Friday, June 18, 2010

Double Book Review: Hoot and Cicada Summer

I went back to the bookfair (YAY!) this week without the kids. I took all my bugs and bug books to Amy's class to give her a break in the final days of school. I had a great time-- though quite a different experience from my school visit a few weeks ago with preschoolers. After the bug event I had about 20 minutes to roam through the bookfair all by myself. So nice.

I did buy some books for the boys, 2 each to give to them as we drive to SC next month. Then I perused the mysteries; I am working on reading more MG because I want to know the upper limits of the genre, and not just through descriptions on the web, but in the tone and feel of the books.

Until recently I have been avoiding mysteries because I don't want to be influenced by them. But now that I have three books mapped out I feel a little more confident that I can take the influx of other authors' mystery plots.

Here are reviews for two new books I read this week: Hoot by Carl Hiassen and Cicada Summer by Andrea Beatty. BTW, I do read books that are NOT about bugs or the environment, but because my MS is all about that stuff I'm most curious about these now.

I have read Hiassen's Sick Puppy, and I had a feeling I would like Hoot. It was good. Nice characters, great conservation themes, and he SO NAILS Florida. He captures the people of that state quite well. There is also a scene that involves social action by citizens, and as a political science professor I totally geeked out on that. I liked it because in the real world, that is often how regular people find the kind of power necessary to combat something like a "big bad corporation". It wasn't flashy or dramatic, it was just a protest. Loved it.

Cicada Summer is a slim book, just over 20K (24,743, book level 4.7) words, but it packs a wallup (sp?). I actually felt it dealt with more mature themes and more serious subject matter than Hoot (61,113 words, book level 5.2) . Though (back to the endless conundrum) they're targeted for the same age group, Hoot is well over twice as long, and Hoot has a higher book level rating. The characterization was good, the plot kept it's pace, and it was sad and heartwarming.

Both books were fine, but reading them continues to solidify my idea that my books are on the cusp of upper MG/YA. I like all of the books I've read lately, but at the same time-- I haven't read anything lately that I feel really transports me.

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