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Ride a Pale Horse
Helen MacInnes
The Samurai's Wife
Laura Joh Rowland

Miss Smith Under the Ocean

Miss Smith Under the Ocean - Michael Garland (Illustrator) 2.5 stars. This book is a little tough to rate. The kids seemed to enjoy it to a degree, but only because I was able to explain a little about the stories Miss Smith read to her class. My niece and nephew are nine and five respectively. They don't know what [b:Moby-Dick|153747|Moby-Dick|Herman Melville|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327940656s/153747.jpg|2409320] is, or what [b:Robinson Crusoe|2932|Robinson Crusoe|Daniel Defoe|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348668150s/2932.jpg|604666], [b:Gulliver's Travels|7733|Gulliver's Travels|Jonathan Swift|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344534942s/7733.jpg|2394716], [b:Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea|33507|Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea|Jules Verne|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1345271681s/33507.jpg|1112418] or [b:Treasure Island|295|Treasure Island|Robert Louis Stevenson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312023209s/295.jpg|3077988] are. When they heard the name Nemo (as in Captain), they both thought of Nemo (as in Finding). The literary references were just outside of the kids' scope of experience.

Not that that's a bad thing. My nephew was intrigued by this Robinson Crusoe character, and he was interested in Long John Silver. That's good, right? Maybe someday he'll hear those characters' names again, and will pick up Robinson Crusoe and/or Treasure Island and read them. My niece wanted to know all about Moby-Dick and the giant squid from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, so maybe someday she'll find the ambition to read those books.

For me though, it's not just that the literary references were far above the kids' heads. It was that this story wasn't really very cohesive. It sort of read like, "and the owl and pussycat appeared in a pea green boat, and then this huge white whale breached right next to us, and then we found the Little Mermaid, and then, and then, and then..." Where's the story, here? I guess the story is to be found in the books that these characters truly inhabit, but at least now the kids know that these stories exist.