Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Erec Rex: The Dragon's Eye by Kaza Kingsley

I have to admit I was a little nervous about reading the first book in the Erec Rex series. I learned so much about the book and author from the blog tour that my expectations kept building up. Then I was afraid the book would disappoint me.

It didn't. And my head is spinning - the way it always does after I read a good book.

What is the story? All of the youth of the Kingdoms of the Keepers of magic have come together for contests that will forever change the lives of three boys and girls. King Piter, King Pluto, and Queen Ashona (triplets) have ruled the Kingdoms for five hundred years and are tired. The three winners of the contests will be the next rulers of the Kingdoms. Twelve-year-old Erec and his new friend Bethany are from Upper Earth - where the Losers/Forgetters of magic live. They join the contests when they find themselves in Alypium (one of the Kingdoms) while searching for Erec's missing adoptive mother. While participating in the contests, Erec and Bethany discover a plot to take over Alypium and the other Kingdoms, Aorth and Ashona.

The clever Ms. Kingsley sure knows how to keep readers hanging and wanting more! The story has an almost tangible atmosphere of mystery and suspense. I enjoyed conjecturing, using the many clues and hints in the story. :D You're not sure who the villains are until the very end of the book. (I got that guess wrong! The author had me there!) And even then so many questions are left unanswered. Who is Erec's father? Who is Erec's birth mother? What is Erec's real identity? What is Bethany's real identity? I must know! *bangs head on wall* The epilogue of the book is actually a peek into what happened ten years before the story of Erec and the dragon's eye. You see, the future rulers of the Kingdoms were supposed to be the triplets of King Piter. But the royal triplets and their mother, Queen Hesti, mysteriously disappeared...

It's a fun read! There are magical objects like Seeing Eyeglasses (they let you see and talk to the person you miss the most when you put them on) and Sneakers (they let you walk or run in perfect silence, and when someone is nearby you can stamp your feet and the Sneakers will throw sound into another room to lead that person off your track). There are creatures like a pink kitten that tells secrets; a really chatty, enormous duck; and a chess-playing dragon. There are cool contests like the Tribaffleon, which includes contestants being individually judged based on their inborn magical gifts. There is even "magical food" like ambrosia (fluffy white pudding with swirls of honey, sprinkled with nuts and raspberries), nectar (a drink that looks like sparkling honey), and cloudsicles (colored and flavored frozen mist that moves around a stick - it twirls in your mouth before melting!). I truly wondered at the inventiveness of Ms. Kingsley. :)

The Erec Rex series is inspired by Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Norse mythology. So it's also fun spotting all the allusions and parallels to mythology!

There's not much I didn't like about the book. I didn't like how the edition I read (the first paperback edition) had way too many typos. The ending felt a bit rushed. (Or was that because I wanted more?) And I found some of the bad guys (I'm not giving away who they are!) and one of the good guys corny.

I really like Erec Rex: The Dragon's Eye! It's a sweet escape and great entertainment. Every day after work, for almost two weeks, I savored a couple of chapters. (When I don't like a book, I read through it quickly - I want to finish it as soon as possible so I can move on to another book.) I truly can't wait to read the rest of the series. I am burning with curiosity about what really happened "ten years earlier" in Alypium!

P.S. I've already posted most of the links for the Kaza Kingsley blog tour. Here are the links to the three extra stops of the tour. :)

Day 14 - Kaleb Nation's official website

Day 15 - The Jay

Day 16 - Young Adults and Kids Books Central

Monday, January 28, 2008


I was browsing through Powerbooks Megamall when I noticed these books: Japanese Fairy Tales, Indian Children's Favourite Stories, and Asian Children's Favorite Stories. I was amazed by all these Asian children's stories beautifully illustrated and published in English. I can't believe it's taken me this long to find out about Tuttle Publishing, a member of the Periplus Publishing Group ("the world's leading publisher of books on Asia")! Tuttle Publishing also offers books on Philippine language, arts, and culture. Books like My First Book of Tagalog Words, full of Filipino rhymes and verses for preschool children; and the picture book Filipino Friends, the story of a Filipino-American boy visiting the Philippines for the very first time. :o)

JP in the newspaper!

My brother is an accomplished athlete. A couple of weeks ago he was interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Below is the article:

JP Sabido started with tag football and Little League baseball. A few years after, he began his training in taekwondo. Now, he’s someone you don’t mess around with. Aside from the martial arts, the guy’s into dancesport.

