Wednesday, June 15, 2011
2 Quick Reviews
I've returned from my first of two annual pilgrimages to Boston and that long bus ride provided plenty of reading time. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate this trip but the kids were terrific and real troopers in their ponchos and raincoats. I've managed to finish 2 new books since my last post and enjoyed both.
I finally got my hands on a copy of The Friendship Doll by my friend Kirby Larson. She shared the background of the book and even some of the story with the kids at Bailey when she visited and I was intrigued from the beginning. The book did not disappoint. Back in 1927 Japan sent a set of 58 traditional Japanese dolls to the children of the United States. The dolls then went on tour and over the years, most have gone missing. The Friendship Doll is told through the eyes of one doll, Miss Kanagawa, who calls herself an ambassador and carries herself in just that fashion. She starts in New York at the ceremony to present the dolls where she "interacts" with a young girl named Bunny Harnden who constantly feels left out, by her classmates and her wealthy family. She is chosen to be part of the committee to welcome the dolls, but not chosen to recite her speech. Even though Bunny feels hers was the best speech, the honor goes to Belle Roosevelt, the granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt. Before the ceremony Bunny makes a connection with Miss Kanagawa even "hearing" the doll speak to her. The connection changes Bunny, making her less self centered and more willing to reach out an help others and understand their feelings and behaviors.
The book continues in a similar theme. Miss Kanagawa connects with a series of girls through the years. The girls' situations are all different and yet they all have things in common that provide the catalyst for the Kanagawa connection. In the last chapter, the doll actually makes a connection with a boy, Mason, who uses Miss Kanagawa to help an Alzheimer's patient remember things from her past. It's a very touching finish to a wonderful book. I'll be adding it to my list of great books that are less than 200 pages.
The second was an ARC of a fun mystery that I got from Sally at Cover to Cover after the Central Ohio Blogger breakfast. The Mystery of the Missing Everything by Ben H. Winters comes out in September and will be added to our library as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. It's actually the second book featuring the students of Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School, the first was The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman which I have already reserved at the library.
The detective in the book is Bethesda Fielding and she is put on the case when the gymnastics championship trophy goes missing from Achievement Alcove. This sets Principal Van Vreeland into a royal hissy fit and she cancels all extra curricular activities including the 8th grade trip to Camp Taproot. The mystery winds and weaves its way through the book with suspects changing all the time for detective Bethesda. The reader is introduced to plenty of very interesting characters like the wimpy vice principal Jasper Ferrars who moonlights in musical theater, Reenie, the new kid, who is a bit mysterious, maybe a little mean and always has her nose in a book, just to name a couple. The book is funny, fast paced and full of enough plot twists to keep a kid reading. In the end, just when I thought Bethesda had the case wrapped up, Ben H. Winters throws another twist and gave me an excellent ending.