Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Accomplishments

These are a few of my favorite 'first' lines read in February 2010.

Joseph fixed his eyes on the coffin and thought of silkworms.

David Case's baby brother had recently learned to walk but he wasn't what you'd call an expert.

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.

Each of us has a private Austen.

In Heaven there are 1,637 steps from my house to the Western Union.

Cleverness and bravery are absolutely necessary for good adventures.



February's Top Six:

Sweet Thursday. John Steinbeck.
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney.
A Million Shades of Gray. Cynthia Kadohata.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream. Tanya Lee Stone.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
Sweet, Hereafter. Angela Johnson.

Number of Board Books: 10

Little Scholastic: Zoo. Illustrated by Salina Yoon. 2010. [January 2010] Scholastic. 10 pages.
Silly Little Goose by Nancy Tafuri. 2010. [February 2010]. Scholastic. 13 pages.
Wow It's A Cow! By Trudy and Jay Harris. Illustrated by Paige Keiser. 2010. [January 2010] Scholastic. 16 pages.
Guess Who? A Foldout Valentine's Adventure. Lola Schaefer. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 14 pages.
Bear of My Heart by Joanne Ryder. Illustrated by Margie Moore. 2009. [December 2009] 32 pages.
Baby, I Love You by Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Sam Williams. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 30 pages.
How Do Lions Say I Love You? By Diane Muldrow. Illustrated by David Walker. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 14 pages.
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2010. [January 2010]. Scholastic. 6 pages.
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2010. [January 2010]. Scholastic. 6 pages.
Good Night, Little Bunny: A Touch and Feel Bedtime Story. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Sam Williams. 2010. [January 2010] Simon & Schuster. 12 pages.

Number of Picture Books: 18

Kitten's Spring. By Eugenie Fernandes. 2010. [February 2010] Kids Can Press. 24 pages.
C'mere, Boy! By Sharon Jennings. Illustrated by Ashley Spires. 2010. [February 2010]. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.
Mattoo, Let's Play! Irene Luxbacher. 2010. [February 2010] Kids Can Press. 32 pages.
Kiss Kiss by Selma Mandine. Translated by Michelle Williams. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 32 pages.
Chester's Back! Not a Melanie Watt Book. (By Melanie Watt) 2008. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.
Happy Belly, Happy Smile. By Rachel Isadora. 2009. [September 2009] Harcourt. 32 pages.
Don't Worry Bear. Greg Foley. 2008. [March 2008] Penguin. 32 pages.
Good Luck Bear. Greg Foley. 2009. [February 2009]. Penguin. 32 pages.
I'm A Pig. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by Holly Berry. 2005. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
Captain Small Pig. Martin Waddell. Illustrated by Susan Varley. 2010. [March 2010] Peachtree Press. 32 pages.
Doodle Bites. A Tilly and Friends Book. Polly Dunbar. 2009. [October 2009] Candlewick. 32 pages.
Good Night, Tiptoe. By Polly Dunbar. 2009. [October 2009] Candlewick. 32 pages.
Footprints On the Moon by Mark Haddon. Illustrated by Christian Birmingham. 2009. [March 2009] Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2009. [October 2009]. Scholastic. 40 pages.
Bears On Chairs. Shirley Parenteau. Illustrated by David Walker. 2009. [August 2009]. Candlewick. 32 pages.
You're Lovable To Me. Kat Yeh. Illustrated by Sue Anderson. 2009. [December 2009]. Random House. 32 pages.
We're All In The Same Boat. Zachary Shapiro. Illustrated by Jack E. Davis. 2009. Penguin. 32 pages.
Noah's Bark. Stephen Krensky. Illustrations by Roge. 2010. [April 2010] Lerner Publishing. 32 pages.

Number of Children's Books: 5

Three Little Bears Play All Day
by David Martin. Illustrated by Akemi Gutierrez. 2010. [February 2010] Candlewick. 48 pages.
The Very Little Princess. Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles. 2010. [February 2010]. 128 pages. Random House.
Cloud Tea Monkeys. By Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham. Illustrated by Juan Wijngaard. 2010. [February 2010.] Candlewick Press. 56 pages.
Morris the Moose. B. Wiseman. 1959. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
Morris Goes To School. B. Wiseman. 1970. HarperCollins. 64 pages.


Number of Middle Grade: 8

Bird by Angela Johnson. 2004. Penguin. 144 pages.
A Million Shades of Gray. Cynthia Kadohata. 2010. [January 2010] Simon & Schuster. 216 pages.
Heaven. By Angela Johnson. 1998. Simon & Schuster. 144 pages.
Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin. 2009. Little, Brown. 288 pages.
My Name is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom. Afua Cooper. 2009. Kids Can Press. 152 pages.
Looking for Red. By Angela Johnson. 2002. Simon & Schuster. 116 pages.
Kaleidoscope Eyes. Jen Bryant. 2009. Random House. 264 pages.
The Hotel Under the Sand. By Kage Baker. 2009. [July 2009] Tachyon Publications. 144 pages.


Number of YA: 8

Candor. By Pam Bachorz. 2009. [September 2009]. Egmont USA. 256 pages.
Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story. By Lisa Fiedler. 2006. Henry Holt. 256 pages.
The Sea of Trolls. Nancy Farmer. 2004. Simon & Schuster. 480 pages.
Running Man. Michael Gerard Bauer. 2008. HarperCollins. 304 pages.
Just In Case. Meg Rosoff. 2006. Random House. 250 pages.
Sweet, Hereafter. Angela Johnson. 2010. [January 2010] Simon & Schuster. 118 pages.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 2010. [March 2010]. HarperCollins. 480 pages.
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages.


