Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Each Little Bird that Sings, by Deborah Wiles, 2005

"We live to serve" is the motto at Snowberger's Funeral Home in Snapfinger, Mississippi, but for 10-year old Comfort Snowberger, the hardest services is being nice to her whiny, runny-nosed cousin Peach, who pukes at family funerals and makes a mess of everything. What's worse, when Comfort's best friend Declaration doesn't want to come to Comfort's great-great-aunt Florentine's funeral, Comfort has an emotional storm to go through, and how could she do it without her trusty happy dog, Dismay, by her side? Funny, tender, heartbreaking, heartwarming; characters (and names!) never to forget. Strongly recommended.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Phantom Tollboth, by Norton Juster, 1961

What's the point to anything a kid is taught at school? That's what Milo wants to know. To him, neither school nor pastimes have any rhyme or reason to them. But when a mysterious tollboth appears in his own bedroom, he drives off in his electric car to a land where idioms spring to life, where everything -- and nothing -- is literal, where allegory and admonition abound yet are never unwelcome. Delightfully written and illustrated, refreshing and funny and thought-provoking. Strongly recommended.