2012 Book 152: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
written by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: I’m rereading these books along with Lost Generation Reader.
Harry hopes his second year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry will be calmer than last year’s. However, even before the school-year begins, Harry meets a house elf who is determined to keep Harry from even STARTING his school year. Harry perseveres, however, and delves into trouble yet again when the Chamber of Secrets is opened and some stealthy beast begins to petrify his classmates. Will Harry and his friends be able to stop the beast before it manages to kill someone? Harry also gets his first taste of xenophobia in the wizarding world, when he learns a new naughty epithet (the m-word). And I bet you’d never guess which bratty little villain uses the word? I’ll give a hint. He’s blonde. 😉
This second installment of the Harry Potter series is just as delightful as the first. It, like its predecessor, is aimed at the younger end of the YA spectrum, which suits me just fine. The narration by Jim Dale is quite enjoyable–in fact, I liked this narration better than his narration of the Sorcerer’s Stone. He’s got different voices for each of the characters, and his voice definitely engaged me.
The entire Harry Potter is a popular book on the “banned and challenged” lists released by the ALA. Personally, I didn’t see anything objectionable in this book. Accusations of “satan worship” and “encourages interest in the occult” are silly. There isn’t any language or objectionable morals that I can see–other than the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione steal, lie, and generally disobey rules. Of course, they do these things with the best intentions, and often because they feel the adults don’t listen to them. Also, they don’t hurt anyone with their antics (though they certainly endanger themselves). But let’s be honest with each other. Would YA books be interesting to ANYBODY if the protagonists were perfect little angels who allowed the adults to take care of all the important stuff? Of course not.
2012 Book 54: The Land of the Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer (3/27/2012)
Reason for Reading: This is the second book in a trilogy.
My Review 4/5 stars
Jack, the Bard’s apprentice, sets off on a rescue quest when his sister Lucy is kidnapped by Elves. His companions are an unreliable slave/rightful-heir-to-the-throne and a recently freed girl-slave who worships the ground Jack walks on. They meet many magical creatures, re-discover some old friends, and have lots of exciting adventures along the way. I thought this was an excellent sequel to Sea of Trolls. It expanded the mythology of the land while developing the characters already introduced in the first book. I really appreciated the way Farmer handled the three religions that were represented by her characters in this 790AD Britain-based world. She showed the power and beauty of the Pagans as well as the Christians and subtly made the point that they all got their believers where they needed to go—but she did this without forcing the point or lecturing, which is the sign of excellent story-telling! My only quibble about this book is that most of the major plot threads were completed by page 400, leaving 100 pages for the final (and least pressing) plot thread. This is why the book got 4 instead of 5 stars.
2012 Book 42: Dragon Rider, by Cornelia Funke (3/2/2012)
Reason for Reading: This book has been on Mt. TBR since my aunt told me I should read it (years ago, of course).
My Review 5/5 stars
When a group of dragons finds out that humans are going to be flooding their valley, Firedrake decides to go on a journey to find the Rim of Heaven—a zone of safety from the invasive humans. He is enigmatically warned by an elderly dragon to “beware the Golden One.” Firedrake sets off with his Brownie friend Sorrel, picking up a human boy (Ben) and a homunculus (Twigleg) along the way. They must defeat “the Golden One” in order to be in safety forever. This was a magical little book for kids. It would be appropriate to read to young kids, and is the reading level of perhaps an 11-13 year old. It’s a fun read for an adult who likes YA lit, too.