Book Review: Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
Book Reviews / September 11, 2004

The third book in the series that began with The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and continued with Runaway Ralph, takes off when Ralph befriends the son of the hotel’s new housekeeper. Ryan agrees to take Ralph to school with him, but things turn out as neither of them planned.

Book Review: Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary
Book Reviews / September 11, 2004

The sequel to The Mouse and the Motorcycle finds Ralph the mouse growing discontented in his hotel lobby home. His younger brothers, sisters, and cousins keep pestering him to let them ride his toy motorcycle, and his mother and uncle won’t leave him alone. Finally Ralph decides to runaway to a camp whose bugle calls he can hear every morning and evening.

Book Review: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Book Reviews / September 11, 2004

I should have read this book 20 years ago. This story about a lonely boy, learning to live with his parents’ divorce, going to a new school where he has no friends, and making his first efforts as a writer, won the Newbery Medal in 1984–the year my parents split up. In lots of ways, it’s like reading the story of my life; but obviously it isn’t about me, and the poignancy of the story isn’t just in my head, or it wouldn’t have earned the recognition it did.

Book Review: Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
Book Reviews / September 3, 2004

I know a Christian man–I am not sure I would call him a good Christian man, but I won’t deny that he is a sincere one–who raised his sons forbidding them to own or read books about magic, mythology, or science fiction. He was so strict about it that when one of his sons (who rather liked sci-fi and fantasy) went out of town for the summer, he raided the boy’s bedroom and threw out all his books. The same son later turned down a dying uncle’s offer to inherit a large library of imaginative fiction, because he knew his father wouldn’’t let him keep it in the house. And it may be the same son again who, later in life, would only read non-fiction because he had developed an aversion to any book that wasn’’t “true.”

Book Review: Green Boy by Susan Cooper
Book Reviews / September 3, 2004

Trey is very protective of his sensitive, mute little brother, Lou. They live with their grandparents on an outer island of the Bahamas, from which they often cross to an uninhabited isle to look at shells, birds, and fish. But now Long Pond Cay is threatened by powerful developers who want to build a hotel and casino on the spot and spoil all the beauty and life that is there.

Book Review: …and now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
Book Reviews / September 3, 2004

This book is the winner of the 1954 Newbery medal which, along with Onion John, makes its author one of the few two-time winners of the American Library Association’s highest honor for children’s literature. Like many of its fellow medalists, this story is set in a culture that is different from most American readers. This probably has less to do with the hispanic background of its characters and more to do with the culture of shepherds and people who make their living almost entirely from the soil.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide and Dirk Gently Series by Douglas Adams
Book Reviews / August 4, 2004

It took me a long time to catch on to this series of cult favorites. The first time I was aware of it was when I knew a couple of weird guys in high school who treated these philosophical, sci-fi spoof novels as their religious scriptures. That kind of turned me off. Then I got hold of the books in college and had such a good time reading them, my roommate thought I was weird. I actually fell out of my chair laughing.

Book Review: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
Book Reviews / September 4, 2003

This second of the “Thursday Next” adventures that began with The Eyre Affair is exciting, funny and mentally engaging. A romp in an alternative-1985 England, where there are no airplanes and Germany did not lose in World War II; while on the other hand time travel, undead problems, and resequenced mammoths, dodos and Neanderthals are part of every-day life. Everyone is nuts about literature, a whole category of crimes has grown up around forged Shakespearean plays and, just to make the insanity complete, there are ways of actually getting into a book and (for characters in the books) of going from one book to another–or even into the real world.