Thursday, May 22, 2008

Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

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"Please?" my little Sister Said. "Pleeeeease?"





Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 265 pages


17 comments:

Mary said...

I am a great fan of this author's work and this title is no exception.

But this comment is more about my problem with this blog entry... A colleague and friend emailed me recently that she wished one of the other titles on this list hadn't included the abstract spoiler on the blog. "True, I was figuring it out as I read, but it's more delicious to sort of wonder than to KNOW" she wrote. Makes perfect sense. So now I have a problem... the abstract for this book, and many others, does kinda give away a major plot point. Do I include it or not? Should I only include abstracts if they are non-specific? Let me know what you think.

Jen said...

I just finished reading Love Me Tender. Somewhere in it a four-year old Kerrie told her big sister Elvira that she knew Santa Claus didn't exist, but she didn't want Elvira to let on to their parents, Daddy and Mel, that she knew. Why not, you ask? Because Kerrie thought Daddy and Mel gave better presents when they thought she still believed.

I think my payoff (present) is better when I don't know-- or at least when I can pretend to myself that I might not. I don't ever read the last page first, and I try very hard not to read spoilers. I just like to let it unfold and see where everything rolls out. I like to draw my own conclusions and summations.

To me, those abstracts are for people who are trying to decide whether or not they're going to read the book. I have already decided.

But that's just me. : )

Genie said...

I don't see the abstracts as spoilers to the books. I always read the books flaps when I am picking a book off the shelf to read. I personally don't like it if there aren't book flaps to read on a title I am concerning checking out. I want to know what the subject matter is in a book I am thinking about reading. There are some subjects I just can't get into. I think the abstracts are a good thing.

Jen said...

Well, OK, I can see you'd want to know something about the book. I don't deny that. But to me there's a difference between that and a spoiler.

I read the book flap on The Adoration of Jenna Fox, for example, and it was a teaser, not a spoiler. It made me want to read it to find out what might happen as opposed to reading to find out how something happened that had already been exposed.

I like book flaps too-- they help me put my nightstand into a priority order! But for me, "good" book flaps reveal just enough to compel me to read the book, but not enough to ruin the surprise when I actually do.

Teresa said...

If it bothers someone that the abstract is included, I say it isn't a big deal not to include it in the blog post. It isn't difficult for anyone who want to read the abstract to find it on the library catalog.

I'm curious to know to which book she was referring.

Jen said...

I really loved this book; though I felt thoroughly caffeinated as I read it. That Shelby's mind seems to jump all over the place-- not in a way that can't be followed, but in a really realistic way. I think I do that too. (On the inside, but probably on the outside, too.)

I love the way the mother's nontraditional education showed up throughout the entire novel; and that if she did nothing else for her children, she helped them love and trust in each other and themselves.

Mary said...

Oooh... I think I've figured out a solution to the spoiler question when including abstracts in the posts.

Check out the post for The Redheaded Princess. Will this solve the problem? Should ALL abstracts be hidden in this way or just the ones that include what *I* perceive to be spoilers????

Genie said...

Cynthia Kadohata is one of my favorite authors and I was excited when I got this title. I enjoyed the book. The characters were very well developed just like always. The sisters were so kind to each other. I wish I would see sisters in the real world be kind to each other like they were in the book. I especially liked Shelby's dad, what a sweet man. I have to be honest I don't think this is one of her better titles though. I felt like important details were missing. Personally I would rather see this title as a Printz book than a Newbery. Helen Kimura's life style is not one I would want my third grader to read about. I was also disappointed that Helen didn't seem to grow any by the end of the story (out and about with the doctor). I saw some good changes in the girls and the fathers as the story progressed. Also, how did the fathers just know the girls would be at Larry's cabin? When and how did the girls go to school and mom was always taking off for here and there?

Clare said...

The story had me from the very start. The story opened, like opening a scene, like act one, scene one, like a movie! This threw me off at first I guess but it also kept me reading. There was so much action in the first chapter and the story just kept unfolding. Whenever I put the book down, I felt like I was pressing pause. I don't know, maybe I have watched too many movies lately.
I did love the characters. I loved the family dynamics of this group, at least within the sisters. I loved the main character’s tendency to “see through the eyes of others” or consider their perspective, especially with her sisters and her father.
I too was disappointed in the seemingly unaffected Helen, but I guess I didn't expect to see any changes in her. I did wonder about school for the girls as it always seemed to be summertime in Chicago. I can’t say it was my favorite thus far but it was a good read and kept a really good pace.

Kris said...

I liked this a lot, I don't think its my favorite this year, but it has a lot going for it.

I really liked that this story was told from Shelby's point of view -- it made the story very personal. I liked watching her grow and change, and I loved reading her thoughts, sometimes I just laughed out loud. It was great to see that she was developing her own ideas about beauty based on her experiences.

My only criticism (and its a minor one) is that the sibling relationships between the sisters seemed a little too perfect. Would four sisters really get along that well?

Jen said...

I have no personal experience indicating that as few as two sisters can get along as well as those siblings did; but I was able to buy that strong familial relationship mainly because their unusual relationship with their mother seemed to forge those sisters in powerful ways.

Michele said...

SPOILER ALERT - I've gotta talk about the ending.... :)

OK, still here? Here's my thing: I don't buy that Bronson would have backed off that easily re: custody of Maddie. Of course, that is the ending that my heart wanted, but at the same time, it rang false to me...he suddenly realizes that Maddie needs her sisters and gives up control to Jiro and Mack? I don't think so. I was mentally preparing for what I considered a realistic, though sad, ending, and though the ending is the one I wanted for the girls, it just made the conclusion of the book fall flat for me.

Heather said...

I agree with Michele. A disappointing in to a great (although frightening) book.

Anonymous said...

end, not in...

Teresa said...

My mother-in-law and her sisters do get along as well as the sisters in this story. They lived through lots of tough times, and while having the same father, there is a big range in their ages. I had no problem with the sister's relationship. I think that is more the case when it is "us against the world."

I am confused by how Bronson and Helen got together in the first place. We also don't know how his wife really felt, so if Jiro was going to be taking care of the girls, maybe that was better than Helen in his and her opinion. With only Shelby's point of view, we can't know this and it leads to interesting questions. I don't think it diminishes the quality of the story.

I can't say that I liked this story as much as I enjoyed My One Hundred Adventures or Waiting for Normal. But the three distinct views of parents (in maybe more than normal situations than is typically depicted in children's lit) is something I look forward to discussing further. I can appreciate the quality of story-telling though.

Jessica said...

I have never read any of Kadohata's books, but after reading "outside Beauty" I'm hoping to read Kira-Kira and some of her other books. Outside Beauty is a fantastic book for girls. I don't feel that it is worthy of the newberry award, but it is fantastic for girls to realize the worth of their confidence.
I enjoy the relationship that Shelby makes with her father. Even more so, I love the connection that it portrays between the four sisters. These girls have each other and that's what they know. At young ages the trully understand the meaning of family and what it should look like. They cannot be told what it should look like.
These girls know things I have no idea about. How to minimize wrinkles and look your best. WOW!

AmberR said...

This was the first book I have read by this author. I really liked the way the voice was so frank and so similar to a young girl's. It made me feel that I was really sitting there talking to Shelby instead of reading about her and her sisters. The way that her relationship with her father develops and in turn how it changes her personally is easy to relate to. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.