mary_j_59: (mug)

This photo of Goshen is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

So they are again trying to film one of my childhood favorites, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Honestly, it’s a book I still love, and I am filled with trepidation. Oh, I’ll go see it when it comes out next year. I’m almost certain to, unless it’s completely panned. But the Canadian TV movie from ten or fifteen years ago was a very mixed bag, and I’m very much afraid this version will be, too.

Why? I admit I was a little startled when I read that the director insisted on having primarily people of color in the cast. And then I thought about it. It does change the story, which is set in rural New England in the early 1960s. African Americans really didn’t live in small New England farming villages after WWII. They did before the war, and the loss of this population is one of many American tragedies and injustices. But_

One of the points of the story, and, indeed, of the series, is that Meg’s family are outsiders. Making Kate Murry of African descent, and her children mixed race, is a good way of emphasizing this. And these are beautiful children! If they can act the parts and get the characters across, it doesn’t matter in the least that they don’t look like the characters in the book.

But I’m disappointed that the filmmakers didn’t bother to film in the book’s actual setting. To me, one of the great pleasures of Madeleine L’Engle’s books is the love and care with which she evokes the New England landscape. A Wrinkle in Time begins, very specifically, in northwestern Connecticut in early autumn. Madeleine L’Engle lived in Goshen. The early scenes in Camazotz are meant to look like on of the local mill towns. This—the foothills of the Berkshires, and a part of the Appalachian chain—is a lovely landscape. It’s not spectacular or dramatic, but it is quietly, subtly beautiful. I’m sorry they didn’t see fit to film the book where it was set.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (mug)
I am now reading Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft, and have shared a couple of the writing exercises with my creative writing club at the library. One of them was to write something completely without punctuation. This is what I came up with.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (portrait)
the books we love most passionately are often books we discover in late childhood or adolescence. Books we read at that age can have an enormous influence on us, too, can’t they? This isn’t a comprehensive list, by any means, but I’d just like to note down here a few books that influenced me.

The first couple of titles will be no surprise at all to anyone who knows me.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Drive of Dragons)
Yes, my very first! I am giving away copies of this wonderful book:

Would you like a copy? Of course you would! Especially if you like contemporary YA with some suspense, some romance, and a lot of relevance to the real world. To win a copy, just write a poem, brief essay, or short short story (350 words or thereabouts) including these words:

Grandmother, Darth Vader, Pyramid

You can comment here or on my livejournal (I've cross-posted the contest there), or leave a link to your own blog. The contest will be open till Wednesday, April 10, and I will do my best to announce winners on Friday, April 12. Good luck!
mary_j_59: (books)
Hi - just wanted to mention to all my livejournal friends that I decided to go live with the author page I've been working on. It's still a work in progress, of course, and I'll be cross-posting to and from this livejournal, but I'd love you to take a look. (I think it's pretty. ;))

Here's the link:
mary_j_59: (books)
Son (The Giver, #4)Son by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well. I have a great deal to say about this book, and I'm afraid it won't all be spoiler free. So please stop reading after the summary if you don't want to be spoiled.

"Son" is, of course, beautifully written, and the early sections were absolutely gripping. The main character, the infant Gabe's birthmother, is a girl of fourteen when she gives birth to him. Claire, having stopped taking her pills, feels a great sense of loss when her baby is taken from her. She tries to reconnect with him, and, like Jonas before her, starts sensing the flaws in her society. Then Gabe vanishes.Read more... )
mary_j_59: (books)
YA Highway had an interesting road trip question today. Here it is: if you could change the curriculum, what book or books would you require all high school students to read? Read more... )
mary_j_59: (books)
All you writers out there, go to this link forthwith.

You can win a critique of your first ten pages from Stacy Whitman, Editorial Director at Tu books! There is also a fascinating interview with Karen Sandler, author of Tankborn. It's well worth reading even if you don't choose to comment and enter the contest.
mary_j_59: (books)
Okay - this post was inspired by a couple of conversations I read recently, and also an interview with a young local reporter, who wanted to speak to me about banned books week. The ALA (American Library Association) celebrates Banned Books week every year during the last week of September. Here's the link to the interview:

And here are the two conversations. In the first, the teen spies at YA confidential were outraged at censorship - but then said they, themselves, might ban books containing sexism. In the second a young Jewish woman reviews Uris's Exodus. In her final sentence, she advocates burning that book for its vile racist stereotypes and the harm it has done. But - I just don't think it's ever right to burn books!
Read more... )
mary_j_59: (books)
Or, how to get a child you know to hate books. This is inspired by a discussion RJ Anderson, Deidrej and I have been having.

