Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not Zachary Beaver!

When I began working as a librarian in 2001, among the first books I read and "professionally" booktalked was When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. I just loved that book. (I'm having another 2001 happy flashback with Stargirl, which my middle school bookgroup is reading now.) I have enjoyed Kimberly Willis Holt's other books too, but none as much as Zachary Beaver.

And Part of Me continues this tradition. A collection of interrelated short stories about four generations of a reading (and non-reading) family in Louisiana, it's just kind of dull. There's an apotheosis about reading for a 13-year-old in the most recent generation who gets hooked on Harry Potter that was kind of embarrassingly clunky. The other stories have Holt's hallmark gentle characterizations and pleasing sense of place, but none of them truly sent me. I feared for the family dog in the story that featured Old Yeller, but you'll be relieved to know that the dog makes it.

And in one of those things that really indicates that some books just need to be in front of you, a family tree is "read" at the beginning of this novel. Since, at this point, the listener doesn't know what's going on, this recitation is somewhat confusing; then later, when you want to know who is who's child, there's no leafing back to the beginning of the book. You've got to change disks and start back at the beginning. Step away from the microphone!

I did finish another sweater vest while listening this weekend, so I guess my time wasn't completely wasted.

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