Saturday, September 26, 2015
Pages: 629 (but 2/3 of the pages are full page pictures)
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.
Brian Selznick is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I just absolutely love how his books are so different from anything you've read before. The book looks enormous but it's really more of a short story because so much of it is told only through pictures, which I think is great for kids and is a fun and relaxing way to read a book.
Ben is a young boy who has recently lost his mother and doesn't know who his father is (that's the only reason I would probably be wary of this book for really young children - later Ben finds out who his father was, his parents were never married). He knows that he is very interested in museums and everything to do with museums. When Ben goes through yet another traumatic event he decides to set off to find his father, going by a few small clues his mother had left behind. On his journey he meets a new friend who understands him in a way no one else ever has, and he even reconnects with a long lost relative. It's not a complicated or particularly deep story, but I just love the pictures and the way everything is woven together.
Rating: PG-13 (Levana is not a nice person and some of the stuff she does is rather awful)
Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her "glamour" to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story--a story that has never been told . . . until now.
My Thoughts: This book is a prequel to the Lunar Chronicles books, which I have also reviewed on here. It was a quick read, and definitely interesting. I thought it was nice to get some back story on Levana. Some people think this book is trying to garner sympathy for her, which I think it does to an extent, but still, by the end, she has done so many bad things, justifying them away as being "necessary" that you don't really feel that bad for her. She's the definition of a crazy person because every awful thing she does she feels as if she has a perfectly good reason for it and it needed to be done, even if it causes her pain and sorrow as well. I feel a little bit sorry for her, but it's also pretty clear that there's nothing that can be done to change the person that she is at this point. She's come too far.
As far as order goes, if you haven't read any of the Lunar Chronicles books, I suppose you could start here, but I feel it kind of fits in anywhere. Having read the other books, there were things I already understood about Levana, but if you haven't read them it doesn't really matter. By the end of the book you're basically at the point where Cinder begins, so it starts of the series nicely.
Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she's just a nuisance. She expects school to be different but there she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by the Trunchbull she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It'll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves and Matilda may be just the one to do it!
My Thoughts: I know this is a really old book, but I've actually never read it before, so I gave it a try. In case you haven't read it, it's a very quick read, good for kids, probably best for mid-to upper elementary students. The first thing I thought when I read it was "Whoa! This book is so outdated!" 4 year old Matilda walks herself to the library and back every day to read books while her mother goes off to play bridge or bingo or something with her friends. The response of the librarian is to "keep an eye on her." Any book written nowadays, that child would be in foster care faster than you can blink!
Matilda's parents are absolutely horrible, and they aren't very nice to her either. She devises clever ways to get back at them for the way they treat her, although I noticed it's mainly her father who gets the pranks pulled on him. Then Matilda goes to school where first of all, she's learning her times tables in kindergarten (was that a thing?) but she meets the headmistriss, Miss Trunchbull, who abuses the students and teachers in her school in a way that would never in a million years be tolerated in a real school.
I never read this as a kid, so I'm just responding to it as an adult and honestly I thought it was a bit over the top. But kids will probably still like it for years to come because the heroine is a child overcoming those crazy adults.