A Great Book

First of all, a large friendly welcome to all who have come here from finslippy. It's an honor to have you.
And I feel I ought to have something bold and new to say, but it's only regular and small: I loved one of Diana's books. It's not even a little-known book that I unearthed on my own, but a book that everyone already knows and loves. It has gathered to itself many, many (deserved) awards. So I feel a little bit like I'm running around saying, "Wow, you guys, check out this amazing film? It's called The Godfather?" Nonetheless.

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One of the wonderful things that happens when you read a great book is how clear everything seems all of a sudden. I read this and thought, "Oh right, this is what it's like to read an excellent book." And I remember that it's not (necessarily) my fault if I'm sort of…drifting from a book I'm reading. It's just hard to make a book (or find a book!) that's really great. What a pleasure it is! And it shakes me, a bit, out of my early-onset old fogeyness, wherein I've been hobbling around thinking, "Well, now that Betsy-Tacy, there was a good kids book," as though nothing good has been published since 1936.
The people in this book live and breathe, and the story carries you delightedly along, and reading it gave me such a joyful feeling.
It also gave me and Diana a lot to talk about: she bemoaned the absence of good (as opposed to evil) female main characters in the section that's set in the present; her favorite part was the flashbacks; would she, a person who doesn't eat onions, be able to survive being stranded in the desert when all there was to eat was—onions? It's hard to convey how much more fun this was to discuss than Pokemon.

23 thoughts on “A Great Book

  1. I found you via Finslippy. I enjoy the concept of your blog. I love books! I could spend all day in a bookstore, and never get sick of it.
    I have not read Holes yet, but it is on my list. I think that the most amazing book in the whole world is The Book Theif. Have you read it?

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  2. I love that feeling – that feeling of having stumbled upon greatness. I hope for it every time I open a new book, not unlike showing up for a first date. So often disappointed, so worth it when justified.

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  3. I’m a children’s librarian who found out via finslippy. I hope you will welcome my unsolicited book advice, because I’m bound to give it. It’s just how I roll.
    Holes is a really great story. And I love the movie too.
    Now for the advice I was warning you about. Get “The True Meaning of Smekday,” by Adam Rex and read it aloud as a family. You will thank me.
    I wish I could read it aloud for everyone. I even had my stodgy husband in stitches. It’s imperative that you do the voices. That’s the best part.

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  4. Found via Finslippy. Glad I’ve found you. I’m not a literary genius, but I love reading aloud to my two daughters, and I respect all things “book”. I’m here to listen, and am glad you have decided to dish it up. Good luck to you!

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  5. Very excited to follow your blog. I’m currently an at-home mom, but will return to teaching elementary school in a few years, hopefully as a reading specialist. I look forward to reading your posts and reviews in the future! Thanks, finslippy!

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  6. I love, love, love young-adult fiction…when it’s done right like “Holes” or “The Giver” or “Walk Two Moons.” Still, to this day, if asked my favorite books, it always comes back to those I read as an adolescent: “Little Women,” “Eight Cousins,” “Nancy Drew” (not a classic, but definitely classic). What a great site you have!

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  7. I came over from finslippy too. I love your blog! My oldest is 5 years old, so we’re not quite ready for some of the stuff you’re talking about (my 5-year-old is into “Magic Treehouse” and has just discovered comic books, so I don’t know if “Holes” would hold his attention yet). But I’ve always been an avid reader and have a box in the garage, waiting for my kids to be old enough to enjoy some of my favorites. (And Alison, I loved “Eight Cousins,” and “Rose in Bloom” was the first book to make me cry.)
    I can’t wait to read more of your thoughts!

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  8. I’m here from Finslippy as well.
    I am always very happy to find smart, cogent grownup reviews of good kids’ literature in the blogosphere. I write book reviews for the Star-Ledger, and never had more fun than when I was doing the kids and YA round-up. I will keep coming back, for sure.

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  9. I really loved Holes, too. My mom used to ask me to read some of the things my brother was into, so that she wouldn’t have to do all the parent reading. This was one that she read and then asked me to read anyway. We loved it that much.
    My oldest is four and I have never needed anything like I need this blog. She is very precocious and we are reading chapter books at night. We have gone through Clementine and most of the Rold Dahl books and are slogging through Junie B. Jones which she loves and I find annoying to read. I needed help finding good age-appropriate books and I have started a list based on your reviews. You rock.

