MINI-REVIEWS: Haint Misbehavin', The Tail of Emily Windsnap, Pizzicato

Haint Misbehavin’ by Maureen Hardegree
Publication: Bell Bridge Books (June 6, 2010), ebook, 206pp / ISBN 1935661930
Genre: MG (maybe young YA?) Urban Fantasy
Read: February 28, 2012
Source: Freebie

I liked this one a LOT more than I thought I would, based on that horrible cover. It reminds me a lot of a Judy Blume book for some reason (maybe the fighting siblings/bullying aspect?) only there are ghosts and hauntings and it’s set in the South. Heather is a tough character to like– she’s sympathetic because her sister is so horrible to her and because of the whole “this ghost kid is ruining my life” thing, but she’s also really whiny and awkward in a way that makes you want to cringe. She spends a lot of the book running around denying who she is, hiding from the bullies, and being basically completely clueless. So I can understand why some people didn’t like her!

However! She gets a LOT better by the end of the book, with help from some secondary characters who aren’t entirely horrible. I will admit that the ending was a little bit slap-dash, though. I hate it when characters are given motivations for their actions way at the end like that’ll make you feel bad for them after you’ve spent so much time hating them, for example. And I’ve got the feeling that Heather will go right back to where she was in the beginning of this book just in time for her to repeat the whole learning experience again for the next book. Which is disappointing, I think.

Despite all that, though, I really liked it. I thought it was funny and a bit heart-breaking and I like that the ghosts aren’t cuddly or cute (and neither is the protagonist). If you like stories set in the South with ghosts and/or YA coming of age stuff, then you might like Haint Misbehavin’.

042. The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
Publication: Candlewick (May 11, 2010), originally published 2006, ebook, 226pp / ISBN 0756965683
Genre: Children’s Urban Fantasy
Read: March 2, 2012
Source: Bought

I’d first heard of Liz Kessler because of her Emily Windsnap books, and now I know why everyone loves them. Because they’re so darned cute! They aren’t overly sugary-sweet, though. In fact, there are parts in this book that were scary and sad and almost made me want to cry. Emotional depth! With mermaids! Yay! But it’s still a cute book, the kind that you can hand over to a kid and know that they’ll read a good story, with a great protagonist, and you don’t have to worry about traumatizing them with anything. (Unlike, say, some of these books that I read as a kid.)

Mermaids are getting really popular again this year, I think, and I’m kind of glad about that. I like mermaids! Scary mermaids, happy mermaids, mermaids that want to be human. They’re a lot more interesting than vampires or werewolves, anyway.

044. Pizzicato: The Abduction of the Magic Violin by Rusalka Reh (translated by David Henry Wilson)
Publication: AmazonCrossing (February 8, 2011), ebook, 136pp / ISBN 1611090040
Genre: Children’s Magical Realism (or maybe just Urban Fantasy, idk)
Read: March 3, 2012
Source: Bought

Did you know Amazon was translating books into English? I didn’t! And it’s actually a pretty good translation, too. Sometimes with translated books you get stilted sentences or weird characterizations, but with Pizzicato I think things went pretty smoothly. It’s hard to tell with children’s books, though, because I tend to have a hard time with the (lack of) emotional depth that’s in them. The plot’s pretty simplistic but it was enjoyable, and it had music and magic and bad guys that were stupid and horrible (aka fun to root against). So that was nice.

For comparison purposes, think Cornelia Funke’s books. The atmosphere she has in her books? That’s kind of like what’s in Pizzicato, too. It’s a good book to read on a boring Saturday afternoon, when it’s raining outside and nothing good is on TV and the cat ran away again.

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