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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: A sadly disjointed collection of Irish folktales that can't decide whether it has a frame story or not. Spans a lot more eras than just the standard Fianna and Tain Bó retellings that generally fall under the head of "Irish folktales", though, and in a couple of stories explicitly references the Catholic/Protestant political split that's so much a part of Irish culture for the last 400 years, which honestly impressed me -- children's books don't usually go there at all if they don't have to.

Reaction: I wanted to love this book, I really did. I love and admire Padraic Colum and what he did for Irish literature, and "Stories from My Own Countryside" sounds like a topic he should be brilliant on, but this just falls flat. :-(

Rating: Two stars. I couldn't bring myself to go lower, and even as good as the prose truly is, it doesn't deserve higher. :-(
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
I have no idea what this is about, only that it's public domain and available here, which saves me having to wait on interlibrary loan for it. ^_^

let us adventure )
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Another collection of retold folktales, this one by Padraic Colum, who's usually pretty good. Judging by the frontispiece, this purports to be a collection of tales told under a particular tree outside a small Irish village. Let's see, then.

here we go )

* I don't know. That's not a very satisfactory book. It's kind of all over the place, for all that it tries to tie the stories together with a cohesive framing narrative. :S
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: Retold tales from the Kalevala, surrounded by a frame story about the Finnish Civil War of the late 19-teens. The frame story follows a preteen boy named Vaino (presumably there should be diacriticals there, but the book uses none) and his family through the conflict.

Reaction: No suspense, a lot of "oh, war is fun and thrilling!", very little nuance, no character development at all. I didn't like it enough to finish it.

Rating: One star, because it wasn't as gobsmackingly bad as most of the zero-star offerings we've had. I don't recommend reading it, though; there are far better Kalevala retellings out there, and the frame story is boring as hell.
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
And then I finished the book in the scraps of time while waiting for my interwebs to load, so the rest of this liveblog is technically more of a re-read. *shrugs*

Read more... )
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Okay, so, yeah, wow. That was a hell of a year. But I'm back in stable housing now, going to college, got a car, got state-funded health insurance(!!!), ready to work on this "time management" stunt. ;-)

The library in my new area has a lot of the reliable-old-classic Newberys - Little House, Charlotte's Web - and a pretty up-to-date selection of this century's, but not a lot of the obscure 1930s ones I still haven't tackled. Rather than wait for interlibrary loans to trickle in, I think I'll first tackle what's available locally, in no particular order. We start with A Wrinkle in Time because it was part of the Banned Books Week display and caught my eye.

Read more... )

* Anyway. Where the hell was I?

* Okay, my room's enough of a wreck that I physically cannot find this book after I set it down for a minute. It's a big-assed hardback, this is untenable. I'mma go ahead and post this section of the liveblog and then clean my room. ;P

Hiatus post

Oct. 8th, 2013 10:39 pm
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Okay, posting will be irregular or possibly nonexistent till Christmas, because I'm doing Yuletide.

(Well, technically, I'm not. Yuletide proper - one story, 1000 words minimum, write it any time after October 14 - wouldn't take that much time. What I'm doing, because I overcommit to things, is writing AS MANY STORIES AS POSSIBLE between now and Christmas... and of course, reviewing the books and movies and TV shows I'll be writing about. So I won't have much time to read Newberys or liveblog.)

So, yeah. I most likely won't be posting much or at all (except the Vaino review, probably) till after Christmas. We'll see what happens at that point, because I'm hoping to go back to college, but depending how my commute works out for college... yeah. :-)

Have a good autumn/spring, everybody! ^_^
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
It is Monday! I have... a partial liveblog of Little House in the Big Woods, written before Vaino arrived on interlibrary loan.

I'm posting this now because the deeply informal poll came out unanimously in favor of upping my language rating here. So I thought I'd post all the deliberately-G-rated writing I had and start fresh. ^_^

*********************

[Written earlier:]

For clarity, throughout this series, I'm going to use "Laura" to mean the fictionalized character and "Mrs Wilder" or "Laura Ingalls Wilder" to mean the real-life author / historical character.

and dive in O_O )

And that's where I got distracted by the most biased retelling of the Finnish Civil War ever, so we'll pick up on Thursday with... more Little House, or a biography of Madame Roland on interlibrary loan, or both! ^_^
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Okay, here's a question for my readers (loyal and, uh, anyone who happens to drop by *dry grin*):

Would you keep reading if I switched from a strict G rating on language to a loose R (i.e. dropping f-bombs and so forth whenever I go on a rant like yesterday's about Vaino)?

