As frightening as a unicorn with galloping consumption…

Only less scary.

From the back:

The Three investigators books are among the most popular mysteries ever published for young readers. Millions of fans around the world–from America to Finland to Japan–have thrilled to the Investigators’ exciting adventures and amazing feats of detection.

Clearly this was pre-JK Rowling.


Found: in cabin #6

Oldies-But-Goodies: Judy Blume’s Blubber, 1974


I know Elder and I tore through Judy Blume’s books as children, but I have a feeling neither of us ever really appreciated her skill of actually getting into the heads of adolescents.  I opened Blubber for a reminder.  I ended up sitting on the floor, wedged in a corner, to read it in its entirety.

I remembered trying to be friends with girls for fear of NOT being friends with them.
I remembered being bullied.
I remembered bullying.
I remembered being ten.

If the “celebrate-materialism-and-attention-whoreism” crapfest that is much* of mainstream young adult fiction today is Tiger Beat and Cosmo, Judy Blume is National Geographic.  Raw truth honestly told.
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The Bad Queen, by Carolyn Meyer

Halfway through the book I still couldn’t figure out why I kept picturing the Dauphin of France as Jason Schwartzman.  

Then it hit me:

The VERDICT: Historical YA fiction enthusiasts, go for it.

The Bad Queen is as interesting as it is easy to read, with great tidbits such as 18th century teeth straightening:

“I thought the canines he talked about were probably dogs, and the pelican must be some exotic sea bird, and none of it made any sense to me. Then, without a word of warning, he placed a block of wood in my mouth to hold it open, gripped one of my upper teeth in the draws of a dreadful instrument—this was the pelican—and forced the tooth into a new position.  I let out a shriek of pain and terror, my arms and legs flailing.  Several footmen rushed to pin me down and hold my head in place.  While I howled, Doctor Bourdet repeated the horrible process on the remaining canines–my pointed teeth, it turned out, and not dogs at all.”

(It gets even better when they move on to the gold wire braces.)

If you know the story of Marie Antoinette, little will come as a surprise.  Still, it’s nice to hear her story from the perspective of what she was: political pawn AND young girl.  Scapegoats for the French revolutionists, she and Louis have been labeled everything from uncaring to cruel… but really, they were probably just totally inept.¹

The Bad Queen tells that side of the story.
¹Okay, so  she had that whole Petit Trianon thing—that was a bit much.

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

The VERDICT: Read it, don’t analyze it.

Sheepocalypse.

Baaa

BAAA, by David Macauley

My classroom being 90 bajillion degrees (due to what I’ve often heard called a “lowest bid” HVAC system), and it being that time of year (the end) I ended up in the library with my students recently.  As they pretended to be studious, I roamed the stacks.  I was lucky enough to come across this gem: Baaa.

First of all, I’ve loved David Macauley’s drawings since I was six.  Always interested in architecture, I pored over Castle, Cathedral, Pyramid and others.  His attention to detail always hooked me from page one.

I really had no idea he dabbled in apocalyptic satire.  Directed at 9-12 year olds.  Starring my second favorite species, ovis aries.

The Dead-Tossed Waves, by Carrie Ryan.

Or, in RoySpeak:  The Sea of Dead People in the Waves.

Gabry lives with her mother in Vista, a small Barrier town.  There, she’s always been sheltered from the larger world and mostly safe from the Mudo, though one of her mother’s main duties as the lighthouse keeper is to decapitate any zombies that wash ashore during high tide.  She’s comfortable in her town, she loves her mother and her friends.  She knows who she is, and where her life will lead.

[Movie Trailer Voice] But then one night, due to a single moment of rebellion, everything changes. [/Movie Trailer Voice]  Suddenly, all of her friends are dead, missing or imprisoned.  She discovers that everything she’s understood to be true… isn’t.  That not only is her entire life a lie, but that everything she understands about the world and everything she understands it to be… is wrong.

The Dead-Tossed Waves.

I was really looking forward to this book.  I was a huge, huge fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I was looking forward to another story sent in the same world AS WELL AS some answers to the many, many questions that the first book raised.

On the day the book arrived — back in, well, a long time ago — I ripped the package open, tossed it (the package) over my shoulder, and started reading.  I made it ten pages in before I shut the book.

The next day, I tried again, with the same result.

Not a good sign.

Verdict, in brief:

For me?  No.  Just… no.  My reasons are below the cut and will contain spoilers.

For other readers?  It depends.  If Bella Swan’s self-loathing wasn’t an issue, and Zoey Redbird’s inability to focus on MORTAL DANGER because she’s so busy thinking about her love life wasn’t an issue, and their shared ability to attract every single straight male in the vicinity despite their equal-yet-different lamenesses wasn’t an issue, well, then you’re a leg up on me already.

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Sea of Dead People in the Waves

 

The Dead Tossed Waves

 

Are zombies dead?  Really?  Because they’re moving. And if they’re dead, than what are dead people that aren’t moving? What about a person that is infected but not stumbling around all crazy-like?  Is he dead? Because if he is dead, then what is Stumbly McMoanypants?

Though these questions are discussed at length, not one of them is answered in The Dead-Tossed Waves.  Not being one for philosophical blatherings, that suited me just fine.

To start, it’s only called a “companion” to throw you, and this becomes evident if you’ve read The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  There are tons of hints.  It’s clearly a sequel, though it picks up many years after TFOHAT.  In other words, things are not exactly what they seem.  OooOOOOOoooooOOoooooo.

(Moderate spoilage to follow.)

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