Reading Update

This was a tough week – long exhausting days – and I didn’t get much reading done.  Though I had been excited about it, I finally gave up on Keturah and Lord Death midway into the book.  There is something about Leavitt’s use of language that annoyed and frustrated me: she was aiming to create an atmosphere of lords and ladies and Black Death and the poor farming folk in the village, but the atmosphere became too heavy-handed and self-conscious by about the fiftieth page, and I just had to stop reading.  Blech.  What a disappointment.  [It should be noted that I rarely give up on books; I’m more likely to keep with a bummer of a book through to the bitter end, complaining loudly the whole way about how much I dislike it.]

Tuesday was the fifth grade book group, and we discussed Larklight by Philip Reeve.  I thoroughly enjoyed Larklight, but wasn’t sure how the melding of Victorian England culture and space travel and colonization would sit with the kids.  For the most part, the kids enjoyed the book, but they did struggle with the idea that the British could have had colonies all over the galaxy if they had had the technology to travel through space back in the Victorian era.  We talked a lot about suspension of disbelief, about finding the bits in the plot that work to tie everything together, and about why the prissy, overly feminine character of Myrtle makes sense for the times.  We also discussed whether it’s necessary to always like the characters in a book, or if, in fact, things get more interesting if you don’t like some of the characters.

And surprisingly, the kids in the book group weren’t very impressed with the packet we received from Andrew Clements.  Back in October, each kid in the book group had written Clements a letter, which I packed up and mailed with a cover letter talking about the kids and their discussion of Room One: A Mystery or Two.  Clements very graciously answered back with a personalized form letter complimenting the kids on their letters, a signed and personalized bookmark for each child in the group, a bookmark for me, and even a note to me that says:  “To Abby Kingsbury, a librarian who loves good books almost as much as she loves the children she shares them with.”  I love what Clements sent, and plan on framing my portion of it to hang in my office; hopefully the kids were more excited about it than they let on.  At least they now want to write to some more authors!  (Suzanne Collins probably will be the first choice.)

And that’s the update for this week.  Next Tuesday is the 6th through 8th grade book group, and we’ll be discussing Jennifer Roy’s Yellow Star and Julius Lester’s Day of Tears.