This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oh, to be young again!

I've been feeding my inner child recently. Or, perhaps, I should say I've been submitting it to taste tests of different reading material geared toward little bookworms. I want to see what kind of fare is being offered to the younger age groups, but I want to do it without the pain of having to read books about vampires, or sulky, gorgeous teens whose weekly allowances exceed a year of minimum wages, or Harry Potter knock-offs.

So, having already read The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall and given it a review here, I made my way to not one but two local libraries and raided the children's sections of books that I thought I might enjoy. Those are the ones I'm testing. Some test! you might say. True. But it is a test, I'd argue because our instincts can be wrong, and, indeed, I am trying a couple I have some questions about.

For instance, what's the big deal with Meg Cabot? Hats off, she's got a little dynasty going with her various series. But when I've started reading her books I've been left with...questions. For me, the books didn't have a magnetic quality that a book needs. And they're so modern. And I'm decidedly unmodern. Well, I'm using a computer now so perhaps that isn't quite true, but you get the picture. I'm still a Louisa May Alcott girl and kids these days don't seem so interested in poor Louisa.

So, I had a grand time marching into the children's room of the library yesterday (considerably warmer in atmosphere if not company - librarians can be cold, but more on that later) - and pulling Allie Finkel's Rules for Girls, Moving Day, off the shelf. I also took out The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and I await with delight the experience of reading these. Let's face it, there's just something about children's lit that grown-up lit doesn't match, some charm or something. I mean, just think of the wonderful drawings on the covers of kids' books. (Harry Potter comes in adult and children's editions and I'll take the colorful kids' editions any day; I don't care who sees me reading them on the bus!)

In addition to these two titles, I also pulled a few Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne. Just by chance, one of them happened to be the first in the series, Dinosaurs Before Dark. Finally, making its way into my to-be-read pile was Nicola and the Viscount, another creation from Meg Cabot and her endlessly-filled pot of ink.

I read Dinosaurs Before Dark last night and let me tell you, there's a reason kids love this series. I loved this book. It always seemed promising to me, the idea of a treehouse that transports kids to different times and places. But when I found out that treehouse was filled with books, well, that really got me excited. As you know, fellow reader, book-lovers love books about books. This particular one was a wonderful yarn a kid can read alone or listen to an adult read. And the adult won't get bored reading it. No wonder that kid at the library book sale kept asking me if I'd found any. Obviously, these books are good enough that the young man was willing to interrogate library patrons and hunt all over the sale to find one.

So, shortly I'll be off to read some more. I think it will be Allie Finkel. This looks like a promising series and, in the interest of being a good reading connoisseur and book blabbermouth, I figure I ought to know something about it. So, I'll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned.

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