“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes,” said the Fourth Doctor, so when Winter Storm Saturn rolled into town, I took his advice to heart:
Posts Tagged ‘fun’
I love love love BBC radio plays (recently heard Copenhagen by Michael Frayn) and lo and behold: a grand, jubilant, and charming version of The Wind in the Willows, read by British actors and set to the BBC radio orchestra. Fantastic, a new take on an old classic!
Click here for the link. Enjoy!
I was 0 for 4 in terms of my Monday Medals dark horse predictions, but congrats to all the 2013 ALA/YALSA winners! Luckily, School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books is just around the corner, and it’s another chance to sharpen my spidey-sense…but first, I must get through the first wave of BotB books that have come from the library!
So many notable titles. Shall I start with the 2013 Newbery Award winner? Or the Silbert Honors? Then again, there’s the William C. Morris award winner with the tantalizing (and genetically perplexing) tagline: Seraphina conceals a dangerous secret of her own—her half-human, half-dragon heritage.
My premonitions are as good as Trelawney’s when it comes to these things, although I was right to hedge some of my bets on Dead End in Norvelt last year! So rather than predict who will win what, I’ll just throw out some of my favorite titles that aren’t getting as much buzz, but still deserve nice shiny stickers on the cover.
In A Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz: Guts, gore, silliness, humor, and heart. The moral’s also beautifully woven into the story, not shoved down your throat.
One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath: Quirky as ever, but also happier, I liked this one even more than Everything on a Waffle because Primrose gets to be a kid and have “kid problems.” Even so, she’s quite sage when she’s not trying to help along Miss Bowzer and her Uncle Jack’s stalling romance!
The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence: Who doesn’t love a good Western-Detective-Murder Mystery that’s laugh-out-loud hilarious? Love the way our clever but oblivious narrator, PK Pinkerton, thinks.
The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats: Wonderfully researched to the last vivid detail, I adore the ever-shifting relationship between the two main characters with equally strong personalities and very different backgrounds.
“When I was a boy I wished I could fly. Out the window and over the trees….then loop the loop and up to the stars. Eventually of course, we dream other dreams. We change. We grow up. It always happens. Nothing is forever. That’s the rule. Everything ends. And so our story begins…”
Lisa and I had the thrill of catching Peter and the Starcatcher at the Brooks Atkinson theater the day it closed (we braved the cold to put our names in the ticket lottery–without success–but yay for lottery loser tickets!) Other than that the plot has something to do with Peter Pan and that the show has received rave reviews and not a few Tonys, we had no idea what to expect. Would it be a homage? A play? A musical?
As it turns out, it’s a bit of everything.
Better yet, it’s a play for children and adults in touch with their inner child. While the dialogue and the jokes zip along faster than the Wasp (commandeered by pirates, of course) in hot pursuit of the S.S. Neverland, the set and “special effects” are magically low-tech. At the start of the show, we are asked to imagine “a grown cat in flight”, but it’s not long before our imaginations are rewarded by an ordinary length of rope that morphs into a tiny cabin porthole, narrow passageways, flapping saloon doors, whatever the scene calls for, really. It was like playing pretend and having only the stuff in your garage to make your creativity soar.
The cast was flawless as well, playing their roles with panache and then melding back into the company (a precisely, synchronous unit) to bulk out two very different crews, a gang of pirates, a jungle tribe, and transformed mermaids. (Did we mention there’s only one female in the whole cast? Those mermaids, not a pretty sight.) Still, standouts include Molly, an intelligent, competitive Starcatcher-in-training who befriends three orphan boys, Mrs. Bumbrake, her fussy but neglectful nanny (played by a man, a la British pantomime), and the comic duo of Black Stache and Smee.
Like the best children’s books, this play (which is based on the book Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson) speaks to adults and kids on different levels. We were struck by the melancholy take on the Peter Pan theme–of those who grow up and the ones who don’t–especially because we’d just reread Code Name Verity, where Peter Pan has a role to play as well.
