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
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.