Archives for the month of: July, 2013


Holly Black’s Doll Bones (Margaret K. McElderry, $16.99) and Jerry Spinelli’s Hokey Pokey (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99) both deal with the transition from childhood to adulthood, but are very different in their approach to the process. Hokey Pokey imagines an almost idealized world of childhood, where the rules are a little less formalized that the wild frontier. Kids rein bikes like horses; they move in packs, and there is a clear distinction between boys and girls. This world is filled with candy, games, and not a little recklessness. It doesn’t quite fit with my own memories of childhood and I do wonder how kids under 12 will respond to it. Do they recognize their own world in this book? Is it only possible to see childhood, once you’re looking back? The biggest problem I had, though, was the insinuation that the the border between childhood and adulthood was both abrupt and definitive. Once you leave Hokey Pokey, or ‘grow up’, there is no going back. One day you’re a kid. The next day you’re an adult, which doesn’t seem very realistic to me. I don’t know any kids who make the transition easily and singularly. I certainly didn’t.

Alternatively, Doll Bones also narrates the transition from childhood to adulthood, but despite the fantastic elements this book feels more realistic. First, the transition isn’t so abrupt, but rather happens over a journey. Also, there is a significant internal conflict about the change for each character, that varies from character to character. Zach’s dilemmas are different than Alice’s, who again is struggling with different things than Poppy. Finally, by the end of the book, although Zach, Poppy, and Alice have grown up, there is a clear sense that they each have more growing up to do and that on occasion, they might even ‘relapse’ and not grow up at all. Doll Bones is described as “spooky” and “scary”, which I didn’t find when reading it. I liked the ambiguity, even at the end (and I don’t think this is a spoiler) about whether the game was a game or the game was real. Because games are always real. And reality is a game. And I see no reason to make a distinction. Is Doll Bones a ghost story or a growing up story? Well, yes. Also, Black demonstrates that gender is just as fluid as ‘growing up’. Zach enjoys playing imagination games with dolls in the afternoon with Poppy and Alice. He also likes playing basketball. He doesn’t switch from boy to girl. He’s a boy who likes a variety of things. He doesn’t broadcast his afternoon games — he knows that some of the other boys wouldn’t approve — but he doesn’t feel the need to stop either. Doll Bones is ultimately about the between spaces. Maybe it is a ghost story after all.

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Jenny Lee puts a canine spin on the value of friendship — or finding your pack — in Elvis and the Underdogs (Balzer + Bray, $16.99). Sure Benji has friends: the doctors and nurses at the hospital where he spends most of his time, the librarian, since he eats alone in the library when he is at school, and his mom, who fiercely watches over him. However, when he has a seizure and his doctor tells him he either has to wear an extraordinarily ugly helmet to school or get a therapy dog, Benji opts for the dog. Upon arrival, the dog, Parker Elvis Pembroke IV, emphatically informs Benji that he was meant to be the President’s dog and there has clearly been a mix-up. Benji can understand Elvis — everyone else hears barking or growling — and Elvis is worth listening to: “Benjamin. I’m not going to eat in the library. Maybe you can eat neatly enough to be allowed to do so, but I cannot. I’m a dog. I eat off the floor, when I think about food, I produce a large quantity of saliva. It’s a physiological response that is Pavlovian and is a long story that I can’t get into right now, especially when I’m hungry”. Elvis is a therapy dog with the personality of Frazier Crane. He’s serious about his duty to protect Benji, but Elvis also knows a little something about the importance of having a pack and he’s determined to help Benji create his own.

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Check out my guest blog post over on Youth Literature Reviews, a blog worth reading.

BomBomsAway

Out in the world

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

Opening books to open minds.

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Shannon A Thompson

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Random Acts of Reading

reviews, raves and a random assortment of book buzz

Her Cup of Tea

A crazy book nerd takes the literary world by storm!

And Then There Was One

a story of the truth

A Grumpy Young Woman Bookish Loves and Hates

Striving to find Bookish Perfection and Moaning along the way!

Family, Relationships and Personal Situations

FRaPS: Family, Relationship and Personal Situations are our specialty. Let us help you stay strong and full of life. Let's put an end to bullying and school shootings!!

suburbanprincessteacher

Funny but true stories from the school to the burbs.

The Jiggly Bits

...because life is funny.

Hockey Writing from Liz Bell

Hockey, Writing....

Before I Forget

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Woods Hole Blog

Check out our Website at www.woodshole.com, Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/woodsholema and Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Woods-Hole/351052088025

Alice in Readerland

I’m Alice, a young adult who reviews Young Adult (& sometimes Middle Grade) books. Join me in my adventures in Readerland!

bleustokcings

a girl who loves books,chocolates and INSPIRATION!