Sunday, January 31, 2016

Young Adult

Two Young Readers
from the Belvedere Museum ~ Vienna

Left: Lesender Knabe ~ Reading Boy, 1860
Johann Baptist Reiter, 1813 - 1890 (to see more)

Right: Lesendes Madchen ~ Reading Girl, 1850
Franz Eybl, 1806 - 1880 (to see more)

You can pretty much count on Young Adult Fiction to contain existentialist themes and family conflict, inward ramblings and outward confrontations. The main characters are never less than properly tormented (a phrase I learned from one of my professors at Notre Dame, James Walton). The length is just right for an afternoon or an airplane journey, and subplots of animals real and imaginary, Arthurian legend, mystery, history, and time travel are enough to hold my attention in between weightier assignments.

In 2015, I enjoyed several YA titles suggested by my niece Kiyah. Here are a few more that one way or another found their way onto my reading list before the year ended:

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

p 135: "So we said good-bye to each other the best way we could. We said: I promise to always turn back toward you.”

p 166 - 67: " . . . I do like the last part, the part about turning back. That has some emotional heft to it. . . . Oh, those last lines are beautiful, heartbreaking."

p 191: "Although to be perfectly frank, I had trouble navigating the world even before the advent of the blindness. I've never been what you call coordinated or spatially intelligent. . . . My mother says that this is because I live in my head as opposed to living in the world. But I ask you: Don't we all live in our heads? Where else could we possibly exist? Our brains are the universe. Don't you think that's true?"

p 199: "This, Flora knew . . . was magical thinking, or mental causation. . . . a dangerous way to think. It was dangerous to allow yourself to believe that what you said directly influenced the universe.

But sometimes it did, didn't it?"

I Am Morgan Le Fay by Nancy Springer

p 6: "Although Morgause was a year older, we might as well have been twins."

I Am Mordred by Nancy Springer

p 22: "Morgan le Fay might have been mistaken for a peasant woman. She had a coarse nose, and she was older than her sister, plump and beginning to wrinkle."
Unclear which sister is intended to be younger / older.
[See above]
Oh well, maybe it doesn't matter. Hmmmm???
Lots of favorite quotes from the second novel in this series:

p 92: "King Arthur said softly, "Mordred, there's small freedom in being a King. Most often a King does not what he wishes, but what he must."

p 113: story of the ill - fated goblet -- very like "Appointment in Samarra"

p 114: "The candles had burned down and were trickling runnels of wax at first limpid like tears but then like cream and then flat white like the blind harper's eyes. I felt the wine buzzing in my head like bumblebees, like arrows shot to try to to kill me, and in a kind of trance I watched the candles dripping. . . . I spoke without raising my eyes from the tears of the candles . . . "

p 134: "Morgan le Fay is one who could have been our blessed liege King Morgan had she only been born a man." [Mordred doesn't grasp the concept of gender equity.]

p 139: "I began to grow so weary of my own fear that I relaxed."

p 140: ". . . in that moment I knew, I understood, it all seemed so simple. I did not need sword and shield and armor for this quest; I did not need to fight. I needed only to live. Just to be, like a swallow o the wing or a turtle sunning. Just to be happy."

p 152: "Maybe that was the answer to my quest, just to do good and be happy. Maybe there was no need to go on looking for Merlin."

p 146: ". . . I had done nothing evil except to be born. . . .

I ached all over as if I had been in mortal combat, when all I had been fighting was --

My fate? My fate? King Arthur's fate. It was for his sake that I was locked in this losing battle, and no one cared. Even Merlin's prophecy took no account of me. After I killed King Arthur, would I live? Would I be King? . . . King Arthur had started off his reign with a bloody deed, and look at him, so golden, look how folk adored him."

p 163: "He looked at me, bleak. 'I have done wrong. I must accept my punishment.' . . . 'But what have I done?' I cried at him."

p 155: "Fate has no heart."

p 169: "But I would like to save what is left of my soul. The poor, defeated thing.

See a holy man.

No. I mean rally save it . . . "

p 170: " 'Your soul must be given to someone whom you trust,' the harper told me, 'or it cannot be given at all.' "

p 171: "Remembering that bright - eyed young knight, Mordred, was like remembering a friend who had died." [As Harry Potter says!]

p 176: "Night is perilous always . . ."

Mystery of Kranepool High by Dick Donley
Like father, like daughter! This intriguing high school drama club mystery comes from the father of my friend Jan Donley. Obviously, the talent runs deep!

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Oddly narrated holocaust fiction -- could probably use more history.

They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth
Say what you will about this wonderful Quaker family, they are actually kind of mean; but I liked the silk - worm subplot.

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
All - of - a - Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
These last two re -reads -- from my previous post: Even Older Favs -- were not quite as I remembered. Well, it was a long time ago!

And finally:

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

pp 76 - 77: Tom and Hatty looked through "the coloured panes that bordered the glass panelling of the upper half [of the doorway of the greenhouse]. Through each colour of pane, you could see a different garden outside. Through the green pane, Tom saw a garden with green flowers under a green sky; even the geraniums were green-black. Through the red pane lay a garden as he might have seen it through the redness of shut eyelids. The purple glass filled the garden with thunderous shadow and with oncoming night. The yellow glass seemed to drench it in lemonade. At each of the four corners of this bordering was a colourless square of glass, engraved with a star.

'And if you look through this one -- ' said Hatty. They screwed up their eyes and looked through the engraved glass.

'You can't really see anything, through the star,' said Tom, disappointed.

'Sometimes I like that the best of all,' said Hatty. 'You look and see nothing, and you might think there wasn't a garden at all; but, all the time, of course, there is, waiting for you.' "

. . . so similar to Madame Bovary!

. . . and kind of like my stained glass suncatcher
from Beata!

"Colored Panes: Flaubert & Pearce"