Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Last Book in the Universe

I had forgotten that I bought this book back with Golden and Grey earlier this summer. I picked it up off of my night table last night, and just finished it now. I feel like my old reading self when my 2 year old is at her Nana's!

Rodman Philbrick has written quite the "end of the world as we know it" story.

Imagine a world of extreme class difference. Eden is at the centre, where the "proovs" (or genetically improved) humans live. At least the normals have been told that Eden exists...they can't be sure since it means instant "cancellation" for a normal to try to enter.

Everyone lives in a "latch"...essentially a turf controlled by a latch boss. Spaz, thus named because of his epilepsy, lives under the rule of the Bangers, where Billy Bizmo reigns supreme. Spaz is told to go rip off the Ryter who lives in the stacks at the edge of town. Spaz does as he is told...afterall it's steal or die around here. Little does he know that the Ryter will end up effecting him deeply with his talk about the backtimes.

One night in his crib, a runner comes with a message for Spaz. His foster sister Bean is sick again with the blood sickness. The problem is that Bean lives in a whole other latch...3 latches over. Spaz is sure to be cancelled even trying to leave his own latch. Can Ryter help him find his way?

What follows is a fast paced adventure about priviledge, perfection and hope.

Less intense than Anderson's Feed, and less sophisticated than Westerfeld's Uglies (almost) triology, The Last Book in the Universe seems perfect for the sixth grade and up set. Fast paced and compelling, Philbrick makes the reader stop and consider what s/he might do given extreme circumstances.

Don't look for a happy ending.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


So I had to weigh the pros and cons. Finish the last 45 pages of Peeps, or leave it at work in order to have Westerfeld sign it next week when he comes for a student visit...which of course, I can't attend. My kid has school.

So I left it. And it's hurting me right now. Neither of my colleagues had an arc of it that I could use for the commute home.

So next week, I can write about it.

Last night was our 'tween presentation. Some fab books were discussed. The ones that I chose were:
Golden and Grey, by Arnold
Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer, by Petty
Akimbo and the Elephants, by McCall Smith
Out of Order, by Hicks
Chig and the Second Spread, by Swain
Colibri, by Cameron
Replay, by Creech
Flush, by Hiassen
The Not So Star Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, by Perkins
Leon and the Spitting Image, by Kurzweil

Other books discussed by Jen and Karyn included The Schwa was Here, Penderwicks, Mabel Riley, Mates, Dates series, and Gender Blender...the last of which I am looking forward to reading. I am a big fan of Blake Nelson.

...I am still thinking about Peeps. Ugh.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Penderwicks

Wow. Is 2005 the year of the subtitle or what? Enter The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.

I had wanted to read The Penderwicks ever since a very hot and pregnant me held it in my hands in the B&N at Union Square. Jen and I had just gone to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and were browsing away enjoying some uber air conditioning. I should have bought it at that very moment, because I could have read it at least 5 times by now.

This is a wonderful story in the vein of Gone Away Lake and A Spell is Cast. The writing is superb, there is a vintage feel to it, and ahhhhhh to bask in the innocence of it all!

Rosalind, Skye, Jane, Batty, and Mr. Penderwick are uspet when their usual Cape Cod summer rental is no longer available at the last moment. Mr. Penderwick manages to find a rental in the Berkshires, and nobody is sure what to expect. What they didn't expect was to be staying in a cottage on a grand estate named Arundal.

They also didn't expect to meet friends like Jeffrey and Cagney while trying to avoid snooty Mrs. Tifton. Since Arundal belongs to Mrs. Tifton (who happens to be Jeffrey's mother), this is not so easily accomplished.

Each girl is a personality unto herself, and readers are sure to be reminded of Little Women. I am one of those few who cannot stand Little Women, but I obviously love this book.

The adventures are sweet yet real...there are crushes on boys, dreams of being an author, trying to find one's place within a family. The Penderwick's sense of family honour is admirable and it's so refreshing to read contemporary fiction that is so well written.

This is a book that I will recommend and recommend and purchase for all of my friend's children.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Have you ever thought what life might be like if the airplane had never been invented? It never crossed my mind either, until I read Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel.

Matt is a cabinboy aboard the Aurora, a luxury aircraft of the blimp variety. He is in love with the ship. He loves everything about it as well as everything about "sailing". In fact, whenever he is on leave, he feels stifled and out of place. Only in the air is he free.

One day, Matt helps his crew rescue an old man who was trying to circumnavigate the world in a balloon. They find him stranded, his balloon badly damaged. He is close to death when he tells Matt about the creatures he has seen in the air.

Cut to one year later...Matt meets the granddaughter of this old man aboard the Aurora. Kate has her grandfather's diary from his ill-fated balloon trip. The old man obviously believed that he had encountered a new species of flying mammal, and Kate is determined to prove her grandfather was not crazy and that these creatures exist, and she needs Matt to help her.

Before she can do so, the Aurora is boarded by the famous pirate Szpirglas and his crew. Soon, Matt and Kate are in deep in an adventure involving pirates, "cloud cats", shipwreck and manslaugter.

I am glad that I was reading this for a book discussion, because I am not sure I would have stuck with it if I hadn't "had to". This is a bit more of a "boy book" that I normally like. What I mean by this is there is lots of talk about the airship and how it works. Me...I don't care about that stuff so much. Once Oppel gets on to the adventure, the pace picks up and I found myself not wanting to go to sleep until I found out what fate had in store for Matt and Kate. The writing is superb. This book is a Printz honor for a reason!