Posts Tagged ‘kid lit’

15th July
2011
written by Steph
We each of us have a Harry Potter story. Now when the franchise faces another ending, this time with the films, it seems only fitting to take some time to look back on my relationship with the boy who lived.

Getting enthusiastic for Harry during the midnight launch of the final book, Deathly Hallows

I am not one of those fans who can say I grew up with Harry, because I didn't. Not really. When Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published, I was 14, but it wasn't until the age of 18 that Harry and I finally met. I was in my final year of high school, and my schedule at the time allowed for plenty of "spare" periods which I tended to spend in the library (big surprise) where I'd study and complete homework. More often than not, I'd find myself browsing in the fiction section of our school library, especially when I was meant to be completing my Algebra & Geometry homework. I was a good student, but AlGeo was my Achilles' heel and so I often spent my time reading instead of toiling away when it came up in my work pile. As I stared off into space wondering about imaginary numbers, vectors, and polar space, a paperback version of Philosopher's Stone caught my eye on one of the fiction spinners. By this time there was enough buzz about the series that I had actually heard of it and knew it was supposed to be really good. So I decided that I would give it a try and see what all the fuss was about. (more…)
26th July
2009
written by Steph

As many of you know, I stressed out over which books to take on our honeymoon vacation (I know I’m not alone in this panic that sets in when there’s an impending trip and limited space for books).  In retrospect, I need not have worried so much, as Tony & I hardly got any reading done while we were away.  I did, however, manage to squeeze in Neil Gaiman’s latest book, The Graveyard Book on the way back home in the car.  Being short of audiobooks, and not being one to get carsick, I actually read the entire thing aloud to keep Tony entertained as he drove us back from Savannah to Nashville (about an 8-hour trip).  This turned out to be a great selection for reading in the car as it was not too complicated but sufficiently action-packed to keep our attention and to keep me reading the entire time. The basic premise of the book is that when he was a baby, a stranger killed the rest of Nobody (Bod) Owens’s family.  Bod makes it to the local graveyard where the undead inhabitants agree to care for him until he is old enough to do so for himself.  In the graveyard Bod will have protection from his would-be killer, and also has restricted powers that are often limited to the graveyard’s ghostly inhabitants.  So Bod grows up in the graveyard, with two ghosts for parents, and the bulk of the novel focuses on his misadventures as he transitions from baby to boy to young man.  As the novel progresses, Bod becomes obsessed with life beyond the graveyard.  Specifically Bod wants to find the man who wanted to kill him all those years ago, before that man finds him.  Bod knows he’s still out there waiting, and only hopes that with the power of the graveyard on his side, Bod just might prevail. (more…)
5th May
2009
written by Steph
It's like Lord of the Rings... with Bunnies!

It's like Lord of the Rings... with Bunnies!

Growing up, I missed out on a lot of your typical “kid in the ‘80s/’90s” fare.  As I’ve mentioned before, while my friends were watching Ghostbusters and E.T., I was busy watching musicals from the 1950s.  I didn’t see Indiana Jones until I was 16, I first saw The Princess Bride at 18, and I still have never seen E.T.!  Watership Down is just another one of those things that I feel I should have experienced when I was a young girl, but for some reason never did.  The gap is all the more puzzling because I was a voracious reader (still am!), so while gaps in my film canon make sense, gaps in books are more embarrassing. Watership Down tells the story of a band of rabbits who set off from their idyllic warren when a young rabbit named Fiver has a premonition that danger and death is coming to the warren and the only way to save themselves is to leave.  His brother Hazel attempts to warn their Chief Rabbit, but he will not hear of leaving, and so it is up to the two brothers to convince as many of their fellow rabbits to leave as they can.  The bulk of the novel focuses on their journey from the warren at Sandleford as they make their way to the hills of Watership Down, as well as their adventures and encounters with other hostile rabbit warrens aimed at rustling up some does (foolishly, the group who set out from Sandleford only consisted of males) so that their new warren will proliferate. (more…)
11th December
2008
written by Steph
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Is there anything better to read than a Harry Potter book when one is laid up in bed sick with the flu? Not according to my immune system. For the past few days, I’ve been struggling with itchy ears, congested chest, and overall body aching so intense that my symptoms would fall well in line with some of the more choice curses found throughout the Potter series. Now is not the time to struggle with dense and delicate prose. No, instead, I need a heaping helping of adventure and fast-paced excitement. Which makes my choice of the final book in the Harry series a pretty good one, and as far as home remedies go, an enjoyable panacea as well. Warning: Do not read on if you have not finished reading the HP series. I definitely discuss plot details after the jump! (more…)
10th December
2008
written by Steph
Oooh... gilded edges!

Oooh... gilt edges!

After my last reading disaster, I decided I needed to read something that would sooth me. All of the unread books on our shelves seemed vaguely sinister, as I suffered from the whole “once bitten, twice shy” affliction of having tried a new author and it blowing up horribly in my face. I lead a busy life and do a lot of non-pleasurable reading as a graduate student, so when it comes to books I read in my limited spare time? I want to enjoy them. Sometimes I make allowances for books that are not necessarily going to make it onto my list of desert island reading if they’ve attained “classics” status, as generally in these cases even if I wouldn’t necessarily deem the reading of said books pleasurable, I can often at least appreciate the merit in those books and have a better understanding of their place in the literary canon. But having been burned, I wasn’t looking for challenge. No, I was looking for a good read that would cleanse the palate and let me venture into the wide world of books anew. I had been considering rereading Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows for some time, as it is the only book in the series that I have only read once (that day being when it was released, as I attended a midnight release party in downtown Toronto with two very good friends, and then hightailed it home because my father was driving me back down to Nashville the next day… yes, I had purposely delayed my return so as to ensure I got the UK/Canadian edition of the book.). Lately a few snippets of the plot had been swirling around in my head, and I realized that I was a bit unclear on how certain storylines/issues were tied up, and as I don’t have a penseive, I’d just have to reread the last book. But then I saw HBP sitting next to DH on the shelf, and I realized that I’d only read it twice AND that movie is due out next year, so maybe I ought to warm up to DH so I’d be in the appropriate mindset to join Harry & co. on their final quest. (more…)
23rd November
2008
written by Steph
"The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee StewartI posted a while back that I had embarked on reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco… only, the thing is, I have failed miserably at reading it. I took it with me when I went out of town, figuring that all of the flights and traveling would provide me ample opportunity to read it. When Tony’s flight was delayed from Nashville to Baltimore, I polished off about 150 pages while waiting for him at the airport. This experience was quite painful and left me wanting to stab out my eyes, because for every enjoyable mystery bit that advanced the main plotline, there would be about 25 pages of turgid, dense philosophical or historical (sometimes both) musings that had the most soporific of effects on me. Needless to say, I began trawling the little Borders shop (surprisingly well-stocked for an airport bookstore) looking for new reading material. And that is where I stumbled upon The Mysterious Benedict Society. I was intrigued by the comparison to Harry Potter (then again, I’ve been burned by such allusions before – ahem, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. One day I’ll make it past the first 30 pages!), and the price of $7 wasn’t bad either. Pair this with a 30% off coupon we got at the in-store café later in the week, and I was sold. Or rather, the book was, but you see what I’m getting at here. (more…)