The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
For the longest time, I’ve been meaning to read a book by Diana Wynne Jones, (Howl’s Moving Castle first and foremost) but other books got in the way. The day before yesterday, I was at the library and this was the only title on the shelf by Jones. As an introduction to Jones’s writing I thought the story to be short and magical. I would’ve loved if the story had been expanded.
We are introduced to Hayley, who is and orphan after her parents died or disappeared when she was a baby. Since then she’s been living with her Grandparents, living a very lonely existence. She’s homeschooled and her only acquaintances are the servants that come and go. Her grandmother is very strict in the extreme and her grandfather is always occupied with his mysterious project.
When Hayley chances to meet two brothers, Flute and Fiddle, she discovers something called the mythosphere. Her grandfather’s project has something to do with the mythosphere, but before Hayley can get any concrete answers she’s shipped off to an unknown (to Hayley) part of her family in Ireland. There she discovers that she has many aunt and even more cousins. Even more surprising is that all the cousins know about the mythosphere and play a game within it. Soon Hayley learns that there’s more history to her family than she thought.
“This is the mythosphere. It’s made up of all the stories, theories and beliefs, legends, myths and hopes, that are generated here on Earth. As you can see, it’s constantly growing and moving as people invent new tales to tell or find new things to believe.” (pg. 23) (more…)
Nobody’s Secret: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl
Inspired by the poem, I’m nobody! Who are you?, written by Emily Dickinson, Michaela MacColl brings to life a fictional mystery about Mr. Nobody. We are introduced to a spunky, intelligent, and very observant Emily Dickinson as she seeks to experience life, or in this case a bee landing on her nose, when she meets the mysteriously intriguing Mr. Nobody. Soon thereafter, he’s found floating in the Dickinson’s pond.
From her few conversations with Mr. Nobody and the clues she finds upon his death, Emily knows that he did not drown, accidental or otherwise. Everyone including the doctor and the reverend are convinced he did. Emily takes it upon herself to find out who Mr. Nobody was and why and how he died. Like any great detective, she sees what others do not and has the fortitude to find the truth no matter what.
Emily Dickinson is one of the greatest poets of the 19th Century and with this novel, MacColl gives a peek into the mind and life of a young fifteen-year-old Emily. Her younger sister, Lavinia “Vinnie”, plays a part in solving the mystery with her sister. Both as partner and keeper to make sure Emily doesn’t overexert herself (or get into any trouble!). Often Vinnie is left to do the household chores on her own, whilst Emily escapes to write or investigate. The Dickinson household is an economical one. Why purchase items, material or food, if you can make it yourself. This is what Mrs. Dickinson instills in her daughters so they can one day manage their own household. However, Emily longs to write and live her life free from chores. She hides a notebook in her corset to put to paper her random thoughts, which will later turn into poems. (more…)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
This is, without question, one of the best and most beautifully written books I’ve read in several years. Ava Lavender is a normal girl in many respects but with one major difference: she was born with wings. In an effort to determine where she came from, she recounts her family history and in doing so spans continents and generations. Love is gained and then lost, moments turn from thrills to devastation, and families break apart and come together again. Through four generations of women Ava comes to her own story in a stunning coming-of-age novel that embraces humanity in all it’s beauty and fragility. Walton’s use of lyricism, historical detail, powerful and unique characters, and magical realism combines to create a hearbreaking and unforgettable narrative. And though it was published as a young adult novel, its emotional maturity and expressive narrative make it an appealing read for both teens and adults. (more…)
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. — C.S.Lewis
Today OTIJ is three years old, and like any youngster, we’re still trying to find our feet. Life has brought us new challenges and adventures, but both Jenny and I are still avid readers (like that’ll ever change!). Hopefully (fingers crossed), we’ll have some new reviews to post to the site soon. Until then…
Image from http://bit.ly/NBh9hT
Earth Day by Jane Yolen
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
That’s why we
Celebrate this day.
That’s why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Poem from http://bit.ly/Z4WHIw
Earth Day Image from http://bit.ly/11iXi98
Jenny and Molly are two young girls playing ball in a field. They begin to argue and finally walk away from one another, both angry and sad. Jenny cries, but the warmth of the sun on her head gives her comfort, and she begins to realize that everything is connected and thus inside of her. As she reflects on the beauty of the natural world around her—and subsequently the beauty in herself—she is happy and no longer feels alone. When Jenny encounters Molly again, they both apologize for their behavior and begin to share their thoughts on the world and its many wonders.
Inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun in My Belly introduces readers to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and connectedness. Sister Susan and Sister Rain, both ordained nuns in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote this book to share a philosophical concept: we are never alone because everything is a part of us, from the rain and sun to the plants and animals with which we share our world. (more…)
In the middle of America (Wisconsin, to be precise), twelve-year-old Cyrus Smith and his older siblings Antigone and Daniel are living their everyday hum-drum lives. Of course, their version of “hum drum” involves living parent-less, managing a run-down motel, and eating pancakes for just about every meal while pretending to the outside world that all is well. But when a strange tattooed man claiming to know their deceased father shows up, a strange turn of events (and one wild taxi ride) takes them to Ashtown and the steps of the Order of Brendan, the secret society of famous explorers throughout history. Thrown headfirst into a world of conspiracy, secrets, and adventure, they fight to prove themselves and stay alive in what is a sometimes crazy, sometimes scary, and always entertaining journey.
N. D. Wilson, author of the 100 Cupboards series, has created an adventurous and magical world that could almost exist in your own backyard. Think Harry Potter but in America and with real historical people as characters. (more…)
What’s So Special About Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells
Sometimes Earth can be uncomfortable with weather that’s either too hot or too cold, and huge storms seem to come out of nowhere. In this introductory book about the planets, author Wells invites kids to pretend they’re visiting each of the planets in our solar system to find a new place to live. (As he says, “If you’re thinking about moving, you’d want to visit first, to see if the planet was right for you.”) The journey brings us to all eight planets in our solar system, Earth included, and at each we learn about distance from the sun, planet diameter, orbit time, number of moons, temperatures, and more. Each planet is interesting, but none seem to quite fit the bill for what humans, plants, and animals need in a home. When we finally travel back home to “our” planet, Wells explains why Earth is just right for us and the animals and plants we live with. He also tells us that we haven’t always taken good care of our home (pollution, etc.) and there are ways to make it better. He talks about recycling, reducing use of resources, and reusable energy. After all, planet Earth is pretty special–we’d better take care of it!
Bright, cartoon-like illustrations make the book fun, and some pages are written and drawn at different angles so readers have to rotate the book, which makes it interesting. In some ways, What’s So Special reminds me of The Magic School Bus series (more…)