Maybe you know one of those kids who reads all the time. He (or she) always has his nose in a book. You'd rather he didn't waste his time on those antiquated objects. What to do? Read more... )
mary_j_59: (books)
Happy Fourth of July Weekend to all who celebrate - and I understand it's Canada day? Happy Canada Day to all celebrating that! Here's a review for a really fun middle-grade book:
CosmicCosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay - this book may have a wildly improbable plot. It may have exaggerated characters. It also has great warmth and humor and kept me both interested and laughing out loud throughout. And, in the end, it's also genuinely touching. Finally, I love Liam! His deadpan voice, his combination of intelligence and cluelessness, his passion for his videogames - somehow, he is, to me at least, a very believable young teen, and his character anchors the plot, as well as providing most of the humor.

As to what the book is about, it's not really about a bunch of ill-prepared kids getting blasted into space. It's about fatherhood, responsibility, and a boy starting to understand what those things mean. It's really kind of great. Really! (And I will never forget Liam in the car dealership, nor his speech at the school assembly.)

View all my reviews
mary_j_59: (Default)
UltravioletUltraviolet by R.J. Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actually, I think my rating would have been five stars, but that, like "Pegasus", this is crying out for a sequel. RJ, how could you end it there!? I will add that I read this as an electronic galley. It was an uncomfortable experience; I don't like reading books onscreen, but I still stayed up till 1:00 a.m. reading. I could not put this book down. Also, it's clear the author is a Dr. Who fan!

The story starts off with a bang. Alison, 17, is convinced she has killed another girl with the power of her mind. She cannot explain what happened - apparently Tori disintegrated before Alison's eyes. But that's crazy, isn't it? Is ALISON crazy? When she hears sounds, she sees colors. She knows other people don't perceive the world this way, but there is no one she can talk to about her perceptions, and especially her conviction that there was something wrong with Tori, who wasn't quite the charming, gifted young girl other people thought her.

Because of her strange responses when she's questioned about Tori's disappearance, Alison ends up confined to a hospital/group home for mentally ill young people. The home and its residents are very well described, and readers share vicariously in Alison's disorientation and distress. Then a young doctor from South Africa arrives. He is carrying out a research project, and Alison learns for the first time that she is a synaesthete, and that there are others like her. What she doesn't yet know is that Dr. Faraday, whom she trusts almost instantly, is, like Tori, not quite what he seems to be.

Next to "Arrow", I believe this is R.J. Anderson's best novel yet. For any fans of her writing, it is a must-read. It's very well-plotted, with the overarching mystery - what happened to Tori, and how, and why? - maintained throughout. We learn the answers to those questions, and we also see Alison grow as a result of her experiences. A couple of threads were left dangling, and one, involving Faraday, was very frustrating to me. I also didn't quite buy Alison's paranormal abilities towards the end of the story. Otherwise, fans of paranormal romance and softer-edged SF should snap this up. Aimed at a slightly older audience than the "Faery Rebels" series, this will be a joy to booktalk to some of my high school girls. I look forward to their reactions - and to the next book.

View all my reviews
mary_j_59: (girl)
An informal essay in response to Jason Perlow's recent article. About 2,500 words long. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Default)
It is all over the internet, by now, that a man called Wesley Scroggins wants to limit access to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. That's a book that I've recommended, that kids have loved, and that has been on our high school reading list - and rightly so. Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Default)
Well, I'm starting Catching Fire, and, so far, I'm enthralled. Definitely better than the first book. Here is a video my sister made of a song from the third-

mary_j_59: (Default)
My entry to try to win a copy of "mockingjay"! The contest is here:

The wirewolf. In the 21st century, distressed by humankind's enduring hatred and fear of wolves, the brilliant geneticist Victoria Frankenstein collaborated with the biologist Nate Kipling to fit a small pack of Alaskan wolves with voiceboxes that would translate their howls to human speech. The pack survived, in spite of this interference, because non-engineered wolves were clearly impressed with the beauty of the wirewolves' howls. Gradually, the subspecies mingled with unaltered wolves and spread eastward. Today, the beautiful nightly howls, in full operatic voice and four- part harmony, can be heard as far east as Michigan, with rumors of wild wirewolves in New York and New England. It should be noted, though, that, even though they may howl in human words, these are still wild animals and should not be treated as pets. If you are fortunate enough to come across a wirewolf, give it space and observe it quietly.

This last point leads to what the wirewolf may symbolize. How one sees this beautiful animal depends on what one brings to the encounter. Some people see the wirewolf as an unfortunate reminder of humankind's desire to control nature and tame the untameable. Others see the beast as a pointer to the difference between artistic expression and rationality, while still others point it out as a clear example of altruism and the hope for true inter-species communication.
mary_j_59: (Default)
I worry a bit about the digital future as envisioned by Apple -
Read more... )
mary_j_59: (Default)
I am just going to quote her letter to me, including a link from Bologna. And why wasn't this announced in NYC? Isn't Megan Whalen Turner American?

HI, everybody!

Look what I found!

Is that not the most awesome thing ever?

Yes, it is! Sophos lives!


mary_j_59: (Default)

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