Reviews · Uncategorized

Bones, Boats, and Books: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Podehl, Nick and Black, Holly. Doll Bones. Digital file. Listening Library/Findaway World, 2013. 5 hours 11 minutes, 23 seconds. $39.00 ISBN 978-0-8041-2293-1

This is a wonderful unabridged audiobook. The book alone would definitely be creepy, but hearing this ghost story aloud is chilling. Poppy, Alice, and Zach are engrossed in a game involving pirates, thieves, and an imprisoned Queen. The Queen, an expensive bone china doll locked in Poppy’s mother’s living room case, is the focal point of their adventures. While they have been barred from ever opening the case (let alone touching the doll), the children use the Queen as the driving force behind all of their characters’ action. When Zach’s father throws away Zach’s action figures in an effort to force him to grow up, Zach is so upset that he can’t bear to tell his friends what happened. Instead, Zach lies and says that he doesn’t want to play anymore. In an attempt to draw Zach back into the game, Poppy opens her mother’s cabinet and takes out the Queen. Immediately, Poppy claims that the ghost of Eleanor Kirtchner appeared to her in the night, telling her story and claiming to be the ghost of the dead girl used to make the Queen. The china that makes up the Queen’s body? According to Poppy, it came from Eleanor’s bones. Poppy claims that the only way to put Eleanor’s spirit to rest is to bury the Queen in Eleanor’s own (empty) grave … all the way in East Liverpool, one state over and a long bus ride away.

Black can transition from game to ghost story in an instant, leaving the exploits of William and Lady J in the dust as she jumps to a frightening description of the Queen and her (perhaps malign) intentions. Poppy, Alice, and Zach have clearly differentiated voices in Podehl’s reading, and Zach is a fun narrator to walk alongside as we try to ensure that the Queen is properly buried. Is the Queen really haunted by Eleanor’s ghost, or did Poppy just make it all up as one last, grand Game? It’s a creepy, delightful, “unputdownable” story, perfect for a student who enjoys ghost stories, Neil Gaiman, or other scary reads.

Tweens who reviewed the book on Common Sense Media were split. Of the three reviews, one tween loved the book, one was very disappointed and wished that it was up to par with Black’s other books, and the third thought that it was too scary. Despite these mixed reviews, if there was interest in my patron base, I would like to use this book with students for a fun read. School Library Journal also selected this audiobook as a “Pick of the Day” in 2013.

 

Programming Ideas: This would be a fantastic alternate to a library read-aloud for older students. At five hours it’s a bit of a commitment, but perhaps a group of interested students could gather at their lunch breaks to listen. Doing half an hour a day only took me about a week and a half, so it’s definitely a doable listen as a pre-Halloween scary read! (Idea from myself).

 

Reviews read:

Common Sense Media. (n. d.). All teen and kid member reviews for Doll Bones.    Common Sense Media. Retrieved from             https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/doll-bones/user-reviews/child

School Library Journal. (2013, Aug. 2). Pick of the day: Doll bones (audio) (Review of      the audiobook Doll Bones). School Library Journal. Retrieved from    http://www.slj.com/2013/08/industry-news/pick-of-the-day-doll-bones-audio/

Stewart, D. (n. d.). Doll bones (Review of the book Doll Bones). Common Sense Media.   Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/doll-bones

 

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Catch-up Post: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

This blog is going to house my 45 books read this semester for my materials for tweens class, but I also want to use this site to hold my thoughts/reviews/whatevers for any MG or other young read book I’ve read! So, here is the first in a short series of books that I read this summer for another class.

As I wrote on my main blog,

Wonderstruck was gorgeous, although given Selznick’s work, that’s no surprise! I loved the overlapping stories of the boy in the 1970s and the girl in the 1920s. I especially loved how her story was told largely in graphic format. What a great read!

The illustrations, per Selznick’s usual, are stunning. I particularly loved how the girl’s scenes played out exclusively in illustration.Selznick does a great job with the story, and it’s one that I highly recommend!

Themes/Major Plot Points:

  • Being Deaf
  • Family
  • Death of a parent
  • Grief and loss
  • Adventure
  • Runaways
  • Theatre
  • Museums