Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth

Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth
By E. L. Konigsburg
Anthenuem Books, 1967
Review from Audiobook
Audience: Grades 4 to 6
ISBN:  9780807280003
Publication Date: September 1, 1998 by Listening Library

Elizabeth moves around a lot, so she's a little shy and a little uneasy about making friends, especially when some girls her age are two-faced like Cynthia.  Then on Halloween Elizabeth meets Jennifer, a witch, a real witch, not just a Halloween witch.  Jennifer takes Elizabeth on as an apprentice witch and the two girls start and unusual friendship centered around their practice as witches.  While they attempt to make a flying potion, they accidentally become attached to one of the ingredients, a toad and when Elizabeth saves the toad, thus ruining the flying potion, it seems as though the friendship is over.  But there's more to being a friend than witchcraft.

I'm not sure how to organize my thoughts on this book, so I'm just going to give it some bullet points.

  • I needed another audiobook for a long-solo commute.  This book was the perfect length, and despite the creepy cover, it was by E. L. Konigsburg.  Everyone loves E. L. Koningsburg so why not?
  • Maybe because this was an audiobook, I found that I couldn't, or didn't care to, keep up with the story.  The tone was very dry, which rather makes sense because Jennifer is a strange kind of girl, but it was pretty monotone reading, together with a boring drive on a cloudy day, my attention wandered.
  • This book has not aged well.  For 1967, this book rang true, but for 2015, it's very dated.  I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it had the right feel for 1967, not today.  
  • How is this book not being banned everywhere?  I am not in favor of banning books, or warning labels, or age guidelines, but really.  It's a book about two girls pretending to be witches, and they are very thorough in their pretending.  I can't imagine that the overprotective parents that want to shield their babies from the evils of Harry Potter would look any more favorably on Jennifer.  Maybe it gets ignored because it's old, and likely out of print.  Maybe it was challenged frequently decades ago, but I just kept thinking over and over, how have I never seen this on a challenge list?
  • That cover is terrible!  Jennifer looks far too sinister in it, in my opinion.
The curse of the audiobook strikes again, although I doubt I would have liked this book much if I'd read it.  Not every book can be From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  I think my other problem with audiobooks is that I'm only checking out e-audiobooks that I can download from my library, which means I have a very limited selection.  And I'd rather read a book than listen to it, so I also pass on books I want to read.  So that means I end up listening to books on the very fringe of my reading zone, and thus I'm less likely to enjoy them. 

My hubby and I are taking a road trip to Arizona this summer.  It would be great if I could find an audiobook that we might both enjoy, that is also rather appropriate for tiny ears because Alice will be 10 months by then.  What would you recommend for a family road trip?  But keep in mind that my hubby is not the children's lit fan that I am.  If it's too sweet, he might strand me in Oklahoma, and that would be terrible!

Happy Listening!

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