December 2001 – Recent Reading

Book of the month:

Zazoo, by Richard Mosher.

YA set in France. Zazoo is a 14-year-old Vietnamese orphan adopted by a French soldier, Grand-Pierre. They run a canal lock from their home in an old mill. Who is the enigmatic boy-on-a-bicycle, and how is he connected with the village pharmacist and Grand-Pierre? A coming-of-age/first love/mystery/war story that lyrically evokes the French countryside– what more could you want in a book?

  • The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson. MG fantasy. Many of the titles recommended for readers who ‘loved Harry Potter’ are off-kilter, in my opinion; Philip Pullman’s trilogy and even Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series are older and very different in tone. Instead, try this one–Ibbotson is well loved in her native England and deserves to be better known here.

    Platform 13 is a light witty story with a fairy-tale feel, complete with a Dursley-esque family and an appealing heroine. Also recommended for the ‘if you loved Harry’ crowd: Diana Wynne-Jones Chrestomanci quartet, and Bruce Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.

  • Three Days, by Donna Jo Napoli. MG suspense. A fascinating premise: A girl on vacation is kidnapped and held by a family in the remote hills of Italy. But all is definitely not what it seems here… My first Napoli read, but it won’t be my last.

A pretty measly list for this month, partly because of the holiday madness, but also because I’m luxuriating in a huge adult read: Anna Karenina, the Russian classic by Leo Tolstoy. Unlike my usual m.o., I’m reading this one slowly…savoring is the word. I absolutely love it. Those classics you’ve never gotten around to reading? It’s never too late!

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