Wednesday, May 03, 2017
April Reads in Review, 2017
27. Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters by Margaret Dilloway - A boy who is small for his age discovers that he is a Momotaro (a boy who came from a peach and fights evil) after his father's disappearance. And, the world is depending on him to save it from the horrifying monsters that want to take over. I wasn't the right reader for this book but I'm sure my kids would have loved this adventurous book if they'd read it during their youths.
28. Elly and the Smelly Sneaker by Leslie Gorin and Lesley Vamos - A book that takes the Cinderella story and turns it upside-down. Elly's family coddles her but what she wants most is to play baseball. When her fairy godfather grants her wish, she's thrilled. But, Elly only has till noon before she returns to her former outfit, leaving behind a smelly sneaker as the only clue to the identity of the team's baseball star. My favorite of the children's books I read in April.
29. The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins - Clearly, Billy Collins is a well-traveled man because a good portion of these poems were written on his travels. Maybe he travels specifically to find new material? Hard to say. As usual, I found his poetry charming and relatable, but the fact that so much of it was written in and about various places around the globe made it seem a bit more uppity than expected.
30. Tequila Mockingbird by Leo Cullum - A book of animal cartoons from the New Yorker. I bought this book at a local college book sale and read most of it while waiting for a seat in a restaurant with Kiddo reading along over my shoulder. It helped pass the time very nicely.
31. Sammy's Broken Leg and the Amazing Cast that Fixed It by Judith Wolf Mandell - A children's book that describes the experience of breaking a leg, from the pain of being injured through the setting of a cast and the long, boring days without being able to move around much. A great book for children who are going through medical frustration of any kind, I would think. I'll donate this one to my doctor's office after I've reviewed it.
32. The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris - Just like it sounds, a book about comic book supervillains that spans about 7 decades. "Regrettable" because most were not around for long and had either dubious skills or strange reasons for becoming villainous. The author has a sly sense of humor that makes the book a joy to read. Also, it's heavily illustrated, often with readable panels from the original comic books that give you a nice glimpse into the dialogue between villains and heroes.
33. The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day - A handwriting expert is tasked with helping the local sheriff find a missing child. But when her own son disappears, she not only has two completely separate cases to unravel but also must confront the horrors of her past and accept the possibility of a much different future than she anticipated. I liked this story, although occasionally it did seem odd that the heroine couldn't put together some pretty obvious clues.
34. Little Known Tales of Oklahoma by Alton Pryor - Probably the worst book I've read in years. I learned a few things, but this self-published book of facts read like the author had written his research on recipe cards and then typed directly from them without even worrying about order. Or spelling. It was probably particularly easy for me to spot errors since I'm an Oklahoman but the book was in desperate need of an editor.
35. The Plague by Albert Camus - My classic choice of the month, a fictional account of an outbreak of Bubonic Plague in French Algeria, which is told from the POV of a doctor and some other men trapped within the city walls during the crisis. Focused on the emotional impact and the logistics of dealing with a plague, rather than the gory details, The Plague is a little slow but the writing is stellar.
36. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem - A unique, rather hodge-podge memoir in which Steinem talks about how her childhood on the road naturally fed into her travels as a journalist and speaker who campaigned for women's rights. Lots of fascinating history, some fun tales (the stories told to her by taxi drivers were very entertaining) and some terrific insight on culture made My Life on the Road a favorite of the month and the best of my feminist reads, so far. I laughed, I cried. Wonderful book.
37. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney - When Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast find out the syrup container is almost empty, they race through broccoli forests and across mashed potato mountains to get to the last drops. But, will either of them make it in time? A delightful romp through an imaginative refrigerator interior.
38. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The Case of the Stinky Stench by J. Funk and B. Kearney - Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are back, this time tasked with helping Inspector Croissant discover the source of a nasty smell in the fridge. Even more fun than the first book, with a few clever puns that made me laugh out loud.
39. How to Train Your Lion by Tammi Sauer and Troy Cummings - When a little boy orders a kitten but receives a lion instead, the lion comes with a set of instructions. "Try very hard not to look like a zebra," for example. By the 14th step, the little boy has discovered his lion is "the purrrr-fect pet".
40. Mister Monkey by Francine Prose - When things start to go awry in a children's musical called Mister Monkey, what will happen? A unique story that's written like links in a chain as it follows one character, then switches to another character who shared the first protagonist's scenes, and so forth. I hoped the chain would come full circle and the ending wrap up all their stories neatly and that's not quite what happened, although the ending was upbeat.
Quite a pile there, but they're mostly either light reads or children's books (even lighter). The few exceptions were, of course, my feminist and classic choices, the book of supervillains, and the two novels. I'm hoping for a bit more depth in May, but I'm happy that the influx of children's books provided an enjoyable mental break and reassured me that my reading is going just fine, since this year has been kind of a rocky one.
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