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  10. Oh my heavens, how I love Holes. I reread it last summer and fell in love all over again.
    I’m here via Finslippy as well (surprise!) and I’m thrilled to find you, since I’m just finishing up my degree to be a school or childrens librarian and I run a book review blog as well. Oh, how I love books.

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  11. Oooh, if you like holes, I REALLY REALLY recommend “Someday, Angeline”. Also by Louis Sachar. A wonderful, warm story about a gifted girl and the people who love her.

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  12. This is a great blog (and also a great idea for a blog). I am about to have my first child, a boy, and while I’m very excited I envy you having two girls to read with. There are so many books I treasure from childhood that I’m not sure a boy would be interested in reading.

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  13. Also here via finslippy. Also a children’s librarian and, like, Sarah, I insist that you read Smekday because it was so funny and great.
    But Holes does remain in my top 3favorite children’s books. It is so beautifully crafted. It is so fun and moving and perfect. Yes.
    Another excellent Sachar that I might have skipped (because of the title) were it not for a good librarian – There’s A Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom.

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  14. Another vote for “Someday, Angeline.” That was one of the ones my daughter told me I had to read when she finished.
    My daughter is almost 9 and has read all of Tamora Pierce in the past year. Some of it goes over her head on the first read, but she likes to reread her favorites and then the questions come.
    I can’t read ahead of her — she reads faster than I do and has more time to do it. So I am grateful for your reviews of books Diana is reading. I struggle with “challenging but not too mature” all the time.
    My girl loved all the Diana Wynne Jones books, and the Redwall series (lots of them, and they are long! woo!). Also, we recently stumbled on “Eager” and “Eager’s Nephew” by Helen Fox, if Diana likes Sci Fi as much as she likes the Tamora Pierce style fantasy.
    Off to put some stuff on hold in my library site . . .

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  15. I love finslippy. But I’ve got to say, I have never been more excited about a new blog. I have two daughters, and we are at the library ALL the time, but this helps me so much wade through all those books. I can’t wait to go through these books with them. YAY!

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  16. Here’s an example of what I struggle with: I just looked up The Book Thief as recommended by Kaylyn at the top of this conversation. My library lists three reviews; one says “age 12 and up,” another says “grades 9 and up” and the third says “grades 10-12.” Hmmmm. It sounds serious but good. My almost-9 year old has read a bunch of holocaust books, and I generally let her read “age 12 and up” books. I’m inclined to let this one wait a couple more years, but maybe I shouldn’t worry.

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  17. What’s fascinating to me is that I just discovered your blog a few days ago. And just last week I picked my my daughter’s copy of HOLES and read it through, cover to cover! It was fantastic. My daughter has informed me that Louis Sachar is “her 2nd favorite author” (the first being Roald Dahl)

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  18. I am another Finslippy Recruit. I read and read and read through your blog, finding your witticisms (sp?) and recommendations and observations so thoroughly entertaining, I had to advertise you on my own blog as well.
    My sister and I were bookworms as children, and now with our own broods of 4 years and under (me with 2 sons and she with 3 daughters) we want reading to be a big part of their lives as well.
    Thanks to you and everyone for all the reviews and I also am making a list for my next library visit!

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  19. Yet another visitor from Finslippy here. I was thrilled to discover your blog, as I (like commenter pastrymom said) find the stacks and stacks of children’s titles at the library/bookstore daunting and these reviews are really helpful!

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  20. Here’s another recommendation: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It’s most definitely a YA book, set in Australia with a prickly young woman for a protagonist. It bears no real relation to Holes except that absolutely everything turns out to be connected in some way to everything else. Actually, now that I think of it, there are two parallel stories being told, but the older one occurs only 20 years earlier. It’s slow to get started then becomes a real page-turner.

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  21. I love holes too. My favorite parts were the flashbacks and stanley carries him up a hill. Have you read the spin off about armpit? It’s called small steps.

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