On the blog:
Our Gordon Korman binge comes to an end–at least temporarily–with the extra silly Masterminds: Criminal Destiny. Our twelve-year-old escapee clones (don’t ask) are on the run for basically the entire story, outwitting and outrunning the police and several others who are in hot pursuit in one implausible twist after another. I nearly had to stop reading when I realized that the kids were going to bust a criminal out of a medium-security prison with two short days to plan. The craftiest adults on the planet probably couldn’t pull this off with months to plan! I just cannot willingly suspend disbelief to this degree. I am so not the target audience for this series.
In the past year, I’ve discovered that I really like fantasy and sci-fi written for grown-ups. The Empress of Mars is an interesting sci-fi novel set on Mars. Most of it takes place in Mars’s only bar, run by a flinty widow and her daughters. There’s a large cast of characters, which keeps things moving quickly but also contributed to a lack of engagement at times on my part, as I had a hard time keeping them all straight. Lots of stuff happens, but there’s not a sense of a larger overarching plot until quite late in the story. The writing is strong, there’s plenty of humor, and it’s a unique world. I’d definitely read another book by Baker.
I also read quite a few picture books that I liked this week. Finding Wild was perhaps my favorite–incredibly strong sentence-level writing that would make a tremendous mentor text. I loved the art best in Marvelous Cornelius and The Night Gardener (but really struggled with the orphanage setting here. I’m not sure why children’s literature needs to rely so strongly on orphans and orphanages for symbolic, thematic development and weight.)