Number of Adult: 6

American Rust by Philipp Meyer. 2009. Random House. 384 pages.
The Jane Austen Book Club. Karen Joy Fowler. 2004. Penguin. 288 pages.
The Counterfeit Guest. Rose Melikan. 2009 [August 2009] Simon & Schuster. 432 pages.
Cannery Row. John Steinbeck. 1945. Penguin. 208 pages.
Sweet Thursday. John Steinbeck. 1954. Penguin. 272 pages.
The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.

Number of Christian: 8

A Small Child's Book of Prayers. Illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres. 2010. [January 2010] Scholastic. 24 pages.
Sunday Is For God. By Michael McGowan. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 2010. January 2010. Random House. 40 pages.
Anything But Normal. Melody Carlson. 2010. [January 2010] Revell. 254 pages.
Your God Is Too Small. By J.B. Phillips. (1952) 2004. Simon & Schuster. 128 pages.
A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and The Sovereignty of God. John Piper. 2010. Crossway. 160 pages.
The Country House Courtship. Linore Rose Burkard. 2010. Harvest House. 287 pages.
Out With The In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill. 2010. [January 2010] Revell. 252 pages.
Abigail. Jill Eileen Smith. 2010. February 2010. Revell. 368 pages.

Number of Nonfiction: 8

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream. Tanya Lee Stone. 2009. Candlewick. 144 pages. [Paperback is coming in February 2010.]
Open The Door to Liberty! A Biography of Toussaint L'Ouverture by Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2009. [January 2009] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 80 pages.
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2009. [September 2009]. Lerner. 40 pages.
Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America
. By Jim Murphy. 2000. Scholastic. 136 pages.
Big George: How A Shy Boy Became President Washington. Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2009. [January 2009] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. By Brian Floca. 2009. [April 2009]. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages.
Pick & Shovel Poet: The Journey of Pascal D'Angelo. Jim Murphy. 2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages.
John Steinbeck (Up Close Series) By Milton Meltzer. 2008. Penguin. 208 pages.

Number of Graphic Novels: 1

Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta
. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 96 pages.

Number of Poetry: 4

The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry. Edited by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson. Foreward by Eric Carle. 2008. [November 2008]. Simon & Schuster. 175 pages.
Bear Hugs: Romantically Ridiculous Animal Rhymes. By Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Suzanne Watts. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 64 pages.
Animal Poems. By Valerie Worth. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. 2007. FSG. 48 pages.
Mother Goose's Little Treasures By Iona Opie. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. 2007. Candlewick Press. 56 pages.

Number of Short Story Collections/Anthologies: 1

Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston. 1935. HarperCollins. 336 pages.

Movies I've Reviewed: 5

Emma (2009)
Northanger Abbey (2007)
Persuasion (1995)
Persuasion (1971)
Northanger Abbey (1986)


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #9

Happy Sunday! Have you been watching the Olympics? Do you have any favorite moments you'd like to share? I enjoyed watching the figure skating. Mostly. I did get really annoyed at how little coverage some of the figure skating received. Anyone else frustrated that it took forever and a day for the ladies' figure skating to air? I don't know why the powers that be think viewers are only interested in watching the top six or top eight or whatever.

I've been spending time with Emma. Watching the new movie adaptation of Jane Austen's novel. Reading Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange. Reading Emma Brown by Charlotte Bronte and Clare Boylan. Reading The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker. It's a bit strange to be reading about so many different Emma's all at once. But it just happened to work out that way.

I'm a bit discouraged in my Tolkien reading. I didn't finish the Fellowship of the Ring in time for the readalong. And to be honest, I haven't touched it in over a week. As much as I want to read those books, I'm not finding the time to fit it in.

What I've Reviewed This Week:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 2010. [March 2010]. HarperCollins. 480 pages.
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages.
Kaleidoscope Eyes. Jen Bryant. 2009. Random House. 264 pages.
The Hotel Under the Sand. By Kage Baker. 2009. [July 2009] Tachyon Publications. 144 pages.
Cloud Tea Monkeys. By Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham. Illustrated by Juan Wijngaard. 2010. [February 2010.] Candlewick Press. 56 pages.
Morris the Moose. B. Wiseman. 1959. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
Morris Goes To School. B. Wiseman. 1970. HarperCollins. 64 pages.
Good Night, Little Bunny: A Touch and Feel Bedtime Story. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Sam Williams. 2010. [January 2010] Simon & Schuster. 12 pages.
Doodle Bites. A Tilly and Friends Book. Polly Dunbar. 2009. [October 2009] Candlewick. 32 pages.
Good Night, Tiptoe. By Polly Dunbar. 2009. [October 2009] Candlewick. 32 pages.
Footprints On the Moon by Mark Haddon. Illustrated by Christian Birmingham. 2009. [March 2009] Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Animal Poems. By Valerie Worth. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. 2007. FSG. 48 pages.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. By Brian Floca. 2009. [April 2009]. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages.
John Steinbeck (Up Close Series) By Milton Meltzer. 2008. Penguin. 208 pages.
Abigail. Jill Eileen Smith. 2010. February 2010. Revell. 368 pages.

What I'm Currently Reading:



Cosmic. Frank Cottrell Boyce. 2010. [January 2010] HarperCollins 313 pages.


Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata. 2007. Simon & Schuster. 320 pages.



Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler. 2009. [December 2009] Penguin. 256 pages.


The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran. 2010 [February 2010] Random House. 384 pages.



The Stolen Crown. Susan Higginbotham. 2010. [March 2010] SourceBooks. 400 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:



Mare's War. Tanita S. Davis. Random House. 352 pages.



Young Bess by Margaret Irwin. 1944/2010. [March 2010] SourceBooks. 400 pages.

