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A Cavalcade of Covers: Ramona

Last time’s dive into Wrinkle of Time was too much fun, so I had to do it again. For whatever reason, Ramona doesn’t seem to have had its covers reinterpreted as much as Wrinkle, but there are still quite a few, as usual spanning a range of good, bad, and indifferent.

Beady-eyed Ramona
These cartoony editions were quite popular for a while. I’ve never liked them. There’s a certain energy to the linework, but those beady little eyes give me the creeps. Unfortunately I’m not sure who the artist is. 3/10

Ramona of the 90s
Hoo boy but these airbrushed “photoreal” covers were popular in the 90s. (The Boxcar Children books all had them, too.) Most of my Beverly Cleary books were from this edition. I guess it must have been a real golden age for these artists, but it strikes me as pretty uninteresting now. And what is Beezus wearing? It’s not Easter, despite Ramona’s bunny ears. 5/10

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BoMC: Ramona

Ramona books

While re-reading Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, two questions kept coming up in my mind: What makes a book timeless? And what makes a book dated?

It’s been nearly seventy years since Ramona Geraldine Quimby’s first appearance (in Cleary’s Henry Huggins, 1950), but Cleary’s rendering of the character remains as vivid today as it was then. Moreso than practically any author I can think of, Cleary excels at capturing the experience of childhood and making it viscerally relatable. And Ramona embodies these qualities more than any of Cleary’s other characters, which is how she managed to eclipse Henry Huggins in fame despite having started out as no more than “Henry’s friend’s little sister.”

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A Cavalcade of Covers: A Wrinkle in Time

While working on my review, I couldn’t help but notice that A Wrinkle in Time has had a bajillion different covers, of varying degrees of quality. Unfortunately I have no information about the artists behind most of these covers, but let’s take a look anyway!

wrinkle_airbrush

Well isn’t this a delightful bit of van art! We’ve got Mrs. Whatsit as the centaur, the kids, an alien landscape, and some sort of misplaced line of emphasis under the word “in.” I give it a 6/10.

wrinkle_petersis

This was a very common edition when I was a kid. It was painted by Peter Sis, a peculiar Czech illustrator who produced some very strange children’s picture books. It’s an interesting image, although I’m not sure it really represents the book all that well. 5/10. Sorry Peter!

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BoMC: A Wrinkle in Time

There was a period in my childhood, around the age of twelve or so I think, when A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle was my favorite book. In fact, it was probably the last book upon which I ever bestowed such a title, since I stopped trying to quantify my preferences around then.

wrinkle_sm

As such, I had high expectations for it when I reread it, possibly too high. It’s not a bad book by any means, but it’s difficult to explain what it was that so captivated me about this novel. In many ways it’s a very skilful piece of writing, but the actual story is convoluted and vague, and the events so isolated from one another as to feel episodic. There were almost certainly books that I read simultaneously that were better constructed formally–why was this one the favorite?

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BoMC: Holes

I can’t recall why I first picked up Holes. I was mostly a reader of science fiction and fantasy, and didn’t typically read a book just because it had a medal on its cover. I was never quite sure whether I liked it, even, though I did read it several times. What really kept me engaged with it, I think, was a sense that it was deeper, more profound, than other books I’d read.

Holes

Holes, written by Louis Sachar, is the story of one Stanley Yelnats, a kid who is sent to a hellish camp for juvenile delinquents, Camp Green Lake. His crime: he unknowingly stole a pair of sneakers that were meant to raise money for a homeless shelter. This miscarriage of justice he ascribes to his family’s history of bad luck, brought on by his “no-good dirty-rotten pig-stealing great-great-grandfather.” While initially played for laughs, this detail, like most details in Holes, becomes highly significant to the plot. Stanley’s story, and the story of his ancestors, are joined tightly together in a multigenerational jigsaw puzzle.

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BoMC: The Andalite Chronicles

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I read a lot as a kid. I went through dozens of books and pillaged the library on a weekly basis. There were, however, a few books that attracted my attention more than others, books I read over and over again. This is series is about re-reading those books as an adult. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they weird? Let’s find out!

Most of my friends were readers to some degree or another, and we all read Animorphs. No wonder: it was so popular in the late nineties as to be practically inescapable. The series was written by Katherine “K.A.” Applegate, who in more recent years was honored with the Newbery Medal for her book The One and Only Ivan. As such, her credentials as a writer should be beyond question, yet still I expected to be less than enthralled by Animorphs when revisiting it as an adult. After all, even as a kid I read less than half of the fifty-plus volumes. But there was one book in the series that captivated me more than any other: the prequel, The Andalite Chronicles. If there was anything great about Animorphs, I’d find it there.

The Andalite Chronicles

The premise of the series: there are two warring alien species. There are the noble Andalites, centaur-like creatures who have perfected a shape-shifting technology; and the evil Yeerks, a race of space-slugs that have the ability to take over other creatures’ bodies. In the Animorphs series, the Yeerks have begun a covert invasion of Earth with the intention of enslaving the human race, and a mortally wounded Andalite gifts the “morphing” technology to a group of children. These kids, the titular Animorphs, thus become the last hope of humanity. But our story today isn’t about the Animorphs at all. It’s about the Andalites.

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BoMC: Homer Price

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I read a lot as a kid. I went through dozens of books and pillaged the library on a weekly basis. There were, however, a few books that attracted my attention more than others, books I read over and over again. This is series is about re-reading those books as an adult. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they weird? Let’s find out!

Robert McCloskey is best known as the Caldecott-winning author/illustrator of the classic picture books Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, but he also wrote a series of short stories for older readers featuring a character known as Homer Price.

Homer Price cover

Homer Price was a staple of my family’s read-aloud collection. My parents must have read it to us cover to cover at least three or four times. The book was originally published in 1943, and this copy, which came from my dad’s childhood collection, is from the fourth printing, in 1966. The book remains in print to this day. That the book has stuck around for so many decades is a testament to the universal appeal of the stories.

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Aliens Ate My Homework

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I read a lot as a kid. I went through dozens of books and pillaged the library on a weekly basis. There were, however, a few books that attracted my attention more than others, books I read over and over again. This is series is about re-reading those books as an adult. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they weird? Let’s find out!

If you’d asked me who my favorite author was at the age of eight or nine, I’d have replied without hesitation: “Bruce Coville!” Mr. Coville’s specialty was works of science fiction and fantasy, usually with a dash of humor. He wrote numerous different series (some of which we may cover in the future) but my favorite by far was the “Alien Adventures,” beginning with Aliens Ate My Homework.

Aliens Ate My Homework

The Aliens series follows a small cast of alien characters perennially in pursuit of the evil intergalactic criminal BKR. Along for the ride is our hapless protagonist, Rod Allbright, a middle-school-aged kid who narrates the adventures in first-person.

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