Saturday, October 02, 2010

Listening treasures

While I didn’t finish reading any books on vacation, I did finish two audiobooks while driving to and from Michigan. Both are considered children’s novels.

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

Set in London during the mid-1600s, this is the story of Coriander, the only child of a well to do merchant. Her mother is considered to be the local expert on folk medicines. The family is a happy one.

Trouble begins with the arrival of a mysterious package that contains a pair of silver shoes. Young Coriander greatly desires the shoes, even though her mother is very set against them. Thus begins a story of mystery and magic; of tragedy and treachery.

As Coriander grows, her loving family is torn apart. She learns about her mother’s mysterious past, and, in doing so, who she really is.

  • The story is engaging. In a mixture of reality and fantasy, Gardner deftly describes Coriander’s world.
  • The characters are well developed. They grow throughout the story, learning from mistakes and
  • I haven’t read a lot of Neil Gaiman’s work, but this story reminded me a lot of those I have read (Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Stardust, MirrorMask). Since I enjoyed most of those stories, I was happy with this.

  • It isn’t as much of a dislike of the book as a confusion as to where it belongs in a library collection. Like many others, my library has it as a children’s novel. The more I listened to the book I understood why other libraries place it in teen fiction. The amount of abuse railed upon Coriander and her stepsister – and the description of it – is enough to make he hesitate giving the book to anyone younger than 13 or 14.

The second audiobook I finished is another of those stories that I thought I may have read as a child, only to realize I don’t recall it at all. Yet again, I wonder how no one put this book into my hand!

From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

The oldest of four children and the only girl, Claudia decides to run away from home. She’s tired of not being appreciated by her family. She isn’t one to just pick up and go, however. First she needs a plan. Part of her plan is recruiting one of her younger brothers – Jamie – as he is known to be very thrifty with his money.

The two leave home and travel to New York City where they make themselves a home at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They are not the only new residents of the museum. A statue of an angel – possibly a work of Michelangelo’s – was recently acquired and put on display. The children decide to solve the mystery of the statue’s creator, leading them to the home of one Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – the narrator of the story.

  • The relationship between Claudia and Jamie. The siblings are close, but still disagree like siblings often do.
  • Mrs. Frankeweiler’s tone and humor. She reminds be a bit of the character of Sofia on Golden Girls. I want to be like her when I grow up.
  • The library! The children go to the library to do research on Angel. Yay!
  • The little surprise at the end. I can’t tell you what it is, but I loved it!

  • The narrator. I cringed nearly every time she spoke Jamie’s lines. She made him sound like the annoying kid in the Polar Express movie – just even more annoying. *shudder*
  • 1968 Newbery Winner
  • Number 5 on the Top 100 Children's Novels list.

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