Movies I've Reviewed:

Emma (2009)

Challenges Joined This Week:


Classics Challenge 2010

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Hotel Under the Sand (MG)


The Hotel Under the Sand. By Kage Baker. 2009. [July 2009] Tachyon Publications. 144 pages.

Cleverness and bravery are absolutely necessary for good adventures. Emma was a little girl both clever and brave, and destined--so you might think--to do well in any adventure that came her way. But the first adventure Emma had was dreadful.

Emma has lost everything. From the first readers learn,

"One day a storm came and swept away everything that Emma knew. When it had done all that, it swept away Emma too. It might have been a storm with black winds, with thunder and lightning and rising waves. It might have been a storm with terrible anger and policemen coming to the door, and strangers, hospitals, courtrooms, and nightmares. It might have been a storm with soldiers, and fire, and hiding in cellars listening to shooting overhead. There are different kinds of storms. But Emma faced the storm that swept over her, and found a way to save herself." (11-12)
Emma is definitely a survivor. She finds herself in the Dunes. A lonely and bewildering place to be. But she won't be lonely for long. Not with the magic all around. There's the ghost of a bellboy, Winston, who along with Emma uncovers the strangely magical--almost timeless--hotel that's been buried under the sand all these years. The Grand Wenlocke never had its grand opening because before the guests could arrive (but after some of the guests' belongings had arrived) it was buried under the sand by a horrible, terrible storm. And there it has remained lost in the Dune with all its treasure and secrets. And its ghost. (Never could you forget Winston once you've met him.) Now that the hotel has been discovered, uncovered, it seems to draw guests to it. Some guests are quite unusual! And here the adventure starts. But will this new adventure heal Emma?

Kage Baker's The Hotel Under the Sand is one of the finalists for this year's Andre Norton Award*.

*The full title is the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's in great company: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst; Ash by Malinda Lo; Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev; Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Library Loot: Fifth Trip in February

New Loot:

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy Watson Fights Crime by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy Watson Princess In Disguise by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy Watson Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo
Hugh and Bess by Susan Higginbotham
The Reavers by George MacDonald Fraser
The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray
Ciao Bella by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk
In The Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith
Don't Tell the Girls: A Family Memoir by Patricia Reilly Giff
Looking Back: A Book of Memories by Lois Lowry
Laura Ingalls Wilder A Biography by William Anderson
I Want To Live: The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia by Nina Lugovskaya
Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero by James Cross Giblin
The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Behind the Mask: The Life of Elizabeth I by Jane Resh Thomas
Escape from Saigon: A Vietnam War Orphan Becomes An American Boy by Andrea Warren

Leftover Loot:

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde*
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay
Ashes by Kathryn Lasky
The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker*
They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney
Beautiful: Truth's Found When Beauty's Lost by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma
Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler*
Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange*
Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis*
Cracker by Cynthia Kadohata*
Emma Brown by Clare Boylan and Charlotte Bronte*
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrove Manor by Stephanie Barron

*Indicates that I've begun reading the book

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Blue Plate Special


Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages.

"Register four is now open with no waiting," a ceiling voice booms, interrupting the Stevie Wonder tune playing over the intercom.

Wow. It's a bit surprising how wow-worthy this one is. If you're looking for something compelling, something almost impossible to put down, then you should pick this one up and give it a try. It's so well-written, so intense, so good.

Is it a little too dramatic? Well, you'll have to be the judge of that. It worked for me. And here's why it worked for me. I cared. About the characters. About the unfolding family drama. Blue Plate Special is the story of three women, three generations. Madeline (1977), Desiree (1993) and Ariel (2009). Three women who could learn a lot from each other. If they are willing to listen, to understand, to forgive. Not that forgiveness comes easy. Not that compassion does either. But each story was compelling. Each in its own way. How could I choose which narrator worked best for me? Each voice was so unique. (Especially Desiree's narrative which was written in verse.)

Relationships. Between mothers and daughters. Between boyfriends and girlfriends. Between friends. Life is complex. Relationships are complex. And sometimes you can't know what's going on behind the scenes, behind closed doors.

There were so many things done right in Blue Plate Special. It's a coming-of-age novel that authentically represents some of the harder issues of living life in an unfair world. A world where parents make mistakes too. It's a heartbreaking novel. One that could be a bit too much for some readers perhaps. But while tragic definitely comes to mind when describing this one, so does the word unforgettable.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Poetry Friday: Animal Poems


Animal Poems. By Valerie Worth. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. 2007. FSG. 48 pages.

A collection of animal poems by Valerie Worth. All sorts of animals are covered within the book, everything from cockroaches to kangaroos and snails to elephants. No animal is too large or small. Each poem is complemented with illustrations by Steve Jenkins. (And these illustrations are fantastic!)


I don't know that I have a favorite poem exactly. But I'd probably go with the one about Kangaroos. Or Bears. Or Elephants. See, it can be hard to choose just one from a collection!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Before I Fall (YA)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 2010. [March 2010]. HarperCollins. 480 pages.

They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me.

Our narrator, Sam (Samantha) Kingston, has died. But that's not the end of this story, no, it's only the beginning. Because Sam keeps reliving her last day over and over and over again. Six times Sam relives her last day--knowing that it is her last day. Will knowing change anything? Will Sam change? Can she change? Is there a way to save herself?

Sam has been given a rather unique window of opportunity. She knows things others don't. She makes new observations each time through--learns things about her friends, her classmates, things that matter.

