Hidden by Helen Frost

Wow. Fascinating, and intricate.

This novel is written in poetry, and from the perspective of two girls.  The one on the left of the cover (which cover I really like a lot) is Wren Abbott. On the right, Darra Monson.

The premise is this: Darra's father steals a car. What he doesn't know, is that Wren is in it. Accidental kidnapping.  Things get sorted out, but both girls are still affected by the kidnapping when, years later, they meet by chance at a summer camp.

Dah! It was so cool! It was the best kind of suspense novel: the kind in which your imagination is running wild.  The way that Helen Frost crafts the story allows the reader to have an experience that is tense and riveting, but not frightening, no matter the age. People, this is good writing.  And you may think, "could I ever give a book about kidnapping to a/my child?" well I would recommend this one.

Okay, so I read it -- it reads very quickly, 142 pages and stanza breaks aplenty -- and then I read the author's Notes on Form and I was amazed all over again. Because Helen Frost has hidden another poem within the poems of the book, (sort of a reverse acrostic? she invented the form herself) where some of the last words in one set of poems is another poem. How did she DO that? This is craft.

So, yeah, I was very impressed by it. It goes on sale May 10, 2011 (I was given a proof to review). I hope you read it, then we can talk about how cool it is, okay?

previously reviewed: Diamond Willow by Helen Frost, Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Finalist 2008.

Graphic Novel Poll!

The polling is open over there in the sidebar.  I'm interested in the results!

ETA: Results are as follows.

Have you ever read a graphic novel?
No but I would. -- 3 votes, 15%
No, not my thing. -- 2 votes, 10%
Yes, it was weird. -- 3 votes, 15%
Yes, looking for more good ones! -- 11 votes, 57%
Maybe? not sure if what I'm thinking of counts -- 0 votes, 0%

Beautiful Darkness and Entwined

I've read two YA chick-flicky books of late: Beautiful Darkness and Entwined.

My one beef with the former is that I can't hear the "male-ness" in the main character's voice. The book was written by two women, but the main character is a guy. While some authors manage to pull off opposite-gender main characters just fine, I simply can't settle into this guy's head. His emotionalness and descriptions are, for me, too feminine---and not just feminine, but womanly. Not that guys can't be emotional or poetic. I don't know. There's just something about both the first book (Beautiful Creatures) and this one that makes it hard for me to really grasp the main character. Still. The books are action-packed and pretty fun. The love triangle in this one, though, I have to say, I was rooting for this book's female version of Jacob. Poor me. :(

And Entwined. Ah, Entwined. Isn't the cover just gorgeous? As I said on Goodreads after I read this one, if I'd ever written a book, this would be it: an adaptation of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" fairy tale. I actually did start trying to write this fairy tale into a book years ago, because as far as I knew then, it hadn't been done. Now it's been done at least three times over (i.e., Entwined and Princess of the Midnight Ball and Wildwood Dancing). I love the entrapment the author weaves---the girls' believable reasons for entering the enchanted wood to dance in the first place, and then their eventual entanglement there. I love that we get to see a relationship develop between the leading lady and her "prince." I love the gradual shift in the girls' relationship with their father. I just loved this book, but I'm kind of notorious for falling in love with fairy tale adaptations. What can I say, I was raised on Disney. :)

Graphic Novel Book Club

So have I told you guys about the new graphic novel book club? at the Center for Children's Books? No? I feel negligent.  It meets from 4-5 on the third Monday of the month at, where else, the CCB.

First, we read Library Wars: Love&War volume 1.  I am now reading the rest of them and having such a blast.

Tomorrow we're having our meeting about Zita the Spacegirl.  Win.

ETA: Okay the meeting time is in limbo. If you're interested, let me know and I'll keep you posted.  Also for next time we're reading Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala (a personal favorite!) and Foiled by Jane Yolen (which looks really good!).

Back When You Were Easier to Love

Back When You Were Easier to Love
by Emily Wing Smith

Once upon a time Joy and Zan were dating.  But happily ever after never happened.  Joy is left mooning and moping as she finishes high school in boring little Haven, UT.  When she says she needs closure, she really means she needs to go get him back. 

This one was fun. Also clever. And it reminded me of those painful high school days.  Because even though I didn't grow up in Utah, I grew up (and still am) Mormon.  And where there are Mormons there is a Mormon microcosm of this high school. 

The pacing was good. The characters were rounded. The religion was a defining element of but didn't overshadow the story. Okay maybe there was a little much of the teen angst, but you know, its all about overcoming the angst, so you've got to have it to begin with. <3

We Are in a Book

Benjamin says:
"More books! More bananas! Let's do We Are in a Book. That one I want!"

We're big fans of Elephant and Piggie around here.  For weeks after we returned this one to the library, anytime anyone said "banana," Benjamin said "Banana! So funny! Ha ha ha! Hee hee hee!"

In this installment of Mo Willems' easy reader series, Gerald and Piggie discover that they are in a book! It is very funny, and very meta. They're hanging from the speech bubbles, counting down the pages, and saying "banana."

Really, it's a must-read. Shiny sticker is the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award.

Previously: What I thought of the series more than two years ago.

You might like to know

...about this awesome contest!  I heard about it in this really great interview of the author, Deborah Underwood, on Shelf Elf (a.k.a. the blog of fantastic Kerry Millar who organizes the Cybils Middle Grade Fiction panel). I simply ADORE Renata Liwska's illustrations.  I was introduced to them in Little Panda (thanks to Bookie Woogie).  Anyway, I have read neither The Quiet Book nor The Loud Book (slacker! I know! They're on my hold list at the library now). But they look very fun.  Good luck winning! (But, you know, not too good of luck, because I want to win.)

Also, how about some contests of our own soon, eh?  I have some books here you might like.
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