Can't Stop Reading

Lucky for me I get a hefty discount at work, because I just can't seem to stop myself!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I didn't post anything yesterday, because I was finishing up The Sea of Monsters, which is the second book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It was great, but everything I said about the first book applies. Namely, its hilarious and fun and you need to go read it. If you need more info, check out my review of the first one, The Lightning Thief.

Also, I'm heading out on a road trip to Seattle this weekend with my good friend Katie, so the posting will probably not be happening. I'm leaving tomorrow, and I won't be back till Monday night. My provisions for this weekend of fun include: The Queen's Soprano by Carol Dines, a biography of Queen Christina of Sweden, the latest issue of Quill & Quire, and The Princess and the Captain. So hopefully I'll have some good stuff to write about when I get back.

Meanwhile, here are a few picture books for your perusal. First up is Rob Scotton's follow up to his hilarious Russell the Sheep, which I adored. In this adventure, Russell finds a scrap of paper that convinces him he must find the lost treasure of Frogsbottom. So obviously the first step is to create a Super-Duper Treasure Seeker. Just as Russell is about to give up on the whole search, his treasure seeker locates something at the bottom of a tree. Russell pulls up an old chest of junk, including an ancient camera, and has a great time with friends and family, taking hilarious pictures. It turns out that even old junk can be a treasure.

I don't think that Scotton's biggest strength is his writing, which for the most part, could be described as serviceable. However, his illustrations are such that I can't imagine anyone cares. Russell is probably one of my favourite picture book characters in the last few years. Especially once I saw his schematic for the Super-Duper Treasure Seeker. Truly, Scotton knows good sheep.

I will admit to being pretty excited when I saw this next one come into the store. I adored Julie of the Wolves when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Jean Craighead George's Luck did not live up to my expectations. Luck is a migration story of a Sandhill Crane. George has chosen to tell this as a story, cramming in as many facts as possible, as we follow Luck from Texas to Siberia. My biggest problem with this book is the lack of afterword, or what have you, that gives straight facts. At one point George refers to the migration pattern being 20 million years old. Really? That's the kind of thing that she could have expanded on at the back of the book, making this all the more valuable. How much of what she wrote is fact, and how much fiction? This lack especially bothered me because as fiction, the book didn't do much for me. Luck isn't really a character, he's just a bird that we're following. I also didn't love Wendell Minor's illustrations. They kind of reminded me of the illustrations you find in old kids books from the forties and fifties, which always turned me off.

The Baabaasheep Quartet is another sheep story. Just in case you couldn't tell from the title. This one is about four sheep who move to the city. But wherever they go, they just don't fit in. They decide that getting a job will help them meet people, but they don't seem suited for any of the activities they choose. When they work as gardeners, they eat the flowers; when they knit for newborns at the hospital, they knit things with four legs; when they try lawn bowling, their hooves make holes in the green. What are these poor sheep to do? Finally, one of their number finds a rather bedraggled poster for a baabaasheep quartet contest. Pefect! They think. They'll fit right in with all the other sheep. But it turns out the poster read barbershop quartet, and the sheep feel as out of place as ever. Until they decide that the show must go on, with a little help from paper cutout mustaches and hats. Well, the sheep end up singing three encores, winning the grand prize, and going on to tour the world, as the only world famous baabaasheep quartet. Huzzah! Author/illustrator Watts' pictures of these rather ridiculous sheep add wonderfully to the humour. Have any creatures ever looked so out of place as these sheep? Superb.

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
ISBN 0786856866
288 pages

The Queen's Soprano by Carol Dines
ISBN 0152054774
318 pages

Christina, Queen of Sweden by Veronica Buckley
ISBN 1841157368

The Princess and the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux
ISBN 0747584354
433 pages

Russell and the Lost Treasure by Rob Scotton
ISBN 0060598514
32 pages

Luck written by Jean Craighead George illustrated by Wendell Minor
ISBN 0060082011
32 pages

The Baabaasheep Quartet by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
ISBN 1550418904
32 pages


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