Archive for November, 2015

Review of The Girl Who Could Not Dream, by Sarah Beth Durst

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

girl_who_could_not_dream_largeThe Girl Who Could Not Dream

by Sarah Beth Durst

Clarion Books, November 2015. 380 pages.

Have you ever wondered if dreamcatchers really work? And what would happen if they did?

In the world of this book, Sophie’s parents run a Dream Shop in the basement of their used book store. They collect dreams by giving dreamcatchers to people who dream, then distill those dreams into bottles with their skilled use of a dream distiller. They can see what is in the dreams by using their somnium. And then they sell the bottled dreams to special customers who know about the shop.

Sophie, however, is the girl from the title. In her twelve years of life, she’s never dreamed on her own. But there was one time she stole a dream and drank what was in a bottle – and the monster she met in the dream befriended her and came to life.

Sophie’s parents let her keep Monster, but they’ve warned her never to drink any more dreams, because there’s no telling what will come out. And if the Night Watchmen find out about her, they would kidnap her and put the shop out of business. People who make dream creatures come to life are dangerous!

But then a sinister customer who calls himself Mr. Nightmare comes to the shop and sees Monster. And the next day, she gets a note from him in her locker at school. But it’s when Sophie’s parents disappear – along with two kids from school who used dreamcatchers from the shop – that things really get sinister.

Sophie doesn’t dare call the police. The Night Watchmen can’t find out about the shop. Or about her. So it’s up to her and Monster – and a new boy from school she was going to help with nightmares – to find out if the disappearances have to do with Mr. Nightmare. Sophie may need to dream up some more help.

I confess, I tend to get hung up on the details of stories where dreams or books come to life, which definitely hurts my suspension of disbelief. I also had trouble with the bad guys’ motivation – why would they turn to crime? And is it really true that the same kids have nightmares over and over? That you could rely on certain kids to supply you with nightmares? I would have thought that some kids have bad dreams more often than others. But every night?

So readers who would be bothered by details like that might not be the best audience for the book. However, if you can accept the background of the book – it does contain imaginative details and creative problem-solving that are a whole lot of fun. The Dreamcatcher Bookshop is a cozy place, and it’s nice to read a book where the character has a loving, if a bit quirky, family.

And what if you could indeed bottle dreams? Would any of your own dreams be marketable? Which dreams would you want to catch and dispose of? And how would you fight nightmares come to life?

I love Sarah Beth Durst’s teen fiction, and this book for children has her trademark imagination along with likable characters you want to spend time with.

sarahbethdurst.com
hmco.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/girl_who_could_not_dream.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an advance reader copy sent to me by the publisher at the author’s request.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Fibonacci Swatchy

Friday, November 27th, 2015

My sister-in-law is expecting a baby next June. Her toddler already has a Prime Factorization Blanket, and I just finished making a second one for a niece in another family. It’s time for something new!

Inspired by my Fibonacci Clock (not my idea, but a clock purchased via Kickstarter) and my Fibonacci Spiral Earrings, I’m thinking about making a Fibonacci Spiral Blanket.

Fibonacci Clock

The Fibonacci Sequence is simple. You start with 1, then each new number is the sum of the two numbers before it:

1
1 + 0 = 1
1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 3
2 + 3 = 5
3 + 5 = 8
5 + 8 = 13
8 + 13 = 21
and so on. . .

I made a swatch to see if it would work, and I think it’s going to. Here’s the Fibonacci Swatchy:

Fibonacci_Swatchy

It starts with the little white square, which represents 1. I planned to make the blanket 12 stitches by 12 garter ridges. I made the swatch 6 by 6, and think I may go with that for the blanket after all. The important thing is for it to be divisible by 3. It’s going to get big fast.

Okay, after the initial square, I picked up stitches along one edge of the square. I added a new color for this square, but it’s the same size as the first, still representing 1. Since 1 = 1 + 0, I used the first color (white), but added a new color representing the new entry in the sequence.

For the next square, representing 2, I picked up 12 stitches along both the previous squares. I use three colors — representing the two numbers whose sum in the new entry. This pattern will continue. Each new Fibonacci number will get a new color of its own — but I’ll alternate that with the two colors representing the two numbers I summed to get this number.

