Archive for November, 2011
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so good, so moving and beautifully written, that you need to share it with the world. Ruby and I share books all the time, it’s true, but for me Between Shades of Gray hit the highest level of that need. I’ve also been afraid of not doing it justice, which is why I’m only now–months after I first read it–writing a review.
Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.
In this, her first novel, author Ruta Sepetys paints the portrait of a Lithuanian family in war-torn Europe. It is June 14, 1941, and fifteen-year-old Lina and her family are torn from their homes in the middle of the night by Soviet officers. They are crammed on a dirty train car with countless others, the fear is palpable, and Lina realizes that the signs have been there all along–her parents knew, and they didn’t escape in time. Separated from her father and trying to care for her mother and younger brother, Lina and the others find themselves exiled to Siberia to endure harsh landscapes in cruel labor camps with little-to-no resources. As a gifted artist, Lina finds emotional refuge in her drawings and writing, documenting everyday hardships in her passionate style while simultaneously trying to contact her father through codes and sketches.
Amidst the brutality of the officers and the pains of hunger, death, and loss, Sepetys infuses her writing with hope and strength of character, even when Lina and her family seem to have given up. There is also no sign of black-and-white personas: some of the Soviet guards, while often unrelenting, show signs of humanity and understanding. Some of the Lithuanian deportees are cruel and selfish. Everyone is a bit of everything, and in this way Sepetys captures life in wonderful, accurate detail. (more…)
The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache and other nostalgic companions by Erik Korhel
In this book, his second volume of poetry for children, Korhel continues with his earlier themes of childhood memories and growing up. His poems, each a true story about himself and his family’s experiences, are vibrant, funny, and engaging, something that kids can both connect to and enjoy. Each poem is a vignette of sorts, a moment in time captured by his youthful verse. Ranging from the silly to the contemplative, Korhel covers adventures on the playground (surrounded by imaginary lava), thoughts before bedtime (homework or dinosaurs?), and mistaking a large man for pregnant (oops!). The levels of humor make The Kid with the Red Juice Mustache great for multiple age levels, whether as a read-aloud bedtime book or a solo-reading excursion for older kids.
The illustrations by Celia Marie Baker are sweet and full of child-like wonder, each character colorful and expressive. It probably helps that she drew inspiration directly from real life: Korhel had her illustrate his true-story poems with paintings of actual photographs from his childhood–everything from the t-shirts to the nightlight and toys are authentic. (more…)
Tuesday, November 1st @7pm Third Place Books Lake Forest Park
Jennifer Kogler The Death Catchers
Wednesday, November 2nd @5:30pm Third Place Books Lake Forest Park
Annie Barrows Ivy + Bean: No News is Good News
Friday, November 4th @7pm University Bookstore
Ally Condie Crossed (Book 2 Matched Trilogy)
Friday, November 4th @7pm Seattle Public Library Central Branch
John Flanagan Brotherband Chronicles: The Outcasts
Saturday, November 5th @1pm Third Place Books Lake Forest Park
Patrick Carman Dark Eden
Sunday, November 6th @2pm Seattle Public Library Central Branch
Sherman Alexie and Chris Van Allsburg The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales (more…)