books and cleverness

I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective. 


I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:

***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales - Jules Feiffer, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Louis Sachar, Kate DiCamillo, Walter Dean Myers, Tabitha King, Chris Van Allsburg, Cory Doctorow, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, Linda Sue Park, Stephen King Mixed. The creative challenge for readers of the original is to imagine a story that is attentive to all the detail of illustrations and uses the caption to describe what is happening, and I think some of the stories fall short. For example, I think it's important that the illustration for "Captain Tory" features an adult gripping a child by the arm--it's frightening for children to be held that way. But the story is written such that the child is holding the captain's hand. It's a small difference, but I think it matters. More substantial differences are in Cory Doctorow's and Walter Dean Myers' stories, which are interesting but don't match the illustrations, and so it feels as though they are rather missing the point. For another kind of example, in Lowry's story the caption is integrated at a point in the story that is different from the point at which the tableau of the illustration is taking place. And DiCamillo's use of her caption felt like cheating. But I loved the story by Gregory Maguire, and the stories by Jon Sciezka, Stephen and Tabitha King, Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, and--of course--Chris Van Allsburg, were all strange and wonderful.