Friday, May 27, 2011

By the way, it does exist!


thanks to Melinda (@Marlinder) for the photo
I love Dav Pilkey for many things. Captain Underpants, the Dumb Bunnies, Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot, etc. The sheer fact that he realizes kids love dumb humor and he's going to write it in a brilliant way. What I don't love about Dav Pilkey is his insistence on promoting his next book in the series... which won't be out for ten years.

It sounds like I'm kidding, but I'm not. Literally The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby came out in 2002. For those of you counting, that's nine years ago. The average kid reading Captain Underpants is probably seven. Which means that kids who read Super Diaper Baby when it came out, came to the last page and read "Coming Soon! Super Diaper Baby 2!" are now sixteen. And probably don't care any more. Well, maybe. It is pretty awesome. But the point is, for years, working in a bookstore, I've constantly had kids coming in asking for Super Diaper Baby 2, assuming it's out because the back of the book said "soon" and that was ages ago.

Well, small children of the world, "soon" is finally here. Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers hits shelves June 28th, and to prove it, we've taken a picture of the advanced reader's copy we nabbed at the store. So yes, we have it. Yes, it's awesome. No, you can't have it until June 28th. But you WILL have it. Empty promises have finally be fulfilled!

And to Dav Pilkey, either write faster or don't make promises you don't intend to keep. PS we're still waiting on Captain Underpants 9.

I can't stand it.

It's not often that I actually give up on a book. I actually just went through and made a shelf on Goodreads of books I've given up on. It numbers 3: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, Street Gang by Michael Davis (a huge disappointment, considering how obsessed I am with Sesame Street) and now:

Crescendo (Hush, Hush, #2)Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2) by Becca Fitzpatrick
(Simon & Schuster Children's, 14+)
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I'll start by saying the reason I gave up on Angels & Demons and Street Gang was because of the writing, which is not the case here. Angels & Demons is the worst drivel I've ever read ("Robert Langdon went here", "Robert Langdon said this", "Robert Langdon got on a plane", etc.) and Street Gang was so obsessed with the intricate details of everyone's life that was involved in the creation of Sesame Street that it was impossible to enjoy. Crescendo and I, on the other hand, had a content problem.

I read Hush, Hush about a year ago, and it was... okay. At the time, I gave it three stars, but I'm knocking it down to two now, because frankly I can hardly remember jack about that book. So it couldn't have been that good. It must've just run right in and out of my brain. So I remember wanting to read the sequel, but at this point I couldn't tell you why. But we finally got it in at work, so I decided to pick it up, regardless. I mean, I wasn't going to go back and reread Hush, Hush.

I quite literally got maybe a 100 pages into Crescendo before dropping it. I don't know what sort of hormonal imbalance Nora Grey is rocking, but it's not appealing or attractive. The book starts with her and Patch (her fallen angel boyfriend, the "Edward" of the piece, if you will) at some fireworks display or something (I'm not entirely sure, I don't think it was all that important). Nora goes off to get snacks or something and runs into her arch-nemesis Marcie, who, after Nora picks a fight with her, uncouthly reminds her that her dad is dead. Except you can tell that Marcie just lacks some social etiquette and in her mind is just speaking the truth. It's like Cordelia (from Buffy/Angel), only not funny. So Nora runs off to cry for twenty minutes.

Once she brings herself to reunite with Patch, they spend a good long time macking on each other and promising to be together always. They seal this promise with the exchange of meaningful jewelery. Then Nora busts out with the l-word, but Patch is distracted by some perceived evil off in the woods and leaves. The next day at school, Marcie reveals that Patch was outside her house during the night. Well, Nora is pissed. She demands an explanation from Patch, who basically says it's none of her business. And now she's in danger, so he won't say he loves her, or something. So she breaks up with him. Even thought she was just promising to spend eternity with him, blahblahblah.

That's it. I'm sorry, I can't take anymore. I put it down in favor of some comic book reading, fully intending to pick it up again, but I got Libba Bray's Beauty Queens last night (signed!) and frankly, I have better things to do with my time.

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
(Simon & Schuster Children's, 14+)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What I will say for this book though? When it first came out, it had the coolest dump I think I'd ever seen, which the falling angel all popping out and stuff. (For the non-booksellers out there, a dump is a cardboard display the publishers send with new books. You've all seen them. They're horrible to put together and often really ugly, but this one was nice.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You know what really gets my goat?

(Subtitled "An angry letter to HarperCollins on the subject of the Chronicles of Narnia.")