I'll be honest. I hated Sam. I hated her friends. I thought they were awful people--just awful. Sam realizes this too. Though she realizes it a bit too late. It's only after she's died that she realizes the person she's become isn't the person she'd want to be. Sam has the opportunity to use each 'second' chance to change. Small things at first. But by the end, Sam isn't the same. Sam has learned (although it is a lesson learned the hard way) that little things do matter. Little decisions, little things, do have an impact not only on how you live your life but on other people in your life as well. The way you treat others does matter.

This one has a clever premise. One I hadn't seen before in a young adult novel. (Though, of course, dead narrators have been done before.) And the best thing about it is that the promising premise doesn't disappoint. (You know, some books have great premises but fail to carry it out.) I think Lauren Oliver did a good job. Especially with her characterization. As each layer is added to the unfolding story, it just gets better and better. A very compelling book!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kaleidoscope Eyes (MG)


Kaleidoscope Eyes. Jen Bryant. 2009. Random House. 264 pages.

If only I had known this one was a verse novel, I would have read it much sooner! I'd been looking for a good verse novel for quite a while now.

What is Kaleidoscope Eyes about? Well, the year is 1968, and our heroine, Lyza, is going through some struggling times. Her mom's gone. Her grandpa's dead. Her older sister is acting even stranger than usual. She has a hippie for a boyfriend. 'Hairy' Harry. Her father's almost always gone, always busy doing something. And it just seems like everything is coming apart. Not just with Lyza and her family, but with the world, the country, in general. But Lyza has several things going for her. She has two of the best friends a girl could have: Malcolm and Carolann. True, these friends are very different from one another. (Tall, shy, black guy and a small, hyperactive white girl.) But together these three have a great time together. Together these three are family.

One day--after reluctantly being called into service--Lyza finds something remarkable, something special, something just for her eyes. You see, her grandfather has died. And the three of them (her dad, her sister, herself) have to sort through his house, his belongings. Lyza assigns herself the attic, and what she discovers--a letter with three maps--changes her life forever. Her grandfather has given her one last gift, one last adventure, and that means everything to her.

Soon this adventure is shared between the three friends (though not with her family). This adventure will make the summer of 1968 unforgettable!

Here's a sample of one of the poems:

"Kaleidoscope Eyes"

Some nights, before I go to sleep,
I look through the lens of the
one Mom gave me

for my tenth birthday, just to see how, when I
turn the tube slowly around,
every fractured pattern that bends and splits

into a million little pieces
always come back together, to make a picture
more beautiful than the one before. (9)


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cloud Tea Monkeys


Cloud Tea Monkeys. By Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham. Illustrated by Juan Wijngaard. 2010. [February 2010.] Candlewick Press. 56 pages.

One by one, the familiar sounds of morning drew Tashi from her sleep: her mother breathing life into the fire, the hiss and crackle of the twigs as the flames caught, the whispering of the soot-blackened kettle as the water came to the boil.

Tashi's mother picks tea leaves by hand at the tea plantations. Tashi, her young daughter, accompanies her each day. As her mother and the other women of the village work all the day, Tashi slips quietly away to visit her monkey friends, to share her lunch with them. But when illness threatens--her mother's illness--Tashi must find some way to survive. Without the money earned by picking tea, how can they live? She is too young, too small to pick tea herself. At least that's what everyone believes. Can Tashi find a way?

This one is a short novel based on a centuries-old legend of tea-picking monkeys.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Up Close: John Steinbeck


John Steinbeck (Up Close Series) By Milton Meltzer. 2008. Penguin. 208 pages.

Foreword: No matter where travelers go round the world, they run into people who have read John Steinbeck. His deep understanding of human emotion, his sympathy with those who have been abused or neglected, his defense of their struggle for a decent standard of living, have made him one of our most beloved authors. So powerful was his writing that it earned him the world's highest award for literature, the Nobel Prize.

Chapter One: Salinas? Who ever heard of that place? Maybe not you, but millions of people around the world who've read the stories of John Steinbeck.


Milton Meltzer's biography of John Steinbeck is interesting. I was curious to learn more about this (relatively new-to-me) favorite, favorite author. (Last week, I reviewed Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.) And Meltzer's biography did a fairly good at job at introducing the subject. Readers get some details on his life, descriptions of his works, a quick examination of how the public responded to his works--how critics and readers alike responded to his books.

This is my first encounter with the "Up Close" series of biographies. And I still don't know quite what to think. There were things I liked about this biography. (The foreword was great. I think Milton Meltzer genuinely cared about John Steinbeck, that he did appreciate Steinbeck's work.) But there were things that bothered me as well. For example, the flow of the text, the narration. It wasn't always as smooth as I'd have liked. There were some bumpy paragraphs that didn't really fit in with what came before or after. I think one of the biggest problems I had was the insertion of general information and background material about twentieth century America. Young readers may need extra help in placing Steinbeck within a greater context. But these 'asides' interrupted the flow of the text. Perhaps if the text had been placed within a box of its own, been an 'article' or 'sidebar' within the text it would have been less awkward? I've seen this done in other biographies, other nonfiction books, so I know that it can be done in such a way.

The intended audience of this one is probably students. Those who may (or may not) have an option in reading Steinbeck or reading about Steinbeck. I do think this one would come in useful for writing about Steinbeck for various assignments.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Classics Challenge 2010


I'm so excited to be joining this challenge again! It is one of my favorites!!! It's hosted by Trish and you can read all about it here at the challenge blog. The dates for this one are April 1, 2010 through October 31, 2010.

I'm signing up for a classics feast--committing to reading six classics. I'm not sure which books I'll end up reading. I almost always create a list and then go with something completely different. But I'll be aiming to read from these authors...

