I went through a summer children’s and YA binge during my blogging break. These books did not take long to read, and I read them for the pure entertainment value. They also are not ones that I’ll remember for long, although they were enjoyable. It may be that I am not thinking much of them because I was in a not-thinking-much mood; after all, these were my breaks from Victorian literature.
If you are looking for a light fantasy read to fit a craving, maybe one of these will bit the bill.
I share brief thoughts below on the following books:
- Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- The BFG by Roald Dahl
- Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
- The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Book of Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Six-Word Review: En-towered ladies’ maid falls for prince.
A Little More: Lady Saren refused to marry to man her father wished her to marry and so he locked her and her maid Dashti in a tower for seven years as punishment. When Lady Saren’s lover, a prince from another kingdom, comes to visit them at the tower, Saren shys away and insists that Dashti, as Lady Saren, be the one to talk to him. In Dashti’s diary of this and subsequent events, we read of class differences, romance, bravery, and sincerity. I found it an entertaining story, and Ms Hale much improved the original Brother’s Grimm story.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Six-Word Review: Dog helps girl make new friends.
A Little More: The dog that Opal found in the grocery store seems almost magical: he can smile and laugh, he is friendly with everyone, and he is just what she needs. During Opal’s first summer in her new small town, the dog’s magical personality helps her heal from the pain of her mother’s abandonment and learn how to be a friend to others. It was a sweet story and a very quick read. It’s not one that will stay with me forever, but a kid would probably like it much more than I did.
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Six-Word Review: Friendly giant helps Sophie save world.
A Little More: Sophie is rightly scared when she is dragged from her bedroom in the middle of the night by a giant, but she soon finds that he is a BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and she has nothing to fear from this dreaming-giving giant. When she finds that other giants are eating people around the world, she convinces the BFG that they must take matters into their own hands and save the world. Although part nightmare, it also is partly a delightful dream of a child’s success, from a hilarious scene of whizzpopping to tea with the Queen of England. The BFG reminded me a dream as it rambled from one strange thing to another, ending with everything good. It reminded me of what I knew as a child, that Roald Dahl truly is a master of story-telling. It was certainly time as an adult to revisit his stories. Which should I read (or reread) next.
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Six-Word Review: Tally escapes and is captured – again.
A Little More: Teenaged Tally has been made a pretty – yet she feels there is something important that she has forgotten. When she is reminded of what it means to have been made “pretty,” the horror of the truth motivates her to escape so she can be cured. Unlike the first book in the trilogy (Uglies, reviewed last summer), Pretties felt repetitive, superficial, and unsatisfying. The love triangle, the characters, and the dystopian setting didn’t have a richness that Uglies seemed to provide, and finishing it was a let down, for nothing seemed resolved; from the bits I’ve skimmed of the final book (Specials), it seems like more of the same. I don’t feel any interest in continuing the series.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Six-Word Review: Displaced princess befriends geese and wind.
A Little More: Ani was born Crown Princess, but upon her sixteenth birthday finds she must marry a prince in a foreign kingdom in order to keep the peace. On the way to the distant Bayern, her lady-in-waiting usurps her title and Ani flees for her life. As she tends the king’s geese, she learns to speak with nature. In many respects this book was very similar to Hale’s later A Book of a Thousand Days (which I read first) in terms of mistaken identity, fairy tale-like magic, an “inadequate” princess, and so forth. Yet, I liked it far more: there was something in Hale’s telling that made The Goose Girl a delicious treat to devour. I saved the best for last. Highly recommended.
I had a similar problem with Pretties. I enjoyed Uglies, but have just finished Pretties and wasn’t keen on it at all. It felt dull compared to Uglies 🙁
Jackie, I’m glad I am not alone in being a little disappointed!
I love The BFG! We went through quite a number of Roald Dahl’s at school and they’re some of the most memorable stories for me.
Charlie, I never read BFG as a child — never even heard of it — but I’ve enjoyed many other Dahl novels. I look forward to revisiting them.
What perfect summer reading! I love Shannon Hale. The Goose Girl is my favorite of hers. I also loved Princess Academy.
Shelley, I think The Goose Girl was one of my favorites from this list! I’ll have to try Hale’s other when I’m in a light-hearted mood again.
You’ve made me want to go on a Roald Dahl kick now! I adored his slightly dark sense of humor as a child… I think that since you’re a reader, you should read Matilda next! That one’s so lovely! Also, The Witches was another one of my favorites as a girl.
Steph, I really liked Dahl when I was a child, but hadn’t read BFG then. And now I want to go back and reread. I can’t remember if I’ve read Matilda (although I dimly remember a movie) so I’ll have to find it next! Thanks for the rec.
I did read Specials but didn’t like it much. And Pretties was annoying with all the “pretty talk.” So I totally agree with your review of this series!
rhapsodyinbooks, ah, too bad. I was hoping someone would jump in and say it’s worth it and original or something. That’s the problem with series books — the sequels never seem to add up for me…
Pretties drove me nuts, but I stuck with it and actually read the rest of the series and enjoyed them. The way they talked, though, I don’t think I could ever reread Pretties. Once was quite enough!
I am actually going through and reading Roald Dahl myself. I discovered I hadn’t read as many of his books as I had thought, so I am going to go through the library and see what I can read. I enjoyed both of the Shannon Hale books, but was disappointed with Enna Burning, the sequel to Goose Girl. I still haven’t read River Secrets and the bookstore doesn’t even have book four. I agree with you on Because of Winn-Dixie, too. I liked it well enough, but probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I was a kid when I read it.
I purchased Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days a couple of months ago and glad you liked it! Didn’t realize it was Maid Maleen. I really liked Hale’s Princess Academy. Will read Goose Girl in the future because you recommend! 😀