Ingrid Law clearly has a savvy for writing a story so enthralling that it captures a nine year old’s attention from the very first page. My daughter would not put this book down. I was also drawn in by the pitch perfect dialogue and sweet tale of misadventure. The main character, Mibs, is part of a family where most everyone inherits a unique savvy on their 13th birthday. Think x-men meets rural mid-western family. For example, Mibs mother’s savvy is doing everything just right, while her grandmother’s was the ability to capture songs in jars. Mibs birthday plans are ruined when her dad gets in a very bad accident. The misadventure that ensues all stems from Mibs attempt to get to the hospital to save her father. This book has just the slightest hint of romance, and the emotion of worrying about a very sick father. However, there is nothing even slightly inappropriate in this book for a much younger advanced reader. This book is a great and captivating read for third graders on up.
Monthly Archives: July 2009
Inkheart is a book worth reading, even if you just read the quotes at the beginning of every chapter. Each one of those quotes is like an old love tugging on your heart. Inkheart was clearly written by a book lover for book lovers. Everyone else may enjoy the excellent tale of adventure, magic and fantasy. However, if books are one of the true joys in your life, I sense Cornelia Funke crafted this story just for you.
In case you missed the movie previews, etc., the story is an adventure about a girl named Meggie and her book repairman father who must overcome an evil character who accidentally comes to life out of a book. It is a long book (500+ pages). While the writing is excellent, it does ask the reader to stay focused for a very long time while the ‘adventure’ is not always fast paced. It also has some extremely evil characters, and deals with death, blackmail and betrayal. The youngest I would recommend this book to is an advanced 10 year old.
In addition to being a great story, this book also examines a complex idea: the concept of something we create taking on a life of its own. I was reminded of when my daughter went to pre-school and for the first time outside influences were starting to shape her mind. The author character in Inkheart was faced with a similar revelation when his ‘perfect’ characters actually come to life and turn on him. Ultimately the author is still in control…well, sort of. It is a good thing as parents that we don’t get to control our children’s whole story. It is just a little jolting sometimes when you realize that they are reading books with complex concepts that may help shape their whole lives.
I do recommend this book, but not for everyone. Inkheart is great for a more advanced reader who loves books.
City of Thieves, by David Benioff
This is a great book for an older teen-age boy who already likes to read. Set during the German siege of Leningrad during the Second World War, this novel requires some prior knowledge in order to understand the story. No explanation is given for communism, bolshevism, the Russian secret police, or why the Germans want Leningrad and how the citizens of Leningrad are managing to resist. The story is simply told as a first-person narrative of a seventeen-year-old boy who was there. He chose to stay in Leningrad when his mother and sister left even though he knew the Nazis were coming because he wanted to see what he was made of.
He gets that chance. Be warned. This book is not written for children: it is filled with horror, violence, and sex (no teen-aged boy would be interested in these topics, right?) But it is ultimately a deeply thoughtful story about endurance, courage, friendship, loyalty, caring, and true love, told with a healthy sense of the absurd. The action never lags, and the three main characters are complex and endearing.
It is a finely written and believable story. Of all the books I have read about the siege of Leningrad, this is the one I have liked the best.