Sunday, September 7, 2008

Harriet M. Welsch: SPY

As a kid growing up in the burbs, with not much activities going around, it's a common thing that you know pretty much what's going around in your neighborhood. And that's when I'll remember that somehow, there's a bit of Harriet in me. Yes. The famous (and controversial) Harriet the Spy written by Miss Louise Fitzhugh in the 60s. Harriet wants to be a spy. She always carries this notebook where she writes every little thing that happens in her neighborhood. She also writes about her opinion of some people, even if it's not really nice. She even writes about her friends and diss them too.

Everything turned sour though after her friends found out about the notebook and wrote the things she have written on it. They were embarassed and upset by what they've read and so the sixth-grade class formed a club to get back at her. Of course Hariett has to get back. She also retaliated but after being sent to the shrink and losing Ole Golly, Harriet learned how to value friendship, while struggling with her own identity. This is a book that I will definitely want my future grandkids to read to. We all have something to learn from it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thirteen Reasons Why

While I never really agree and supports suicide at all as a reason to take someone's life, I do accept the fact that sometimes, there are really some people who resorts to this kind of thing. I cannot judge them at all because firstly, I don't know them personally enough to judge their whole lifetime of one act and second, even if I will never agree with it, to some, Suicide is the only answer now. Why am I even talking about this? Over the weekend, I've read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. A book that emphasizes some of the signs of impending suicide and a teenager's tale of how she ended up doing what she did.

Before Hannah Baker committed suicide, she recorded on casette tapes the reasons why she was killing herself. She then sent these tapes to the first perosn on the list, and then has to deliver the tapes on the next person on the list after listening to it. The book alternates between Hannah dictating her story and Clay (who received all the tapes two weeks after Hannah's suicide) the ninth person in the story. You may wonder why Clay but you will get the answer when you read the book. The author kinds of tells us that one's words and actions have consequences to another person. There are no meaningless act and we all play a teeny tiny part in everyone's lives. It's a wonderful read I suppose that every teenager must read.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Judy Blume books are always a winner. I dunno. Maybe I'm a bit biased about it because I grew up reading her novels. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first among the Fudge series that came out in the 70s. It follows the life of Peter Hatcher, his little brother Fudgie, baby sister Tootsie, their neighbor Sheila Tubman, different pets and other characters across New York City and adventures in camps and suburbs.

This is more of a daily account in Peter's life and dealing with his uber-cute brother, Fudge. Despite the cuteness though, Fudge is the cause of all Peter's problems. He messes up with Peter's things including his homeworks, ate his turtle pet, throws tantrums in store among many other more things. I understand that Peter is jealous of all the attention that his little brother is getting but that's the reason why I love Judy Blume. She makes every novel very entertaining, knows her audience well and has an immense talent in making it look like it's really the character's point of view she's talking about.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Hundred Dresses

This is a pretty simple story that kids will easily understand (and hopefully get the lesson too). Wanda Petronski is a Polish girl who lives with her father and brother in the bad part of a small town. She wears the same faded blue dress everyday to school. It's clean but you know that it's really quite old and haven't been properly ironed for a long time. When her classmate Cecille one day told everyone that she has a new red dress, Wanda turns to her neighbor Peggy and told her that she got hundreds of dresses in her closet.

We all clearly know what probably happened next. But there's another important character in this story as well: Maddie. A silent girl who simply stands there each day Peggy asks Wanda about her hundred dresses. Maddie feels bad about Wanda but she doesn't necessarily speak about it. Turns out that the dresses she's telling Peggy were all drawn by her. But it was too late, as the Polack family has moved to another town.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tuck Everlasting

The first week in August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning."

If you have a chance with forever what would you do? This is probably how I will summarize Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting. A novel for those who thinks that living forever to be a good and exciting idea. It's a story about 10-year-old Winnie Foster stumbling upon the spring of life while exploring the woods. She met Jesse Tuck where she got intrigued with the unusual life he lives with his parents. The Tuck family was the only one who knows it, until Winnie came along.

Winnie got kidnapped and along the way helped a murderer out of jail. When she was offered the ultimate gift she finds that she doesn't know whether to accept or not. I really loved the part where the author makes us realize that there is a natural cycle of life and we shouldn't really interfere with this idea by escaping or avoiding the idea of death. It's a good fantasy story with interesting adventures that readers will surely like.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Here is one book of Patricia MacLachlan that I particularly enjoyed and realy loved. I guess the awards and honors it gathered throughout the years are enough proof that it was well-loved and well-received. It is about widower Jacob Whitting, his children, Anna and Calab and their quest to fill the emptiness left by their wife and mother who just died. So Jacob posted an ad in the paper seeking for a wife and got a response from a certain Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine. After numerous correspondence with each other, Sarah decided to go to the Whitting's prairie home.

Of course there were adjustments upon Sarah's arrival. Questions were flying such as "can she really fill in their mother's shoes?" or "can Sarah get used to living in the farm away from the ocean far away from her loved ones?" It is a warm story of people that are learning to live with each other and becoming a family in the end simply because they've grown to love each other. In the author's simple language, she gave us vivid images and meaningful story.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Am The Cheese

This is the type of book that I will definitely would want to recommend to everybody written by Chocolate Wars author, Robert Cormier. It tells of Adam's story and his quest to find his father after finding out that his family is part of a witness protection program. His parents has been keeping secrets from him all these years. As he struggles to determine who he is, he is faced with a terrifying truth of a government more willing to protect its own power than protecting life.

This is quite a psychological and suspenseful book that became controversial in earlier times. The story is told through flashbacks in some chapters but at the beginning we are informed that Adam is riding his bicycle all throughout. This is a very engaging and gripping novel that made me really think because it is unlike other young adult's literature books. I guess with the funny title some people didn't really thought it could be a good read but if you read the book you will find out why.