Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Book Review Club (June 2010)

Welcome, welcome one and all to the EIGHTEENTH meeeting of our Book Review Club. Eighteenth! According to Wikipedia, if we were awarding ourselves a gift for 18 years of marriage, it'd be something turquoise or porcelain. So...grab a porcelain mug, fill it with the best coffee we could afford, choose a cupcake decorated with turquoise sprinkles and have a seat. We've got some great book reviews for you!

In honor of Child #4 who turned ten this past weekend, I'm reviewing a book I picked up a little over 9 1/2 years ago in Seoul, Korea when I traveled there to bring her home.

Actually, I picked up several of these folktale books. There are two tales per book. Each is told in both English and Korean. What do I love about these folktales? The pictures. AND you never know what twists and turns the story's going to take. A folktale from another country is a peek into its culture. Priceless.

In The Ogres' Magic Clubs, a young man, who thinks first of his parents' and his brother's welfare, happens upon a group of ogres in a cottage. He spies on the ogres and observes them whacking the floor of the cottage and singing, "Gold, gold, come ye forth! Oh, silver, come ye out!" A bunch of gold and silver flies out from wherever the ogres whack. Totally by accident, the young man scares away the ogres. Then he steals all the gold and silver and one of the magic clubs. Now, he's a rich man. Enter the older, greedy, lazy, less respectful brother. You didn't see that coming, did you? Anyway, he finds the same cottage, observes the same ogres and their cottage-whacking ritual. UNFORTUNATELY, the ogres spot him, think he's the man who stole their magic club, and they proceed to whack him "as hard as they could" with their clubs! They beat him "over and over" and eventually they let him leave. He goes home "sore but wiser." Here's the last line of the story: "And he never went back to that shack in the woods again."

Oh, you say, thanks a lot. Get us all excited about Korean folktales that we can't even get our hands on. Wrongo. If you go to, type in "Korean folktales," a bunch of these books pop up. Quite incredible.

And now, drum roll, onto the amazing reviews from amazing reviewers!! Please, please visit. You won't be sorry.


Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: I, CORIANDER by Sally Gardner (middle grade)

Cassandra of Misadventures of a Teenage Writer: I SO DON'T DO MAKEUP by Barrie Summy (tween mystery) **I so did NOT pay this reviewer! But I am flattered! :)**

Stacy Nyikos: BEFORE YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Steed (middle grade)

Thao of serene hours: LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green (young adult)


Scott Parker: THE PALLBEARERS by Stephen J. Cannell (mystery)

Kathy Holmes: ORIENTAL HOTEL by Janet Tanner (historical romance)

Beth Yarnall: LONG LOST by Harlan Coben (mystery/suspense)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE by Syrie James

Linda McLaughlin: KUSHIEL'S MERCY by Jacqueline Carey (fantasy)

Sarah Laurence: THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi W. Durrow (literary)

Patti Abbott: THE ELEGANCE OF A HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery (contemporary)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips
: A SUDDEN COUNTRY by Karen Fisher (literary historical)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: WHITER THAN SNOW by Sandra Dalls (historical)


Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: JUST KIDS by Patti Smith (memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe)

Lucy of lucysartain: THIS TIME TOGETHER: LAUGHTER AND REFLECTION by Carol Burnett (memoir)

**Exceptional previous reviews are only a click away.**

Note to Reviewers: You know the drill.:) If I missed you, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation pronto. And award myself one less chocolate today!



  1. What a cute story! Ah, Korea... adorable kids. I grew up hearing stories/viewing slides about my stepdad's time in Korea. And anybody else who stopped by the house for very long. lol! What an adventure to go there to bring back a daughter. Great memories for you. Very sweet!

  2. A book purchase for my future grandchildren? (Makes me feel a little ancient.) It sounds delightful.

  3. Thanks for the very cool review, Barrie, and happy birthday to Child #4. Next semester my required graduate seminar will be on Korean pop culture. Now I can't wait :)

  4. Kathy: Actually, it was quite an adventure. We stayed for a week to do some sightseeing, too. :)

    Beth: don't feel ancient. Feel organized! ;)

    Teresa: Oh, I hope you'll share.

  5. Happy 18m to you and Happy 10 to your daughter! You picked a wonderful gift for her. I like how it includes both languages. Thanks for sharing it and hosting the book review club. Fables reveal a lot about culture.

    I should check them out. The protagonist of my current WIP is half Korean but not adopted. I’ve had several Korean American friends over the years, and my husband has many as students in Asian Studies at Bowdoin. I’m seeing one of my oldest friends this weekend, who is also half Korean. Small world!

  6. What a cute story, and what a gorgeous book! Folk tales are always interesting, and how cool that it's in both English and Korean. I'd love to hear more about your trip to Korea, too.

  7. Sarah: It IS a small world! Child #4 has been re-reading these books recently. Fun to see.

    Linda: Yes, I love the fact that the books are bilingual. Ah, yes, the trip to Korea. I'd like to go back and take Child #4 too.

  8. it does look like a wonderful children's book.

  9. I probably shouldn't admit this here, but I'm not sure I get this folktale. The good brother steals and doesn't get caught, so the bad brother gets punished instead? I'm confused.

    I like the dual language telling though--and the fact that your daughter is interested in them is great!

    Yay for 18 months!

    BTW, I'd say I, Coriander is middle-school ageish. The stepmother is violently mean, so a younger, particularly sensitive child might have trouble.

  10. Alyssa: I'm not sure I get it either. I think the younger RESPECTFUL son gets rewarded while the disprespectful son doesn't. I'd have liked a little more detail on what the older son learned. ;) Oh, and thanks for the age range for I, Coriander. I like to have a few books lined up for my kids for the summer, and that one sounds good for Child #4.

    Kaye: All the stories are different and odd and entertaining.

  11. That sounds like a neat book. Tales from other cultures give such insight into the mores, values and richness of their peoples and lands. Neat!

  12. My review is up!

  13. Also, I sent you an email regarding copyright issues--are you alright with me posting a synopsis from the back cover and a picture of the cover?

  14. I loved that review - I was smiling as I read it. Only, my thought wasn't get us all excited about folktales we can't get our hands on - it was, she just told us how it ended! lol

    Oh, and I tried (multiple times) to post a comment on Kathy Holmes' review but for some reason it didn't work. I don't know if my technological disability was the cause or if she's later going to have a bunch of comments posted from me. But I did try.

  15. Stacy: I have a birthday book--it's all about how birthdays are celebrated around the world. So fascinating!

  16. Cassandra: Thank you for the lovely review!

    Lucy: Don't sweat the repeated tries to leave a comment on Kathy's blog. She'll figure it all out. She's a super techno-whiz!

    And...yes, I did tell you the ending. Ha! But only to give you a sense of how unexpected the endings are. :)

  17. How neat! I love how the moral of a fable says so much about the society in which it's told.

  18. Happy tenth to child #4! And how great of you to bring that book home with her, Barrie. It's a fun tale--I've never read any Korean folk tales, only Chinese and Japanese, where good younger sons and evil older brothers also appear, along with foolish people who mis-use magic. Thanks for the review!

  19. I have the porcelain cup of tea, but I'm missing the cupcake . . . sadly.

    I guess that every culture has their version of ogres, right? I hope that your daughter will never experience real-life ogres . . . but only laugh at them in books! Best birthday wishes. xx


Comments are always welcome!