27 June 2008

23. The Invention of Hugo Cabret

It’s official! Caldecott Award books are not just for young children anymore. This year’s winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick is over 500 pages while most Caldecott winners average only 40 pages. And this is not the only unusual aspect of this year’s winner. The work is a unique mix of words and illustrations that feel much like a black and white movie. On Amazon the author writes, “I’ve used the lessons I learned from Remy Charlip [his favorite childhood author and illustrator] and other masters of the picture book to create something that is not a exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things.” You almost have to see it to believe it.

Here is a sample of the illustrations. This is one illustration that the author did not include in the final edition of the book, but shows the intricate details to be found in the book. The story is about a twelve year old boy, Hugo Cabret, who lives alone in the walls of a Parisian train station. He tends to the clocks in the station while working to repair a mechanical man his father found in an old museum warehouse. Through this quest, the young boy gets involved with an old man and a young girl. You will have to read and see the book to learn the rest. Because so much of the story is told through pictures, this is a quick read and open to pure imaginations! I loved it!

The author's website dedicated to this book is wonderful with all sorts of magical properties.

TITLE: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
AUTHOR: Brian Selznik
PAGES: 544
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Caldecott Winner, delightfully different


22. Emma

Jane Austen was thirty nine years old when Emma was published. She died only a year and a half later. During her lifetime, she only earned 40 pounds for this remarkable work of literature. At the Prince Regent’s request, Austen dedicated her book to him.
Emma is a comedy of manners and romance. The title character Emma Woodhouse lives happily, and highly, with her father. She is certain that she has a gift for matchmaking until she finds her instincts at complete odds with reality. As she continues to find a mate for her friend, she maintains that she will never marry. Austen is brilliant in her descriptions of the people with whom Emma interacts. It seems that the reader knows each person, their faults and what makes them dear. Emma finds that she has misjudged and misguided a number of her friends. In the end, everyone is happy except for the reader who wishes the story would continue on and on.

AUTHOR: Jane Austen
PAGES: 304
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Another wonderful classic, everyone should read


25 June 2008

Tuesday Thingers

The question asked this week is what is the least favorite book in your library - not as in the one you liked the least, but the one that is least cataloged by other Library Thingers. In my case, it is one of my favorite childhood books. The title is Miss Jellytots Visit which was published in 1955 and only listed by four other people.

True confession time - this is the only book that never got returned to my local library - please do not send out the library police! When we were kids, we used to go up to the local grocery store where the book mobile came every Thursday afternoon. I can vividly remember riding our bikes up there to check out books. For some reason, this book never got returned and I did not see it again until years later. I kept meaning to take it back, but it just never happened. After four children and many years, it has turned up again in my book stacks. Maybe one day I will take it back to the library, but I have grown rather attached. I have donated many books to the public library, so maybe that makes up for my "book sin" - one can only hope.

As for the book, I haven't read it in many years. Seems that my only daughter read it but thought it was too old fashioned. The story centers on one family whose mother always prepares the spare bedroom for their guests and makes jelly tots as a treat for them. The little girl in the family wants to be treated the same way. The mother and father make a deal that the daughter can "visit" as a guest to the family, but she must act and dress like her mother's friends. The "visit" is very funny as the daughter tries to act grown up. She must think about her decision when her own friend comes by to ask her to come see his new puppies. Of course, Miss Jellytot would not be interested in puppies, while the young girl wants desperately to do see them. The story ends with the young girl realizing that it is better to just be who you are. I read this book over and over!

17 June 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's Question: What's the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it? What's the most popular book you don't have? How does a book's popularity figure into your decisions about what to read?

The most popular book in my library is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have read it many, many times. I think it was the first Austen novel that I ever read and I fell in love with it. I also read Sense and Sensibility which I liked almost as much. Then instead of reading other works by Miss Austen, I reread these two over and over. Interestingly enough, after my book club chose and read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, who wrote similarly to Austen, I decided to go back and read some of Austen's other works. In a great convergence of the stars, I noticed a link to DailyLit on a Tuesday Thinger post and visited and started Emma which I have just completed and hope to post a review later today.

Without looking, I am sure that the most popular books that I do not have are the Harry Potter books. My children have read them all, but I just could not get into it, then I saw the movies and (knowing better) thought, What's the point? Almost always, the book is better than the movie, so I should have pushed forward.

I am a fairly equal opportunity reader - I will read almost anything. If I am concerned that I will not like a book, I usually look for reviews in hopes of bolstering my intent to like it. However, even if all of the reviews are negative, I will still continue with my reading and usually complete the book. So I guess I am not really guided by rankings. If I really like a book, I am always amazed at the reviews of others - things I missed, things I did not care about, things I loved that others did not include. Really, I guess for me, what other people think about books is just more reading!

