At our last meeting, we discussed our novel first: Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman. There were many parts of it that we liked: its depiction of Elizabethan Era London, the great 'cursing' language used by Meggy and her 'frenemy' Roger, and the details about alchemy that were given in the author's notes at the end. Several of us felt it didn't match up to some of the author's previous books, and one reader felt that her 'lists,' as she enumerated various elements in the London setting were just 'lazy writing.' A couple of readers felt that it wasn't a real story, as much as a series of vignettes or incidents, and that the relationships between Meggy and her father weren't well developed. Ditto for her relationship with her mother. We wanted to know more about why her mother thought so little of Meggy as she was growing up -- perhaps because of her physical disability, something that wasn't well-accepted in those times. We liked Meggy's 'spunk' and determination to make something of her life, given the hardships she had to endure, and we felt that would be encouraging for young readers. We also felt that it would give young readers a feeling for the time and place in which the story occurred.
Everyone liked the picture book, Time for (Earth) School, Dewey Dew by Leslie Staub. One reader absolutely loved it, and thought it was a perfect picture book. We all liked the illustrations, and the fact that it was a new 'take' on the 'being the new kid in a strange school' meme. A couple of readers were a bit put off by the weird words (in Dewey's language) that were used to describe everyday things.....even though we felt that kids would completely understand what he was saying. We liked the fact that Dewey was a character with whom young readers could relate -- mainly because he was the 'new kid,' and not for any other reasons that might create any kind of bias. We felt there were some very poetic passages, and we all loved the double-spread illustration when Dewey's smile lit up the playground (and the universe) after he made a new friend. A generally positive review by all.