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November 15, 2007

reading Update

... And This Is Laura by Ellen Conford.

A re-read from childhood. I mixed this book up in my memory with another one, A Gift of Magic, and got a really terrific book out of the two. But Laura isn't really a very good book. A girl from an eccentric family feels left out because she has no particular talent. Then, she discovers that she's psychic. Yawn. All she does is predict silly things like her bff taking the lead in the school play, and her little brother getting lost.

I'm going to read A Gift of Magic next, to see if it holds up.

Siberia by Ann Halam

A girl and her mother are sent to a wintry prison camp with no fences for her father's political crime. Turns out the mother is a scientist who keeps the last set of "seeds" for all the mammal species in a small box. When the mother is arrested, the girl must protect the animal "seeds" and make her way to a politically safe city on the other side of the ocean of ice.

A good book--i.e. it flows and is suspenseful and exciting and the characterization of the protag is good--but it feels a lot like a rip-off of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, especially the first one, The Golden Compass. There's the winter scenes, and the magical and useful animal companions with whom the protag lives in symbiosis. And there's the same bleak view of the world of adulthood as being one full of betrayal for kids.

I highly recommend it, but definitely consider it a more sophisticated act of literary theft.


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