Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Review - Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A Whitney

Like many of the reviewers I first read Ms. Whitney as a young adult and was happy to find this copy and pick it up for some leisurely summer reading. I do take a bit of umbrage at the reviewers who try to paint this book with the social brush of today. Any work is a product of its times and should be judged in that context. To that end this book, which won an Edgar Award for juvenile mystery, is smooth, pleasant read. Ms. Whitney develops her characters well and paints an enchanting setting. It does deal with gender roles, disability, financial hard times, and aging, all from the lens of a young girl. Although there are clear gender roles (the women do all the food preparation, for example), that was the norm in 1960 to set it otherwise would have made it difficult to relate to the intended audience. However, there is nothing the protagonist, Susan, does not do or is prohibited from because she is a girl. Also Gene's disability is treated, again inside the context of the time, with compassion and empathy and some amount of empowerment. I am still looking for a copy of the first Whitney mystery I read, Mystery on the Isle of Skye. Whitney writes well and this mild read was a welcome change from the much more "in your face" work of more contemporary writers. Recommended if you want a quiet nostalgic well-written read.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review - Pan by K. R. Thompson

Before we get to the Promotional Stuff...

For a variety of reasons I was only able to read Pan. This was truly unfortunate because K. R. Thompson has done a superb job spinning the prequels to Barrie's children's classic. We are brought into the world through Tinkerbell's eyes and see the roots of Peter's character as well as some background on Neverland in an extremely well-written and seamlessly integrated way with the original. Why does Peter Pan flit between depression and manic joy? What is the origin of the lost boys? Ever wonder about the crocodile? And then there's Captain Hook and the merpeople. Thompson brings the backstory to life.  Five stars! Highly recommended! Read on!

by K.R. Thompson

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Fate of Paper Books

As you can probably tell from some of the information on this blog I am not exactly a Millenial. I grew up when telephones still had rotary dials and music was on vinyl. Books, all books, were printed on paper. I had (and still have) thousands of these relics.

Someone famously asked how will kids find new music artists, share with their parents or friends when there are no boxes of albums to thumb through, to explore kinesthetically, visually and then, finally, aurally? The same can be said of books. I still scan through the bookshelves when I go to parties or visit a friend. I love flipping through books at yard sales and charity sales.

The yard sales and charity sales, I see, as a vanishing event for written material. However, the physical book does not seem to be disappearing, just changing. Children's books are actually still strong, a hopeful sign for a literate future generation who can stay focused on one thing for more than a few seconds.

And I worry less now about the flipping through old albums scenario. You can do the same thing by flipping through the titles on my Kindle or my cloud library. Even if I'd rather hold the paper and smell the ink, the core of the book is still there in the electrons flitting about. The ideas, the adventure, the imagination, the knowledge is all still there. The form shows new options, without completely losing the old ones.

Each has its place as we move forward.