He’s the team captain of the Philippine National Poomsae Team and the Philippine National Hanmadang Team, former team captain of the UP Taekwondo Varsity Team, and a member of the UP Dance Sport Society. JP’s scored tons of medals for the country.

Did you always know you were going to be an athlete?

Inevitable! I believe I was born to be an athlete.

Who’s the athlete that you look up to the most?

At this moment, none. But if there were an athlete that I’d look up to the most, it would be an athlete that’s not only a champion in his sport, but also a champion in life.

Why is playing sports important to you?

The word “sport” is a formal way of saying play. Let’s take it from a child’s perspective. Why is it important for a child to play? This gives the child the opportunity to develop socially, mentally, and physically. These aspects are highly essential towards achieving a more holistic development in a child.

Physically, a child develops skills that are related to the demands in our everyday living like agility, reaction time, body coordination, balance, and strength.

The same goes for people who engage in sports. As one gets older, his social, mental, and physical skills slowly deteriorate. There will come a point wherein one will need that quick reaction time to catch a falling glass of water or to maintain the balance to keep one upright on a slippery floor. This is why engaging in sports is important. Just like what Mark Verstegen says, “We are athletes of life.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Penny for my thoughts

I enjoy reading books like Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm. This 2007 Newbery Honor book is an example of "children's domestic fiction." Roger Sutton described this category in a New York Times book review:

"...stories for 9-to-12-year-olds about school, friends and family... In these books, a girl (usually) has a nice-enough life and confronts just enough challenges to keep things interesting. Her best friend finds a new best friend, or her best friend moves away. She moves away. Maybe the other kids ostracize her, or there’s a pestering new baby or stepmother. Any of these motifs can garner enough empathy for the heroine that, while we may not want to be her, we are pleased to have an emotional stake in her fortunes."

I love books like this because they show the beauty of the everyday. :)

Penny from Heaven is the story of eleven-year-old Penny Falucci. It's a book full of family goodness, summer fun, and American history. (There's even an author's note on the piece of American history explored in the novel.) I loved reading about Penny's Italian family and their amazing Sunday dinners, and how food is everything in her Italian home.

I loved reading parts like Penny's perfect day with her favorite uncle. Uncle Dominic picks her up and they head for the beach. They go swimming until they're tired, then share a bag of peanuts. They hit the boardwalk for the bumper cars, the Ferris wheel, the teacups, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and the whip. They eat hot dogs with sauerkraut and wash them down with fresh-squeezed orangeade. The windows are rolled down and a coconut patty melts in Penny's mouth during the drive home. A pretty perfect day. :)

But Penny has problems too. Her grandparents are embarrassing and Uncle Dominic is eccentric. Her mother is dating the milkman. And there's a real sadness in the story because Penny's father died when she was just a baby and the circumstances of his death are kept a secret from her. Even though the story is filled with great things like butter pecan ice cream, baseball, and childhood mischief, it's that sadness about Penny's father that lingers when I'm finished reading the novel.

I found the happy ending a bit forced. Was it really necessary for Penny to have her own little love story? It seemed cheesy for everyone to stand up and shout, "To Penny!" and click glasses during a family gathering towards the end of the story...

I found myself crying at one point in the novel. Penny is in the hospital because of a horrible accident. She is depressed and stops eating. Her grandmother shows up with Penny's favorite dish:

Something in her voice makes me open my mouth, and before I have a chance to shut it, she pops a piece of pastiera in like I'm a baby, and it tastes so good, like it's the best thing I've ever eaten in my whole life. She feds me another piece... and I don't know what it is, but the tears start rolling down my cheeks, and once I start I can't seem to stop. And pretty soon I'm crying for everything...

I could feel Penny's frustration. And I suddenly remembered when I was in the hospital because I had dengue fever. I was thirteen and I seriously thought I was going to die. (Before I was diagnosed, the local news had reported that around eight people had already died from dengue fever.) I didn't have an appetite. Relatives brought me good food: pizza (my favorite), doughnuts, lanzones (another favorite). I didn't touch any of it. It was my brothers who ended up eating everything.

Then one day, my lola (grandmother) sent over some soup she had cooked for me. Actually, it was just the beef broth base for nilaga. But it's still the best thing I've ever eaten in my whole life. After that, my normal healthy appetite returned and I just kept getting better and better.

