Thursday, August 5, 2010

Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl

Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading level: 4th - 7th grade
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Scholastic 1984

About the book:
Roald Dahl, author of classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and my son's favorite BFG writes an autobiography of his childhood, and up to the age of 20.

My thoughts:
Mr. Dahl's caricatures of greedy, children-hating adults are so easily manifested in his fiction because of his experiences at boarding school. Here is the fodder for his best characters, and each protagonist in his books seems to hold the innocence and daring of Mr. Dahl himself. Through it all, he keeps his humor and his spunk.

I really enjoyed "The Great Mouse Plot of 1924." After all, if you're going to get a caning from the headmaster, it should be for something especially grotesque.

In a sentence. . .
Mr. Dahl's life is no less entertaining than his works of fiction.

Next steps:
Memoirs at the next level:
Bad Boy: a Memoir by Walter Dean Myers 

Any other next steps suggestions?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Shimmering: Ka 'Olili by Keola Beamer

Synopses:  from the product description
Voted one of the best books of 2002 by the Honolulu Advertiser. This collection of original stories of island adventures and contemporary legends speak of the place where modern and ancient Hawaii meet.

My thoughts:
Keola Beamer is more widely known for his ki ho'alu (slack key) music, but in this collection of short stories, Beamer puts his story telling abilities to words. The stories run the gamut, from a haole (caucasian) scientist working up at Volcanoes National Park who becomes Kamapua'a, Pele's lover, to Beamer's own hysterical shenanigans with his hanai brother Kaliko trying to create a prize-winning documentary on the camera shy a'ama crabs. Beamer uses his family's original chants to add depth to these modern stories.

In a sentence. . .
The Shimmering is a modern Hawaiian blend of urban and mythical realities.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ancient O'ahu: Stories from Fornander and Thrum

This is a collection of stories from ancient Hawai'i collected by Fornander and Thrum. If you are familiar with Hawaiian stories, some will be familiar, like the prowess of Maui and his brothers, and the story of the giant pig god, Kamapua'a. Journey around O'ahu through these ancient stories.

My thoughts:
This book is similar to the book on fishing traditions in that some of the characters are the same, like 'Ai'ai, who went around the islands and taught people to fish and maintain a healthy stock of fish.

As someone born and raised on O'ahu, I'm familiar with many of the places, but the old stories, like the story of Kamapua'a and the story of the cannibal king, as well as the siblings who ran away from an evil step mother and created the springs at Punahou make this island feel magical, and sacred, as if despite the concrete and freeway noise, the old ones still breathe in this wahi pana (sacred place).

University of Hawaii Press/140 pages/2nd edition (2002)


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