Monday, January 24, 2005

Very slow Internet connection today. I am getting up and doing things around my office while pages load. I have the patience of a gnat! I get teased down here because I have yet to develop the laid back island approach to life. I still expect things to happen in a timely fashion. We went down to our favorite little marina bar/restaurant Saturday night. Got there at 7 p.m. - got our first drink at 7:30, menus around 8, and then gave up around 8:30 and came home and heated up leftovers. I do have to give them a break though - new wait and kitchen staff and lots of boat people ordering dinner. We are locals - we come last in the chain of importance. :-)

When I looked at Kenneth Oppel's Airborn I was just not intrigued by the cover and 355 pages didn't call to me. Thanks to the Printz committee for honoring it - I decided I had to read it. I am glad I did. I have to admit I was not enamored by it for the first quarter of the book. I found the details about the airship itself a bit much, but once the adventure began when the pirates arrived I was enchanted. What happened to me is exactly what I warn my students about when they recommend fantasy to teen readers. Giving a thick fantasy read like Airborn to a reluctant reader is not a good idea. This book requires a reader willing to let the author take the time to set the scene so the adventure can begin. I reluctantly began this book, but I stuck it out and what a great swashbuckling adventure story. Matt is a delightful character, but I related more to the feisty Kate, bound and determined to prove her beloved dead grandfather is right. There are mysterious creatures (cloud cats is what she and Matt dub them) flying around the uncharted island he found while trying to circumvent the world in his hot air balloon. Kate would have been right there with him if her parents had allowed it. Her book learning vs. Matt's life experience make their trek into the jungle both hilarious and scary at the same time.

Even if you aren't a big fantasy reader - give this one a chance. It is worth the effort!