Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's even good on pizza. Trust me.

I'm having a mad craving for Peking Duck right now. This presents a problem, as all food eaten between now (noonish) and 9pm will be eaten in the car. That means I'm scheduled to eat a lot of Cheerios and Teddy Grahams. That's because today is schoolday, so I have to drive all over the metro area in pursuit of book learning. We're work-shopping my seminar paper today. I am dreading this.


Anyway, some book reviews for y'all

Ruby Lu, Brave and True Lenore Look

In the proud vein of Clementine and Ramona comes Ruby Lu. She has a best friend and a baby brother and things are going pretty well--she even has her own magic show in her backyard.

Then her brother decides to start talking and announces to everyone how Ruby's doing her magic tricks.

Then her mother makes her go to Chinese school. Ruby's heard about Chinese school. It was held on Saturdays, which was a bad idea. The building was cold and dark. A fire-breathing dragon lived in the dungeon. The teachers were former prison guards from China. They served snacks of roasted snakes. Children who forgot their homework were turned into crickets. Children who learned Chinese spoke English with an unshakable Chinese accent.

But Chinese school is not so bad--there's even another Ruby! And when Ruby Lu decides to be helpful and drive herself to Chinese school? Watch out!

It's pretty funny, and a good bet for something harder than the "I Can Read" beginning chapter books. You can even learn some Cantonese! Anne Wilsdorf's black-and-white line drawings, with Ruby's pigtails performing feats of gravity that Pippi Longstocking would be envious of, add greatly to the humor.

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything

At the end of Ruby Lu, Brave and True we learned that Ruby's aunt and uncle and her cousin, Flying Duck, were moving to the US. Ruby's heard about immigrant relatives. She's not so sure about this...

BUT! Flying Duck is awesome. And she's deaf, so everyone gets to learn Chinese sign language. But... also, everyone at home is speaking Cantonese. And using chopsticks (which Ruby isn't so good at) Ruby's not entirely sure about this.

And then when summer rolls around, Ruby and Flying Duck have to go to summer school. And swimming lessons. Ruby isn't so sure about swimming lessons. She's not a fan of drowning, so she stays in the shallow end, attached to the wall, with all of her personal flotation devices. Sadly, Emma is also in swimming and attached to the wall. Emma is Ruby's best friend. Sometimes. This is not one of those times.

How much worse can Ruby's summer get?

A fantastic follow up to the first one, this one even has an illustrated dictionary of some Chinese sign language! The glossary at the back is also great, covering some of the Chinese words, as well as some English ones such as e-mail Do-it-yourself, easy mail. No stamps. No mail delivery person. Just type and click! Grandparents love it.

All in all, Ruby is a great character that kids will enjoy.

Sadly, typing about Flying Duck has not helped my urge for Peking Duck...

One more book:

Unicorns? Get Real! Kathryn Lasky

You know, I wasn't a big fan of the last Camp Princess book I read, so I'm still not entirely sure why I read this one. But I did.

In the princess book genre, these aren't great. Which is sad, because there is promise there. I'm not a fan of the different "ethnicities" representing the different kingdoms-- they seem a little stereotypical.

In this one, the girls of North Tower are back for the second session. Only, Princess Gundersnap has discovered that her mother (Empress Mummy) has taken her beloved pony into battle, where he's sure to die. Empress Mummy has a good track record of winning battles, but not keeping ponies alive during them.

Meanwhile, there's a unicorn round-up going on and Empress Mummy says unicorns don't exist, so obviously they don't! Plus, they're competing against Prince camp and there's going to be a ball. How can Gundersnap save her pony amidst the chaos? And what is the magical tapestry and the witch in the woods trying to tell her?

This is one of those weird series where I don't really enjoy it, but I have a feeling I'll read every single volume in it. WHAT IS WITH THAT? WHY DO I DO THAT? Do you ever do that? I do it all the time! There's so much good stuff out there? Why do I read stuff I don't like? Why do I read books I know I won't like? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?


MotherReader said...

Love those Ruby Lu books and glad to see them reviewed here. They don't get nearly the attention they deserve.

I could not get into the Camp Princess books myself, and have managed to keep away. But I keep reading the Gossip Girl spin-off The It Girl novels. I don't hate them, but I don't know why I keep reading them either.

Jennie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves Ruby Lu. She's hilarious.

I'm also glad I'm not the only one who couldn't get into Camp Princess. I wasn't going to read the Unicorn book, but I had it in my hand for some reason and instead of putting it on the reshelve cart, I opened it. Ah well. I haven't read The It Girl yet. I do love Gossip Girl, so I'll add it to the list...

Julie said...

I have to keep handselling those Ruby Lu books--I love them too! But sadly they tend to sit on my shelves.

So did you ever get your Peking Duck? I'm not a duck fan, but sweet and sour chicken is sounding tasty...

Jennie said...

I did get my duck! And it was so tasty! I love duck!

I also love Ruby Lu. Keep handselling, maybe one day word-of-mouth will make that girl bust off the shelf. One can dream.

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