Straightforward Stories (a single reviewer's double review)

These days I normally subscribe to Esther's method of library use (except I never remember to bring a box and instead attract the horrified wonder of the staff as I stumble out of the library with kid tucked under my arm and a strategically arranged pile of books teetering ominously). My weakness is the display of new books. Yes, I do feel twinges of guilt as I steal from children check out stuff not really set out for me. But new books are just so shiny and irresistible!

(You get the reference, right, huh, huh? *nerdy anxiety*)

So on Saturday when we took a family walk down to the library "just" to pick up my latest reserve, I couldn't help glancing at the latest greatest in kid lit.... and furtively snatching a couple tantalizing volumes.

Three days later, I'm ready to take them back, so perhaps I can assuage my guilty conscience at least somewhat. That's the nice thing about books for children, they are quick reads. The Line was a few hours, The Night Fairy closer to one. And I'm not a speed reader.

The Night Fairy is an interesting little book, not really what I had expected. Written by Laura Amy Schlitz, it follows a young fairy who is thrown out into the world alone, defenseless, and unable to fly. While she does come into some of her fairy powers through the course of the story, she mainly has to fend for herself with determination and hard work. It is definitely not a traditional morality tale, but it does incorporate the important life lessons that doing the right thing is not always the easiest or the most attractive thing and that friends don't always have to be the brightest and most reasonable (except of course all mine are... hey there, guys...*cough, cough*). The characters aren't sappy sweet or precocious as fairytale animals often are, and it's kind of a refreshing change. I would definitely hand this book to a child or even read it aloud together. The illustrations, by Angela Barrett, are gorgeous, and I must confess the endpapers completely mesmerize me. They do shimmer so! (yes, I realize I'm starting to sound like a magpie or a raccoon *blush*)

Teri Hall's The Line also is a fairly simple story, also follows a main character for the most part without peers, and also is set for the most part on the grounds of one home. There the similarity ends.

Sci-fi rather than fantasy, The Line takes place in a dystopian future that seems not too far off. Perhaps it is a future that you or several of your friends who like to share email forwards have even considered. In The Line, the central government has taken undue control which in this instance includes not only excessive taxation, brutal discipline, and aggressive propaganda but also uncrossable national borders. Now uncrossable national borders are not a necessarily new or even fanciful thing (Night Crossing was one of my favorite childhood movies), but an invisible force field-esque barrier creates an interesting image.

The Line's main character, Rachel, lives right by, well, the Line, a portion of the border. Looking out to the other side every day, she imagines what might be out there in what basically looks like a continuation of the yard. How can one find out the truth?

As with The Night Fairy, I was won over in spite of myself by the simple and straightforward story of The Line. While it wasn't as intense and fastpaced as most dystopian novels I've read, the premise was intriguing, and I'm curious to see the story unfold. Unfortunately it looks like it will be awhile before that happens.
1 sprinkles of fairy dust:

Hi Bethany, I ditched facebook last week and didn't get your email address, but I want to stay in touch. :) Email me when you have a chance - lightheartedmom[at]gmail[dot]com!