Posts Tagged ‘1990s’

Daine is another in the pantheon of Pierce’s fabulous female characters.  She can speak to animals, and her Gift changes the animals as well, giving them somewhat human characteristics.  This makes for some great human/animal conversations.  Daine’s teacher is also a complex and interesting character, and we get to understand how magic works in this world. Magic-wielders and displeased gods abound, and Daine must figure out her place in the world – even if it sometimes seems that she would rather run away and join a wolf pack.  Evidently, there is a new series in this story line in the works.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Wild Magic; Wolf-Speaker; Emperor Mage; The Realm of the Gods

Tortall Series: Song of the Lioness; Immortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper


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I recently reread these books after many years, and they stood the test of time.  They are definitely escapist fantasy, but well-done for that.  Jaellyn is caught between many worlds – part elf, part human; daughter of the High Lady and Lord but friend to thieves; and overall never quite fitting in.  When she discovers what her problem is, of she goes with her human friend to find a missing part of her soul.  Rated Young Adult for the age of the main characters, but be warned that there is frequent discussion of “tumbling” – which pretty much all happens off-camera.

Author: Anne Logston

Order: Dagger’s Edge; Dagger’s Point

Part of a larger series.  Order: Shadow; Shadow Dance; Shadow Hunt; Greendaughter; Dagger’s Edge; Dagger’s Point; Wild Blood

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Title: Grandfather’s Journey

Illustrator/Author: Allen Say

Caldecott 1994

The illustrations are beautiful, and laid out somewhat like a memory book or photo album, which is correct for the subject matter.  The story is clearly heartfelt and true, though not actually all that well written. Say’s grandfather traveled from Japan to the US and back to Japan, always missing the other country.  I’m sure this resonates for many immigrants and travelers, but the wording was sometimes clunky.  The paintings are technically well-done, but only certain images seem like they truly have heart to them.  Perhaps this is on purpose, to evoke snapshots, but I am not sure.

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Title: Smoky Night

Illustrator: David Diaz

Author: Eve Bunting

Caldecott 1995

A child’s recollections of the LA riots are told in fabulous illustrations.  Each page’s background is made up of a collage of objects that could be found in that scene, plus a beautiful painting.  It is hard to imagine under what circumstances you would own this book – unless, of course, you and your child had lived through a riot or war and needed to tell that story.  For older children, it could be a lead-in to a discussion of violence, perhaps when such events were being shown on TV or in the news.  A beautiful book; a heartbreaking subject.

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TuesdayTitle: Tuesday

Illustrator/Author: David Wiesner

Caldecott 1992

While I loved this book, as usual, I have to wonder a bit at why Wiesner has gotten so many Caldecotts.  Granted, the story is funny, scientifically accurate (except for the flying), and beautifully rendered, but so was Flotsam.  At least The Three Pigs (review to come) has a distinctively different illustration and storytelling style from the other two.  This one, however, is very similar to some of his other work.  Nothing against the book – I love it – but one wonders who else could have gotten the recognition one of those years. Regardless, the book is gorgeous and the frogs fabulous.

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theviewfromsaturdayTitle: The View from Saturday

Author: E.L. Konigsburg

Newbery 1997

I had never read this one, nor anything by the author. I was really impressed. Realistic fiction is not generally my favorite genre, and especially not realistic fiction that features sixth-graders. A state championship, a disabled teacher, and four kids who need life lessons could easily add up to drippy sentiment. But these kids are well-characterized and each has their own voice. The first vignette is particularly fantastic – a bizarre wedding with fabulous characters. The metaphors The Souls come up with are both age-accurate and ageless. I look forward to her other books, one of which is on the list.

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SnowflakeBentleyTitle: Snowflake Bentley

Illustrator: Mary Azarian

Author: Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Caldecott 1999

The story of Snowflake Bentley is a great one – it’s the story of someone who really took on a project over his whole lifetime, was devoted to it, even in the face of funny looks and lack of funding. I liked the way this book was laid out with the ‘story’ part and then sidebars with specifics of Bentley’s life. However, I can’t say that the illustrations were jaw-dropping, and that’s what it won for. The woodcuts are well done and the watercolors nicely used, but I’ve seen much more amazing illustrations in non-Caldecott books.

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