Review: Samantha on a Roll by Linda Ashman

samantha on a roll

Samantha on a Roll by Linda Ashman, illustrations by Christine Davenier

Samantha wants to try out her new roller skates so badly!  But her mother is too busy to help her right now.  So what does a determined little girl do?  First, she quietly puts on the skates and skates up and down the hall for awhile.  Her mother doesn’t notice.  Then, she heads outside and skates on the sidewalk a bit.  Her mother doesn’t notice.  She’s doing fine on the skates, so she heads up Hawthorn Hill.  The view is great, but she doesn’t notice how close she is getting to the steep edge until she is already out of control.  Chaos and humor ensues as Samantha runs past all sorts of characters in her wild, zipping rush.

Ashman’s rhymes have a jaunty rhythm that set the pace nicely, from the wandering earlier part of the book to the grand ride at the end.  I also appreciated the Samantha’s mother is not negligent or ignoring her, just busy with other parts of the family and household.  This is a caring family with a girl who just can’t stop playing with her skates. 

Davenier’s art is fine lined and filled with pastels.  Her work has a pleasing roughness to it.  She captures motion convincingly in just a few lines; something that is very important in this book. 

This dynamic rollercoaster ride of a book will add some speed to your next story time or bedtime reading.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing, so it is natural that the prince would bring his broken android to her for repair.  What he doesn’t know is that Cinder herself is also an android.  She is owned by her cruel stepmother, who uses Cinder to bring in the income for the entire household.  As a plague ravages Earth, the world is also under threat from above as the Lunar queen arrives to pressure the prince into marriage.  As the plague reaches her own family, Cinder is given away to become a test subject.  This brings her into direct contact again with the prince and also gives her new information about her unknown past.  It’s a past that may just be the key to the entire planet’s safety.

This is a glorious melding of science fiction and fairy tale where androids and Cinderella mash up.  It is the strength of the story itself that works well here.  The blend makes the book compulsively readable with the science fiction giving a grittiness to the expected fairy tale story.  At the same time, one looks for the fairy tale components and how they are reinterpreted.  The entire concept works brilliantly.

The middle of the novel does have some pacing issues.  While the reader knows Cinder’s secret past before Cinder does, that knowledge contributes to the slowing of the novel.  There is also a pivotal plot point that is set aside what seems to be a very long time, further slowing the pace. 

Cinder is a dynamic heroine who is notably human and caring.  She is strong, but beyond that is also reassuringly sometimes clumsy and confused.  The reworking of some of the characters of the fairy tale, including one of the step sisters works well.  While the book follows the arc of the Cinderella story, Meyer also inserts new facets that fill the tale with surprises for the reader.

A riveting book that features a strong heroine and a brilliant storyline, this book will be enjoyed by dystopian and romance fans alike.  Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel & Friends.

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2011 Costa Book Award

The Guardian has announced the winners of the 2011 Costa Book Award.  The winner of the Children’s Book Award will go on to compete for the top award which will be announced in three weeks.  The winner of the Children’s book award is Blood Red Road by Moira Young. 

I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my to-read list and moving higher all the time.