Book Review Monday

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

Book description: Milo mopes in black ink sketches, until he assembles a tollbooth and drives through. He jumps to the island of Conclusions. But brothers King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis war over words and numbers. Joined by ticking watchdog Tock and adult-size Humbug, Milo rescues the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason, and learns to enjoy life.

My review: I suspect that this book is very charming for children. Maybe. I mean, I get that it’s all cute and punny, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. And I also suspect that if I personally had read this when I was younger, I would have found all the parables to be highhanded and insufferable. Did somebody read this ever and find it incredibly charming? I’m curious. It’s supposedly beloved. I want to hear from these people who belove it.

The Queen of Water, by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango

Book description: Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her village of indígenas, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta—stupid Indian—by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds.

In this poignant novel based on a true story, acclaimed author Laura Resau has collaborated with María Virginia Farinango to recount one girl’s unforgettable journey to self-discovery. Virginia’s story will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world. It will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, it will fill you with hope.

My review: You certainly can’t feel sorry for yourself after reading this book. The life of co-author Maria Virginia Farinango, novelized by Laura Resau, is harsh. Coming from the poorest of the poor of the indigenas of Ecuador, Virginia is beaten, molested, basically enslaved, and still she does not give up. She’s charming, intelligent and cunning, and through sheer force of will she ends up going very far in her young life. This is an inspiring book and I really enjoyed it. It is also a nice look at Ecuadorian culture, and made me want to visit the country. Definitely recommended.

Word of the day:

Saturnine: sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn

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