[Kiddalee]'s Backwards Book Chart
Last updated 2007
Before we do anything else, I'd like to thank [iippo
] for her enthusiam in the BBC
. Now, onward!
BBC of Kidda Overflow
Kidda's Reading Goals
The Literature Forum: <joinforum:16:meeple>
]'s House (and Blog... hint, hint)
My policy for listing stories from WritersCo on this page is to not crit here. That would interfere with the method or tact I use between me and the actual author. Some authors ask for no crit, and some are best kept private. If I do crit something publicly, why repeat myself? You'll see it on the page.
If I read a piece in a book or magazine with columns, I count each column as a page.
Some Of It Was Fun
by WE Girard, Lieutenant (Ret.), 88 pages
Mr. Girard's experience in the Canadian army between 1933 and 1994, from training, to fighting, to leading Cadets. This autobiography is written in a casual voice, exactly the way an old Ontarian man speaks. The voice is an acquired taste, and then entertaining. My favourite line is, "There were a number of tall trees around, and some of the mortar bombs would explode when they hit the branches. That was fine until the trees ran out of branches."
The author supplements his writing with sketches and documents, too.
The one problem with this book is that it was published in Britain. Why not Canada? What's wrong with Canadian publishers? Won't they take it?
A Footnote to Justice
by Ann Savage, 8 pages
The story in Wyn Lit #3/09 (around week 1 of April 2008). I really enjoyed this story, in spite of its sad metastory. It feels realistic and even at home. It isn't full of trendy literary devices; though I'm sure I could fish some out if I wanted to, they're not forced on me. It's also nice to read something very Canadian - indeed, very regional.
Too many Canadian writers try too hard to make their work sound Canadian, tacking on awkward imagery and obvious symbols simply because the chosen word is considered especially Canadian. In spite of the many Canadian things in this story, though, only one of them was awkward to me. The rest were suitably familiar and gracefully integrated, and didn't interrupt the story's flow. The offender: "'I felt like the skin stretched over a native drum, I was so tense.'"
I know I wasn't born up North, but I've made
one of these drums, and it still doesn't read smoothly. It sounds like it was spliced in to make the story sound more regional. It doesn't sound in character for Lina to have mentioned it, either. Perhaps it would make sense for that image to be in her head if they had just attended a native culture workshop, but since that isn't mentioned (and I'm glad, as it would interrupt the flow), Lina comes across as someone who would have thought of a different vehicle for her simile. That it's a wordy simile doesn't help, either.
Everything else that was Canadian/Northerner was well integrated and believable. The animal references are part of the story, so they're obviously not going to interrupt its flow. The conversation about municipal politics, being political, is probably Canadian enough. As for the marital issues, they are sadly familiar.
It's refreshing to finally see a good Canadian story that isn't a comedy. I like comedies, but why should they be the only thing we know how to write?
With its professional authorial voice and engaging plot, A Footnote to Justice deserves praise.
Mom, the Wolf Man, and Me by Norma Klein, 156 pages
Seventies novels are so feminist. Still, it's oddly refreshing to see feminism that talks about issues like masculinity standards and social status. All you hear about nowadays is abortion and homosexuality. What about gendered child-rearing? What about exaggerated masculinity standards? And hey, what about the political gap between brothers and sisters who appear to be raised under two different standards of gender? We tell our girls that they can aspire to be anything, but we still give our boys the message that they shouldn't become anything but leaders/providers, and then wonder why the two can't get along when he wants to do all the driving and she wants to take turns.
This is what I'd rather be hearing about, because it affects me far more than gay issues or abortion issues. I mean, I use plenty of birth control, and I don't even notice when somebody acts in a way that is considered gay (my friends tell me). Sure, it's awful to go around treating gay people like freaks... but compare the amount of gay people who are being mistreated to the amount of girls who are being taught to be freaks by their parents forcing cleaning toys and fashion on them, before they even consider them old enough to stop taking baths with their siblings. I am exasperated.
Oh, about the book. It's a good book. There's no serious climax or page-turning action, but I have been blessed with the ability to enjoy books without those.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, 184 pages
The events and feelings of this book are interesting enough. There's adventure and friendship and nature and even fashion. However, I find the voice difficult to understand. It lacks commas in some places, and conjunctions in others. I cannot say that O'Dell's grammar is wrong, but it still isn't easy to understand; there is no need to chop out every single word in a manuscript that isn't completely necessary. A word doesn't have to be completely necessary for maintaining correct grammar, in order to be necessary for making a sentence understandable. Well, maybe that isn't what he was doing. Maybe that's just his voice. It's still hard to understand.
Dancing on the Edge by Han Nolan, 244 pages
This is the most detailed and believable depiction of neglect I have ever seen. Miracle's many guardians are deep, well-rounded characters, of a demographic whom I chose not to believe existed until I took a customer service job this fall. Many are people whom I wouldn't expect to befriend, so it was refreshing to be reading about them for the first time. Their interactions would get me excited or laughing or both. Perhaps literature is lacking in believable characters like this.
Characters in any given media tend to be way too normal. Even the ones who later discover supernatural powers are still nice and well-raised or decent whether they were raised well or not (What the hell is wrong with Harry Potter? Wasn't he treated like a rat or something?)... or way too stylish and eloquent... or evil or angsty. I know that some people are like this, but not as many as they'd like to believe.
They say that books with deep characters and social problems are better suited to girls, wheras books for boys fare better if they contain concrete, if impractical, things like tanks and monsters and sports. Well, I am pleased to report that this girl book is action packed and exciting, even with the deep characters and social problems, and all the realism and believability. Teen girl books can be so angsty. This one, though, has as much happening outside of our heroine as inside.
What's more is that Miracle is gullible and not bitter, which makes her likeable. It is not often enough that I can look subjectively at a girl. I didn't even feel this close to The Lady of the Unicorn (Jackie French). I worried for her, got mad for her, felt proud of her successes, laughed at some of the dark humour that she, being a part of it, didn't get, and cried a bit.
I was a little wary to read this, with its angsty cover and wishy-washy synopsis (which, by the way, you should not read, as it has a major spoiler!!!), not to mention the séances. I'm glad I did, though. It's a keeper.
The boxed set is going.
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman, 212 pages
The funniest thing about this book: Karen solves a problem in a way that would normally be considered "deus ex machina", but in a medieval context is perfectly fine and believable.
More funny things (not related to literature): in Robotech: The Macross Saga, fighters use humanoid mechs not simply because they are cool, but because they have to fight against actual people the size of the mechs.
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski, 298 pages
The Learnen' by Hans Dosch, 4 pages
The short of Wyn Lit #3/06. It stereotypes and preaches too much.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, 280 pages
I kind of want to read this again, just for a few of the best scenes. That is, the ones with the most sex.
This is a book for children. When I say sex, I mean first kisses, observed kisses, mothers, pregnancies, wild berries, and dreams about having ludicrous amounts of children while growing your own food. I like that kind of sex. Most people just don't know how to be subtle about sex any more (I probably mentioned the same thing about Tess of the D'Urbervilles).
Unfortunately, this book is a part of a boxed set. I hope I either like them all or don't see much in them all. I don't want to break up the boxed set, even if the three novels are all standalones.
For more, see BBC of Kidda Overflow
WARNING: I will not regulate the discussions in the comments for spoilers. That would be far too binding and I want to have fun, so read them at your own risk (try skimming just to check if there's anything you don't want to get into before joining in). I do, however, have few spoilers in the reviews so far.