After reading Penny from Heaven, I got to thinking... Does love really make food taste better? Remember the old tv show My So-Called Life? (I love that show!) In one episode, the main character Angela (played by Claire Danes) wonders why leftover spaghetti tastes sooo much better when heated by her father.

Even the simplest food tastes great when it's my mother who cooks it. There's Milo, too. Yes, that chocolate drink. I hate Milo. I don't think it tastes good. But some years ago, in Baguio City, my best friends and I sipped hot Milo together and it tasted wonderful. Several times after that early morning I tried duplicating that cup of Milo - and failed. I suspect that earlier cup was so good only because I was with CY and Isaac...

Penny Falucci gets to be with both sides of her family only once:

Everyone comes. Nonny, Uncle Paulie and Aunt Gina, Uncle Nunzio and Aunt Rosa, Uncle Ralphie and Aunt Fulvia, Uncle Angelo and Aunt Teresa, Uncle Sally, and Frankie and the baby cousins, too... It's just plain old roast chicken with mashed potatoes and over-cooked peas and onions, but it's the best meal I've ever had in my whole life.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kaza Kingsley Blog Tour

Erec Rex, a fantasy series for young readers written by Kaza Kingsley, is going to be published internationally. In celebration of the forthcoming Philippine release of Erec Rex, Kaza Kingsley is my guest blogger!

Hi Tarie! Thanks for hosting me at Into the Wardrobe. I'm so glad to be here, and hopefully get to meet a few of your readers!

Below you will see a kid picture of me. If you follow the posts on this tour you can see me "grow up" online! I'd like to take this opportunity to send a message to my potential/future readers there in the Philippines. I am so excited that the Erec Rex books will be available there soon! I really hope you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

I want to open up a relationship with all of you who read the Erec Rex books. Because of the magic of cyberspace, I can be as available to you there as to fans in my own country now! Even though here I tour and meet people, I'm spending more and more time with fans online than in person now. So the problems of distance are vanishing.

When I meet readers here, in person, I let them know that I am interested in their comments and questions. In my website there is a way to contact me, and I try to respond to everyone. I want you to know that, even though I am really hoping to come to your country, in the meantime I am still here for you!

It had been really important to me to make my series a global story. Our world is so small now. Ten years ago there is no way I would have been able to introduce myself to you like this!

So, even though Erec Rex, the main character, starts his journey in New York, USA, he quickly travels overseas. Characters appear in France in the beginning of Book Two, and will be all over the world (in mystical places!) in Book Three.

This was important to me, not just because I knew there would be readers around the globe interested in the series. But also because in our world, today, we are all so entwined. What happens to one affects the other. What good is a villain who wants to conquer just a small section of the world? Internet hackers do more than that every day!

Anyway, I want to thank all my potential and future readers in the Philippines (as well as the rest of the world) for your interest in going on this adventure with me. I hope it's an unforgettable one!

Kaza Kingsley
Author of the Erec Rex series

I also got to interview Kaza! :)

Tarie: Why the Philippines? Did you get to choose where your books will be released? Or was it your publisher that determined there is a good market for Erec Rex in the Philippines?

Kaza: Well, on one hand, it was more a case of the Philippines picking me than me picking the Philippines! The Erec Rex series is coming out in Japan, Thailand, France, Denmark, Poland, Israel, Brazil and Vietnam so far, too!

It was a publisher in the Philippines, Philmont, that got the ball rolling. I have an agent that works out all the details, and she's been great. I'm so excited that Erec will be available there soon!

But the Philippines are also special to me because I have several great friends from there! One is Rocel, a bookseller in Los Angeles. (There are pictures of him on my blog.) I have a doctor friend in LA and a friend in Chicago who are also from the Philippines.

Tarie: Fantasy isn't a very strong genre in the Philippines. (Unlike countries like the UK and the US where fantasy is such an established genre.) But there are great Filipino writers and so many great Filipino folk tales. And Filipinos love fantasy! Do you have any suggestions for how Filipino writers can solidify Philippine fantasy as a genre?

Kaza: I think that writers that have a special cultural history in them have a fantastic advantage. Folk tales are such a rich source to draw from. And I'm sure the folk tales of the Philippines have their own, unique messages and characters.

I think it would be great if a Filipino writer took a few of those stories and let their imagination go wild. Not only would the stories be popular in the Philippines, but everywhere!