Wilkie Collins
Anthony Trollope
Charlotte Bronte
Anne Bronte
George Eliot
Elizabeth Gaskell
Charles Dickens
Jane Austen

The six I've read:

1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
3. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
5. Armadale by Wilkie Collins
6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
7. Moonstone by Wilkie Collins



Bonus:


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Fourth Trip in February


I really practiced self-control this time. Once again I'm pleased that I checked out less than I turned in!

New Loot:

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay
Ashes by Kathryn Lasky
The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker
They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney
Beautiful: Truth's Found When Beauty's Lost by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma
Jane Austen's Charlotte: Her Fragment of a Last Novel Completed by Julia Barrett
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith


Leftover Loot:

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange
Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Emma Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
Cracker by Cynthia Kadohata
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
Emma Brown by Clare Boylan and Charlotte Bronte
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Today I Will Fly! By Mo Willems
I Love My New Toy by Mo Willems
Are You Ready to Play Outside by Mo Willems
There Is A Bird On Your Head by Mo Willems
My Friend Is Sad by Mo Willems
I Am Invited To A Party by Mo Willems
Pigs Make Me Sneeze by Mo Willems
Watch Me Throw The Ball by Mo Willems

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #8

Happy Sunday! Have you seen these Nebula announcements?! I was excited to see the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction. I've read Ash, Eyes Like Stars, and When You Reach Me. And I've been wanting to read Ice and Leviathan. All of the titles look interesting though!

What I've Reviewed This Week:

Running Man. Michael Gerard Bauer. 2008. HarperCollins. 304 pages.
Just In Case. Meg Rosoff. 2006. Random House. 250 pages.
Looking for Red. By Angela Johnson. 2002. Simon & Schuster. 116 pages.
Cannery Row. John Steinbeck. 1945. Penguin. 208 pages.
Sweet Thursday. John Steinbeck. 1954. Penguin. 272 pages.
My Name is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom. Afua Cooper. Kids Can Press. 152 pages.
Three Little Bears Play All Day by David Martin. Illustrated by Akemi Gutierrez. 2010. [February 2010] Candlewick. 48 pages.
We're All In The Same Boat. Zachary Shapiro. Illustrated by Jack E. Davis. 2009. Penguin. 32 pages.
Noah's Bark. Stephen Krensky. Illustrations by Roge. 2010. [April 2010] Lerner Publishing. 32 pages.
Bears On Chairs. Shirley Parenteau. Illustrated by David Walker. 2009. [August 2009]. Candlewick. 32 pages.
Don't Worry Bear. Greg Foley. 2008. [March 2008] Penguin. 32 pages.
Good Luck Bear. Greg Foley. 2009. [February 2009]. Penguin. 32 pages.
I'm A Pig. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by Holly Berry. 2005. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
Captain Small Pig. Martin Waddell. Illustrated by Susan Varley. 2010. [March 2010] Peachtree Press. 32 pages.
The Very Little Princess. Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles. 2010. [February 2010]. 128 pages. Random House.
The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.
The Country House Courtship. Linore Rose Burkard. 2010. Harvest House. 287 pages.
Out With The In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill. 2010. [January 2010] Revell. 252 pages.
Big George: How A Shy Boy Became President Washington. Anne Rockwell. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2009. [January 2009] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.
Pick & Shovel Poet: The Journey of Pascal D'Angelo. Jim Murphy. 2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages.
Mother Goose's Little Treasures By Iona Opie. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. 2007. Candlewick Press. 56 pages.
Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston. 1935. HarperCollins. 336 pages.

What I'm Currently Reading:



The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1966. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages.



Emma Brown: A Novel From the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Bronte. Clare Boylan. 2005. Penguin. 464 pages.


Before I Fall. Lauren Oliver. 2010. [March 2010] HarperCollins. 480 pages.


Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. 1939. Penguin. 619 pages.


Abigail. Jill Eileen Smith. 2010. February 2010. Revell. 368 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:



Mare's War. Tanita S. Davis. Random House. 352 pages.



Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages


Cosmic. Frank Cottrell Boyce. 2010. [January 2010] HarperCollins 313 pages.


Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler. 2009. [December 2009] Penguin. 256 pages.


The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran. 2010 [February 2010] Random House. 384 pages.


Young Bess by Margaret Irwin. 1944/2010. [March 2010] SourceBooks. 400 pages.


The Stolen Crown. Susan Higginbotham. 2010. [March 2010] SourceBooks. 400 pages.

Movies Reviewed This Week:

Northanger Abbey (2007)
Persuasion (1995)

Challenges Joined This Week:

More Steinbeck Challenge


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Very Little Princess


The Very Little Princess. Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles. 2010. [February 2010]. 128 pages. Random House.

This is a story about a girl and a doll. A brave girl and a ... well, a doll is just a doll, isn't she? Or at least that's all she was when this story began.

Zoey has never met her grandmother. It's always only been her and her mom. But. One day her mom surprises her with a trip to her grandmother's house. Hazel, the grandmother, is a bit surprised to see her daughter resurface after so many years. And while she's happy to meet her granddaughter, more than happy, she's a bit shocked as well. And that's just the beginning of the surprises in store for this family.

Princess Regina, a small three-inch china doll, has a beautiful doll house all her own. But no "servant" to go with it. She seems to remember in days long gone by that there have been several human children who were her servants. But until Zoey arrives, Princess Regina has been trapped in a way, lonely and friendless. This magical doll is only 'awakened' by tears. Why is Zoey crying? And how can Regina help? Read and see in this very imaginative, very emotional story of a family in crisis.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Looking for Red (MG)


Looking for Red. By Angela Johnson. 2002. Simon & Schuster. 116 pages.

