I shall review each story as I go through when it's fresh in my mind: Becoming
by Nancy Springer
Unfortunately I can't say that I liked this one at all. It feels like a gimmiky idea, poorly executed. One thing I really can't stand is when serious things happen in young adult stories and they're just brushed off. Dusie essentially kills a boy from her class and the only thing that bothers her is that she thinks no one will ever really love her. Not to mention the concept that you can't tell if someone really loves you if you're beautiful - an idea that is just as shallow as the thought that no one can love an ugly person.
The twist was ok, but it felt forced. And the back story that made the twist possible wasn't believable at all. Just disappointing. 1 grudging star.Linnea
by D.J. Malcolm
While I can't say I fell in love with this story, I didn't hate it either. I thought that both the concept and the style of writing was much more developed than Becoming
and I enjoyed reading it. The ending was fairly obvious, but that's ok because it fits in nicely. Not every short story has to have a shocking twist. I didn't really feel the characters very deeply, which I know is hard to achieve in a short story but I felt that could have been done better.
The only glaring annoyance about this story was the girl's name. Linnea is too much like 'linear' which spoiled the magic for me a bit. I think it's important that writers really think about their character's names and how they might relate to the modern world, as it's minds from the modern world that will be reading them. Two stars. Almost 2.5.Water's Edge
by Janni Lee Simner
I didn't believe this one. For one thing I found it very doubtful that someone so desperate to be alone would find it so hard to escape a loud noisy family when they had a whole beach to use. For one thing, quite people are normally overlooked by an extroverted family, not followed around.
I also find it a bit suss when kids books show such extreme emotions... the idea that, having just had a near death experience Laura would want to go back into the water again EVEN if it meant drowning... is disturbing. She seems to have no emotional connection of any value to any family, she doesn't have any friends. I'm not sure that it creates a very helpful message to young people who feel like they don't fit. It's almost like saying, no, you don't. you belong somewhere else
Two stars.Elder Brother
by Tamora Pierce
Finally, the story I bought this book for. I can't fault it. It's interesting, it has depth. The character's are tangible and you can feel their pain and frustration. It is both an interesting and unique concept, thought provoking and well executed. Though, if this turns out to be the only good story in here I would just buy Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales. Five stars.How to Make a Human
by Lawrence Schimel
I don't read a lot of poetry as I find it difficult to sift through and find what I really like. I like poetry to have deep meaning as well as cleverness that really speaks to you. I found I appreciated the sentiments in this poem, even though I didn't agree with them. I got what the writer was trying to say, and I liked that. Four stars.Scarecrow
by Gregory Maguire
What a relief. Two solid short stories. I found this one especially interesting. It was nice to read something by this author that wasn't filled with strange smuttiness (I never got all the way through Wicked because of this). I love a story that makes you go, oo, I'd love to sit down with this author and talk about what they were thinking when they wrote this
The big question I was left with at the end was one that the scarecrow had: how important is who are creator is? And does it make a difference if we believe a lie?
Five Stars. A++ Centaur Field
by Jane Yolen
Meh. I feel super critical of these short stories... I know they're geared at kids but I still think that kids deserve something better. I would say that this one has the feel of something written by a twelve year old... and if it was I'd be very impressed. But as it is it's just strange. The reactions of all the people in the story seem very unrealistic to what would actually happen if a shetland pony gave birth to a centaur. The story felt shallow. It's a mistake to think that you can't have a short story with some depth to the plot or characters.
Two stars.Princess Dragonblood
by Jude Mandell
This is more the sort of story I would expect to find in a kids anthology. Good writing, epic adventure, somewhat thought provoking but not especially deep. The characters were particularly well developed but the fairy tale style of the story suited that anyway.
by Tim Waggoner
This story didn't really do much for me. I couldn't say it was 'bad' per-say, it just didn't reach out and grab me. It might appeal to a younger audience, but I felt it lacked adventure.
Two stars.The Hardest, Kindest Gift
by Bruce Colville
This one didn't do much for me either. It didn't grab my attention or fascinate me and the way in which the information was revealed kept me from enjoyed the story rather than adding to anticipation. I also found it very creepy when he mentioned his grandmother's bare breasts *shudder*.