Beyond that, even just the amazing setting you have there might be inspiration for some wonderful stories. Fantasy is just imagination gone wild, in a sense, then putting all kinds of rules on it. Writers interested in that genre should just jump in and give it a try! Reading a lot of fantasy helps give a groundwork for what is out there, that can help, too.

Tarie: Do you write every day, and keep a certain schedule?

Kaza: I really wish I did! But because I've been on tour so much I just can't. And also I can get so caught up in planning school visits, etc., that a day will be gone before I realize I haven't written.

I'm more of an all-or-nothing person when it comes to my writing, lately. When I really sink into a book I'll write for eight or ten hours a day, and do almost nothing else. That really works better for me, because I need really few distractions then. And other times I might go weeks without writing at all. But I don't like that. I really feel best when I'm writing.

Tarie: What do you think of your new website?

Kaza: I love it, so much! An amazing artist, Matthew Liam Brady, did the castle art for it. He's so talented! And I just can't get over all that is in it. The quiz is fun - "have you figured out which Erec Rex character you are?" And there is a constantly regenerating maze, too...

There is a brand new forum that is not even fully set up yet, but some people have already made posts. It's just too cool.

Tarie: If and when you visit the Philippines, will you a) visit white sand beaches and underground caves, go sailing, go snorkeling and scuba diving, etc.; or b) check out the natural wonders above ground, like the Taal Volcano, the Banaue Rice Terraces, and the Chocolate Hills. And why? :o)

Kaza: Ohhhh, do I have to pick? Because I'd really want to do it all! I guess if I had to pick I'd go with option B. Although the white sand beaches and underground caves sound spectacular (I'm sooo jealous!) the on-land sights are so unique to the Philippines that I wouldn't want to leave without seeing those. Rice terraces - I've never seen anything like that before! It conjures up such a beautiful image in my mind. I need to get out there soon and experience all this! And Tarie - you better let me see the beaches, too, when I'm there!

Thank you so much Kaza, for stopping by and for answering my questions! Gosh, it's great having guests over. :D I hope Erec Rex becomes a huge hit in the Philippines! If you have any questions or messages for Kaza, please leave them in the comments section below. She will be happy to reply to all notes left for her. :D

Don't forget!

Learn more about Kaza and the Erec Rex series. Check out more pictures of Kaza. :) Click on the links below for the previous stops on the blog tour:

Day One - A Fort Made of Books

Day Two - Books4Ever

Day Three - Baseballs and Bows

Day Four - FanaticSpace

Day Five - Bibliophile's Retreat

Day Six - The Children's Literature Book Club

Day Seven - Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-A-Holic

Day Eight - A Year of Books

Day Nine - author Chris Rettstatt's blog

Day Ten - Deliciously Clean Reads

And check out the next stops on Kaza's blog tour! :)

Day Twelve (Jan. 18) - Real Gurlz Magazine

Day Thirteen (Jan. 19) - Chauceriangirl

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra:

Ok, upon further study I see the genius behind the play. But I still think it pales in comparison to Shakespeare's other plays... Today was the last lecture/class discussion on Antony and Cleopatra. Next week it is on to Hamlet, yay! :o)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hey there! I thought it might be helpful if I posted some links. Click here for a list of all the winners and honorees of the 2008 Youth Media Awards. Click here to watch a video of the announcement of the awards. :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

And the award goes to...

Forget the Golden Globes!

I just watched the live web broadcast of the American Library Association's (the oldest and largest library association in the world) 2008 Youth Media Awards. This is the academy awards of children's and teen literature. It was great hearing the cheers of librarians, publishers, and other guests from miles away. It was all so exciting! :D

Below are the winners of the oldest and most famous awards. To be honest, these are the awards I care about the most because past winners were such an important part of my childhood. My teachers read aloud Caldecott books. As I got older, teachers assigned Newbery winners as reading homework. Now I have a deep and scholarly interest in the Newbery. I've been trying to collect all Newbery winners and honor books like crazy. One of my graduate papers, for a class on individualism in American literature, was on the Newbery. And *gulp* I plan to write my master's thesis on the Newbery.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The 2008 Caldecott Honor Books:

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad illustrated by Kadir Nelson (written by Ellen Levine, published by Scholastic/Scholastic Press)

First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook/Neal Porter)

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís (Farrar/Frances Foster)

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems (Hyperion)

The winner of the 2008 Randolph Caldecott Medal:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)

The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. It is the first children's book award in the world!

