Friday, August 5, 2011

Postcard Fridays: Take Me Back to the Island

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It’s hot around here.  Waaaay too hot.  Makes me wish I was on an island somewhere, a beautiful, lush island surrounded by the cerulean sea, a playful breeze tickling my face.  Sounds heavenly, doesn't it?

Well, unfortunately, that's not going to happen any time soon.  So let's do the next best thing --let's travel to the islands via books.  Perfect escapism for these steamy, swampy D.C. dog days!

We'll check out three very different  islands, starting with one that's not  tropical at all.  But please don't let that stop you, especially if you prefer your islands (more than) a bit creepy and mysterious.  


In  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the tragic death of his beloved grandfather leads 16-year-old Jacob, along with his father, to a remote island off the coast of Wales.   

Jacob grew up listening to Grandpa Portman tell of his fantastic adventures crossing oceans and fighting wars.  His most fantastic stories were about the children in the Welsh orphanage where he was raised--bizarre stories about a girl who could fly and a boy who had bees living inside him, and a brother and sister who could lift huge boulders, and a girl who could hold fire in her hands.  When Jacob got older and started expressing doubts about these stories, his grandpa showed him photographs of the children. Strange photographs.  I mean, really strange (you can see them in the video below).  Jacob was  sure the pictures were manipulated.  And when his grandfather started talking about monsters coming after him, Jacob worried that Grandpa Portman was losing it.  Soon after, his grandfather was dead.  And then Jacob and his father go to the island. 

Not exactly the tropical vacation we were thinking about, but if you curl up in air-conditioned comfort with this book, I guarantee a fantastic vacation to a very peculiar place. 




Now on to a more typical tropical island in Beauty Queens.  Of course, what happens there isn't all that typical, but that's to be expected when you pick up a book by Libba Bray.  We've talked about Beauty Queens before, but what can I say?  I love this book.  Why?  Well, a bevy of teen beauty queens falls from a plane the sky.  Onto a deserted (or is it?) tropical island.  There is mystery, terror, irony, self-realization, pirates--very hot pirates, romance (see pirates), more than a pinch or so of politics, reality TV, and mostly hilarity.  Did I mention Kim Jong Il?  Well, he shows up, too.  So read Beauty Queens and weep--from laughter, mostly.  And don't take my word for it.  Let's hear hear a few words from the author:




 Our last island book is Nation by Terry Pratchett.  This is not one of Pratchett's Discworld books and is not part of a series.  What it is, though, is brilliant.  I'm not kidding.  

When a giant tsunami hits an island village, the only apparent survivor is a boy named Mau. The giant wave also destroys a ship, from which the sole survivor, a girl named Daphne, washes ashore on the island. Along with a small group of refugees, these two young people from vastly different cultures, with no language in common,  struggle to rebuild a world from scratch--and in doing so raise fundamental questions about religion and science, history and culture, what it means to be human, and how we live. 

Lest this sound too heavy, remember this is Terry Pratchett we're talking about here.  So don't fret--there is humor, and lots of it.  Quirky, witty, original, and deeply engaging, this book will rock your world.  Pass it on to an adult you know--this is one of those books that transcends a label like "young adult". 

Hank Green, one of the Vlog Brothers, a nerdfighter extraordinaire, and of course,  brother of super fab YA author John Green, gives this book his maximum rating of 72 stars!


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