Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie by Chris Van Allsburg

I read everything by Chris Van Allsburg. I love his work. His writings are brilliant and insightful, curious and touchable. He is a literary rockstar to me.  I stumbled across The  Misadventures of Sweetie Pie last weekend at the library. Laughing out loud in delight at seeing the author, I added the book to my growing stack. SA-WEET!!

The book frames the life of Sweetie Pie the guinea pig through the animals' eyes. The pig experiences a wide range of loving gestures from young people, all well intended but not always well-acted upon. Van Allsburgs' drawings offer a unique window in through the eyes of the guinea pig, a perfect perspective that allows readers to consider what life might be like for a small animal cared for by a number of school-aged folks. The ending is a surprise and I had to read the book a couple of times to make sure I got it. That trait is typical Van Allsburg for sure.

A fun and engaging read, check out Sweetie Pie!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss

I have long loved Molly Gloss' stories. Her way of writing captures my imagination and enlivens my mind to create images of the text. She is an Oregon writer, lives right here in Portland, and wrote Wild Life and The Jump-Off Creek among others. I always read her work slowly....a serious sign that I love the book.

Falling from Horses is set in the late 1930's. Bud, a young man eager to get away from his home ranch and explore Hollywood and the moving picture lifestyle. He hopes to make it big on the screen, figuring he can ride his way into pictures as a stunt rider. Although times are pretty tight (I think the word tight meant superslim wiggle room where money is concerned back then), Bud finds his way from being beat up in the middle of the night sleeping in a giant park in LA to working with the horses that were filmed in movies. His first Hollywood friend, Lily Shaw, stays important to Bud throughout the book, and their relationship as friends and lives as individuals revolves around and centers on movies. Bud is a steady character, slowly finding his way newly on his own and figuring out how to date (sort of), make a living (sort of kind of), and make the best choices he can(hmmmm). Gloss brings her best in this story, helping us almost live in Bud's shoes, particularly when the story touches into the deep well of family. Bud's ranching family who also lives hard-scrabble lives, and loss and love intertwine at the slowly intentional speed of hard work and hard living often found on ranches of the times. The story indeed takes Bud home again; I won't spoil a thing here about why or how.

Gloss helps me live into that inner cowgirl that lives inside of me. I have read The Jump-Off Creek a number of times and may return to it soon after reading Falling From Horses. Loved it, just loved it.