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May 27, 2009 > Footnotes


"Marshmallow" by Clare Turlay Newberry, Harper Collins hardback, $16.99. (2008)

A reprint of a delightful Newbery winner from 1943: Oliver is a large grey tabby cat who has an owner that feeds him well. He has nice places to sleep; he has a great life.

One day Oliver's owner comes home with something small, white, and fuzzy. At first, Oliver doesn't know what it is. He becomes afraid of it. His owner separates the two so that Oliver still doesn't know that the new thing is a baby bunny rabbit, named Marshmallow.

The baby bunny hops about, nibbles on things, all in the room next door to Oliver. Oliver's curiosity gets the best of him - he has to find out what that thing is! When Oliver's owner is out, Oliver decides to take the doorknob into his own paws. It's slippery at first, but finally it turns. And Oliver meets Marshmallow nose to nose!

Lovely illustrations and a very satisfying ending to this little gem of a story will appeal to
preschoolers and kindergartners and their parents as well!

"Eoin Colfer's Legend of the Worst Boy in the World" by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Glenn McCoy, Hyperion paperback (2008)

As the middle son in a family of boys, Will Woodman is frustrated. The older ones get to talk to Mom every day. The younger ones get Dad's ear. But Will doesn't have someone special, his own person that he can tell his troubles to. Not that he has big troubles, but still...

Then he thinks of Grandad. Grandad is a great guy who maintains a lighthouse, and Will can visit him every weekend. They make a deal - Will can tell Grandad one problem a week, in exchange Grandad can tell him a story. The very first week he has a terrible problem when he ends up in a toilet without toilet paper! How embarrassing! He's sure it's a HUGE problem, until his Grandad tells him that one time he had to use tin foil. Yes, tin foil!

That's when Will discovers that whatever problem he has, Grandad has had something similar, but worse. Bad haircut? Grandad was once bitten on his a shark! It's unfair - Grandad has 70 more years of experiences than Will. Will Woodman is frustrated again, until he discovers a story that there is no way for Grandad to top, no way!

Very fun stories and funny illustrations make this one a treat.

Recommended for 3rd graders.

"Encyclopedia of the End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More," by Deborah Noyes, Houghton Mifflin hardback. (2008 )

So many teenagers and adults have questions about death and the dead - what is the Angel of Death? Why did some people take pictures of corpses into their coffins? What is spirit photography? What powers did Osiris have? Hades? Why does Death carry a scythe? Why do some celebrate the day of the dead? What on earth are funeral foods? When is a killing an assassination?

Death can be such a taboo subject - and often adults can be uncomfortable trying to provide the answers. This book covers everything from forensics to customs, dealing with every subject in a forthright manner that reassures with its neutrality and presentation. All sorts of religious ceremonies are brought forth, with respect for each in turn. There are lots of pictures, none of them overly grim, and lots of information to satisfy those casually curious or those compelled to find a more thorough explanation. This is the kind of book that can be dipped into again and again - with new things to discover every time.

Recommended for Junior High.

"Wake" by Lisa McMann, Simon Pulse paperback. (2008)

This suspenseful book that starts with a dream. Janie, since the age of 8, has had this unfortunate talent of dropping into other people's dreams. The floating dreams she can handle; and she can ignore the 'naked on a football field' dreams of the star football player. It's the nightmares that make her temporarily blind and deaf to everything around her.

When she attends high school, the situation worsens. Students fall asleep in class, in study hall, and on the bus. Janie finds herself more and more vulnerable. She can't sleep for fear of her own dreams, and now she finds herself haunted by a classmate named Cabel. His dreams are of a decidedly more sinister sort. The question becomes who is the monster in these dreams, Cabel or someone else? Or could it be Janie herself?

Well-written, building up to a very satisfying ending. Look for the sequel, "Fade," just released this Feb 2009 in hardback.

Recommended for high school.

"Eon : Dragoneye Reborn" by Alison Goodman, Penguin hardback. (2008)

Plucked from the salt mines as a child, Eon has been molded into an apprentice. But for a limp, Eon would seem a likely candidate for the ultimate prize, becoming bonded with one of the mystical and powerful dragonlords. Eon's master was once the Tiger Dragon's Dragoneye, and has gambled everything on Eon. For Eon has the rare gift of being able to see all 12 of the Dragonlords - surely that means something.

But Eon has a terrible secret, one that could result in death. For Eon is actually Eona, a girl. Girls are forbidden from even attending the ceremony, much less attempting to bond with a Dragonlord. Eona has hidden her femininity so deeply within herself that she denies its existence. Eon's master knows, and one other, but no one else. Eon is risking everything on this deception.

The day of choosing comes. First the candidates must fight, compete, and then there is ceremonial posturing. Eona's limp makes it almost impossible to complete, but somehow she does. Another candidate is chosen by the current Dragonlord, the Rat Dragon. The disappointment almost kills Eon. But as she pushes to finish the performance, to prove herself worthy of his master's consideration, there is a terrible roar. Another Dragonlord has come! This one has not been seen for 500 years. This Dragon reaches down and chooses Eon/Eona.

Now there are TWO dragonlords, vying for power. The Rat Dragonlord is not pleased about Eona's success, and will do anything to prove Eona unworthy. Worse, as Eona soon discovers, the bonding ceremony was somehow incomplete. If Eon is to survive, he/she must find a way to connect with the dragon that has chosen her, and to avoid those who would see her dead! An exciting fantasy, rich in detail, fascinating from beginning to end. Although this was a complete story, I certainly hope that Alison Goodman returns to this world with another book like this one!

Recommended for high school.

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