Friday, July 19, 2013

Teen Review: Historical Fiction and Art

Girl With A Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier
233 Pages
Historical fiction
High School reading level
Not part of a series
Review by Denisa W., 11th grade

S U M M A R Y :
Girl With A Pearl Earring opens in Holland in 1664 with a 16-year-old girl, Griet, who becomes a maid for the acclaimed artist Vermeer. She is quiet and does what she is told, although she feels like an outcast, is hated by Vermeer’s wife (who is jealous of her youth), and struggles to get along with the children in the family. She develops a strange and friendly yet awkward relationship with Vermeer, whose studio she must precariously clean daily, and must complete tasks that she feels might put her in danger of his wife’s jealousy, such as posing for a painting. In the end, Griet becomes the model for Vermeer’s most famous work, Girl With A Pearl Earring, and starts her own life as an independent woman.

R E V I E W :
The book was very interesting to read, as it did not feel at all like a history textbook or a recitation of information. I spent two or three days reading it whenever I had the chance, as it was one of those books that you didn’t really want to put down. The cover of the book was somewhat interesting with the actual "Girl With A Pearl Earring" painting by Vermeer on it. However, some might not find the cover all that interesting, which is why I would like to let those readers know that the book is much better than what you would expect it to be. I would rate the story 4 out of 5 stars because I could not imagine a better story to go along with the time period and purpose for which it was written, but I have read better books in general. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a slight interest in historical fiction, and even those who just like an interesting story set in the past.

Editor's note: If you liked this book, you might also enjoy Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by Susan Vreeland. Read Clare's review. The library also offers the movie, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Finale!

Okay, folks, this is a week of LAST CHANCES:

One last READING LOG DRAWING on Friday at noon, so get in here with those reading logs and get your tickets!

One last BOOK REVIEW DRAWING on Friday at noon, so post those book reviews!


We will be creative, we will eat ice cream, and we will REVEAL the three most expressive SELF PORTRAIT prize winners! 3:30 at BUENA VISTA!  (There will also be a regular prize drawing for all who attend the program--last chance for those too!) YOU BRING A T-SHIRT and we will supply everything else. Darker colors work better than lighter. Also, wear something that you don't mind getting messy, just in case some bleach goes astray!

See you there!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Teen Review: Realistic and Historical

A review by M.G. Lewis

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is a fictional adult novel (with no sequels or prequels) about racism in the 1960s. The 522-page book has a mature theme, but the writing has enough wit and character for most readers to follow. Because of this, as a ninth-grader, I would put The Help at an 8-12 grade reading level.

In The Help, the perspective changes character from chapter to chapter; the reader gets to see the story as it flows along from the eyes of a "colored" maid, Aibileen, a young white woman, Skeeter, and another maid, Minny, who happens to be Aibileen’s best friend. This book tells the compelling story of Skeeter, who wants to be a writer, and the process of her interviewing several maids to get their sides of the story, so to speak, about what it is like to be a black woman working for a white family. Along the way, the reader will hear the story of the oddball, bombshell white woman Minny works for, the loving relationship between Aibileen and the child of the family she works for, and the awkward, bumbling, but heated social and love life of Skeeter.

I personally loved the book, and fell in love with all three protagonists. You will laugh hysterically at Minny’s attitude, be able to relate to Miss Skeeter’s social awkwardness, and be warmed by Aibileen’s loving, motherly nature. Not to mention, The Help is an eye-opening, extremely accurate portrayal of how bad racism and discrimination were in the South in the 1960s. You will laugh and cry and wish there was more to read when you turn the last page. I would definitely recommend The Help to anyone; people who love books, people who love history, and people who just want to be entertained will fall in love with this book the way I did. Definitely on my list of Top Ten Books of All Time, I would give The Help a 5/5 rating.

Editor's note: We have the book, the audiobook, and the movie (which did a great job of portraying the book, for once!) available at Burbank Public Library.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More summer book reviews...

Here's another installment of book reviews from the Teen Summer Reading Program...a little bit of everything!

