Sunday, November 30, 2008

How It Was with Dooms: A True Story from Africa by Xan Hopcraft and Carol Cawthra Hopcraft

This is the most amazing book! If you are an animal lover and have ever wished you could live with wild animals, you have to read this. The book is told first person by Xan, who wasn't born yet when Dooms came to his parent's ranch in Kenya as a 3 or 4- week-old orphaned cheetah. The book is full of amazing pictures taken by Xan's mother. In fact, I love looking at the pictures so much that I'm going to buy a copy for myself. There has been some criticism of the book as glorifying the idea of keeping a wild animal as a pet, but I did some research and found an article giving the background of the book and an interview with Carol Hopcraft. Xan's father is a second-generation Kenyan who, with his wife Carol, owns a ranch where he researches and teaches sustainable farming. It's not really accurate to call Dooms a pet, because he was allowed to come and go as he liked; it's just that he never left. The book tells a beautiful and moving story of an unlikely friendship. I kept wondering how a parent could ever trust a wild animal so completely as to let their infant climb over its tail, or to lie back resting on it like I did with our dogs when I was growing up. The end is sad, of course, but it's what always has to happen when we love an animal that doesn't live as long as we do, and in the story it's handled beautifully. Review by Stacy Church

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stravaganza: City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

I was so excited to see that the fourth book in the Stravaganza series had arrived! I loved the first two books, and liked the third one. It's one of my favorite fantasy series --it's everything I love in a good fantasy: two parallel worlds and characters that travel back and forth between them, living totally separate lives in each one; great characters; and a complicated but understandable plot which reads like historical fiction even though it's clearly fantasy. I don't know what's up with this fourth book, but I can't get through it! I've read half and I've pretty much decided not to finish it, but the thing that has me confused is that other reviewers are loving it. To me, it's poorly written, and the author has to spend so much time making sure the readers understand the complicated plot history of the other 3 books that she can't seem to develop the characters or the new plot. Review by Stacy Church

An Apology

Please accept our apologies that it has been so long since our last book review post. We've been doing a lot of work on our blogs and on creating new blogs, and in the process have neglected the posting! We promise to do better.