Book reviews...from picture books to adult books, as well as books-to-movie info, and other stuff I think is interesting. Note: Not all books reviewed or recommended are appropriate for all ages.
JANUARY 21, 2007
Just finished reading The Liberation of Gabriel King
As I mentioned earlier, I am trying to read as many of the books on the Battle of the Books elementary list as possible. I just finished The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going (who also wrote the award-winning Young Adult novel, Fat Kids Rules the World). This book was especially interesting to me as it chronicles 1976 summer of friendship between Gabriel King and Frita Wilson...who are almost the same age I was in 1976, the year of the nation's Bicentennial.
Like Frita, my best friend in sixth grade was a boy...and just like in The Bridge to Terabithia, this novel shows that friendships--especially in childhood--are based on mutual respect, love, and interests...not necessarily along gender lines. I think that our society pushes kids to grow up so early, and often tries to define all cross-gender friendships as budding romances which is disservice to those kids and undervalues the incredible impact of friendship in our lives.
This novel tells about Frita's plan to "liberate" Gabe (who is a self described "chicken", "scaredy cat" whatever you want to call it) from his fears by having them both make a list of fears to face, and therefore (in theory) overcome. Gabe is particularly worried about dealing with the bullies that he will be around daily when they start 5th grade in the fall.
As the summer progresses, though, Gabe learns that there are some things that are really scary...when Frita (who is black) comes face to face with prejudice. Yet he also learns that it is love and friendship that motivates bravery...not in the absence of fear...rather in spite of it. As Gabe's Pop eloquently states in his own way: "Ain't nothing so scary when you've got people you love."
I am so excited that the movie version of one of my favorite books of all time, Bridge to Terabithia, will be released in theaters on February 16.
I first read this book (or had it read to me by my fourth grade teacher, maybe?) in elementary school. I then re-read it in college, and liked it just as much. My most recent reading was when I read it aloud to my own daughters when they were younger.
While it deals with a tragic loss, based on a childhood experience of author Katherine Paterson's own son, David, who is a producer of the movie...its most powerful message is the tremendous power of friendship...how finding even one person who you feel really "gets" you can make all the difference.
I also really like the messages about gender...Jess is gifted artistically which is not valued among his peers or his family...and Leslie is an outspoken and imaginative "tomboy", which reminds me a lot of me when I was her age.
This is an excellent book for anyone, boy or girl, child or adult...and I hope the movie's publicity will spark interest in the book for a whole new generation.
At the library we have the book in print form, Spanish, and on CD. We also have a previous (videocassette) movie version from the Wonderworks series, which has produced a great group of family movies.
Several books have come in lately that fans of those series will be excited to know about. We now have Princess Diaries VII: Princess on the Brink by Meg Cabot (two copies, both checked out so call and get on the holds list) and the fourth Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book should be here any day now (you can place holds ahead of time by calling the youth desk). Also, just checked out today was a new (for us) companion book to the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz called The Gadgets featuring descriptions & "blueprints" of all futuristic Batman-like gadgets used in the books. We now have four volumes in the "Bloody Jack Adventures," a lesser known, but great historical action-packed series by L.A. Meyer. Finally, a new addition to the picture book room is based on Eloise, a character that is funny enough for all ages. Eloise in Hollywood, is based on the original series written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight.
I'm getting excited that our Battle of the Books Bash, planned (with both Lehihan and MACs staff) for those students participating in the elementary Battle of the Books challenge, is coming up on Tuesday, February 27. I'm really trying to get a lot of the books read. I just finished The Missing Manatee, and before that So B. It (which was awesome!) Right now, I'm reading The Liberation of Gabriel King. I think it is going to be really cool to have so many people who have read a lot of the same books all in one place. Both the elementary and the middle school lists are, in my opinion, really good lists with a lot of variety, so they'd also be a good "recommended" list for anyone looking for some good books.