Children's Book ReviewsPage Two of Two
Tanglewreck by Jeanette WintersonBloomsbury, June, 2006
Hardcover, 415 pages
Ages: Young Adult
Silver Rivers was a happy seven year-old living with her parents and little sister in a big house called Tanglewreck. But one day Silver's entire family simply vanished on the way to London on the train. For four years Silver has been forced to live with her new guardian, her aunt Mrs. Rokabye. Mrs. Rokabye hides the chocolate from Silver, lazes around the house and generally is most unpleasant. In London time itself has become unstable as time tornadoes rip through the city, depositing woolly mammoths and whisking away school buses full of children. Mrs. Rokabye convinces Silver to go to London with her to the home of the very creepy Abel Darkwater to discuss the sale of a Rivers family heirloom, a clock known as the Timekeeper. Silver doesn't know where the Timekeeper is, but she knows it's in the house somewhere. She also knows that she must keep possession of the clock, no matter what. She barely escapes with her life from the Darkwater's house. With her new friend Gabriel, Silver sets out on a strange journey through time to find the Timekeeper and thwart Darkwater and his boss from controlling time itself.
Jeanette Winterson delves into the strange world of quantum mechanics to create an absolutely fascinating sf tale about a large corporation that decides (with the help of a quantum computer) to harness time itself and then sell it back to people in order to make an enormous profit. Ms. Winterson wraps actual scientific theory inside a fantastic plot, which has as much social satire in it as it does adventure. It's an unusual and exhilarating book that features a precocious heroine, a very nasty corporation, and the original Schrödinger's cat (sometimes he's alive, sometimes he's not). Wry humor, spot-on social commentary and a wild premise make Tanglewreck one of the standouts in children's publishing this year.
Up Above and Down Below by Sue ReddingChronicle Books, February, 2006
Picture Book, 32 pages
Author and graphic designer Sue Redding has created a wonderful children's book with Up Above & Down Below. The book contains colorful, detailed illustrations of scenes that show children what is happening both above ground and below ground. For example, penguins and seals play on the ice unaware of the abundant sea life below; golfers golf while below groundhogs enjoy stolen golf balls; and above ants intrude on a picnic while underground an ant colony enjoys the stolen picnic goodies. One scene shows human families getting ready for the day, while the little mouse in the cellar sleeps on: "Early in the morning families buzz 'round the house. while down in the cellar sleeps one tiny mouse."
This imaginative and entertaining story will give help give children a broader perspective and understanding of what is happening in their world. Kids can also have fun looking for the red ant and green worm that can be found on every drawing. This very visual book will definitely help spark a child's imagination.
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