Kids books and murderers and miracles and stuff


019) Magic Tree House #10: Ghost Town at Sundown by Mary Pope Osborne, finished February 17

This book doesn't really qualify for this list as per the rules, but I want to be sure and document how Magic Tree House was the first books to really catch the Big O's imagination and that he's passing that passion down to his brothers. So thank you, Mary Pope Osborne.

Plus. The books are much more interesting than I expected. And I like how instead of perfect simulacrums of each other, the books proceed. First a subseries with a specific goal. Then the kids get a new goal that they pursue in the next subseries. Et cetera. Pretty great idea. Nicely done.


018) The Report Card by Andrew Clements, finished February 17

So I loved his famous Frindle and picked this up somewhere to someday give a child. The giving time ended up being this past Christmas and the Big O so loved the book he insisted Lady Steed and I both read it. Which I've done and I agree with him.

Based on these two books, I'm just gonna generalize and say Clements loves empowering kids. Clements loves showing kids the humanity of teachers and the goals they share with students.

As a teacher, I particularly love this book's digs at the emphasis placed upon standardized testing. And am depressed to see this book's almost ten years old and, if anything, things have gotten worse.

We have to stop judging the breadth of a child with such narrow instruments.

Hoorah for Clements!

I want to share this book with everyone.

Let's start with you. Read it. Return. Report.
one night


017) Justice (volume one) by AUTHOR, finished February 16

This book has two serious flaws. First, it requires believing too much silliness, even for a superhero book. Second, it requires too much in-depth knowledge of (and built-in emotion for) the DC Universe for anyone other than dieharders. A third law is, without clear marking on the cover, it only includes one third of the story. A fourth flaw---and let's make this one serious as well---it is utterly confusing for the majority of its length. Chronology is screwy nad just barely is getting sorted out when the story ends. I'll never assume I'll like something again just because Alex Ross is involved. Kingdom Come is looking like a one-shot.
a few days


016) The Green Mile by Stephen King, finished February 15

This book deserves its oversized reputation. It does have occasional awkwardnesses, but, overall, King handled the problems of serial fiction with remarkable aplomb. The whole thing works on so many symbolic levels, and does it with fully realized characters and some of the most believable miracles I've ever read. As a writer, this book is a master course in plotting, characterization, keeping a million balls in the air, first-person, you name it.

Great book. If you're looking for your first Stephen King book, consider this one.
five months


015) Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl, finished February 12

When I was a kid, I liked Great Glass Elevator better than the Chocolate Factory. (Perhaps because I never quite signed on to the movie?) In reading the books to my kids, I'm not sure why that may have been. Perhaps because I knew the Chocolate Factory (or perhaps because the book didn't match what I did know from the movie) while Great Glass Elevator was totally novel. Maybe because Great Glass Elevator is simply more madcap and nonsensical. I don't know.

This time around I am amazed that I liked it as much as I did. Not because I disliked it this time around but because its chaotic illogical nonsense was as offputting as funny.

Which makes me sad. I always loved nonsense.

I fear I may have grown up.

Sad face.

(In other news, congrats to Quentin Blake for getting knighted!)
about two months


014) The Silver Cord: Book One ~ Nephilim by Kevin Kelly et al., finished February 7

This is a book by a number of people under the helm of Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly. It uses quantum computers and angels to get into the old science-fiction trope: can machines have souls?

Nothing incredibly original here (teenager hiding from both heritage and future sets off on hero's journey) and I don't like the art (it's of the type I always think of as overwrought and underpolished), but the story is enjoyable all the same. the second half was funded on Kickstarter but I don't know if I'll still care by the time it rolls out. As I said: nothing that novel here. But if you've never read one of these stories before, this is as good a place to start as ever.

One aspect of my reading I should address was my inability to keep from mormoning the text. Even though this novel uses a cosmology of angels entirely different from the Mormon one, the story constantly hit on important Mormon ideas like agency and a brief mortality with life stretching off in either direction endlessly.
about a week

Previously in 2013 . . . . :

Books 8 - 12
013) Teen Titans: The Prime of Life by JT Krul and Nicola Scott, finished February 2
012) Batman: Vampire by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones and John Beatty and Malcolm Jone III, finished February second
011) Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor by Isaac Asimov, finished January 26
010) Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, Perfect Collection 1 by Hayao Miyazaki, finished January 22
009) The Complete Peanuts 1983-1984 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 21
008) My Letter to the World by Emily Dickinson, finished January 21

Books 1 - 7
007) Spacecave One by Jake Parker, finished January 19
006) The Antler Boy and Other Stories by Jake Parker, finished January 19
005) The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, finished January 14
004) The Crab with the Golden Claws by Hergé, finished January 14
003) The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure by Hergé, finished January 11
002) Using the Common Core State Standards... edited by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D., finished January 10
001) Jellaby by Kean Soo, finished January 8

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