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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Genies, Meanies, and Magic Rings

Author: Stephen Mitchell
Reading Level: 2nd - 4th

Publisher: Walker
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The retelling is skillfully done -- although I do not see how "new" and "fresh" these versions are from the older version. To gain insight, I must see some of other retellings. There are only three stories and two of them are so familiar so I wasn't getting excited about them. The second, unfamiliar story, however, is definitely interesting and worth reading.

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Author: Tom Pow
Reading Level: 7th and up

Publisher: Roaring Brooks
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

I really appreciate the layered perspectives from all parties and the courage Tom Pow exibits as an author to not put forth a more popular view point in condamning the captors. The setting is brought to life vividly and each character and their back story convincingly portrayed.

The switch from Part I to Part II is a little too fast and it took some adjusting to change gear and expectations. To have the second part as an unpolished manuscript that Martin scribbled in one night seems a bit far-fetched, though.

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The New Policeman

Author: Kate Thompson
Reading Level: 5th-8th

Pages: 442
Publisher: Greenwillow
Edition: Hardcover, 2007

Hallucinating. Mesmerizing. Tantallizing. Extraordinary.
(Charming, seductive and completely enthralling - as described by Eoin Colfer, which is apt, as well.)

I especially adore the fact that, instead of leaving the identity of The New Policeman subtly hinted and hidden for readers to puzzle over (although it got more and more obvious as the book goes -- perfectly executed, those little hints throughout), there is a resounding confirmation. It makes this a most satisfyig children's book: the readers are not left with a malencholy that hangs over our head -- which it can EASILY go.

The short chapters match so well with the missing Time. As an Irish music fan, I can't help but humming all the tunes after each chapter. How cleverly done those are -- and Thompson even composed a couple herself.

This is a deserving award winner (of both the 2005 Guardian and Whitbread Awards) and should be relentlessly promoted to all worthy young readers!

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Author: Brian Selznick
Reading Level: 4th-6th

Pages: 533
Publisher: Scholastic
Edition: Hardcover, 2007

The superb and impeccable design gives me such pleasure that I feel like hugging this big fact block of a book every time I see it! Selznick's cinamatic illustrations that take up most of the 533 pages, blend seamlessly with the crisp text and enigmatic storyline.

I like how Hugo's plans do not always pan out the same ways he imagined -- often they go wrong, but in a very realistic way. The adults intervene just the right amount so the situation never becomes hopeless without reducing the excitement generated by Hugo's desparation and urgency. Of course, there are a lot of coincidences, following the Dickensian storytelling tradition.

A most wonderful offer!

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