Thursday, May 27, 2010

E-Readers, Kindles and Tablets, Oh My!

What current book blog does not have at least one posting on the new digital reading devices, including the E-Reader, the Kobo and the Kindle??

As I see it, there are different considerations to be made when purchasing an e-book device.

1) It reduces the amount of weight and space in your purse that a book would take. I originally thought that these would be unpleasant and eye-straining, but after using an E-reader once, I saw an immediate difference between the device and a computer screen. The device can also hold multiple books at a time.
2) It is very convenient -- with a few clicks and whirrs from the mouse and your computer, the book is right at your fingertips.
3) It can be considered accessible by multiple user groups, including individuals with vision impairments.

Asides from the cost of the device, I see that there is one disadvantage to the e-reader. The differences between e-book devices means that not all devices can support all e-books (i.e. a Kindle cannot download/store books of the same file type as a Sony E-Reader). 

 At this moment, I enjoy reading novels that are paperbacks or hardcovers. But I also enjoy the convenience of downloading books to my mp3 player and to my computer. I see that, in time, e-reading devices will join these as an equally valuable way to read and learn.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Book Information
Erskine, Kathryn. Mockingbird. New York: Philomel Books, 2010.

Book Summary

Caitlin loves reading and drawing. In Caitlin's opinion, books and pencil sketches are black-and-white, clear, and easy to understand. Especially when you compare them with the challenges of making and keeping friends at school.

After her brother dies, Caitlin's world changes. She looks up the word "closure" in a dictionary, and decides that she should find it for her and her father. But since she is only ten, and she has Asperger's, finding closure is not easy. Her search takes many funny missteps that add colour to her world, transforming her from outsider to friend and "big sister".

My Review

Mockingbird is a children's novel that works well on many levels. First, the author's writing style is clear and funny throughout the book. Erskine tackles difficult issues using simple vocabulary and short sentences. She plays with words, exploring their different meanings, and capitalizes some of them for special emphasis. For example, when Caitlin is confused, she often doesn't "Get It".

The title of the book comes from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, which Caitlin discusses many times. Caitlin's brother is the obvious "mockingbird", as he was young and innocent at the time of his death. Caitlin is a less obvious "mockingbird", since she loses some of her innocence, and matures into a more outgoing girl. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Word Nerd by Susan Nielsen

Nielsen, Susan. Word Nerd. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2008.

My Review

What do you get if you mix a thug with a nerd? A lot of deception, and some romance too! Ambrose has had enough of solitude. After three school bullies slip a peanut into his sandwich (he has a deathly allergy), he is homeschooled by his overprotective mother. Before long, Ambrose is sick of solitude. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with Cosmo, the ex-convict son of Ambrose's landlady, which he hides from his mother. When Cosmo falls in love with the Amanda, the director of the Scrabble Club, the deceptions stack up quickly against Ambrose. Will Ambrose ever be able to face his mother with the truth?

Word Nerd  was nominated for the 2010 Red Maple Forest of Reading Award from the Ontario Library Association. Nielsen is creative and quick-witted, and her knowledge of Scrabble and Scrabble clubs is impressive. From the "peanut-free" cover to Ambrose's final confrontation with his mother, this book is engaging and FUNNY. Readers can really see Ambrose develop and mature throughout the novel.

My Notes
I loved the way Susan Nielsen plays with words. Throughout the novel, Ambrose dissects long words and rearranges the letters to form new ones.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Future By Michael J. Fox

Book Information

Fox, Michael J. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future ... Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned. New York: Hyperion, 2010.

My review

Michael J. Fox's newest memoir is short, smart, funny, and targeted to youths and college graduates. In 100 pages, he sums up what he learned from the most challenging school: the School of Hard Knocks. He discusses the "economics" of being a starving young actor. He played with the laws of physics during "Back to the Future" and soon after his diagnosis with Parkinson's. And what better way to learn geography than through travel? Whatever the subject matter, Fox is a master on it through his lived experiences, where valuable mentors and personal interests have taken the place of trained teachers.

Michael J. Fox is also piercingly honest about his past drinking habits, and about his difficulty in accepting his Parkinson's diagnosis at a young age. He is equally clear in his message that adapting to new challenges can create positive opportunities.

My Notes

I enjoyed "Back to the Future" and another book that I recently reviewed: Always Looking Up. This book can be easily read in one or two sittings. I also particularly agree with his views on the importance of mentoring, since I have learned a lot of job and life skills through some important mentors in my life too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Book Information

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006.

My review

The Arrival is the story of an immigrant to a new and unfamiliar country. It follows the main character as he journeys from his home to the unknown, which is filled with creatures and scenery that are so strange to him. Will he ever belong in his new home? And who can he trust?

Shaun Tan tell's the immigrant's story by communicating only through pictures. In this wordless graphic novel, readers are able to see the new world through the newcomer's eyes. Unlike many graphic novels, the images are not drawn or coloured with pen or ink. Tan's style of shading with pencils makes the characters realistic and memorable, and gives the impression that this story could have been the story of countless immigrants in the past.