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Showing posts from September, 2010

Banned Book Week

The American Library Association (ALA) has declared this week Banned Books Week.

If you are like me, you read a list of books that have been challenged by members of the public for removal from the library and scratch your head at at least one or two titles on the list — because, if you're like me, you've read the books on the list and didn't have the same reaction.

Here is the list from 2009:


ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle — Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age groupAnd Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson — Reasons: homosexuality The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky — Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age groupTo Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee — Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer — Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually expl…

At the Tollbooth

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I am seeing the author and illustrator of my favorite book ever.  At one of my favorite bookstores ever.  With Carole.

Okay, breathe.  (Which is more than I did when I saw the writing on the wall.)

When Carole and I were in Politics and Prose for Sara Gruen's reading (more on that later), Carole sought a couple of Newbery Award-winning books for her collection in the children's book section.  (She found two of the rarer titles, which was a lovely addition to the evening.)

As Carole stood at the cash register with her purchases in hand, my eye caught a sign on the wall behind the bookseller:


Norton Justerand Jules Feifferwill be hereat....
At that point, I stopped breathing and grabbed Carole's shoulder.

"What?" Carole aske, alarmed.  (Normally I'm not speechless.)

I pointed at the wall.

The gasp Carole uttered was worthy of a Juster-Feiffer lover.

The Phantom Tollbooth is my "desert island" book, and I keep extra copies on hand for loans.  I also gi…

Fall for the Book on the Horizon

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For those of you who have marked your calendars, you know Fall for the Book is going to start Sunday, September 19.

I will be among the crush of people trying to meet Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain.

I won't be among those in the crush trying to meet Kathryn Stockett, which disappoints me to no end. Apparently the event planners decided she was too popular to allow us to determine who would attend her event, so it was ticketed. And these required free tickets were gone within a half hour, distributed by an overwhelmed staff that couldn't keep up with demands.

I expected someone of her stature to be in the biggest venue on the Fairfax campus. The Help has been on the bestseller list for the better part of a year, and the movie based on it already is in production. Instead, she's in Reston, at a venue I've never visited. Perhaps I shouldn't malign the venue, but I can't imagine it would have more seating than the Center for the Arts, wh…

Review: Sacrifice

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I am of two minds about Sacrifice.

One: what a wild story!

Two: I hate the narrator.

First, the first.  As with Blood Harvest, the other S.J. Bolton novel I reviewed, this is one convoluted story with lots of twists and turns.  I'm all about that.  I just always feel like I'm the last one at the party.  Now, part of this issue with Sacrifice I blame on the second issue — but more about that in a moment.

This is one rocking story.  Tora is a new obstetrician in Shetland, a small enclave in Scotland (yes, where those adorable little ponies originate).  She's originally from London, from a big raucous family, but moved to Shetland at the behest of her husband, Duncan, the only child of a quiet family with distant parents.  He relocated his business and purchased their house, and Tora transferred to a small but efficient and well-appointed hospital in town.

After six months, while digging her horse's grave, Tora finds a body in the peat: a woman who died within two weeks o…

Review: Johannes Cabal the Detective

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With so many of my beloved books in boxes in a storage unit two miles from home, I needed a friend.  Johannes Cabal did the trick — in Johannes Cabal the Detective, the second book of this deliciously wicked series by Jonathan L. Howard.

It is no secret that I loved the first book, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer.  First of all, who could resist the title? Second, the first chapter was riveting.

Howard does the same again, only differently, in this second Cabal.  Unlike other serials, this new installment introduces Cabal in a new light: a free man.  Of sorts.  When a man tries to steal a book never intended to see the light of day, he loses some freedom, especially in Mirkarvia.  However, not all is lost: the emperor is dead, and Cabal's special talents are needed.  Freedom for the temporary revival of a country's leader?  Seems like a fair deal.  Alas, not everyone is as honorable as Satan....

Thus begins Cabal's new situation in the midst of a European political struggle…

Reacquainting Ourselves With Old Friends

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A few years ago, I stumbled across juvenile fiction titled Mr. Putter and Tabby.  I can't remember if this dynamic duo were baking a cake or running a race when we met, but they were up to something.

In the books written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard, Mr. Putter is an elderly gentleman who lives alone until he meets his new old cat, the supportive Tabby.  The two of them have their habits — eating oatmeal, taking naps — but every once in a while, they manage to find just enough trouble to get their hearts pumping.

Usually it involves their neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, who lives alone with her good dog, Zeke. Mrs. Teaberry is up for adventure and always wants to try something new.  Zeke wants to be a dog and chew, though he also knows how to be polite (well, as polite as a bulldog can be).


The watercolor drawings are charming and expressive, the stories are sweet and the characters are lovely.  I am hooked.
They have gotten into a slew of adventures, Mr. Putter an…