See, I feel like I can't be as scathing as I want in a G rating; I suspect this would be a much more entertaining blog, of the sort I'd like to read, if I didn't have to censor myself every time a Newbery book descended into the truly bad. But I don't want to make a major change like that without asking y'all whether you'd mind.

So. I'd put up a poll, but I don't have a paid Dreamwidth account. Please answer in comments (you can say as little as "yes" or "no", but I'd really appreciate hearing from all you lurkers who never comment, if you have any opinion):

"Would you keep reading if I switch from G-rated to R-rated language in my posts here?"

(Anon commenting is on. Anon comments will be screened, but if you're not an obvious spammer/troll I'll happily unscreen.)
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
[Written right before posting:] So I finally gave up on this... miserable object... (I tell you, I'm really regretting right now that I didn't make this blog R-rated) and decided to post what I had. In hopes that people will wail back at me and share my pain. O_O

In other notes, I've finally realized that putting the warnings in the actual post body as well as in the cut would be useful for anyone who ever gets linked here from anywhere. I'll do that from now on, and at some point go back and edit them into all the old liveblog posts. :D

**************

[Earlier:] ...I have no idea whether "New Finland" here means a place that is not Finland, like New York or New Zealand, or whether it means "contemporary Finland" as opposed to "traditional Finland with Lapps and reindeer and that".

LET'S FIND OUT. (Since I only have this book on interlibrary loan till October 7. ;P)

WARNINGS: normative arranged marriage, suicide, misogyny, classism, wildly skewed Finnish history... I may have missed something there because after 'suicide' the problems started coming so thick and fast I forgot to warn at the time )

* You know what? I'm done. This book is SO BIASED, and every bad sort of -ist possible [except maybe racist, which it made up for by being AS CLASSIST AS POSSIBLE, like the Dynne in The Phantom Tollbooth whose middle initial "A." stood for "AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE", only with classism]. I have no more interest in it whatsover. Blaaaaaaah. Done.

ETA: I found and fixed my own overflowing link. Aren't you proud of me? ;P Yes, this book has addled my brain. Addled, I say.
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
*pokes head in*

Sorry about falling off the map -- I'm having a medication issue and not really braining enough to Newbery. :P I'll be back when I can, hopefully in a week or two.
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: Retells in English the life story of Fionn mac Cumhall, one of Ireland's great mythic heroes, and of his comrades the Fianna, from Fionn's boyhood through to his old age.

Reaction: Ella Young, like Padraic Colum, was a member of the Gaelic Revival and Celtic Revival movements in the early 20th century. Like Padraic Colum, she is an AMAZING writer in her field -- incredibly talented at use of language and at structuring a retelling so a reader without background knowledge can follow it and find it fascinating.

Conclusion: Five stars. Highly recommended for anyone with any interest whatever in Ireland, Irish mythology and legend, or good writing.
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Sorry about the delay in posting. I had a day. A couple of days.

*****************

Today in Returning Newbery Authors we have Ella Young, whose previous tour-de-force The Wonder Smith and His Son was made of awesome and win, and took the second of our six five-star ratings so far. :D Once again she's retelling pre-Christian Irish folk tales -- this time from the story of Fionn mac Uail (pronounced "Finn Mac Ool"), one of Ireland's two best-known legendary folk heroes. (The other one is Cúchulain.)

let's go! )

That was a good book.
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: cut for spoilers )

Reaction: The most heteronormative possible treatment of a set of cultural customs with a LOT of potential for questioning gender relationships. about spoilers )

(I use past-tense verbs because the Communist takeover of Albania included efforts at eradicating gender oppression, and I don't know the current situation very accurately.)

