Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ladybug Girl and Bingo

I can’t quite decide if Ladybug Girl and Bingo is charming, or a little too  predictable. Bingo and Lulu (aka Ladybug Girl) are heading out on a camping adventure with the whole family. Lulu is pretty excited about sleeping outside and exploring. Girl and dog end up having a few small adventures and they discover that the forest is a pretty magical place to hang around with your best friend.

The sweet relationship between Lulu and Bingo comes through in the illustrations, and that is one aspect of the book that is really successful. The narrative is simple, and a shade predictable, but there’s a comforting, almost old-fashioned quality to the story that should appeal to many kids. I think it would be a perfect gentle book to share with a little one before a first camping trip. It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s sweet. A good family read after everyone’s had a couple of S’mores and it’s time to settle down in the tent.

Ladybug Girl and Bingo is published by  Dial.

the story of us

This weekend I read the story of us, the first book from my summer list, in the summeriest of places, up on Georgian Bay. It felt like a good cottage book: long enough to sink into for at least a day, descriptive, great sense of place, images that linger as you swing in the hammock or stretch out on your towel with a swim in the back of your mind.

The story takes place over one week at a beach house, where Cricket’s mom is finally planning to get married after a series of almost weddings. The whole family comes together at Bluff House for what should be a perfect celebration of love. It’s not so easy for Cricket, however, because she has left behind her longtime boyfriend Janssen after she did something she wishes she could undo. She’s trying to work it out, but she struggles to know what she should do now. The week brings out secrets and worries and desires that complicate the situation with plenty of drama and doubt. Times are changing, and Cricket has never been good at change.

I’d say this one has all the trademark Deb Caletti elements: an articulate and reflective main character, secondary characters so interesting you think they deserve their own novels, humour that feels exactly true to life, sweet, non-drippy romance, and many lines about how things are that are so wise they make you wonder if you should create a little book of wisdom for life entirely made up of sentences Deb Caletti wrote. This is feel good fiction that isn’t insulting to an intelligent reader – teen or grown-up.

One aspect of the book I loved most, because I wasn’t expecting it to be so prominent, were all of the parts where Cricket writes to Janssen about Jupiter, her dog, and the awesomeness of dogs in general. Dog love is a big part of this story, how it’s the same and different from people love, what it can teach us, and how it’s pretty much the best thing going. If you’re a dog person, you’ll be reaching for the tissues, guaranteed.

There were moments when I wondered if there was too much crazyness going on with all of the family drama. At times it reminded me of one of those romantic drama/comedy movies when a cast of kooky relatives with complicated lives and secrets galore come together for a weekend at the cabin and things build to the breaking point when it seems like everybody is going to lose it, but then it’s okay and they come together and go on being neurotic but content. It’s a bit hard to keep track of it all as it’s happening, but it’s still kind of fun to get caught up in. As I write this though, I realize that I think the book succeeds brilliantly at this kind of story. It could easily be a movie.

I think that one of the strengths of Deb Caletti’s books is how she offers readers so many opportunities to connect to her characters and stories. At some point, you will see yourself in her books. We all flounder. We all want to find love and aren’t always sure when it’s there right in front of us. Some of us are lucky and have people who keep us from going over to the crazy side, and dogs who know exactly when a canine chin resting on your knee is exactly what you need. If you’re after a book that will make you grateful for the perfect parts of your imperfect life, I’d say the story of us is just right.

the story of us is published by Simon Pulse.

What’s on my bookshelf for the summer…

I’ve had my first lemonade. I’m on the listen for songs for my summer playlist. I’ve had a big ol’ BBQ in the backyard. My toes have been dipped into a chilly lake. I can feel it. Summer is nearly here. So I’m starting to daydream about all the books I’m going to have a chance to get to in a few weeks.

Absolutely at the top of my list is:

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. The only reason I haven’t read this yet is because I’ve been feeling kinda tired/grouchy and there was no way I was going to wreck this book by reading it from a tired/grouchy place. Cannot wait.

the story of us by Deb Caletti. Come on gang, that cover alone says summer, right? Deb Caletti is one of my surefire bet authors. I always love her characters and the way that her writing is loaded with so many sentences that beg you to stop and reread. Kirkus called it “chicklit for eggheads.” Yep, that’s it.

Pure by Julianna Baggott. Because it wouldn’t be summer without a good old postapocalyptic coming-of-age story. Besides, it’s pretty.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl. A crumbling castle, a heroine fit for an Austen novel, pending financial ruin, and reminiscent of one of my favourite novels of all, makes this just about irresistible.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Even though this one has had mixed reviews, it’s been on my list for such a long time, and summer when you can get to things you keep on saving for later. Plus, it’s about cake.

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. A girl has to read something to make her smarter, and having heard Jonah Lehrer speak about Imagine, I’m excited to make it my nonfiction pick for the summer.

That’s my list so far. Can’t wait to get started!

The Hueys in The New Jumper

Not sure why, but I feel like The Hueys in The New Jumper should be greeted with a round of applause. This is partly because it only takes reading this book once to feel like you’ve known the Hueys for a long time and this is just another one of their adorably silly adventures. Also, this is an Oliver Jeffers book, so come on people, of course we should be applauding.

First, watch the cute-as-a-button trailer:

There are about as many reasons to like this book as there are Hueys:

1) Trademark Oliver Jeffers kookiness. These Hueys are strange little critters, and we love ‘em.

2) It’s such a simple idea, but there are some big ideas hiding inside of it that would be fun to talk about with the little people you read it to.

3) It’s silly.

4) It is BFF with another awesome book about a sweater that changes everything. (Am I right or am I right?)

5) It has names in it like Rupert and Gillespie.

6) You can make your very own Huey online. I did. She was very stylish.

It’s about individuality, community, trendsetting, and cute jumpers. Good for just about every unique person you know.

The Hueys in The New Jumper is published by Harper Collins.