The librarian in me thinks the most wonderful thing about books is that there is a book out there for everyone and a person for every book. Working in an academic library in Circulation (previous job), we used to love to see what people were checking out and thought, Isn't it wonderful that someone out there cares about the dotted snail enough to check out three books on them? And who knew there were three books to begin with? No offense to snail lovers, btw!

Have a great Tuesday!

10 June 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Tuesday Thingers - Question of the week?

Do you tag? How do you tag? How do you feel about tagging- do you think it would be better to have standardized tags, like libraries have standardized subject headings, or do you like the individualized nature of tagging? What are your top 5 tags and what do they say about your collection or your reading habits?

When I have the time, I like to use tags, mostly for my own personal use in trying to analyze the topics enough to describe the books well enough to remember them. I enjoy the process because the small curriculum materials library where I work has a home-grown browsing collection and we really do evaluate each item to classify the book properly in our many categories and sub-categories....and even down to the level of grade range, and material type. So I am challenged with these and build descriptors daily, definitely not standard!

Here are my top tags and think they describe my intersts fairly well. My primary educational interests were WWII and the Holocaust - mostly from the Czech/Slovak perspective. I like autobiographies, especially when they involve relationships and how to deal with the decisions of life and death. And who doesn't like Early Review Books!?
fiction (12)
Holocaust (8)
relationships (5)
autobiography (4)
death (4)
Early Reviewers (4)
grief (4)
history (4)


02 June 2008

Tuesday Thingers

I only have 86 books cataloged in Library Thing, but I am adding them slowly but surely. So many of my books are in boxes that I have been slow pulling them down to add. I also like to try and post a review, even if fairly brief, so it is time consuming - as you all already know!

As to what I catalog - books that I own, books that I borrow, and generally anything that I read. I absolutely love Library Thing and could get lost in it forever!

Thank you for posting our weekly topic - I am trying diligently to get caught up with reading everyone's post. I had to have a fairly intensive medical procedure today so I am a little loopy today! See you all next Tuesday.


21. Stargirl

What a delightful book. Stargirl, who has been homeschooled, shows up at Mica High School and changes the culture of the school with her individualistic antics. She plays her ukelele, wears outlandish outfits, cheers for the opposing teams as well as her own, and falls in love with Leo. The vary idiosyncracies Leo fell in love with in Stargirl soon became too much fror Leo and the school to tolerate and Leo convinced Stargirl to try harder to fit in. She does that and soon her popularity dropped and she was "shunned". Ultimately the relationship ends, but Leo never forgets. This story shows the cliques found in every high school and how the students become "one". I loved this book. It was pure delight!
TITLE: Stargirl
AUTHOR: Jerry Spinelli
PAGES: 186
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Absolute delight, everyone should read

01 June 2008

20. Cranford

Absolutely wonderful. I have always been a huge fan of Jane Austen and writer's of her era. This book was originally published in installments in 1853 as a result of a request by Charles Dickens. This wonderful story of the small town of Cranford - with almost everyone who is anyone being female - introduces us to Miss Mattie, who is constantly striving to behave in a Proper manner. The women in Miss Mattie's world are brought to life through the eyes of a frequent visitor to the small English town. My favorite qoute concerns "the mouldy smell of aristocracy" which surprisingly enough is the most cherished memory of these women for whom the charade of aristocracy is the norm. In the end, the friendships and love take over the novel and leave the reader hoping to learn more about this small hamlet. Happily this is possible, because the author continues (or adds to) the story in The Chronicles of Cranford. PBS recently aired the combined stories in their Masterpiece Theatre.

If you enjoy this work by Elizabeth Gaskell, you can read three of her other works at Daily Lit. You can also read this entire work from Google Books.

TITLE: Cranford
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gaskell
PAGES: 304
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Wonderful classic, everyone should read


19. Day of Tears

I must admit that I have no idea how I feel about this book. It was written as a play which made it a little different. The play tells the story of a pre-Civil War estate owner, his daughters, and his slaves. In an interesting twist, the wife divorces the estate owner because she is against slavery, while he is happy to be a slave owner. Unfortunately, he has gambling debts to pay and is forced to sell his slaves. Actually, this part of the story is based in a true auction. The author provides the historical background at the end of the book.

So far, so good. Having studied both the pre and post Civil War South, I found this book to contain every opinion or angle ever expressed about slavery. If one were to use this book as a stepping stone for a lesson on slavery (as it occured throughout the United States) perhaps that would be the greatest value. And perhaps that was the author's intent.

TITLE: Day of Tears
AUTHOR: Julius Lester
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Not really my favorite, but interesting perspectives