book reviews

This Columbus Day starts a two week fall break for me. I’ll take a break wherever I can get it, but I’m not a fan of ‘year round schools’ or ‘balanced calendars’. We can play with the logistics all we want but until meaningful change happens during the hours we’re actually in the classroom, learning won’t improve.

I’m working on an upcoming presentation on developing and maintaining your online brand and would love to hear what you do to maintain yours, and what you’re teaching students about it.

I’ve got several reviews to post and I’m going to start with the most difficult to write simply because I didn’t care for the books.

title: Wolf Mark

author: Joseph Bruchac

date: Lee and Low; 2011

main character: Lucas King

from the publisher: When Lucas King’s black-ops father is kidnapped, a dangerous family secret could be his only chance to save him: a skin that will let him walk as a wolf. Spies and skinwalkers come together in this edge-of-your-seat YA thriller based on Abenaki legend.

I did not finish this book.

Bruchac’s writing skills easily intrigued me as he made me wonder why things were as they were and what was going to happen. The problem with building so much suspense is that the subsequent events need to be  equivalent in emotional impact. These weren’t. A reader can only take so many let downs! The author’s voice was quite noticeable in the lengthy, academic explanations of occurrences and I eventually became quite annoyed with Luke. Once a reader stops liking the main character, it’s difficult to like the story. I hate that this was my first Bruchac. I have several other of his books and I look forward to reading those soon.

title: Island’s End

author: Padma Venkatraman

date: G.P. Putnam and Sons; 2011

main character: Uido

Uido seems to have a spiritual gift. She is uncertain of what is happening to her and is careful with whom she discusses it. Her childhood friend and love interest, Danno, does support her curiosity and encourages her to visit the tribe’s spiritual guide. He reveals to Uido that she will be the tribe’s next guide and begins to prepare her. She will be the first female guide the tribe has known. Adding more conflict to the story is the threat from strangers across the water.

Uido lives in a society that has been protected from modernization. Their spiritual guide has been able to keep them sheltered however, once foreigners make their way to the island’s shore, the curiosity of many is stirred.

While Venkatraman tries to develop conflict regarding Uido’s role as a female leader, she neglected to develop the role of women in the society. She did create this fictitious tribe for the sake of this story, combining mythologies and cultures from people she previously studied. While this frees the author from accuracy, I think it can also lead to the lack of development of necessary details. In this case that would be defining the roles of males and females the culture. This also bled into the romantic relationship between Uido and Danno which was allowed to develop in the style of a western romance where the young couple is unsupervised and free to select their own partner. I found that difficult to accept. Overall, I’d say the tribe was poorly developed and existed as little more than noble savages. It felt as though the book were written from the back, with the author developing a story around a real life tribe that mysterious survived the tsunami of 2004.


ARCs were used for these reviews

4 thoughts on “book reviews

  1. Too bad these books didn’t quite work for you, I appreciate hearing that though. How do I market my library? We have a blog and the posts are pushed to our Facebook page. I try to do events or contests every few months and make sure they are advertised well around school. But, I think the best thing I do is getting into the classrooms to do book talks and instruct students on how to use our databases. That way they see me more often, outside the library and as another teacher they can approach

  2. Helen: Very good suggestions for marketing the school library. It’s difficult for me though because I’m the only person in my library.
    Do you work to maintain your own online brand?

Comments are closed.