Tag Archives: fiction

Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Note: I just added Part 5 of the Thieves documentary.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those stories that warms its way into your brain, makes itself comfortable, and purrs softly for decades.

A brief synposis: When dishonest sea traders kill the men of the island tribe to which young Karana belongs, her tribe is forced to sail for the mainland or die from starvation. The day to leave comes and all the natives climb aboard the ship during the midst of a terrible storm. As they are sailing away Karana looks back and, with a great shock, sees that they accidentally left her little brother on the beach. Because of the storm the ship cannot return, and so, against the protests of her family, Karana leaps into the sea and swims to her brother to stay with him. Believing that everything will still be alright, she begins to set up a new life for herself in which she will take care of her brother, but it is not to be. A few days later, a pack of wild dogs—emboldened at seeing the adults gone—attack and kill her brother, leaving her all alone on the island.
Now on her own, Karana embarks on an inward-journey of self-discovery and survival that may last the rest of her life.

One thing I love so much about stories is how we can follow a heroine through trials which only she, and she alone, can face. Yet, in her heart she conquers the things that each of us must face on our own, too.
This is Karana’s story. I was touched by her search for a sense of inner-security, of self-worth, trust, and, eventually, a desire to share her love with others.

I recommend.

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Review: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables  (Anne of Green Gables, #1)Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anne is one of the greatest literary characters of all time.

I laughed throughout the whole book. I particularly loved the scene where Anne, still a child, puts flowers in her hat on the way to church, thinking it would be beautiful. She then spent her Sunday day walking around with dilapidated buds drooping above her head. It’s something I could easily see one of my sisters doing at that age.

The voices were each unique in their own way. I thought Montgomery’s handling of Anne’s prideful refusal of Gilbert’s plea for friendship to be a wonderful way of holding out the tension until the last page of the story.

There is a fantastic, free audio recording of it on librivox.org here: http://bit.ly/l4US2f
It’s read by perhaps my favorite librivox reader, Karen Savage.

Five stars for its outstanding character and storyline!
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Review: A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two CitiesA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has many merits and few faults.

I loved the characters. Miss Pross was especially my favorite. Her introduction stuck out in my memory:

"Mr. Lorry knew Miss Pross to be very jealous, but he also knew her by this time to be, beneath the service of her eccentricity, one of those unselfish creatures–found only among women–who will, for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain, to bright hopes that never shone upon their own sombre lives. He knew enough of the world to know that there is nothing in it better than the faithful service of the heart; so rendered and so free from any mercenary taint, he had such an exalted respect for it, that in the retributive arrangements made by his own mind–we all make such arrangements, more or less– he stationed Miss Pross much nearer to the lower Angels than many ladies immeasurably better got up both by Nature and Art, who had balances at Tellson’s."

This was such a wonderful observation that it caused me to suddenly gain admiration for so many women.
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ALA Award Winners

The ALA has released its 2011 Awards List. You can find the full story on their website here.

I always look forward to reading the Newberry Award winners. This year’s winner has a great review:

Moon Over Manifest wins the 2011 Newberry Award

Review from Booklist found on Amazon’s site:
*Starred Review* After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding. With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and well-developed characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet.” Grades 5-8. –Kathleen Isaacs