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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Search for WondLa

by Tony DiTerlizzi
illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi

Religious/Secular Content : none
Adult Content : No
Mature Topics : Yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : No
Magic/Witchcraft : No
Disrespect/Rebellion : Yes
Drug/Alcohol Use : No
Violence/Abuse : Yes
Educational Value : No
Positive/Negative Message : -

Eva Nine had never seen the actual sun before, or walked outdoors. In fact, she had never even seen another living person in all twelve years of her life. That changes when a marauding huntsman destroys her underground home and send her fleeing for her life. She is desperate to find someone else who is like her, and a single clue give her hope: a crumbling picture of a girl, a robot, an adult, and the word WondLa.
The Search for WondLa begins a trilogy whose imaginative text and breathtaking illustrations are sure to inspire dreams.

Four-hundred-sixty-six pages long, this book took just over one day for my dd (14) to read and one for myself. It is easy reading; nothing too complicated.

There isn't a slant that I could tell that would categorize this book as religious or secular.

In terms of 'adult content', there is none. There is some 'mature content': it starts with Besteel, a huntsman, destroying the 'sanctuary' (or living quarters) of Eva ("Earth in Vitro Alpha"- the main character). There is violence toward other characters in the book, mostly by Besteel. There are a few instances where Eva is trying to escape and catastrophe seems to follow- destruction of property. There are also instances of animals being hunted for eating. 

In one scene, I felt it was quite sad, Besteel has captured many creatures and we are given the details of him killing one of the creatures. It isn't extremely graphic but it was definitely 'mature content'! Another time we are witnesses to a scene of a creature being 'preserved' for display in a museum- but it is alive when they begin the procedure. The animal is paralyzed and then frozen (?) before it's skin is removed so that its internal organs can be seen. Depending on the sensitivity of the reader, that could be quite bothersome.

Eva is disrespectful to her Muthr (which stands for Multi-Utility Task Help Robot; a robot that has been Eva's 'mother' since her birth) and disobeys when she is forbidden to travel to certain parts of the sanctuary. 

I thought it was a good book. It feels like it is a different planet throughout the book. Strange creatures and languages. It is basically about a girl that is forced to survive in an unknown environment with simply her wits (because all she has been taught doesn't really come in handy). She makes friends of unlikely creatures and they all help her to overcome. I suppose it could be construed as 'positive' message- don't give up.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


by Alexandra Monir
illustrated by N/A

Religious/Secular Content : - secular
Adult Content : - yes
Mature Topics : - yes
Strong/Inappropriate Language : - no
Magic/Witchcraft : - yes
Disrespect/Rebellion : - yes
Drug/Alcohol Use : - yes
Violence/Abuse : - yes
Educational Value : - no
Positive/Negative Message : - -

This a 'romance' but definitely not in the Harlequin Romance fashion. Written for 'young adults', this book contains scenes of kissing, dating, and if not for the morals of a 1910 gentleman tossed in, there might have been more.

Michele is the sixteen-year-old daughter of a single (never been married) mother living in California. Going into her junior year of high school, Michele has just recently been dumped by her boyfriend for a sophomore. That is the first instance of adult/mature content, in my opinion. Michele's mother dies near the beginning of the book in a car crash (another mature topic). Quite sad.

Fast forward a bit in the book and there are more references to mature content. Michele meets Philip (who lives in 1910, and this is where the 'magic' comes in- see farther down in my post) and they instantly connect. At first it is just the feeling of 'puppy love' (butterflies, sweaty palms, blushing) but before long they do kiss. Although the author does a great job of keeping it mellow, the mind can definitely get carried away with the emotions that the characters are feeling (heart beating faster, breath catching, tingling skin, etc., -words from the book). The most 'intense' scene if you will is on page 166-167, where the chivalry from 1910 comes to the rescue of something happening that shouldn't!

One of Michele's past relatives is Clara, the illegitimate daughter of one of her great-great-great (?) grandfathers. A little later after meeting Clara (by going back in time mysteriously via a key and a diary), we learn that Clara's mother and Michele's g-g-g-grandfather had had an affair.

There isn't reference to God or religion that I can recall in this book and I've marked that it contains magic/witchcraft but in the book they would associate it more in a scientific way (think Einstein's Theory of Relativity) but it's still 'magic' to me. 

There is one or two scenes where Michele argues quite disrespectfully with her grandparents, and she on more than one occasion doesn't follow the rules that her grandparents have set. I have marked no for strong language because there is no cussing but the arguments may equate to 'strong' language for some.

At one point Michele goes back to 1925 and meets her great-grandmother, Lily. In the first scenes of this meeting they are planning for Lily to sneak out, against her parents rules, to perform at a 'speakeasy'. In another scene Lily has had some 'giggle water' and is obviously intoxicated. She is also accused of letting an older man 'practically feeling' her up.

And there is one particular scene, after Michele sees Philip for the first time in 1910, where his uncle gives him a beating. We aren't subjected to the details but Philip has a 'bruised and painfully red' cheek. When questioned about it, Philip says, "Our little dance cost me a good beating."

Although I have marked no for educational value, there are many parts of this book that include accurate historical information. Primarily of New York during the Gilded Age, the Roaring Twenties and during World War II. The author's detailed descriptions of the architecture, culture and society during those times is educational, but the frequency is so little that it is almost an after thought and it would be difficult, for me personally, to justify using this as a historical reference/book.

And now what the book is 'about' (courtesy of the front flap):
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor's family, she is forced to move from Los Angeles to New York City to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she has never met. In their historic Fifth Avenue mansion, filled with a century's worth of family secrets, Michele discovers the biggest family secret of all-an ancestor's diary that, amazingly, has the power to send her back in time to 1910, the year it was written. There, at a high-society masquerade ball, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life. And she finds herself falling for him, and into an otherworldly romance.

Soon Michele is leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves- and to complete a quest that will determine their fate.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phillipians 4:8