Audio Book Review: The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Mighty Miss Malone CoverBook: The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by Bahni Turpin

Published January 2012 by Listening Library|Run Time: 7 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio C.D. from the library

Series: None

Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

“We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful” is the motto of Deza Malone’s family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie’s beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.

Blog Graphic-What It's About

I wasn’t sure what to think about The Mighty Miss Malone at first- I had a hard time getting into it, but as I listened, I did like it more than I thought I would.

I think part of why I had a hard time with it, particularly at the beginning, is that Deza is very much a special snowflake.  She seemed a little too precocious and comes across as condescending.  I think that Deza has been told she’s special so much that she has a hard time handling not doing well on something- like when her best friend does better on an assignment than she does, and she expected her friend to feel bad about it.  She does seem to handle it a little bit better when she’s at a different school, but the book seems to be more about the Great Depression than race or segregation, even though it’s touched on a little bit.

And there were a couple points, especially towards the end, where it seemed like Deza’s love of reading and learning was very much encouraged, but Jimmie’s singing wasn’t really nurtured.  I’m not sure if it’s because the book is about Deza (and not Jimmie), but I definitely got the impression that Deza being good at school was more important than Jimmie being good at singing.

Still, we do see how racism affects her grades, and, more than anything, the book shows what it was like to live during the Great Depression.  It does do a great job of showing that, and I think that’s where the book shines.  It does touch on how hard it was for African-Americans to find work, and how much everything going on affected them.  For that alone, I’d definitely recommend the book, because I think it is something that needs to be talked about.

One thing that sort of confused me was when Deza, her mother and her brother arrive in Flint.  They’re supposed to stay with her dad’s mother (her grandmother) but once they get to Flint, there is no mention of her grandmother for the rest of the book.  And if they’re supposed to be staying with relatives there, then why do they stay in the shanty-town, instead of going to find Deza’s grandmother?  Unless I missed something when I was listening to the book, which is possible.  But why have it be part of the book, when it doesn’t even go anywhere, and is never mentioned again?

I wasn’t sure about the narration at first- I definitely didn’t like it, and I think the narration is a big part of why I didn’t like Deza at first.  Deza sounded a lot older than 12, and something about her tone of voice really grated on me, to the point that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep listening.  It did get better over the course of the book, and I do feel bad, because a person has no control over what their voice sounds like.  I definitely won’t be seeking out anything else narrated by Turpin, but for me, I might think twice about an audio book if I know she’s narrating it.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I did like the book, because it does a wonderful job at showing what it was like to be alive during The Great Depression.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of Deza, or the narrator, but it’s a really good look at the Great Depression, and that makes it worth checking out.

Book Talk: The BFG, A Movie And Book Review

Book Talk is a sporadic feature where I talk about non-book review but bookish things…and today’s post is all about The BFG!

Book Talk

And as a warning, there are some spoilers for both the movie and the book!

The Movie:

I saw The BFG a few days ago, because it looked awesome in the trailers, and I remember reading Roald Dahl as a kid, so I knew I had to go see this movie adaptation.  Sadly, I couldn’t remember if this was one of the books I read by Dahl as a kid, because the movie didn’t jog any memories of reading the book.  So either I never read it or I read it but don’t remember reading it.  Either way, it was new to me.

I loved it as a movie, and even though I’m not a big fan of 3D, it was totally worth it in 3D.  I’m serious, guys, it worked really well in 3D.  Things weren’t jumping out at you, but there was a lot more scale and perspective and I felt a lot more like I was actually in the movie, and I don’t know that you would have had that experience in the non-3D version.  Maybe you would have but not to the same degree.  But I really felt like we were immersed in Giant Country.  And I’m not going to lie, I cried at the end.  I loved the movie, especially the scene where Sophie and the BFG go to catch dreams.  It looked really pretty, and I wish we saw the actual dreams just going around. But I also liked that they were balls of light.  And I really liked how his house looked!  It was just really pretty to watch.

With the BFG himself, you see how small everything is in comparison to him, and that’s partly why I liked it. You felt small, but in a good way.  And in comparison to the other giants, you see that he’s really not that big himself. Overall, it was just really pretty to see, and I definitely recommend seeing it theaters if you can.  As it is, I don’t know that it will be in theaters for very long, because it seems like there aren’t a lot of showings of it…

I also really liked it as an adaptation!  With any adaptation, there were some changes, but overall, it followed the book pretty closely.  I really wish we saw the dreams, especially since there are dreams described in the book.  I know I already kind of mentioned that, with when they go to catch the dreams, but seeing the dreams would have been really cool.

The BFG CoverThe Book: The BFG by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Originally published in 1982 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux|224 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

What It’s About: Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giants-rather than the BFG-she would have soon become breakfast.

When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

What I Thought: I really liked it!  It’s such a cute story, and even though it’s one of the Roald Dahl books I never read as kid, I’m glad I finally got to read it.  I remember liking some of his other books, and it’s such an imaginative one.  I will say that some of the gifts described at the end of the book were stereotypical, and that bothered me. And for some reason, the book didn’t seem as magical as the movie did, which makes me hesitant to re-read some of Dahl’s other books, because I feel like the magic and creativity of his books might not have the same effect on me as an adult as they did when I was a kid.  It makes me wonder if maybe I’m too old for Roald Dahl, which makes me a little sad, because generally, I don’t think you’re too old to read anything.  But in this case?  Maybe it’s possible.  I’d still recommend it as a book, because I really like the overall creativity and the conversation that the BFG has with Sophie about how giants don’t kill each other, and how kind the BFG is to Sophie.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really like the story, but it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would be.