The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 18, 2002


Fall into fiction: hot new books for cold autumn nights

J.K. Rowling may have writer's block, but it appears that other authors have been spared. This autumn, as we start to make our holiday shopping lists, many new releases from well-known fiction writers are appearing in bookstores. So, as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, think about curling up in front of the fire with one of these new releases. There's something for readers of all ages.

Ages 4-8

Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth by Eric Carle

The foreword by Jane Goodall, and the bright, tissue paper collages we've come to expect in Carle's books are bound to make this book a popular choice. Rainforest animals including anteater, armadillo, peccary, tapir, caiman, jaguar, and toucan all ask the sloth, "Why are you so slow?" Finally, in a lengthy paragraph, using many polysyllabic adjectives he explains why he chooses a more laid-back lifestyle. Something to think about for those of us who feel our days pass too quickly, quickly, quickly.

I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Cornell (Illustrator)

Once again, actress Jamie Lee Curtis pairs up with illustrator Laura Cornell to produce another success. This time, in rhyming text, a boy and a girl describe how they will like themselves no matter what they encounter. The girl says, "I'm gonna like me/wearing flowers and plaid./I have my own style./I don't follow some fad." The boy says, "I'm gonna like me/when my answer is wrong,/like thinking my ruler/was ten inches long." The prose is expressive and fun, and the illustrations are clever and interesting. You will see something new with each read.

Micawber by John Lithgow, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)

In their second collaboration, Lithgow and Payne introduce us to Micawber the squirrel lover of fine art. During one of Micawber's weekly trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art he stows away in the paint box of an art student. That evening he secretly uses the student's materials (and his own tail as a paintbrush) to paint his own works. Over the next months "the paintings poured forth like a geyser" and the result is a private exhibit in the Central Park carousel. The vocabulary in this book is remarkable and so are the illustrations. A CD recording of Lithgow reading his rhyming text comes with the book.

Ages 9-12

Double Fudge, by Judy Blume

Fans of Superfudge and Fudge-a-Mania will enjoy this newest book by Blume. This time five-year-old Farley Drexel Hatcher (aka "Fudge") is obsessed with money. He is collecting it, singing about it, spending it and even creating his own currency called Fudge Bucks. He is driving his family crazy especially his preteen brother, Peter. During a visit to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington D.C., the Hatcher family meets up with distant cousins from Hawaii. That's when we meet another Farley Drexel and the fun doubles! A good wholesome read.

Triss: A Tale from Redwall by Brian Jacques

The fifteenth installment in the Redwall series will not disappoint Jacques fans. This time Triss, the squirrelmaid, escapes by sea from King Agarnu and his daughter, Princess Kurda. Meanwhile, in Mossflower forest, a pair of wandering Dibbuns has accidentally discovered what may be the long-lost secret entrance to Brockhall ­ original home of the warrior badgers. With lots of action and humor, and no shortage of gory battles, this latest saga is sure to be a welcome addition to any Redwall library.

The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

Yes, Snicket fans, as of October 29, the newest release is here! This ninth episode in the Snicket series takes the Baudelaire orphans to the carnival. If you've met these orphans before you won't be surprised to learn that instead of having fun at the carnival, they encounter another series of unfortunate events. This time the siblings must cope with a dreadful lie, an ambidextrous person, a caravan, and Chabo the wolf baby. Another suspenseful adventure for Snicket fans to relish.

Teens/Young Adult

All-American Girl by Meg Cabot

All-American Girl is another teen-pleasing novel by the author of The Princess Diaries. Set in Washington D.C., we meet Samantha, a feisty sophomore at John Adams Preparatory School who happens to save the President's life one day after school. Her life suddenly changes as she is named teen ambassador to the United Nations. But will this new-found popularity be enough to get her a date with her lifelong crush? Many teenage girls will totally relate to Samantha.

Summerland by Michael Chabon

In Summerland, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Wonder Boys, writes for a younger audience. Summerland is a creative story about an American baseball fantasy. The story is about 11-year-old Ethan Feld, a less-than-talented Little Leaguer whose father, an odd inventor, has been kidnapped by someone planning to use one of his inventions to destroy the universe. We meet lots of mystical creatures in this book including unusual fairies, slow giants and creatures that are half-human and half-animal. Reviewers at Audiofile report that, "Chabon hits a grand slam with this spirited, unsentimental mythology for our time." This book is likely to appeal to Potter fans.

The Sands of Time: A Hermux Tantamoq Adventure by Michael Hoeye

In this sequel to Time Stops for No Mouse Hermux Tantamoq returns to entertain and please readers. This time, after Mirrin Stentrill's exhibit of cat portraits causes a riot, the watchmaker mouse gets involved in a feline investigation. The plot moves quickly as Tantamog uncovers evidence suggesting that felines once kept mice as slaves. No need to worry about this sequel not measuring up to Hoeye's earlier release.


Blessings by Anna Quindlen

Blessings is the fourth novel by the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times colmnunist-turned-novelist. It tells the story of ex-con handyman, Skip Cuddy, who discovers a baby girl on the front steps of his garage apartment at the Blessings estate. Skip keeps the baby, names her Faith, and raises her with the help of Lydia Blessing, his 80-year-old employer. In the process the three create a temporary family for Faith. Quindlen devotees will want to read this book. They will enjoy her beautiful prose, and find her characters endearing, but they may find the ending a bit disappointing.

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

Fans of Tartt's debut novel, The Secret History, have been waiting ten long years for her to produce a second novel. As of October 22

About the writer:

Patti Russo lives on Carleton Road with her husband and two children. She is a stay-at-home mom who is an avid reader, never without a book or an opinion about one. Russo is the co-chair of this year's Nashoba Brooks Day at The Concord Bookshop on Saturday, October 19.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito