Monday, October 15, 2007

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg

Well, I had mixed feelings about this book. I was hooked on the story and the characters right from the beginning, although I don't remember any of the adults from their roles in the two previous books, Silent to the Bone and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place. After Amadeo Kaplan and his mom move from New York City to St. Malo, Florida, he strikes up a friendship with William, another oddball kid, when he spots William's mother's car at the home of an eccentric neighbor that Amadeo is fascinated by. William's mother has been hired to catalog and sell the neighbor's belongings in preparation for her move into a nursing home. The neighbor, Mrs. Zender, is the former Aida Lily Tull, the richest girl in St. Malo who went on to become an opera star. Now, at the same time this drama is unfolding, Amadeo's godfather Peter, a museum curator in NYC, is putting together an exhibit of art that was banned by the Nazis during World War II. Quite a lot of interesting information is given about Hitler and his attitude towards art. I won't begin to try to tell you how these two plots fit together. My main complaint is that in an effort to wrap up the plot, way too much is crammed into the last bit of the book, so if you read it, be prepared to slog through the last few chapters. Review by Stacy Church

Monday, October 01, 2007

What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

I love the cover of this book! I also loved the book...right up until the very end, that is. It's a story about Dinah, her older brother and baby sister who are left at home with their 21-year-old cousin Gage while a terrible storm rages outside. Dinah's parents have left (or disappeared); there's no power, and almost no food. To help get them through the long, very dark, very scary night, Gage tells a story about magical creatures called skibbereen, who turn out to be tooth fairies. The book is divided into 4 sections: Twilight, Midnight, The Witching Hour, and Dawn. The story of the skibbereen is touching and clever, and the story of Dinah and her family is suspenseful and exciting, but at the very end, even though you know why Dinah's parents left, you don't know what happened to them. And you also don't get any clues as to whether Dinah's parents have changed through the course of the book. At the beginning, you're told that they keep to themselves because they are trying to live according to the gospel. The kids aren't allowed to have friends outside the family, or watch tv or movies, or go to the mall. Unless Gregory Maguire is planning to write a sequel to this book, I don't understand how he can just drop that part of the story. It's definitely worth reading, but don't expect to gain any insight into Dinah's family. Review by Stacy Church