When I was four, I could read the newspaper backward and upside down. I would stand and read the newspaper and not know I was doing it. Then suddenly everyone realized I was reading. It was something that just happened to me. It wasn't strange or anything. Magic, almost.

There is something almost raw and yet tender about Angela Johnson's Looking For Red. Our narrator, Michaela or Mike as everyone calls her, is grieving the loss of her brother, Red. Everyone is grieving. His family. His friends. (Especially his best friend, Mark, and his girl friend, Mona.) To Mike it seems almost wrong that life should go on, that a new school year should begin, that the seasons change. If it could just stay summer, she thinks, then perhaps her brother would still feel present. Part of her feels him still, sees him still.

This one is well-written and very bittersweet.

It's Red who I think of every time I pick up a book, ride my bicycle, or hear someone laugh. Everything was always him. He was always there, and we were always us. (2)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Black Moth


The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.

Prologue: Clad in his customary black and silver, with raven hair unpowdered and elaborately dressed, diamonds on his fingers and in his cravet, Hugh Tracy Clare Belmanoir, Duke of Andover, sat at the escritoire in the library of his town house, writing.

Chapter one: Chadber was the name of the host, florid of countenance, portly of person, and of manner pompous and urbane.


Loved this one. I had my doubts--I'm not sure why--but I ended up just loving it. Why did I have doubts? Well, for some reason I thought that since this was Georgette Heyer's first novel it would perhaps be clumsy or awkward. Not quite as good as the others that I've come to love. Is it her best work? Probably not. But it's good. It's fun. It's fun in a dashing kind of way.

The characters. So many to love, so many to love to hate. Jack Carstares, Earl of Wyndam, our proper hero. Richard, his younger brother with a secret. Lavinia, Richard's wife, the woman I ended up loving to hate! Tracy, Lavinia's "devil" of a brother who thinks kidnapping is the way to get your heart's desire. Diane, the lovely woman adored by two men--one a highwayman, one a kidnapper. Miles, a good friend who has always believed in his friend no matter what. And so many more!

The writing. So much to love. It's detailed, but not in a heavy way. More in a witty kind of way. Take this description of Lavinia, "She was ever thus -- not two minutes the same." For those readers who mind the details, you'll find much to appreciate! I found it richly detailed and the world depicted by Heyer was just fascinating.

This book is loosely connected with These Old Shades.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Poetry Friday: Mother Goose's Little Treasures


Mother Goose's Little Treasures By Iona Opie. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. 2007. Candlewick Press. 56 pages.

If you'd asked me I would have said I was a fan of Mother Goose. I mean, isn't Mother Goose one of those things you're supposed to like?! But I just didn't like Mother Goose's Little Treasures. Perhaps earlier books in the series might be better: My Very First Mother Goose (1996) and Here Comes Mother Goose (1999). Both of those are longer books, and they may be more substantive as well. Compiled of better known pieces I'd imagine.

This collection is supposed to be unfamiliar to readers. The point of the collection is to take us places we've never been. In the introduction, Opie writes, "The little treasures in this book are from the far edge of Mother Goose's realm; they belong to the land of More Beyond."

Here are a few examples:

Mrs Whirly sells fish,
Three ha'pence a dish.
Don't buy it,
don't buy it;
It stinks
when you fry it.



When the rain raineth
And the goose winketh,
Little knows the gosling
What the goose thinketh.


I found the rhymes in this collection to be odd for the most part. And not always odd in a charming, delightful way.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sweet Thursday


Sweet Thursday. John Steinbeck. 1954. Penguin. 272 pages.

When war came to Monterey and to Cannery Row everybody fought it more or less, in one way or another. When hostilities ceased everyone had his wounds.

Sweet Thursday is the follow-up to Cannery Row. Some characters have carried over to this new novel--some changed by time just a little, others more so, and a few not even a little bit--Doc, Mack, Hazel, and Eddie. (I don't remember if Whitey #1 and Whitey #2 were in Cannery Row or not. They're not really stand-out characters in my mind. So you probably won't see them pop up again in the review anyway.) But readers are also introduced to some new characters, some wonderfully amusing new characters: Suzy, Joseph and Mary (the man who bought Lee Chong's grocery), Fauna (Dora's older sister, the new owner of the Bear Flag), and Joe Elegant (part-time writer, part-time cook; his book was The Pi Root of Oedipus).

There is so much to love about Sweet Thursday. The characters. The humor. The story. The observations of life. The descriptions. The style itself. (Steinbeck has a way with words!)

Some days are born ugly. From the very first light they are no damn good whatever the weather, and everybody knows it. No one knows what causes this, but on such a day people resist getting out of bed and set their heels against the day. When they are finally forced out by hunger or job they find that the day is just as lousy as they knew it would be.
On such a day it is impossible to make a good cup of coffee, shoe strings break, cups leap from the shelf by themselves and shatter on the floor, children ordinarily honest tell lies, and children ordinarily good unscrew the tap handles of the gas range and lose the screws and have to be spanked. This is the day the cat chooses to have kittens and housebroken dogs wet on the parlor rug. (81)
and

The communications system on Cannery Row is mysterious to the point of magic and rapid to the speed of light. (167)

and

It's always hard to start to concentrate. The mind darts like a chicken, trying to escape thinking even though thinking is the most rewarding function of man. (40)
and

Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. (19)
and

Change may be announced by a small ache, so that you think you're catching cold. Or you may feel a disgust for something you loved yesterday. It may even take the form of a hunger that peanuts will not satisfy. Isn't overeating said to be one of the strongest symptoms of discontent? And isn't discontent the lever of change? (18)
So what is Sweet Thursday about? It's about a man grown discontented (Doc) and how his friends (Mack, Hazel, Fauna, etc) go about trying to cheer him up. Doc--after the war--is having a midlife crisis of sorts, he's trying to find new purpose in his life. But that isn't always easy. Can he get by with a little help from his friends?

