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Monday, June 25, 2018

Things I've Read Recently (73): Some Incredibly Random Books

If you're new around here, Things I've Read Recently is a series of posts I do that are basically mini-reviews of books that I either forgot to review, didn't have enough to say for a full review, or just didn't want to do a full post about for whatever reason.

Abel's Island by William Steig

Published: Originally released May 1976, my edition was probably released in 2005, although it doesn't say. There's been a lot of reprints of this, and is a kindle version.
Genre: Middle grade adventure is what I'm going to go with because, you know, anthropomorphic mice aren't really contemporary and it's not really clear when this is set, but I think it might be historical?
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 117 plus there are two full page illustrations at the very end of the book.
Part of a series? No, I don't believe so.
Got via: It looks like I bought it at a yard sale at some point.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): A wild August torrent sweeps Abel Mouse away from home, family, and familiar world to an uninhabited island where, between efforts to return home, he makes new discoveries about himself and the world.

Thoughts: This is like a less brutal version of Hatchet starring a rich mouse. I can't honestly say I was that wowed by it, honestly. It's not just the age, either. Some old books age really well, as we've seen here before, and obviously people like it since it got a recent reprint, but I found it just kind of... dull. And "rich privileged dude mouse" is probably not my first choice in protagonist, lol.

With all the great books out there these days, I don't think the voice of this would really capture kids these days and I would not re-read it. I'm going to pass this one on and I wouldn't really say it's something you should rush to seek out unless you have childhood memories of it or something.

Also apparently there was a short film made based on this? I watched a clip of it and, sorry Tim Curry, even you can't make me interested in it.

The Summer of the Falcon by Jean Craighead George

Published: First published in 1962, this edition is from Harper and Row somewhere between 1979 and 1983. There's also a kindle version, but I don't think there are any current physical printings.
Genre: Historical YA (Not just because of its age - it's set in the 30s)
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 153
Part of a series? No, I don't believe so.
Got via: It was weeded from my library, although it's in surprisingly good shape for that. I don't know it was checked out as a ton.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): The summer June Pritchard turns thirteen, her family gives her a sparrow hawk to train. She names him Zander, and over the next three summers she helps him develop the natural hunting instincts he will need in his adult falcon life. Zander, in turn, helps June understand the natural world around her and the delicate balance of life, growth, and death that exists in nature.

June is growing into a young woman, and she is finding it hard to accept the added responsibilities of her approaching adulthood. She wants freedom more than anything, but first she must learn - for both herself and her falcon - that freedom without self-discipline means nothing.

Thoughts: This is kind of frustrating because the writing is great, but the subject matter frustrated me so badly. It's so ridiculously sexist, and I don't care that it was written in the sixties and set in the thirties, because you know what, feminism existed in the sixties and the author made a choice to write the most frustratingly sexist characters. Her brothers are like two years older than her, and they can't set the table when she's left alone to run the house and instead she has to clean up behind them and make their beds??? Why?? Let them suffer if they want to be jerks.

I just. I can't even. This message that you must be forced into things you have no interest in because girl is so terrible and might be part of the reason this muscle in my forehead won't stop twitching. I just. I know books age, and I'm not angry at this like I'd be angry at a modern book, but it's still really frustrating. It's also casually racist which I'm sure no one is surprised by, and there's one point where June ogles her cousin a little too much.

Come to think of it - the next book I'm reading for this post mentions the Great Depression like a lot - how come this book never brings it up? They're set at the same time.

Again, I think the author's descriptions and prose are wonderful when I don't want to murder the characters, lol. I actually did enjoy a lot of it. But I'm going to get rid of it. And if you have a lot of nostalgia for this one, maybe don't reread it. I actually do think this could be adapted into an interesting modern movie, though, if you went a little less in the "your role in live is inevitable" route.

Sarah and Katie by Dori White

Published: Originally published in 1972, this version is from Harper Trophy and was probably released in 1973. The library stamp that I can make out that's the oldest is 1976.
Genre: Historical MG (Again, it's set in the 30s and written in the 70s, so it was historical at the time as well)
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 168
Part of a series? I do not believe so.
Got via: It was a weeded library book.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): Sarah and Katie are best friends. Together they have written a play for their class to perform at Thanksgiving. But when a beautiful new girl, Melanie, joins their class, Sarah is fascinated by her. As director of the play, Sarah picks Melanie rather than Katie to play the leading roles. And things start to go wrong.

Thoughts: Okay, first off, this is a scan of my actual copy, and let's talk about a couple things about that. One, it's pretty gross and boy my scanner picked that up incredibly well. This book is forty years old and there's not a lot of information about it or the author online. It doesn't, in fact, seem like the author wrote any other books. Which is kind of sad. It seems she died in 2007. I hope she was happy. Goodreads does have a slightly cleaner-looking photo, but it's much smaller. I'm going to include it to talk about a thing that I have before.

This is apparently another old book that was yellow and turned pink! I wish I had more pictures of this, because I find it so interesting how so many books that were originally deep mustard colours or bright yellows eventually turn this not very pretty, pale peachy-pink. I'm so curious about how this happens and why so many books end up such a close shade to each other.

Okay, now on to the actual book.

It was fine. I did appreciate that they actually mentioned the Depression, and I thought the attitude about it being absolutely fine to get help when you needed it wasn't bad at all. Sarah's mom also is fat and it's handled very well. Her illustrations even draw her that way, and it's not exaggerated or stereotyped. She's just a mom who's all round and soft, and it's nice.

There's some casual racism that you'd expect from a book written in the 70s and set in the 30s, and overall there's really nothing special to it besides that in the modern world it reads as exceptionally queer. Sarah is super fascinated about Melanie and it honestly reads like she has a crush on her. Like hugely. Girlfriend smells Melanie's perfume and gets super excited about it while sitting next to her. Also, the book does do the "gay old time" thing including Melanie smiling "gaily" at them.

Reader, I laughed a lot.

Anyways, it's not the worst thing I've ever read, and if you have nostalgia for this, I don't think it would hurt to pick up a copy, but it's not one I'm super drawn to. Also it's physically kind of gross. I'm gonna pass it on, but it was a cute read.

Cheater, Cheater by Elizabeth Levy

Published: December 1st, 1994 by Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary MG
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 164 plus an about the author and a list of other books from the Apple Paperbacks imprint.
Part of a series? I do not believe so.
Got via: It was a weeded library book as well.
Amazon / AbeBooks

Summary (from goodreads): The only thing Lucy wanted to do was get the attention of the most popular boy in school. She didn't mean to hurt anyone. It was just a silly game. And now, the very person she wanted to impress is telling everyone that she's a cheater!

There's only one problem - the rumor is true.

Thoughts: If I read the word "cheat" again, it'll stop looking like a real word. This is another one that's just fine. It's really dated, weirdly focused on the Indiana basketball team, and had some mildly offensive moments.

It's a pretty average book overall. The funniest thing was the fashion descriptions, like a large shirt that looks "like a patchwork quilt", or another character wearing red glasses, a red miniskirt, and a red school sweatshirt. Good fashion descriptions in 90s books crack me up.

This just didn't do that much for me and I don't really have a ton to say about it. It was fine. I wouldn't read it again and I'm going to pass it along.

Okay, so. Am I getting rid of all four of these books? Wow, good for me. It's a little bit of a bummer there weren't any hidden gems, but oh well.

At least it was a good decluttering session!

Peace and cookies,

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