The 2008 Newbery Honor Books:

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (Putnam/GP Putnam's Sons)

The winner of the 2008 John Newbery Medal:

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)

I am sooo glad I bought The Invention of Hugo Cabret as a Christmas gift to myself. Now I need/want to go out and buy the 2008 Newbery winner and honor books. There's still the winners of the other youth media awards to check out too!

It's fun being a dork.

Work update:

I don't usually blog about work, but I want to say that the resources team (which I am part of) and quality assurance team meetings have been great. We all have fun discussing language functions, grammar points, vocabulary, and how they all match up in an English lesson. Really! We do! :o)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looky what I got!

My Tita Joy sent these old pictures of me and my family. Thank you, Tita Joy! :o) I don't even remember this picture being taken, so I don't know how old I am here. I'm in the purplish shirt (I hope that was pretty obvious - hahahaha) and next to me are my cousins Stephanie and Sabrina. Across from me, in white, is Mommy. And that little boy in blue is my youngest brother Brian. In the back are my Tita Jen (Stephanie and Sabrina's mom) and my Auntie Nene (Stephanie and Sabrina's grandmom). I admit that I don't remember the others in the pictures!

I was unmoved.

This semester I am enrolled in English 214: Shakespeare's Tragedies; and yesterday the class started its discussion on Antony and Cleopatra. I didn't like the play. I felt resentful while reading it. I felt like I was wasting my time. I shared my two cents' worth during the discussion:

a.) Shakespeare writes so beautifully that in most of his works it seems like every other line is a real GEM. For example, when you look up the "famous lines" from Hamlet, you'll get pages and pages of beautiful passages. But "gems" are few and far between in Antony and Cleopatra! (Only one page of famous lines in fact. :P) I actually found too many lines corny.

b.) I don't like the characters of Antony and Cleopatra. My classmates love Cleopatra, but she did not impress me. I thought she and Antony acted like adolescents. Antony was a real pathetic figure. I never enjoy a literary work when I do not like the characters. Hahahaha.

c.) The plot was so grand and epic (and there's nothing wrong with grand and epic), but it was "spacious." And too straightforward for my taste. I love plots that are rich and intricate. The more complex/complicated the plot, the better!

Antony and Cleopatra just pales in comparison to Shakespeare's other works. Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Tempest, and all his other works are mind-blowing reads. I was so passionate about all the points above that my professor, the wise and wonderful Dr. Carlos Aureus, actually asked if I thought Antony and Cleopatra should be removed from the English 214 reading list! Of course I said no. :o) Classes are so much better when there are multiple perspectives being discussed. Don't you agree? :o) What do you guys think of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Erec Rex is coming to the Philippines!

But before that, Kaza Kingsley is stepping Into the Wardrobe. :)

I have great news: The Erec Rex series, a fantasy series for young readers by Kaza Kingsley, will soon be available in the Philippines. In anticipation of the Philippine release of this award-winning and bestselling series, the charismatic Kaza Kingsley will be a guest blogger right here at Into the Wardrobe!

Kaza will be on a blog tour starting tomorrow, Jan. 7. Her first stop is at A Fort Made of Books. On Jan. 17 Kaza will be at Into the Wardrobe! The good news doesn't stop there: You can already start leaving comments and questions here for Kaza! For the next week or so she will be visiting Into the Wardrobe regularly to reply to readers' comments and questions. So drop Kaza a line through this blog - it'll be fun! :)

Here are the other stops in Kaza's blog tour:

Jan. 8 - Books4Ever
Jan. 9 - Baseballs and Bows
Jan. 10 - Fanatic Space Blog
Jan. 11 - Bibliophile's Retreat
Jan. 12 - Children's Literature Book Club
Jan. 13 - Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-A-Holic
Jan. 14 - A Year of Books
Jan. 15 - Author Chris Rettstatt's blog
Jan. 16 - Deliciously Clean Reads
Jan. 18 - Real Gurlz Magazine
Jan. 19 - Chauceriangirl

Let me leave you with a little introduction to the Erec Rex series from its official website:

Enter Alypium, a strange hidden world within our own where our old knowledge of magic is kept. Although it is beautiful and mystical, things are caving in with the king hypnotized and his castle turned on its side. Even the very Substance that holds things together has gone awry … and nobody knows how to fix it.

Return with Erec to where his mother is held hostage by an evil king. Only he can learn the way to set her free.

