About Me

My photo
Cher-y-lynne {sher-uhl-lin} –noun 1. One who formerly sold and recommended children’s books at a bookstore; a specialist in young adult, middle grade, and picture books. 2. A para-educator at a middle school. 3. A struggling young adult writer. 4. A lover of chocolate and popcorn. Archaic: An Audiology and Speech Language Pathology major at Brigham Young University. Questions? Suggestions? Books you'd like me to review? E-mail me at cherylynne1 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This is a blog for my ranting, raving, and occasionally brilliant opinions. You have been warned. Enter at your own risk.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2003.

“Eat,” said Merlot.
“I couldn’t possibly,” said Despereaux, backing away from the book.
“Um,” said Despereaux. “It would ruin the story.”
“The story? What story?” Merlot stared at him. A piece of paper trembled at the end of one of her indignant whiskers. “It’s like Pa said when you were born. Something is not right with you.” She turned and scurried from the library to tell her parents about this latest disappointment.
Despereaux waited until she was gone, and then he reached out and, with one paw, touched the lovely words. Once upon a time.
He shivered. He sneezed. He blew his nose into his handkerchief.
“’Once upon a time’” he said aloud, relishing the sound. And then, tracing each word with his paw, he read the story of a beautiful princess and the brave knight who serves and honors her.
Despereaux did not know it, but he would need, very soon, to be brave himself.

Despereaux has never quite fit in with the rest of his mouse family. But when he falls in love with a human princess, it is simply too much for the mouse world. He is thrown out and sent to be eaten by the rats.

What a beautiful story. It felt so magical. The only part that was difficult for me was the constant switching of point-of-view. I just wanted to stay with one story. I guess that's the way it had to be, and I did enjoy it once I got to the end. I loved the characters. All the rat names were a little confusing to me for some reason, but maybe I just need to read slower. This was one of those books where it feels like every word is in place. It's the perfect novel for anyone who loves fairy tales, and maybe even for some that don't.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

“Tell me about the celebration.”
“Well, there was the telling of his life. That is always first. Then the toast. We all raised our glasses and cheered. We chanted the anthem. He made a lovely good-bye speech. And several of us made little speeches wishing him well. I didn’t, though. I’ve never been fond of public speaking.
“He was thrilled. You should have seen the look on his face when they let him go.”
Jonas slowed the strokes of his hand on her back thoughtfully. “Larissa,” he asked, “what happens when they make the actual release? Where exactly did Roberto go?”
She lifted her bare wet shoulders in a small shrug. “I don’t know. I don’t think anybody does, except the committee. He just bowed to all of us and then walked, like they all do, through the special door in the Releasing Room. But you should have seen his look. Pure happiness, I’d call it.”
Jonas grinned. “I wish I’d been there to see it.”

Jonas lives in a dystopia world where everything is perfect. No sickness. No death. No poverty. Nothing but cheerfulness, polite manners, and...mysterious disappearances.

But Jonas has been selected as a Receiver, the highest honor given in their community. But what he must "receive" is more horrifying than anything he could have ever imagined.

I loved it. What else can be said about it? Everyone loves this novel. My husband, who hates to read more than anything in the world, loved this book. It's outstanding. I wish they would get rid of that horrible cover with the old man. That cover kept me from reading this novel for 22 years. If you can just get a kid to ignore the front cover and read a single page inside, they will be hooked. Plus, it can be a boy book. (Are you kidding me, a Newbery winner that boys will actually read???)

If you haven't read this book, you are depriving yourself. Drop whatever you are reading and run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore to pick it up.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book Review: If I Forget, You Remember by Carol Lynch Williams

Williams, Carol Lynch. If I Forget, You Remember. New York: Delacorte Press, 1998.

“Granny, this is Elyse.”
“Who?” Granny seemed really surprised, like I should be Addie.
“Me. Elyse. Your granddaughter.”
“I’ve dialed the wrong number. Who’d you say you are?”
“Elyse Donaldson, Granny.”
“I haven’t called Addie Webster?”
“No ma’am. You’ve reached your daughter’s house. And this is your granddaughter. “
Granny was quiet; then she said, “But what about that dirty old man? I tell you I’ve seen an old man staring in at me every time I look out the window.” Granny sounded like she was getting scared.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I think you’re seeing your reflection in the window. There’s no way an old man could climb up your apartment building wall, not even if he had Spider-Man suction cups on his hands and feet.”
Granny took in a deep breath. When she spoke I knew she wasn’t scared anymore. She was just plain angry.
“Addie you can rot in hell. I am no one’s granny, as you say. I am as young as you are. In the prime of my life and you know it. You’re saying those nasty things because I won Miss Strawberry Days and you didn’t.” Granny slammed down the receiver. There was silence.

Elyse has the perfect plan for the summer--she's going to write a brilliant novel, with each chapter written in a different color. But then Granny moves in with them. At first, Elyse is thrilled, and ready to have long, fun conversations like they used to. However, she quickly realizes that Granny's mind is growing further and further away from the present.

This story made me so sad. But there was a lot of humor too, like the chapter headings. Great characters, great obstacles. It felt very real, I think it affected me so strongly because I could so easily see my own grandmother (who, thankfully, does not have Alzheimer’s, knock on wood) in the same position. This novel is able to grip the emotions without sinking into sentimentality, a true sign of quality writing.