Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Pact - 51 to 60

51/100 Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary.
I've heard a lot of Beverly Cleary, but hadn't read her work. I picked up a couple of her books for Puttachi from the library, after which I spotted this one on the shelf marked "Newbery Medal winners" and so picked this one up too.
Leigh Botts is trying to deal with his parents' divorce, and someone stealing his lunch at school, and he gets his life under control through the letters he writes to his favourite author Mr. Henshaw. This book brings out the greyness in human beings very well. Vert sensitive. I recommend it.

52/100 The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Faith Sunderley is a 14-year-old girl whose father is a naturalist, and she wants to be one too, back in a time when girls and women were just supposed to be "good", not smart, and definitely not clever. She craves for her father's attention and approval, but when her father dies mysteriously, with several questions left unanswered, Faith takes it upon herself to get behind the mystery. And she does it with the help of a tree that bears fruit when it is fed with lies. And this fruit contains answers to your questions. A beautiful, layered story. Reminded me of Calpurnia Tate, which I enjoyed a lot too, about a young girl in the nineteenth century who wants to be a naturalist against all odds. But this one is darker.

53/100 Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
One of those books that have to be experienced, not read. This is a book that pulsates with life. It is a suspense thriller set in the Victorian era, featuring two young girls from different backgrounds. It is full of dizzying twists and turns. The first twist in the tale left me literally breathless, and the words danced around until I took some deep breaths. So satisfying!

54/100 Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.
Well, meh. Puttachi liked it and asked me to read it. I can see why she found it exciting, and the idea is, yeah, interesting. But the writing and the treatment left me feeling, "ok, whatever".

When I was helping Puttachi's teacher pack away books at the end of the school year, she pointed out some books and recommended them to me. Of course, I got them from the library immediately. The next three books are among those.

55/100 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
A little gem of a book, based on a true story. Caleb and Anna's father puts in an ad in the paper for a wife for himself and a mother for them; and Sarah, who is plain and tall, answers the call. The book is an exquisite study in subtle emotions and longings, fear of abandonment. It is very rare that I read a book twice, that too immediately after the first read, but this one demanded it.
I believe it is the first of a series. I'll look up the others too.

56/100 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
This is the amazing and beautifully written story of a young girl who is left alone on an island just off the coast of California, for many years. Basically, a female Robinson Crusoe. It is based on a true story - the actual woman was finally rescued after 20  years by missionaries from Santa Barbara, and was known as Juana Maria or the Lost Lady of San Nicholas (the name of the island). Unfortunately, there was nobody alive who knew the language she spoke (isn't that searingly sad?) so they could only guess at her story. But Scott O'Dell has done a magnificent job with the story. Strength and serenity shines through the pages.

57/100 My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.
A delightful, whimsical book of a little boy who goes to strange lands to rescue a dragon he's never seen.

58/100 The Great Cake Mystery - Precious Ramotswe's First Case by Alexander McCall Smith
I had no idea this book existed - imagine my surprise when I found it at the library. Written for young readers, it is a case that Mma Ramotswe solved when she was a young girl. His trademark style, a very short book. But a good introduction to the series. And a good read for Mma Ramotswe fans. Puttachi liked it too, and is thinking up stories from the POVs of the characters in the book

59/100 Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith
I had no idea this author has written so much for kids. This one was an exciting story of how a young boy catches elephant poachers. There are several Akimbo books. Puttachi loved this one, wants to read the others in the series.

60/100 Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Picked it up for the first essay "Santaland Diaries" that was recommended to me - the experiences of an "elf" at Macy's, during Christmas. It is very interesting, and funny and sad at the same time. The other essays are darkly funny, almost crazy. LOL at places.

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