Sunday, December 21, 2014

Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman

This is a fictionalized account of the 1980 day when a series of damaging tornados struck one area of Nebraska, Grand Island. It is told from an eleven year old boy’s perspective and the voice and writing mirror that. It started as a normal day and turned into a night of awful storms, death, and destruction. This tale is simple and does share the violence and fear of the situation but really is written as if an eleven year old wrote it and therefore lacks the power it could hold. A short read and I’m unsure as to why it was nominated for a Bluestem.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Traitor’s Gate by Avi

Set in London in 1849, this is a story of a boy, John Horatio Huffam, whose father is accused of owing the unfathomable sum of £300 to a mysterious man. Through his adventures and sleuthing, he finds that his father isn’t the man he thought he was. His father, it turns out,  is a gambler, liar and actor and it’s John’s job to figure out how to get his family out of this situation or they are going to have to live in the debtors’ prison. Between his wealthy great aunt, a mysterious stranger and a street urchin Sary the Sneak, John has too many clues that lead nowhere.  A clever tale but I wonder how much prior knowledge is needed to get the more subtle nuances of the story.