Library Books Enjoyed?, 7/24/13

A little late today, but here are some books we read from the library this week. It’s a bit more of a mixed bag than usual…there’s one I didn’t love and one that my daughter didn’t enjoy as much as I’d hoped.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African TaleMufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this for the first time since college children’s lit. I still love it, and I hope my kids will grow to love it, but when I told my three year old that it was a Cinderella tale, she just wanted to know where the coach was. We’ll see if my five year old enjoys it more when I read it when he’s around. There’s a snake in it, after all! (I guess when I think of it, it combines elements of Cinderella with those of Beauty and the Beast).

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid BalletFancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet by Jane O’Connor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven’t read many of the Fancy Nancy series, but the ones I have read tend to pleasantly surprise me with their depth. Yes, there’s lots of glitter and fluff, but there’s a realistic, lovable girl under all the fluff who has problems kids can identify with.

In this episode, it’s dealing with disappointment at not getting a role Nancy wants in the ballet, handling jealousy when a close friend does get it, and learning to love the role she does get. All very useful problems for little kids to think about. Plus the fun of mermaid and willow tree costumes!

If You Give a Cat a CupcakeIf You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Joffe Numeroff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like the “If you give a…” series pretty well–yes, it’s formulaic, but kids like formulaic. And I think most of the earlier books in the series are really pretty cute. This one, however, is not as good as some of its predecessors.

One of the qualities of the series that works is that the escalating demands have at least some kind of logic to them ( albeit stream-of-consciousness), but I didn’t feel like the different activities built on one another here. They go to the beach, they go to the gym (there’s a reason given for the gym, but not a great one, plus the fact that they don’t get held up on the way is suspect for this series), they go to the lake, they go to the museum, they go home. It’s more a series of errands/field trips than a series of escapades. Also, how are this kid and cat getting around town? (In other books in the series, either they never get around to leaving the house or they go somewhere that seems obviously close enough to walk or bike to.) It just doesn’t seem to gel for me.

That said, my kids are not nearly so picky about logic in their books, and they loved it–especially the sprinkles. I’ve always said that sprinkles are good for covering up a multitude of problems, so maybe it’s as true for writing as for baking.

And here’s a grown-up book I just finished from the library…and I did thoroughly enjoy it. (You’ll probably have to be a fan of space opera, or at least interested in sci-fi to like it, though.)
CryoBurn (Vorkosigan Saga, #14)CryoBurn by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been awhile since I’ve caught up on the Vorkosigan Saga (and although I reread my favorites about once a year, I feel like I need to review some of the middle-of-the-story episodes, too), but this one did not disappoint. Miles is as charming and exasperating as ever, and the two main “point of view” protagonists in this novel–an 11 year old boy named Jin and Miles’ younger travel-appointed Armsman Roic–present his exploits with equal measures of affection and frustration.

After all the romantic tension in Komarr and A Civil Campaign (which happened to be the first Vorkosigan novel I was introduced to), I was a little disappointed that not all of the novels are quite so personal/familial relationship focused. However, I liked Cryoburn because Miles’ new role as a dad combines with his natural habit of befriending “outcasts” to create a lot of interest in his give-and-take with Jin and Jin’s sister Mina. Bujold always includes humor, and Jin’s menagerie of pets and the Barrayarran consul to the planet Miles is visiting, Vorlynkin’s reaction to Miles provide lots of it.

A very enjoyable read (and the first in awhile that I’ve neglected other duties to get through!).

View all my reviews

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