From Keithleen M., a classic:

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is a magical book about the discovery made by three kids who are not as different as they first seem. The story starts out when Mary Lennox (an EXTREMELY spoiled child) is sent to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, after an unfortunate incident that happened in her previous home in India. At her uncle's home, Mary finds that there is much more to her new environment than just grumpy old men and porridge... there is a hidden garden. A hidden garden with a tragic story to tell.

The difference between this and any other book I've read so far is that the way it is written makes me feel like I was five again in a positive way. The story is told as if it was a fairy tale and the characters all developed in their own special way. It really was a great book! I recommend it to anyone who loves reading about mysterious fantasies and long ago romances!

From Katrina D., fantasy:

Beyond the Deepwoods,
by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
A lonely boy named Twig, who has lived with wood trolls for as long as he can remember, one day strays from the path and is lost in the Deepwoods. As he walks, he makes friends and foes and finds out about his true parents and his true self. But he still feels like someone or something is watching him.This book shows lots of diversity with all of the creatures, and is a wonderful story.

Katrina also read some sequels to this book, which is part of The Edge Chronicles.

From Srujan D., mystery:

The 39 Clues: Trust No One, by Linda Sue Park
Amy and Dan Cahill and their friends, Atticus and Jake Rosenbloom, must find a page of a historical manuscript for the Vespers, an unknown organization who kidnapped seven Cahills, or else the Vespers will kill one of the hostages. When they deliver the page to the Vespers, they find out the Vespers’ horrible secret plan. I think the book was very gripping. It was also very funny. The book also has mysteries and riddles that need to be solved by the main characters. I liked it very much.

This is a popular series, with lots of books. (This is not the first one.)

From Patrick C., science fiction:

Beta, by Rachel Cohn, was a really great read, in my opinion. It explored a world where certain people called Beta are experimental models of a teenage clone. But quickly you get absorbed in this world and Beta does a wonderful job of captivating you.

The characters in Beta were pretty good, but there is definitely more potential for improvement in the second book. Elysia was this quiet, conservative type of person in the beginning and then gravitated towards someone who wanted to feel what she wants. The romance was okay. It wasn't "insta-love," something we see loads of in YA, but had a potential for more suspense and questions. Plus clones? We don't see that much either.

The world building was really good--sometimes fast, sometimes slow. But what was great was that the concept of the clone, the Beta, and experiments was super cool and addicting to read! The ending was wildly crazy and really good, and loads of "what?" held me to finish it.

Pick it up if you love The Hunger Games or Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi!

From Katherine W., a classic:

The Prince and the Pauper,
by Mark Twain
This book is about a poor, ragged boy named Tom Canty and a well-beloved prince, Edward Tudor. They were born on the same day, shared the same facial features, but were in two very different worlds. Tom was on a small pallet and his mother had searched for some rough material to use as a blanket, while Edward lay in a soft silken bassinette lined in lace with maids watching his every move, adoring him. When luck brings them together, they switch lives. Edward sees what it is like to be mistreated and unloved, and Tom gets to see what it is like to be loved and well taken care of. And Tom almost gets crowned King of England!

I like this book because each boy gets a taste of the opposite world around them.

From Caleb V., nonfiction:

The LEGO Adventure Book, by Megan Rothrock
If you like LEGO bricks, then you will totally dig this book. It is filled with nearly 200 models and 25 brick-by-brick breakdowns from the world's best LEGO builders. This book is a good addition to anyone's LEGO collection. But some of the break downs are tougher than what you would find in your average LEGO instruction book.I would give this book a 4/5.

From Camille W., suspense:

The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
This book is about a girl named Janie who thinks she may have been kidnapped as a young child. Her parents may not actually be her real parents! She tries to find evidence that the girl on the milk carton was her at a young age. The book is good, and ends with a cliffhanger. I hope the library has the sequel.

We do, Camille! Whatever Happened to Janie, The Voice on the Radio,What Janie Found and Janie Face to Face are all sequels to this book! You can find most of them in the teen paperbacks section at the Central Library. The newest one is in the Teen New Books.