Monday, April 09, 2007

New Book Micro-Reviews

Time for some finger-lickin' fiction!

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
This is the book I've been recommending the most lately; it's as sprightly and fresh as a springtime breeze. J.J. Liddy is the 15-year-old member of an Irish family with a long heritage of music. When his harried mother requests "more time" as a birthday present, he finds himself journeying to Tír na n'Óg, a.k.a. fairyland, a.k.a. The Land of Eternal Youth (rendered by Thompson in a subtly original way). In between meetings with figures from Irish folklore, J.J. discovers that time is leaking from our world into theirs, and also uncovers the answers to many Liddy family mysteries. This book is so winningly Irish, it makes me want to take a shower and start cutting up my soap with a pocketknife. I love the dialect, the intriguing characters, and the fact that Thompson gives us the sheet music for a different Irish melody at the end of each chapter. Plus, for bonus points, you can sing the title to the melody of Beck's "The New Pollution." Go ahead, sing it: "Sheeee's a-looone in the / Neeew Po-liiiiceman." Pretty apt description of my time spent absorbed in this book.

By the way, I don't know why this novel is being described as for "ages 11-15." There's nothing in here that would be inappropriate for younger kids -- J.J. could easily have been written as a ten-year-old, a la Susan Cooper. Perhaps it's the length that's kicking it up to YA? Eh, I have no idea.

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
Yes! A solid middle-grade novel set in Bangladesh! With a strong female protagonist! And information about microcredit programs in the back! It's short and easy to read! It makes for a good classroom read-aloud! Ms. Perkins, this book could be the answer to about a jillion questions on the reference desk. THANK YOU SO MUCH. And for all of you non-library types reading this: Perkins' tale of spunky Naima and her quest to earn money for her family is fun, colorful, and full of heart. And you gotta have heart.

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Oo-er. This is the kind of fantasy novel with so many creative sparkles that it makes me feel as if my imagination were broken in comparison. Flora, the youngest member of a declining family with a rich military heritage, lives in a crumbling mansion with 11,000 rooms. And then . . . geez, I'm not going to bother explaining it. Just click on the link and read the synopsis there. The lowdown from my perspective? 1. The plot is interesting but a little convoluted, yet fun to read anyway. 2. This is the first fantasy novel I've seen in a while that takes inspiration from Latin American culture. The characters eat tamales, have a coming of age ceremony called a "Catorcena" (like a quinceañera), and the enemy empire to the south sounds a lot like the Aztecs, complete with chile-spiced cocoa, jaguar-skin bandoliers, and bloody sacrifice rituals. Oh, and there's a tiny floating matador merman that chatters in Spanish at our heroine. Cool. 3. Okay, okay, I like this novel -- quite a bit -- but it uses the word "magick." Eeeerg, that gets on my nerves, along with "faeries" and "dragyns" instead of "fairies" and "dragons." It's like parents who name their son "Myechkell." It's still "Michael," like it's still just "magic." So, I was kind of wincing on every other page of this book. But still. I'm a twit that way. Pretty good reading.


Mitali Perkins said...

You are more than welcome. Thanks for the review!

jules said...

I can't live without your book reviews and love it, especially, when you do new ones. Thanks. They all look good. Damn my library (both of them that I use, actually) for not having Mitali's newest book.

Wait, I'm a librarian and just said "damn my library"? I didn't, uh, mean that. Hanging my head . . . shuffling off now.

Brooke said...

"Damn My Library" - - the hit musical from the 50s about the cataloging clerk who sells his soul to the Devil . . .

Featuring the hit song, "You Gotta Have MARC."

Whoo. I think I just out-geeked myself, library-wise.

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