Book Review

Book Review: The Golden Compass

I came to Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series as an adult when I was required to read the first book for a university class, but I absolutely loved it. Since Pullman has just announced that he is writing a companion series, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to review the first book in the original series: The Golden Compass.

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This is such an interesting fantasy series. It’s ultimately a coming-of-age story for the precocious protagonist Lyra. Watching her grow is a delight, and the interesting characters are mixed with an exciting plot. This is a great start of a great series.

While Lyra’s growth is integral to the series, the character in this book that intrigued me the most was the larger-than-life Mrs. Coulter. I don’t want to give away any of her secrets in case I spoil something for new readers, but she was written in such a way where I could absolutely feel the same level of intrigue that Lyra felt when she looked at this complicated woman.

The fantasy elements in this book are very clear, and they have a great balance between traditional and new when it comes to the structure of the world-building. There is a traditional quest and hero and sidekick and wise elder. However, the freshest thing about this book is the addition of personal daemons Рindividualized creatures that are connected to each person. Each one takes the shape of a specific animal and have a very close bond with their human. This is such an interesting take on a spirit animal since they are tangible and seen by everyone.

Overall, I think this is an amazing, fast-faced book that people of all ages will enjoy. I can’t wait to read the new trilogy that Pullman has in store for us!

Personal

Reliving My Childhood

My fiance Josh is only ten months younger than me, but there was a vital difference between our childhoods: he did not grow up in the magical world of Harry Potter! Recently, he asked if we could watch the movies together, and we’ve been marathoning them ever since.

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I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books since the third grade, and it was really exciting when I read the final book book in the main series since Harry and I were both 17. There was nothing wrong with my childhood, but I was kind of awkward and lonely and occasionally bullied. These books took me away when I read them and gave me a group of fictional friends to care about. I would sit in class and daydream about being at Hogwarts with my real friends.

Even as an adult, I retain a passion for the wizarding world created by the masterful J.K. Rowling. In college at the University of Cincinnati, I even took a literature elective class all about Harry Potter where we were sorted into houses and read all seven books. (If you were wondering, Pottermore ALWAYS sorts me into Slytherin – we’re not all bad, I promise!)

I have read these books and watched the movies countless times. I read the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the day it came out (even though July 31st is also my fiance’s birthday). It’s been a really great experience sharing the movies with Josh, and I hope we read the books together someday. There are a lot of book series that I read as a child that don’t have the same impact in my adulthood, but Harry Potter is not one of them. These are the books that have impacted my life the most, and I love sharing them. I hope that someday I can sit down with my niece or nephew and share this experience with them as well.

Do you have something from childhood that continues to touch your life as an adult? What still excites you and makes you feel like you can always relive the best parts of childhood? Let me know in the comments section!

Book Review

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words

My day job is in a library, and I do try to keep up with lots of different types of books, including children’s books. I have recently rediscovered the joy of picture books while preparing for one of my outreach programs at a daycare center for developmentally disabled adults. If you have a child or someone in your life who loves picture books, here are five of the best ones I’ve read recently:

1. Otter Goes to School by Sam Garton

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2. Secret Agent Splat! by Rob Scotton

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3. Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea by Marcus Pfister

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4. Naughty Mabel Sees it All by Nathan Lane

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5. Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon

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These books all have amazing, eye-catching illustrations and fun stories. But best of all, they are great books to read aloud. Check them out from your local library!