So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Lost Boy of Oz by Paul Dana

The Lost Boy of Oz is about a minor character named Button-Bright from L.Frank Baum's series of children's books on the land of Oz. He made his first appearance in Baum's fifth Oz book, The Road to Oz as a wandering boy with a penchant for getting lost. This story by Paul Dana is a sequel to his other book Time Travelers in Oz which is also available on the Internet.
In The Lost Boy of Oz, Button-Bright sets out to search for information about his family with surprising results. It will appeal to Ozophiles as it sticks to the established canon and extends it by providing the back story to this character in an amusing adventure. It can stand alone without first reading Time Travelers in Oz, but what fun is that?

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver writes of a one-year family project to eat only locally grown food and to grow a lot of it themselves. Starting in March, each chapter is a month's summary of the project. She and her family moved from Tucson Arizona to a farm in the mountains of Virginia and decided to explore deeply the locavore (eating locally produced food) life. In addition to a review of what life is like in rhythm with the growth cycle of the year, she, with contributions from her husband and older daughter, talk about the economics, community & environmental impact, and personal growth of such a food choice.
While her family values organic food, vegetarianism is not important. So while they oppose eating factory and feedlot raised animals, be prepared for chapters on raising & preparing your own food animals. Several side trips to others in the movement add variety and a loose approach keeps this from being too preachy. They drink fair trade coffee and eat flour from beyond the local area, but draw the line at bananas, even organic ones. If you have a vested interest in the food industry, you will find this book subversive. But both Kingsolver and her husband are biologists and you will find their positions well-reasoned.
If you are interested in being a locavore or in supporting community agriculture this is a book for you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

Edith Nesbit is one of my favorite children's writers and this first novel from 1898 is one of three written about the six Bastable children. In this book their widowed father has lost all his money and the children, who are not in school for lack of tuition, seek to find a treasure to restore the family wealth. They are well-read and left on their own much of the day as they develop plans to find a fortune.

Related from the point of view of one of the children, the narrative explores the way children see the world and try to solve problems through games, fantasy and role play. So what could be a sad tale of neglect and poverty, if looked at objectively, becomes an adventure story where each chapter finds the characters digging for buried treasure, becoming highwaymen, seeking to marry a princess, trying to save a rich man, going into business, and devising other schemes designed to get rich quick.

Nesbit wrote over 60 books for children and The Story of the Treasure Seekers is one of her most influential and famous. It is populated by good-hearted people so no real danger threatens as the children confront a hard world with imagination and creativity.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Oz: Ozma of Oz

This is a graphic novelization of the 1907 book by L. Frank Baum. Eric Shanower sticks close to the original story and does a great job of turning it into comic format. What is brilliant about this and the other books in this Marvel series is the artwork of Skottie Young, who brings a fresh look to characters that are over 100 years old. His Ozma has range of emotions never before seen in her, and his Tik-Tok rises to new levels of Artificial Intelligence.

If you love the story, this will be a great way to revisit it. If it is new to you, then you are in for a treat as Dorothy returns to Oz in a convoluted manner that places most of the story outside the fairy land. Instead she is cast ashore in Ev, a neighboring land to Oz, when she falls overboard from a ship bound for Australia. There she meets Ozma for the first time. Ozma has raised an army and come to Ev to free the Evian royal family from the Nome King who has enslaved them in his underground kingdom. At first young Ozma and her top-heavy army (26 officers & 1 private) seem no match for the cunning nome king, but poultry power carries the day.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Time Travelers of Oz, by Paul Dana

Time Travelers of Oz is a book about some minor characters of the land of Oz and an adventure they take traveling back in time. The Munchkin boy Ojo and his friend Button Bright stumble across a grey dove who is the transformed Ugu the Shoemaker of L. Frank Baum's The Lost Princess of Oz.

Ugu has been looking for for the Ring of Time which would allow him to go back in time to persuade himself not to do evil. Out loud Button Bright wishes he could find it so he can go back to the day when the fairy queen Lurline turned Oz into a magical land, and then he disappears. He was sitting on the Ring of Time when he made his wish! So Ojo and Ugu wish to go back to that day also to find Button Bright and Ugu's former self.

Paul Dana creates a story of the first day of the magical land of Oz that is engaging and interesting to any loyal Oz fan. In addition to young Ugu and Lurline, he brings us to Mrs. Yoop's Yookahoo wedding. The adventure continues in a sequel called The Lost Boy of Oz.