Even as the last pieces of what will become the Peter Pan mythology fall into place, the ending is bittersweet. After an adventurous, transformative journey of self-discovery and identity (literally, Peter doesn’t even get a name until the end of Act 1!), it’s the adults who determine Peter and Molly’s futures in the end. And though it’s not what they’d choose, it’s one they must and do accept, whereas I wanted their story to continue straight on till morning. But we were warned: Everything ends. New stories begin.
1. Series titles that overshadow the title of the actual book you are reading. Egregious example from 2012--WINGS OF FIRE The Dragonet Prophecy. I hate not being certain which is the title of the book and which is the title of the series!
2. Prologues that aren’t necessary. Which I think is most of them. It is hard to try to care about a prologue, knowing that in just a few pages you’ll be thrust into the actual story, and even though you may be confused (this is particularly true of action-packed prologues) you have to concentrate because there are probably Valuable Clues. I don’t mind mythological prologues about the world being created, though–they tend to be rather soothing and don’t come back to bite you.
3. Authors using words that have no place in the English language because we don’t actually need any more nouns becoming verbs thank you very much. Egregious example of 2012–a dragon “gifting” the kingdom with magic in Iron Hearted Violet, by Kelly Barnhill. The word is GAVE. Especially if you are quasi-medieval. (Please, anyone who might have a present for me, just give it to me as a gift. Don’t gift it).
Ack, but now I remember that [as you yourselves point out] I detest intrusive narrators of a particular stripe with a passionate intensity–the ones who pretend to be my friends even though I Have Never Met Them! I am no one’s dear reader, not even Megan Whalen Turner’s (not that she would). And then, after presuming on an acquaintance of just a few pages, they act like they know what I’m thinking! They don’t. My heart isn’t racing, breaking, trembling, or any of the other things they say it is. It is becoming increasingly hostile. A narrator who knows her place, however, can be tolerable. (Question: are extroverts more tolerant of intrusive narrators?)
We’re not exactly extroverts, but some intrusive narrators are okay (ie the Dear Reader in The Tale of Despereaux). And ditto on the “gifting,” though we’re sometimes guilty of being lazy like that.
After last month’s post about our personal pet peeves, we reached out to various bloggers for their input, and they responded with thoughtful lists of their own of what sets them off. The responses are quite original–no repeats yet!
Monica Edinger at Educating Alice wrote
I saw your post and have been trying to think of pet peeves. I guess the one that tops it for me isn’t really about what is in a book, but the way people keep using the term “young adult” for children’s books. There is an attitude from certain adult readers who clearly read children’s books that it “doesn’t matter” and “why make age matter” and so forth. But in my opinion it DOES matter because it is eliminating a whole group of people who are not speaking for themselves as they are not aware of the issue and won’t be until they are older. I feel so strongly that there are a particular group of books that are written for children and not teens and not older folks. That they want to read them is great, but calling them young adult to differentiate them from adult titles, but otherwise figure it doesn’t matter is wrong in my book.
Sorry to go on, but I saw a variation of this attitude in the comments to my HuffPo post about The Hobbit. So it is my top of the top pet peeve. A commenter on my earlier screed wrote perceptively that adults do this because saying they are reading a YA book is acceptable, but a children’s book would be embarrassing.
Otherwise, I’m never a fan of copycat material from something unique. For instance, I’m seeing some buzz for books using old photos as did the guy for Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The books sound so copycattish and that bugs me.
Lastly, I’m not a fan of books that are overly earnestly didactic, well-intentioned, but too clearly trying to point a moral or make a lesson.
Since it is that time of year, I thought I’d chime in with my own New Year’s resolution. I decided to pick one goal that’s very achievable. In fact, it is meant to be accomplished before spring.
For 2013, my New Year’s resolution is to read all the School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books contenders before the judging starts. Last year, I only finished 13 out of the 16 books selected, and I was catching up in between rounds. Still, I failed to get through Chime (yet it triumphed over The Cheshire Cheese Cat, sniff sniff), couldn’t bring myself to begin Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and didn’t remember most of Heart and Soul.
When March Madness rolls around, I’ll probably have to do some last-minute requesting at my local library to fulfill my 2013 resolution, but it’ll make the bracket planning, wagering, and judging process all the more fun.