Now Reading: Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China's Eternal First Lady
These are all books that my reaction to was "meh" BUT that I know I would have looooooooooved back when I was a member of the intended age range for the book...
We all know I enjoy books that aren't great literature-- I'm not the most discriminating reader, but there is something about these books that just didn't grab me. Many are books in series and where I didn't flat-out dislike these books, they also didn't compel me to read the books that follow...
Dragon Slayers' Academy: The New Kid at School #1 by Kate McMullen and Bill Basso
So.... Wiglaf is the youngest brother in a large, brutish family. In Cinderella-like fashion, he has to do all the work and is constantly picked on. He decides to go to the Dragon Slayer Academy so he can kill dragons and get the loot to help out his family. But the Academy is run down and out of cash, and leads to madcap adventures and friends...
Although this book didn't grab me, it would have when I was in third grade. As an adult, the plot was predictable and the characters flat. And, despite what Mary Pope Osburne says on the back cover, Wiglaf could not be Harry Potter's little brother-- the series (of now 19 titles) isn't serious enough, it's just slapstick. I did really enjoy the yearbook at the end of the book with information Wiglaf has learned, as well as ads and things for the school.
Camp Princess 1: Born to Rule by Kathryn Lasky suffered many of the same problems-- the plot was horribly predictable but mainly it didn't work-- it's about princess at summer camp. A lot of the things that were supposed to make summer camp special--such as the weather that can go from summer to winter in five minutes-- just don't work. Lasky has written such great work and won so many awards, that the mediocrity disappointed me.
Meet Calliope Day by Steve Haddard is about Calliope who thinks the old lady next door is a witch but has the delightful twist that she thinks this is kinda cool. If she can make friends with the witch, maybe the witch will cast some spells on Calliope's behalf. Of course, the lady next store does not want to be friends with a small girl who runs wild around the neighborhood. Not as good as Ramona, Junie B. , Clementine, or a host of others.
Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson I enjoyed-- it was cute and fun-- but I would have really loved this back in the day. Arriman the Awful needs an heir, so he has to marry. There's a competition and the local witches are all worked up on what evil spell to perform to win his heart. The witches are more hilarious as they trip all each other to prove they're the most evil. Of course, there's the one who really is evil and the one that's actually good, but is trying very, very hard to be a bad witch. Funny and heartwarming, but better when you're 12.
Ok, and here's one I don't think I would have liked even when I was a kid-- I finally broke down and read a Goosebumps book (hey-- it was banned books week). So, I read The Blob That Ate Everyone which was not scary and predictable with an amazingly weak ending. And wow, it really is bad writing.