Last spring I read my first Steinbeck novel, Tortilla Flat. It was a novel I just fell in love with. It had me laughing and smiling. It had me wanting more. It was "my favorite and best" Steinbeck until now. I just love, love, loved Sweet Thursday. More than Tortilla Flat. More than Cannery Row. More than Travels with Charley.

Definitely recommended!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Running Man (YA)


Running Man. Michael Gerard Bauer. 2008. HarperCollins. 304 pages.

Joseph fixed his eyes on the coffin and thought of silkworms.

Joseph is fourteen and afraid of The Running Man, a strange local man who has haunted his dreams for years now. Fear is funny like that. Sometimes you fear the wrong things. Not that The Running Man isn't strange. He is. But in all his years, Joseph has never thought about why the Running Man runs. He's never put himself in the Running Man's shoes, so to speak. But as another strange relationship develops, Joseph is learning more about himself and more about the world around him, the people around him.

It all starts with an art project. Joseph has to draw someone, anyone. And his neighbor, Caroline, hopes that he will choose her brother, Tom, to be his subject. Tom is a Vietnam veteran, a recluse these days. Joseph has heard a few strange things about Tom, though he's never seen him, so he's never given him much thought. "Over time, Tom Leyton became for Joseph an accepted unknown, like the dark interior of a house passed by every day but not entered." (7) Still, when she first approaches Joseph with the idea, well, he's not open to it. But that changes. It becomes almost a dare to him to choose Tom Leyton.

What can Joseph learn from Tom? What can Tom learn from Joseph?

This is a compelling coming-of-age story. It definitely reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mules and Men

Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston. 1935. HarperCollins. 336 pages.

As I crossed the Maitland-Eatonville township line I could see a group on the store porch. I was delighted. The town had not changed. Same love of talk and song.

I'm happy to be a part of the Classics Circuit Tour this month for The Harlem Renaissance. Be sure to visit other stops on the tour! I chose to read Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston. A book that has probably been on my bookshelf a decade. A book that needed this tour as a little extra push to get read.

Soon after reading Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, I went out and bought all the ZNH I could find. (Well, that I could find used.) I just loved it so much. But while I've reread Their Eyes several times I haven't ever gotten around to reading her other books.

What can readers find in Mules and Men? It's a collection of folklore. Stories loosely woven together with the author as a character. Zora Neale Hurston has gone back to her home state, her hometown, to "collect" some good stories, some good folklore for her new project. So it "shows" her doing just that. Talking and interacting with men and women, finding the best stories, and sharing them. It's interesting getting this insider perspective. You'll find tales and stories about anything and everything. From the ordinary to the extraordinary. Stories about God, stories about the Devil, stories about men and women working, loving, fighting, playing, etc. You'll find stories about animals and nature. You'll find trickster tales as well. Men and women getting the best of each other. It is in dialect, so some readers may find this takes some getting used to.

The book is actually in two parts. The first part covers folklore and takes place in Florida. The second part covers Hoodoo and takes place in New Orleans.

I found some of the folklore, the stories, to be interesting. Some I definitely enjoyed more than others. But because they are just stories, just little stories, the book as a whole wasn't the most compelling. The good news is that the contents of each chapter is clearly identified. So readers can find specific stories. "How the Snake Got Poison" and "How Brer Dog Lost His Beautiful Voice" and "How Jack Beat the Devil" and "Why Women Always Take Advantage of Men."


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just In Case (YA)


Just In Case. Meg Rosoff. 2006. Random House. 250 pages.

David Case's baby brother had recently learned to walk but he wasn't what you'd call an expert.

David Case has been coming undone bit by bit since the birth of his baby brother. Not that his parents have noticed. But when his baby brother nearly falls out of a window, David loses it completely. Instead of realizing that he's lucky. Lucky to have been there. Lucky to have noticed. Lucky to have stopped this tragedy in the making. He feels doomed. Hopelessly doomed. Like Fate has it in for him. Like it's just a matter of time until something horrible happens. Haunted by Fate, David Case reimagines himself. Creates a new identity. Justin Case. Maybe by "being" someone else, dressing like someone else, acting like someone else, he can outwit Fate. For example, David Case is not athletic. At all. But Justin Case? Well, he just went out for the track team. He's learning that he can be good at it too. The running. It may just enable him to run away from Fate all together. (Or can it?!)

Our narrator is very strange. And yet for some reason I found Just In Case to be a compelling read. (You can find a sample chapter here.) It's a strange book, and you might have to appreciate the strange in order to like it. But I think this one works for the right kind of reader.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Cannery Row


Cannery Row. John Steinbeck. 1945. Penguin. 208 pages.

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, "whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches," by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said "Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men," and he would have meant the same thing.

I enjoyed this John Steinbeck novel. Steinbeck certainly has a way with words, details, and images. Even if what he is describing is more ugly than beautiful. He has a way of saying it so that it matters. So that you, the reader, care. It does help that this one has a good deal of humor. Not that humor is quite the way I'd put it. (Since early on, we see a suicide or two. But still. It's Steinbeck.)


Lee Chong's grocery, while not a model of neatness, was a miracle of supply. It was small and crowded but within its single room a man could find everything he needed or wanted to live and to be happy--clothes, food, both fresh and canned, liquor, tobacco, fishing equipment, machinery, boats, cordage, caps, pork chops. You could buy at Lee Chong's a pair of slippers, a silk kimono, a quarter pint of whiskey and a cigar. You could work out combinations to fit almost any mood. The one commodity Lee Chong did not keep could be had across the lot at Dora's.
What is Cannery Row about? It's about a surprise party gone wrong. And the men (and women) who come together to make everything right again in the end. Mack and a few of his friends want to do something nice for Doc, one of the town's favorite guys. They think the best way to say that they appreciate him is by throwing him a surprise party. But since they're always down on their luck (in other words low on cash, and not trustworthy enough to extend credit to) they're a bit stumped as to how to go about it. What plan will they come up with?


