Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Milo is looking forward to some peace and quiet over his winter vacation.  He lives in Greenglass House, an inn frequented by smugglers.  But now that it's winter, Milo and his family finally have the place to themselves, as no one stays at the inn this time of year.

But on his very first day of vacation, a visitor appears!  And then another....and another.....and another....and soon the inn is almost full of people.  And these visitors are all a bit odd.   What brought them to Greenglass House, especially in the winter?  Bit by bit, Milo and his friend Meddy begin to discover that every guest has some sort of connection to the house itself.

When the visitors' personal items start to go missing, it's up to Milo and Meddy to find the objects, and determine who the thief is.  In the process, they learn many secrets about Greenglass House, and each other.

Greenglass House, by Kate Milford is a very well-constructed mystery with an "I-never-saw-that-coming!" plot twist at the end.  An underlying theme of the book is Milo's desire to understand his identity.  As an adopted child, he sometimes feels guilty for wondering about his birth-parents, even though his mother and father both tell him they understand his feelings.   Milo and Meddy attack solving the mystery as a role-playing game, which allows Milo to create an alter-ego for himself, and imagine who he might be had he not been adopted.   It's an interesting theme, and adds many layers to an already fascinating mystery!

Greenglass House was the June selection for The Council of Readers, and everyone agreed it was outstanding!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

One Day, The End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Fred Koehler

The first story begins…and ends.

One day…
I went to school.
I came home.
The end.

This Boston Globe-Horn Honor book is a compilation of 2-4 page stories of 10-12 words each. The meat of each story is told through illustrations in a beautiful melding of text and art. While the words are simple, the illustrations depict an imaginary adventure.

One day…
I lost my dog.
I found him!
The end.

The word “found” is written in muddy paw prints, clues to where her dog has disappeared. The girl examines the “f” with a magnifying glass, takes copious notes from within the center of the “o,” measures the “n” with a ruler and then finally finds her lost pup sleeping inside the curves of the “d.”

“One Day, the end” gets better each time you read it. The illustrations are so fun and detailed, on repeat readings you may choose to follow the cat’s story arc or the dog’s, or even the squirrels.

If I were to sum up this book in one short story, it would read:

One day…
I read book.
It was good.
The end. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

When Roz the Robot find herself ship-wrecked on an island (and accidentally activated by a group of otters), she has to use her abilities of observation and reason to learn how to survive.  Although she doesn't have any emotions (she's a robot, after all), she has been programmed for kindness.

Initially, the animals inhabiting the island are fearful and mistrustful of Roz, but by learning from them about the ways they live, she is eventually able to gain their trust.  When she adopts an orphaned gosling, she needs the help of the other animals to provide for and protect her son.

The Wild Robot is a very sweet book about overcoming adversity and showing kindness and perseverance.  It's an interesting take on the classic "fish-out-of-water" tale, and is told in short chapters which are sometimes quiet and meditative, other times exciting and punchy.  Overall, a very emotional and affecting read.