Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I realized this morning that I had a post I started about two weeks ago and never finished. I have finished it now, and it is up on the blog. Here is the next entry:

In addition to the five picture books I talked about in the previous post, I had also read two novels from the Juvenile list. They are The Amaranth Enchantment, by Julie Berry, and Brooklyn Bridge: A Novel, by Karen Hesse.

The Amaranth Enchantment, by Julie Berry--A Cinderella tale, this novel follows the adventures of Lucinda Chapdelaine, orphaned at a young age and sent to live with her uncle and his wife. When the uncle dies, Auntie turns fifteen-year-old Lucinda out without a penny. Throughout, I was struck by certain similarities to Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. At least, there are similarities to the movie version of that book. There were other elements that seemed familiar from other sources, as well. I enjoyed the book, but was disappointed overall by the obvious use of fairy-tale conventions. The one true departure from convention, the revelation of the origin of the "fairy godmother," seemed too contrived, too fantastical and out of place. I would have been happier, I think, if this part of the story had been based strictly in the magical, not in the other-worldly. There were also several plot holes and unanswered questions left hanging at the end. A fun, fast read, but largely unsatisfying.

Brooklyn Bridge: A Novel, by Karen Hesse--This one tied up all its loose ends. Throughout the story of Joseph Michtom, a fourteen-year-old boy living in 1903 Brooklyn, there are plenty of threads. There are these many threads in all our lives. Ms Hesse doesn't overwhelm us with too many of them, but there are enough to give Joseph depth. He has the agony of a first crush, the joy of friendship, the loss of a beloved family member, the pride in seeing his sister succeed, and the amazement at seeing a mystery solved right in front of him. There is an under-story, a ghost story, placed in between the chapters. It is a story Joseph knows nothing about. Or does he? I plowed right through Brooklyn Bridge, eager to see it through. Well worth it.

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