October 05, 2011

book club: march 2011 edition

Over the course of a couple days in March I re-read Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game and read Debbie and James Howe’s Bunnicula for the first time. Bunnicula was darling: a charming story of a ‘vampire’ bunny told from the perspective of a family’s dog. It spawned many sequels and while it is clearly written for children, you can understand why parents continued to read it to their children. The narrator’s – the dog’s - voice is so charming and clever that even the simplest story has great appeal.

I read Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game for the first (and only other) time when I was 11 or 12. I distinctly remember being in my sixth grade classroom and, when finishing this cleverly crafted mystery, realizing how entertaining and smart books could be. The novella begins with the death of Sam Westing, the richest man in town. His great fortune is promised to the winner of the Westing game – the game he set into place to expose his killer. A broad, richly-developed cast of characters is introduced as players in the game and much intrigue, suspicion and strategy ensues. For being so short, the book is dense with tightly and expertly wound storytelling. I was so happy to find that The Westing Game held up twenty years later. I immediately bought copies for my niece and nephew – both big young readers.

That’s it. There’s not much more to say. Truly good books – even those intended for children – can be great on so many levels. It’s always worth spending some time with them.

Title: Bunnicula
Author: Debbie and James Howe
Read: NYC
Format: tiny paperback
Sweet, charming, cute: Three out of five stars

Title: The Westing Game
Author: Ellen Raskin
Read: NYC
Format: tiny paperback
Smart, intriguing, well-crafted: Five out of five stars

A Note

So it’s been awhile since I last posted anything. The main reason is that I got stuck on what to write about the books I read after Just Kids. Also, I haven’t been reading so quickly. I’m not doing anything else. I’m just not reading that much. Sue me.

Anyway, I’m going to write up something very quick about the two books that I read for March book club and then I’m going to try to catch up after that. We’ll see how it goes.

Here we go.