Nothing is too fantastic, anything can happen, but you’ll never guess what comes next in these intimately linked adventures of firebirds and djinn, singing manticores, mutilated unicorns, and women made entirely of glass and gears. Graced with the magical illustrations of Michael Kaluta, In the Cities of Coins and Spice is a book of dreams and wonders unlike any you’ve ever encountered. Open it anywhere and you will fall under its spell. For here the story never ends and the magic is only beginning….



Review:

It’s hard to talk about these books in-depth without revealing the stories contained within, because of that I shall be straight to be point as I can be with this review. I personally found each volume of this series to be wonderful and entirely enthralling. And since one of the aspects of the tales is the power a story has, with it even affecting both teller and listener, that effect is more than appropriate. But in fair warning I must mention the stories are told on several levels and not exactly linear in their telling. An example goes as follows: Story Orphan tells->Story told by character A->Story told by character B taking place an unknown amount of time ago->Story Orphan tells->Story told by character C which is another viewpoint of B’s Story, ETC. Or another way to envision it is a series of nesting dolls, each one containing and leading to another, even if it’s just another face on one of the dolls

These are not the kind of stories where you can just take things in passively. To understand the whole narrative, and in the end every fragment of these tales does creates a single narrative, you have to be able to focus. Because without focusing and paying attention the connections between the stories, which sometimes are nothing more than a simple and quickly mentioned word, could be utterly lost. But the stories, on all levels, are worth the challenge of making yourself understand the narrative. They are worth the tears, the smiles, the horror, and the disgust they call pull out of your heart. I wish you to enjoy these tales as I did, and let yourself be lost in a world where even the gods can be lost children and the one’s fate can be written on their eyes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Hug

How to Hug
Author: Maryann Macdonald
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Christi

 
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Summary: The reader is invited to consider some things about when, who, and how to hug and also advised to be prepared to receive one in return.

Review: It’s amazing what a hug can do! With wonderful illustrations the author gives this adorable book just the right amount of charm. It’s a sweet storytime book for preschoolers & toddlers. This hug guidebook would be a great gift for holidays or even just because.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesdays at the Castle

Tuesdays at the Castle
Author: Jessica Day George
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece

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Summary: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays, the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book, from a fan and bookseller favorite, kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

Review: Celie loves Castle Glower and the castle loves her back. She knows the ins and outs and ups and downs. She loves the changing passages and new rooms that it builds and when it wants her to do something it creates a new door for her to go through. All of this comes in handy when her father and mother are presumed dead and her brother, Rolf is to be crowned king but at the same time become a puppet to the council and Khelsh, a foreign prince who will stop at nothing to take control of the castle. 

Overall, this is a wonderful story that was way more thrilling than I could have imagined. The changes in the castle and the changes in the people within the castle make this for a fast paced read that leaves you wanting more and more with each turn of the page.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chalk

Chalk
Author: Bill Thomson
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Sue

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Summary: This wonderful book is about three children who find a bag of magical chalk at the playground on a rainy day.  Their drawings come to life, which seems great when a drawing of the sun stops the rain, but is scary when a dinosaur stalks them!

Review: The realistic illustrations tell the story in this wordless book.  All you need is a little imagination and the breathtakingly real illustrations, and you are set for a real adventure!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Welcome to Moonhaven

Welcome to Moonhaven
Author: Annie Auerbach
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Helen

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Summary: This is from the creators of Ice Age and Rio and it tells the story of a hidden civilization. The battle between good and evil is being fought until a teenage girl is transported into the forest kingdom to help save their world as well as ours.

Review: Moonhaven is a beautiful city deep in the woods and is home to Jinn, amazing forest creatures as tall as a blade of grass. They are brave warriors trying to protect their world from the Boggans, who want to destroy all growing things. The book is merely twenty-seven pages, but beautifully illustrated with full color artwork.  Any child will love the visuals and the story of this sweet little book.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mustache Baby

Mustache Baby
Author: Bridget Heos
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise Z.

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Summary: A picture book about baby Billy, who is born with a mustache, and his parents, who must figure out if it’s a Good-Guy mustache, or a Bad-Guy mustache.

Review: This is the sweetest and funniest children’s picture book I’ve read in a while. It is also perfect for storytime. The cute and silly illustrations will keep young readers interested. Billy’s imagination makes the story fun and introduces different characterizations and draws suspense onto whether his mustache is a good-guy or bad-guy mustache. Who knew such a wonderful story could be based on a mustache! The ending is quite funny too!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wonder

Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Leslie

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Summary: Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.
 
Review: I just loved this book and am still thinking about it days after I’ve finished reading it. It is a great read for ages 9 and up to adults because it gives us all a look into the perspective of someone who was born looking differently but is still a person with feelings just the same. I think it is a good lesson for adults just as much as kids about empathy and loyalty and that a simple kind gesture can mean the world to another person. It is great for kids who may feel pressured by their peers as well to be unkind in order to be “cool” and just the pressures of fitting in in middle school.