And in garter stitch it turned out very cool if you alternate rows of three colors — It turns out that you will have the yarn waiting for you when you’re ready to pick up that color again on the correct side. And the garter ridges work out to look like solid stripes. There are two colors in between the ridges, but because of the way the texture works, you see the matching color ridges together.

So in the swatch, the entry representing 2 was a 12 by 12 square alternating white, pink, and burgundy.

For the next entry, representing 3, I picked up stitches along the square I just finished plus one of the 1 squares, so that made 18 stitches, and I went for 18 rows. I dropped the first color white, and now alternated pink, burgundy, and a new color, lavender.

To finish it off, I chain stitched in a golden Fibonacci spiral. For the actual blanket, I’ll be a little more careful to make each curve circular.

I think this may make a fine blanket. The squares will get big quickly, so I’m not sure how far it will go. My brother and his wife should find out the baby’s gender in January. Though I’m thinking even if the baby is a girl, I may want to use more gender-neutral colors in the middle (these starting squares) and save pink for the bigger squares that will come later. But we’ll see. I also learned a little bit by swatching about how I want to pick up the stitches. But the main lesson is that alternating three colors in garter stitch works great! And crocheting on a golden spiral works great!

This is going to be fun!

My posts on Mathematical Knitting and related topics are now gathered at Sonderknitting.

Review of The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh

Friday, November 27th, 2015

wrath_and_the_dawn_largeThe Wrath and the Dawn

by Renee Ahdieh

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. 404 pages.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a reimagining of the story of The Arabian Nights, and I’ll warn the reader right up front that it’s only the first volume of that story.

Shahrzad has volunteered to marry the caliph who keeps killing off his wives. She plans to avenge the death of her best friend, Shiva. She begins by telling him a story, a story that she will continue the next night. She is planning to find his weakness and kill him, but things don’t turn out as they expect. And the caliph is not the monster she had thought him. And her childhood sweetheart, planning to rescue her, as well as her father, accessing magic, all do not understand the changes that happen in her.

Let me say first that there are some holes in this story. Given the reason we find out for the caliph’s murders, I have a hard time believing that Shahrzad would really have lasted past even the first night. And then the way magic works is very vague and feelings-oriented (which I never particularly like in a fantasy book). On top of that, we’re told that Shazi is determined and does what she sets out to do – It seems to me she would have had a plan for killing the caliph and would have put it in place the first night, rather than hoping to arouse his curiosity.

But that said, this is an absorbing and fascinating love story. I’m not sure that I *quite* believe, once I think about it, that they would fall in love with each other. But while I was reading it, I didn’t think about it and was wrapped up in the story and longing for them to really see each other.

So, yes, there are some hanging plot threads. But the book is worth it and the story is lovely and I will definitely want to read the next installment. Perhaps not with the urgency that would keep my bride alive if I were an evil murdering caliph, but I’ll definitely be reading the next book soon after it’s published.

reneeahdieh.com
penguin.com/teen/

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/wrath_and_the_dawn.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Madame Martine Breaks the Rules, by Sarah S. Brannen

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

madame_martine_breaks_the_rules_largeMadame Martine Breaks the Rules

by Sarah S. Brannen

Albert Whitman & Company, Chicago, Illinois, 2015. 32 pages.
Starred Review

Madame Martine Breaks the Rules features the same lady who lives in Paris with her dog, Max, whom we met in Madame Martine. As at the end of Madame Martine, she wears a bright red coat and every Saturday tries new things.

Her friend, Louis, often meets her at the café where she always has breakfast. He is a guard at the Louvre Museum and invites her to visit.

“Oh no,” said Madame Martine. “It’s so crowded, and they don’t allow dogs.”

“For you and Max, we might break the rules,” said Louis.

Madame Martine was shocked. “We would never ask you to do that!” she said.

But no one told Max. Later, when Madame Martine is talking with Louis near the Louvre, Max dashes in through the employee entrance. They end up getting a tour after all. It turns out that rules can be bent for friends of Louis.

This book isn’t as inspirational as Madame Martine, since the message of trying something new is much more uplifting than a message that rules can be bent. However, like Madame Martine, lovers of Paris will love this book. The art takes us on our own small tour of the Louvre.

This is a quiet book about our friend Madame Martine, and her little dog Max who again knows how to find wonderful things in the beautiful city of Paris.

sarahbrannen.com
albertwhitman.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/madame_martine_breaks_the_rules.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?