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Nonfiction Monday: Pick and Shovel Poet (MG)


Pick & Shovel Poet: The Journey of Pascal D'Angelo. Jim Murphy. 2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages.

Sixteen-year-old Pascal D'Angelo leaned out from the noisy crowd and peered up the long stretch of gleaming railroad track.

Chances are you've never heard of Pascal D'Angelo. But even if you haven't, you should consider picking up this nonfiction biography by Jim Murphy. Who is Pascal D'Angelo? He was an Italian immigrant. One who wrote about his experiences. (He wrote his autobiography. And he wrote (and published) poems.) In a way, Pick and Shovel Poet is a story of immigration, poverty, and determination. It could be the story of countless individuals of the early twentieth century. Men, women, and children who risked everything they knew, they loved, for a chance for a new life, a new beginning. Most came because they thought they had a better chance of surviving in America. But just because they arrived in America safely doesn't mean that their journey is over. In a way, their hardships are just getting started.

Pick and Shovel Poet is an interesting story because of its subject. Pascal D'Angelo was a man who wanted more, needed more. Once he felt the call to be a poet, he wouldn't settle for anything else. So even though English came hard for him. Even though he was self-taught. Even though he had to struggle for every little thing in his life, he made it all mean something. He fought to keep his dream going. Rejection slip after rejection slip after rejection slip. He knew that his poems should be shared with others. This is a story about determination and courage.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Library Loot Third Trip in February


I'm pleased that I checked out less than I turned in!

New Loot:

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
Vilette by Charlotte Bronte
The Professor by Charlotte Bronte
Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange
Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Emma Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori

Leftover Loot:

Songs of Faith by Angela Johnson
Kaleidoscope Eyes by Jen Bryant
Cracker by Cynthia Kadohata
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
Emma Brown by Clare Boylan and Charlotte Bronte
A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates
No Star Too Beautiful: A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, edited by Joachim Neugroschel
John Steinbeck by Milton Meltzer
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Today I Will Fly! By Mo Willems
I Love My New Toy by Mo Willems
Are You Ready to Play Outside by Mo Willems
There Is A Bird On Your Head by Mo Willems
My Friend Is Sad by Mo Willems
I Am Invited To A Party by Mo Willems
Pigs Make Me Sneeze by Mo Willems
Watch Me Throw The Ball by Mo Willems
The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer
The Islands of the Blessed by Nancy Farmer
Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
Looking for Red by Angela Johnson
Bone by Bone by Bone by Tony Johnston

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #7

Happy Sunday! Happy Valentine's Day! Happy Cybils Day too! Are you watching the Olympics? Do you have a favorite event? I'm looking forward to the figure skating of course! I love most everything but the ice dancing. The first Olympics I remember are the 1988 ones. It was probably watching this performance that made me love, love, love figure skating in the first place.




What I've Reviewed This Week:

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2009. [September 2009]. Lerner. 40 pages.
Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America
. By Jim Murphy. 2000. Scholastic. 136 pages.
Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 96 pages.
Bear Hugs: Romantically Ridiculous Animal Rhymes. By Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Suzanne Watts. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 64 pages.
Your God Is Too Small. By J.B. Phillips. (1952) 2004. Simon & Schuster. 128 pages.
A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and The Sovereignty of God. John Piper. 2010. Crossway. 160 pages.
Anything But Normal. Melody Carlson. 2010. [January 2010] Revell. 254 pages.
American Rust by Philipp Meyer. 2009. Random House. 384 pages.
The Jane Austen Book Club. Karen Joy Fowler. 2004. Penguin. 288 pages.
The Counterfeit Guest. Rose Melikan. 2009 [August 2009] Simon & Schuster. 432 pages.
Sweet, Hereafter. Angela Johnson. 2010. [January 2010] Simon & Schuster. 118 pages.
The Sea of Trolls. Nancy Farmer. 2004. Simon & Schuster. 480 pages.
Heaven. By Angela Johnson. 1998. Simon & Schuster. 144 pages.
Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin. Little, Brown. 288 pages.
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2009. [October 2009]. Scholastic. 40 pages.
Kiss Kiss by Selma Mandine. Translated by Michelle Williams. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 32 pages.
Chester's Back! Not a Melanie Watt Book. (By Melanie Watt) 2008. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.
Happy Belly, Happy Smile. By Rachel Isadora. 2009. [September 2009] Harcourt. 32 pages.
Guess Who? A Foldout Valentine's Adventure. Lola Schaefer. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 14 pages.
Bear of My Heart by Joanne Ryder. Illustrated by Margie Moore. 2009. [December 2009] 32 pages.
Baby, I Love You by Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Sam Williams. 2009. [December 2009] Simon & Schuster. 30 pages.
How Do Lions Say I Love You? By Diane Muldrow. Illustrated by David Walker. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 14 pages.
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2010. [January 2010]. Scholastic. 6 pages.
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2010. [January 2010]. Scholastic. 6 pages.

What I'm Currently Reading:


The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.


The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1966. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages.


The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard. 2010. [January 2010] Harvest House. 287 pages.


Emma Brown: A Novel From the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Bronte. Clare Boylan. 2005. Penguin. 464 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:



Mare's War. Tanita S. Davis. Random House. 352 pages.



Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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