Experience the mysterious contests to see who will be the next rulers of these lands. Kids have gathered from the unknown parts of our world, but only three will win . . . of course the most likely three have an evil plan.

Can you hear the whispers in a dark room that tell of evil plans to destroy Alypium and the surrounding lands? Is it the same person who has put a spell on the king and is attacking the contest winners?

The Erec Rex series is packed with action, mystery, humor, a colorful cast of characters, and a riveting plot.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Woohoo! Yay!

I have been waiting for this announcement: Jon Scieszka is the very first children's literature laureate for the United States. :) Mr. Scieszka's most famous work is The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. I remember reading that great and funny book in the third grade. :D Click here for information about the appointment from the Library of Congress and here for the New York Times article. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

Thank you very much for all your holiday greetings! I wish you all happiness, peace, good health, success, and prosperity in 2008. :)

I had a quiet and uneventful, but happy holiday season. I don't know why, but I would also describe my 2007 in that way. I was actually unhappy for most of 2007. And some major things did happen in 2007. I got a new job. Two of my aunts died: Tita Baby and Tita Beth. :( Tita Beth died of breast cancer on December 27. I'm worried about my Tito Doming (her husband) and the seven very young children she left behind. I feel terrible for them! :( I will always remember Tita Beth's pretty face, kind smile, and generosity. My strongest memory of Tita Beth is of her giving me ice candy when I was a little girl. I was visiting General Santos City with my family and we stayed in Lola's house. Tito Doming and Tita Beth were living with Lola at the time. Tita Beth would make really sweet, really creamy ice candy almost every day - the best, the most delicious ice candy I have ever tasted. Tita Beth plying me with her ice candy is an image burned into my mind - and heart...

But for some reason I still think of my 2007 as quiet and uneventful, but happy. And I had the best Christmas ever in 2007 - because of a beautiful, beautiful Christmas Eve church service filled with music and worship that brought tears to my eyes. New Year's Eve was fun with relatives, turkey, fireworks, and champagne. But I really, really hope and pray that my 2008 is a much, much better year. :)

How did you celebrate the winter holidays? What are your desires for 2008? :)

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

I was checking out the latest Horn Book Fanfare, a list of the best children's and young adult books released in America in 2007. The New Policeman by Kate Thompson was on the list. (The New Policeman won the Whitbread Children's Book Award and the Guardian Children's Book Prize in the UK in 2005.) When I saw a copy during my shopping spree in the Trinoma branch of Powerbooks (my Christmas gift to myself), I just had to buy it. I was intrigued by the question on the cover - Who knows where the time goes? - and by Eoin Colfer's review on the cover. I love the Artemis Fowl series and if the author of those books likes The New Policeman, it must be good, right? :)

The New Policeman is about fifteen-year-old J.J. Liddy, who is determined to "buy some time" as a birthday gift for his mother - in Tír na n'Óg, the land of eternal youth. By the end of J.J.'s story three questions are answered: Where does the time go? Did J.J.'s great-grandfather kill the village priest? And what is up with that strange new policeman?

I love how this book is partly about farm life. I love how this book has very short chapters - most of the chapters are only three to six pages long. The brevity of the chapters gave my reading great momentum and kept me interested and curious. (I have a short attention span. :P) I love how J.J. and the rest of the Liddys (generation after generation of Liddys, in fact) are traditional Irish musicians and dancers. I love how music is an essential part of the Liddys's lives and an essential part of the story. I love how each chapter ends with a sheet of Irish traditional music. The New Policeman made me yearn to listen to Irish traditional music, yearn to play an instrument, and yearn to dance.

The New Policeman is set in the village of Kinvara and in the alternate universe/secondary world of Tír na n'Óg. I did not love Tír na n'Óg. I probably would have appreciated it more if I knew more about Irish folklore. (I know next to nothing about Irish folklore. :( ) I found a big chunk of the book too slow precisely because it was set in Tír na n'Óg. (Then again, this makes sense because there is supposed to be "no time" in this land of eternal youth.) I just couldn't work up any interest in the land of Irish fairies. :( But I was delighted by Kinvara and its people. Contemporary Irish culture is so new, so exotic, so wonderful to me that I found I was completely seduced by it.

I was happy to find out from Kate Thompson's website that there is a follow-up to this lovely book. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, The Last of the High Kings, about J.J. Liddy's eccentric eleven-year-old daughter Jenny. :)