Friday, September 02, 2005

The Wright 3

Yesterday, I opened the mail and found an advance readers' copy of The Wright 3, by Blue Balliett (Scholastic, 04/06), a sequel to one of my very favorite books, Chasing Vermeer. I was so excited I sat down and read the whole thing today! Sorry there's no link, but it's just too early to find you any more information. Trust me, it will be worth the wait!

Balliett's latest takes us into the brilliant mind and architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Our friends Calder and Petra are at the end of the school year when Calder's friend Tommy returns to the class from New York City. One of Wright's buildings, Robie House, sits on the property of the University of Chicago where the three attend day school and where their parents all work. The Robie House is slated to be broken up and disbursed to four museums. Ms. Hussey, the kids' teacher, is appalled and puts the questions to her class: Can a home be art? Does cutting up art destroy it or preserve it? She calls it "Plunder...or the name of salvation."

While tensions run high between Calder's two friends, they manage to find some common ground as the group, the "Wright 3", get involved in solving the various mysteries that have surrounded the house over the decades and try to save it at the same time. The new group dynamic makes for some interesting twists and perspectives in the story. It's fun to get to know the new character, Tommy.

This is a terrific follow-up for fans of Chasing Vermeer. Keep an eye out for it in April.

Grade: A

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Part-way through I, Coriander

I'm working my way through a children's fantasy novel titled I, Coriander by Sally Gardner (Dial, 9/05). The writing is exquisite, yet the story is not really capturing me.

The novel is set in Oliver Cromwell's England and surrounds a young girl whose life takes place between this very harsh real-world setting and fairyland. The tone of the novel reminds me very much of the highly acclaimed adult novel of last year, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, 9/04), which I found fascinating. I want to keep giving Coriander a chance, but some other books have wedged their way in. I'll keep you posted.

Your Friendly Librarian

Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives

After a leisurely vacation, it's time to catch you up on what I've been reading. Earlier this week I read a new children's mystery novel called Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives, book 1 in a new series by Michael Buckley (Abrams, 10/05).

The story follows two young "orphaned" sisters, Daphne and Sabrina Grimm, as they enter into the care of yet another foster family. This time their new guardian claims to be their Grandmother Grimm, but the girls' father told them their grandmother had died. Already suspicious, the girls are whisked into some unbelievable circumstances as their granny takes them to investigate a house smashed by a giant, to meet Mayor Charming, and to deal with police who look an awful lot like pigs. After too many odd incidents to be a hoax, the girls come to accept their detective grandmother and her story that their parents have been taken by evil forces and that fairy tale creatures really do exist in the charmed town of Ferryport Landing.

All fairy tale, nursery rhyme, and other mythical creatures come into a story that explains the history of creatures who immigrated to the United States to avoid persecution in the Old Country. One of the Grimm ancestors placed a charm on their village to insure that no fairy tale creatures, or Everafters, escaped to wreak havoc on regular people. The Everafters are doomed live as prisoners - though with eternal youth - in the charmed village until the last of the Grimm family dies out, so they are less than thrilled to meet the Grimm granddaughters.

This all sounds complicated but is actually pretty interesting as a premise. The action moves quickly after the story is set up and the girls are forced to use their wits after their granny is carried off by a giant. Other main characters include Mr. Canis (granny's mysterious companion), Jack the Giant Killer, and Puck the Prince of Misrule. The series ought to go over well with the princess/fairy crowd as well as mystery lovers. It's pretty well written and funny.

Books 1 and 2 are being released at the same time. Book 2 is titled Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects.

Grade: B+