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, when I was seven or so, I read the Chronicles of Narnia. I remember having to make a diorama, which was awful since my art skills were much the same as they are now, but somehow I suffered through and drew Susan and Lucy and Aslan and the big broken slab of stone. I remember writing my one-page paper on a typewriter, of all things. And I remember reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first, because that was the first book.

I continued the series and blew through them fairly quickly. And I'll admit to you now, my favorite is The Horse and His Boy, which is unusual, I suppose. At the time, of course, I didn't understand any of the Christian allegories, having being raised completely without religion in my life at all. Which also meant, I really didn't get The Last Battle. I'm still really not sure what was going on there. But up until that point, I loved the gorgeous portal fantasy of it all, still one of my favorite genres. There's nothing like that first discovery of Lucy pushing through the coats to find a winter wonderland and a singular lamppost in the woods.

The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

However, this is no longer how children are introduced to Narnia and it really grinds my gears. I don't know the specifics of who made the decision, although I've heard it was Lewis' estate, but they've since been renumbered into a chronological order, so The Magician's Nephew, a prequel previously numbered book six, is now the first volume. It just doesn't make any sense, and despite HarperCollins' claims on the copyright page that this is in compliance with CS Lewis' intentions, I can't imagine he really felt that way. And I'm sorry, but if he did, he was wrong.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is fully meant to be the first book in the series. There's a magic and a wonder to discovering Narnia with the Pevensie siblings, seeing it for the first time as they do. It's clearly an introduction to the fantasy world. Reading The Magician's Nephew first would be akin to reading The Wizard of Oz second to another Oz novel or Through the Looking Glass before Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. You lose the brilliance of discovery if you've already found what they're finding in that moment they step into a new world. Reading Narnia out of order takes it one step further, however, since a lot of questions raised by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are later answered in The Magician's Nephew since the title character, Digory Kirke, turns out to be the mysterious professor the Pevensie children are sent to live with, and the origin of the wardrobe is explained.

As a bookseller, it really pisses me off the most. I feel like hordes of children are reading these books in the wrong order and it just means that they're missing out. So whenever I sell these books, I make sure they know which order to read them in. I had a little girl come up to me the other day and try to buy The Magician's Nephew, and I stopped and asked her if she'd read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe yet and had to send her home with that one first and a hand-written list of the original order. HarperCollins, why do you cause me so many problems?

Some interesting further reading on the subject: What Would Lewis Do? Have they really based this entire renumbering based on some pandering letter he wrote to an eleven-year-old?

And for the record, it goes:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #4)Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Magician's Nephew

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7)The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
(HarperCollins, 8+)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011: New Releases

I haven't posted in a minute, shame on me. So to get back into the groove I bring you this week's new releases, a couple of which I am very excited for (a new Gail Carson Levine is always something to sing about). As always, all summaries come from the back of the book, and I take no credit for them.

What Happened to GoodbyeWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
(Viking Children's, 12+)

Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move - four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself - whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out.

Ruby RedRuby Red by Kerstin Gier
(Henry Holt and Co., 12+)

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (The Penderwicks, #3)The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (Penderwicks #3) by Jeanne Birdsall
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 8-12)

When summer comes around, it's off to the beach for Rosalind . . . and off to Maine with Aunt Claire for the rest of the Penderwick girls, as well as their old friend, Jeffrey.

That leaves Skye as OAP (oldest available Penderwick)—a terrifying notion for all, but for Skye especially. Things look good as they settle into their cozy cottage, with a rocky shore, enthusiastic seagulls, a just-right corner store, and a charming next-door neighbor.  But can Skye hold it together long enough to figure out Rosalind's directions about not letting Batty explode?  Will Jane's Love Survey come to a tragic conclusion after she meets the alluring Dominic? Is Batty—contrary to all accepted wisdom—the only Penderwick capable of carrying a tune?  And will Jeffrey be able to keep peace between the girls . . . these girls who are his second, and most heartfelt, family?

It's a rollicking ride as the Penderwicks continue their unforgettable adventures in a story filled with laughs and joyful tears!

A Tale of Two CastlesA Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
(HarperCollins, 8-12)

Newly arrived in the town of Two Castles, Elodie unexpectedly becomes the assistant to a brilliant dragon named Meenore, and together they solve mysteries. Their most important case concerns the town’s shape-shifting ogre, Count Jonty Um: Someone is plotting against him. Elodie must disguise herself to discover the source of the threat amid a cast of characters that includes a greedy king, a giddy princess, and a handsome cat trainer.