And it's treated of in a GAAAH ) and none of the gender oppression stuff is questioned at all, just treated as an integral part of the structure of the story. Which is one way to handle writing about oppressive cultures, but I VERY VERY STRONGLY judge Ms Miller's choice to write this particular narrative (rather than, say, spoilers )). :P

Also, it's an incredibly slow book, laden down with exhaustive detail about Albanian rural life of the (unstated) time period. And due to a couple of odd wordings about a festival Mass, I don't even know how much I trust the author's research. O_O

Also also, in the spot where changing one attribution would have made Pran the first female Newbery protagonist to have agency - just letting her, instead of her boyfriend, suggest that she go have an effect on the plot ), and then just not having her GO ALL WIBBLY AND UNSURE ABOUT IT! - she, well, doesn't. :P One word. I'd have given this book four stars (lopping off the fifth because it's slooooow) if that had been the case. :PPPPPP

Conclusion: One star. Because the use of language and the research is relatively good, but I'm so angry about how pointless it was to make our formerly quite assertive-seeming heroine into a wishy-washy catspaw of her beloved Man-Hero at that one spot. BLAAAAAAAGH.
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
This is an out-of-print interlibrary loan, 257 pages long. Here goes.

a book, a book! )

This was a really slow book. And I'm really disappointed with the one pivotal scene that kept this from being the very first Newbery book about a female protagonist with agency. :P
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: Tells the story of one year in the life of teenage French orphan girl Marguerite "Maggie" Ledoux, indentured to an English-American family that settles in Maine in 1743.

Reaction: I like Maggie. I like a lot of the descriptions. The research is as thorough and accurate as I've come to expect from Rachel Field. I don't like the repeated emphasis on how out-of-place Marguerite is among the anti-French English settlers of the day, and I really don't like the... sudden realism, I guess: the one incident with a harshly unhappy ending in a book where almost everything turns out well. It's very like the twist in Hitty where spoilers for Hitty: Her First Hundred Years ) -- a relatively light, fluffy book at the start, with a sudden twist to the darker side of life. And this book's unhappy twist was really severely grim, involving spoiler; if this works right there should be another cut with warnings under this cut ); I'm glad I didn't read it as a kid. :-(

Conclusion: Two stars. It's well-written and well-researched, and I like some of the characters, but I don't like the book as a whole. I don't like the... feel of it, I guess. Call me unliterary, but I like fluff. ;P
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
I'd never even heard of this book before I started reading Newberys, but it's by the author of Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, so I'm expecting - at a minimum - solid research and reasonable use of language. :D

here we go! WARNING: child injury, traumatic child death )
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: Tells the simple story of a rabbit who runs away from various scary loud noises, meets various other animals, and goes back home in the evening. Includes an ABC song consisting of the entire book sung to a tune composed by Ms Gág's sister Flavia.

Reaction: Disappointing. The music and the pictures are both good, but the lyrics which link the two are terribly flat. There is no plot, no humor, very little logical connection or progression from one letter to the next, and not even a funny turn of phrase to lighten the slog. A book with something like twenty pages shouldn't be a slog. O_O

Conclusion: One star, mainly because I can't give Wanda Gág zero stars. :P The tune and the pictures between them do actually deserve a star, though.
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[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: cut for spoilers )

Reaction: After a slow start, a surprisingly sweet little book, quick to read and full of memorable, likable characters. By the end of the book, I really cared quite a lot about the welfare of this train engine. ^_^ Highly recommended. WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE OUT OF PRINT. :P If I am ever a multi-millionaire, one thing I'm going to do is buy up the rights to some of these books and reprint them for modern readers.

Conclusion: Four stars. I docked it one for the slow start and for some infelicitous language choices, like the use of spelled-out "Negro dialect" in the one spot where an African-American porter appears.
readallthenewberys: animated gif of Snoopy writing a story with multiple strange subplots (Default)
[personal profile] justice_turtle
Summary: cut for spoilers )

Reaction: I think I like this one maybe even a teeny bit better than Millions of Cats, since it doesn't have the slightly gruesome turn of that book, but keeps the Grimm's Fairy Tales feel and the truly glorious pen-and-ink artwork in double-page spreads. Babar artist Jean de Brunhoff pioneered the oversize picture book a child could "climb into", a few years after Millions of Cats and The Funny Thing came out, but I'll definitely argue in favor of Wanda Gág as a precursor of the same trend.

I also really enjoyed Bobo's gentle, genre-savvy sporking of the "sermonizing" type of child's picture book in one place. :D

Conclusion: Five stars. I wouldn't say this book should have won the Newbery over Hitty, but I'd definitely give it a Mock Pre-Caldecott for the year. ;-) (The actual Caldecott medal wouldn't be awarded till 1938.)

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