Yes, that’s right – 100 posts! How the time has flown….
Well, after Tales of the Nunexpected in post number 99, I bring you read-it-if reviews of two books that turned out to be entirely different to what I anticipated. The first of these is Moose Baby, by Queen of the Quirky, Meg Rosoff.
I found this one during a random browse, and while I wouldn’t consider myself a real fan of Meg Rosoff, I have read and enjoyed a few of her books. Moose Baby seemed to promise a similar level of thought-provoking oddity that I had experienced in my previous Rosoff encounters. I was wrong. Moose Baby broke the pointer on my homemade weird-o-meter. Let me explain.
Moose Baby is the story of a 17 year old girl who gives birth to a moose. Now on reading the blurb, I assumed that either (a) “moose” was a metaphor for something I would discover during reading or (b) the girl did not actually give birth to a moose, but had to look after a young moose in some kind of “Preparing for Motherhood” type school project.
Nope. She actually gives birth to a moose. The book follows the trials and tribulations of a young couple attempting to raise a moose baby in a world designed for humanoid bipeds.
Read it if:
* you’re looking for a cheerful, quick, light read – I finished this one in 40 minutes
* you’re a teenager who thinks it would be so awesome to have a baby right now
* you’ve ever experienced that awkward moment when deciding how to compliment the new parents of an unattractive baby
* you are a parent and you suspect that your sweet, intelligent, genial and well-behaved infant was accidentally swapped at the hospital and that’s how you ended up with this loud, energetic, misbehaving, dirt-magnet for your offspring
While I personally found this book a bit too left-of-centre for my usual tastes, I think it would appeal greatly to its teenage target audience as it is a funny, engaging and not-at-all-demanding take on the young parent theme.
My second not-quite-what-I-anticipated read this week was Doll Bones, by Holly Black, of Spiderwick Chronicles fame. I had been looking forward to this one for a loooong time as the blurb seemed to indicate an appropriately atmospheric and promisingly creepy story centred around a spooky haunted doll. Somewhat disappointingly for me, given the level of my anticipation, the blurb was….well, not exactly inaccurate, but emphasised minor parts of the story.
Doll Bones tells the story of middle-schoolers Zach, Alice and Poppy, who enjoy playing an elaborate role-play type game of their own creation after school. When Zach’s dad throws out the action figures that are an integral part of the game in an attempt to make Zach “grow up”, the friendship between the three is tested. Faced with the disintegration of their game and a new prickliness in their friendship, the three set out on a quest to lay to rest the ghost of a young murdered girl that is trapped in the form of a china doll. Cue adventure!
If that explanation seems a bit disjointed, it reflects the narrative in Doll Bones – while the story itself is engaging and action packed, the horror and paranormal elements championed by the title, blurb and cover actually play a very small role in the story. The meat of it revolves around the relationship between Zach, Poppy and Alice and the challenges they face in maintaining their friendship as they experience the changes of growing up.
Read it if:
* you are certain that the creepy china doll in your mother’s/grandmother’s/aunt’s/neighbour’s cabinet is watching you…
* No, seriously. It just moved. Didn’t you see it move?
* you still like to indulge in certain childish activities…even though by all accounts you are way too old for them
* you’ve ever indulged in quite significant levels of theft to overcome minor problems with the full expectation that the rightful owners of the stolen goods would be perfectly happy for you to be using (and damaging) their stuff
* you are quite happy to pick up a book with the expectation that it will be a spooky ghost-ish story…only to find it is actually a road trip/coming-of-age tale instead
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book – very much in fact, and I think it would be greatly enjoyed by middle readers. I do feel though that the blurb is significantly misleading – this is by no means a ghost story. My only other problem with the book was the theft mentioned above….
The characters willingly steal and capsize a sailing boat, then abandon it when it runs aground, and make up for this by saying that they’ll phone the marina when they get the chance to let the owners know where it is. As if this will excuse the possible charges of grand theft and wilful damage to property that could be coming their way. Then they steal some bikes too. I’m all for the adventure element in kid’s books, but as there was no consequence mentioned in the narrative for what is unquestionably a pretty significant crime, I felt that this was a bit of a stretch. But maybe that’s because I’m a cranky old curmudgeon who can’t remember what it’s like to be young.
Thanks to all who’ve joined in at some point over these last 100 posts – let’s hope I’ve got at least another 100 in me somewhere!
Until next time,