So, here are some of the titles I've read lately...
A History of the World in 6 GlassesTom Standage
This book was awesome. Tracing the role of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola and their role in world history. Beer developed to make water safe to drink as we shifted fron hunting/gathering to grain cultivation, and maybe we even started farming in order to get more grain for more beer? The role of wine in Greek and Roman culture and refinement, spirits as Europeans came to new world, cultivated sugar and made rum as a by-product which was then sold for slaves to run the sugar plantations... and the role of the whiskey rebellion in building the new world. Coffee and coffeehouses came with the age of reason and tea came with Empire (the was a major factor in the Opium Wars which ended with the humiliation of China and England's possession of Hong Kong) and then finally, the rise of Coca-Cola and America as a super-power and globalization.
The epilogue then deals with how we have come full circle and the beverage affecting our current events is, once again, water.
Well written and engaging, I highly recommend this title.
Plastic Angel Nerissa Nields
OK, so I got this because I am a big fan the Nields, a band that Nerissa's in. Love. Nerissa and her sister, Katryna Nields actually recorded a soundtrackto this book and it's a damn fine CD. The book itself is nice. I read the entire thing during one very long bath. Randi and Gellie are best friends the summer before high school, Randi is almost popular and Gellie, a child star, is almost famous. Randi wants to start a band and Gellie's keen on the idea, but is having trouble deciding is music or modeling is more important and is torn between Randi and her pushy mother. Add in romance, parental troubles and the joy(?) of summer, and you have a cute tale.
Becoming Naomi LeonPam Munoz Ryan
Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw lives in a trailer named Baby Beluga with her great-grandmother and her little brother, Owen (who is, as his specialists say, an FLK--Funny Looking Kid). Her mother left them there seven years ago, their father is somewhere in Mexico. Naomi is quiet, and has a notebook of lists. And then one day, their mother shows back up and wants to take Naomi to live with her and her boyfriend in Las Vegas, as a built in babysitter for her boyfriend's daughter. Naomi doesn't want to leave Gram or Owen or Lemon Tree and Gram doesn't want to lose her...
Beautifully written, this was a Belpre honor book this year AND was taken of the Wilsona selection list. I highly recommend.
I didn't really like this one. I didn't see what warranted it being a Newberry Honor book this year. Whittington is a cat, who lives in a barn ruled by a duck called The Lady. The barn is full of reject animals that people know Bernie (the owner) will take in and take care of. His grandchildren, Abby and Ben love to play with the animals. As Ben struggles with dyslexia, the animals and Abby help him learn to read and Whittington tells them all the legend of Dick Whittington and his famous cat (of which Whittington is a descendant of). It's a nice story, but didn't particularily grab me in any special way.
Lincoln : A PhotobiographyRussell Freedman
This is one of the 100 Best Books for Children AND a previous Newberry. This is a fascinating look at Lincolns life, relying heavily on pictures and other visual evidence to tell the story. I learned so much about Lincoln! (I was suprised). I highly recommend AND I'm really excited to read Freedman's new one: Children of the Great Depression I've flipped through it several times and it's just beautiful.
The Phantom TollboothNorman Juster
This is one of the 100 Best and why oh why oh why oh why oh why did I not read this when I was a kid??? Was it because all my friends told me to read it and I had been taught to resist peer pressure so well that I didn't??? This is a delightful tale where you can go to an Island of Conclusions (by jumping) and get caught in the dolldrums when you're not paying attention. As they go to restore the princesses of Rhyme and Reason to the Kingdom of Wisdom, our intrepid heroes meet a host of characters in a whimsical tale that needs to be read, and cherished, by all. Seriously.
Also, can I just mention how much I want to read this