Saturday, February 1, 2014

This week!

February is starting off with a week jam-packed with stuff for teens to do!

TUESDAY... the February meeting of the 10-12 Book Club, at which we will be discussing I'll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan. We already read this book in the 8+9 Book Club, and it proved popular there, so we'll see what the upper grades think! Holly will be visiting us the first week in March, so it's great that we'll all be up to speed on her first book. And if you liked her first book, try her second: Counting by 7s. I loved it! (See review a couple of entries below this.)


...we are very excited to welcome author LEIGH BARDUGO, who penned the YA fantasy novels Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm! She will be at Buena Vista branch at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium, to talk to us, take questions, and autograph her books. Those of you in the two book clubs who read Shadow and Bone, be sure to bring it along if you want an autograph! We will have both books available for sale.

(PLEASE NOTE: The library newsletter misprinted this as TUESDAY Feb. 5th. The program is on the 5th, but that is WEDNESDAY.)


...we are celebrating Black History Month by offering an illustrated talk by Hubert Kozak, reference librarian, called "WE ARE NOT AFRAID: Freedom Summer and the Mississippi Murders," a journey through the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 1960s. Ask your teacher if you can receive extra credit for attending this program--it will be both interesting and information-packed!

 ...Anarda and I will be at Burroughs High School to book-talk during all sessions of Ms. Delaney's English classes!

...making an encore appearance after last year's debut, you can make a BLIND DATE WITH A BOOK! Are you relationship-shy or between boyfriends? When people mention Valentine's Day, is your response to hide in your house with a good book and a box of chocolates? WE CAN HELP! Starting next week, you can check out a book, sight unseen, and experience the most risk-free blind date you've ever been on!

Whew! That's a lot going on--be sure to mark your calendar!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Guess what's coming...

Hey all you TFIOS fanatics--have you seen the TRAILER yet?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Teen Review: Historical fiction

Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Number of pages: 216
Genre: Historical fiction
Part of a series: No
Reading level: Age 12 and up
Reviewed by: Camryn, grade 9

Two young boys of very different backgrounds and living circumstances are thrown together by history and fate. They are separated by a fence, but become friends out of loneliness and curiosity. The story takes place during World War II. Bruno is a young boy whose dad is the commander of the concentration camp, Auschwitz. The other boy is named Schmuel, and he is a Jewish prisoner inside Auschwitz. They are both exposed tremendously to the evil present in their world that has terrible future consequences for them and their families.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is so amazing and heart-breaking all at once! The book highlights the importance of studying and knowing history. History can repeat itself, many times with terrible consequences. It is important to be aware of past historical events, because it helps society guard itself against future tragedies. The book cover is absolutely striking in its simplicity. The light and the darker gray stripes accentuate the dark, black writing. The book cover foreshadows the gloomy aspect of what the book is about. Also, the stripes on the cover are similar to the striped pajamas that Schmuel and the other prisoners have to wear in the concentration camp.

My favorite character in the book is Bruno. Bruno is a normal, little kid--except that his dad is the commander of Auschwitz. Still, it is very easy to connect with him and his character. This may be due to the fact that he is narrating the book, or maybe because of his child-like innocence when everything and everyone around him is filled with emptiness and cold hearts. This book teaches a lot historically, but the main principle I learned and grasped onto was that when evil people attain great power, bad things happen and innocent, powerless people will suffer.

It is a wonderful read for anyone who loves history and historical plots and settings. It is a captivating story that moves fairly fast and holds your attention to the very end. It is definitely one of the better, more meaningful books I have read in a long time! My rating: 5.

Note: The library also owns the movie, the sound recording, and the e-book!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What we're reading: Fairy Tales Retold

“Once upon a time...”

Ah, I love hearing those words! When I do, I know I’m about to be transported to a place with which I’m familiar, but hopefully not too familiar. When Alethea Kontis’s first book in the Woodcutter series, Enchanted, arrived at the library in 2012, I checked it out within the first week of its arrival and happily devoured the retelling of not one, not two, but many, many fairy and folk tales, entwined in a delightful family saga of seven magical sisters, each one searching for her place in the wide world. The youngest, Sunday Woodcutter, as bonnie and blithe as her name implies in the nursery rhyme (below), was our heroine in that book, but the author introduced the reader to all seven sisters (and their three brothers, and their parents, et cetera, et cetera). And a good thing Ms. Kontis did, or I would have been lost in this second book of the series, Hero. So Reader, beware: Read the first book first!
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
This one, too, I nabbed as soon as I saw it, but I did not quite devour Hero as voraciously. Saturday Woodcutter, who “works hard for a living” felling trees alongside her brother and father, is the quintessential tomboy who hates dresses and parties and courting. She shuns her sisters’ paths to romance and marriage, and holds up her magical ax-turned-sword to show her family that her destiny is to become the stuff of legends, like her older brother, Jack Woodcutter. But a misplaced gesture towards her adopted brother, Trix, sends her on a quite different path--and on the ocean she has unexpectedly conjured, no less. Her magical “items” begin to reveal her to herself, and she finds she is not so dependent on magical things as she thought. Saturday finds herself in what is properly a hero’s journey, sailing on her sister Thursday’s pirate ship and then captured by an evil witch who holds some very interesting captives in her scheming clutches, high on the Top of the World.

Naturally, for it is a retold fairy tale, there is an interesting twist to these captives, and if you want a clue, I suggest you look at the cover of the book and recall that Saturday hates dressing up. So who is that young person dressed--and I stress, DRESSED--so elegantly, anyway? Hah! And therein lies another funny, almost enchanting tale. [I doubt that the cover artist intended this interpretation; the character is holding the magic axe, um, sword, after all. But really, folks, Saturday is a pants-wearing grrrl, not a prom queen as depicted here.]

I write “almost enchanting” because I had high expectations for this book that weren’t quite met. It is a fine adventure, with some charming, unexpected twists, two great new characters, and some heart-rending moments, but I felt there was too much time spent watching our captives trudge back and forth inside the dastardly witch’s cave with nothing much to show for it except witty banter, some necessary trials, chimera and brownies, sleeping dragons and bewitched crows, some interesting baths, and...well, I don’t want to give anything away. However, after the enormous amount of activity in the first book, it was hard to stay in the company of the dourest of the sisters inside a dark mountain for (what seemed to this reader) long stretches of time. Nonetheless, I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good hero’s tale, spiced with a different kind of romance. And I do look forward to reading the third book.

Reviewed by Anarda

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What we're reading: Contemporary realism

I just finished Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trish Doller. Since I missed her debut novel, I didn't have any expectations at all for this one, which I picked up at random (I liked the title) from the teen "new books" shelves. Judging by the reviews on Goodreads, people who really loved her first book didn't care for this one as much, but some people who read this one first didn't like the first one when they then backtracked to read it, so I'm guessing they are really different. Based on this one, I would probably try reading her other one just to see.

This is the story of Callie, whose young mother decided to run away from her marriage when Callie was four, and took her along. From that moment, Callie's life was a perilous existence, moving from town to town as her mother moved from job to job, from man to man, from daydream to daydream, as she ran from real and imagined threats, dragging Callie along. Her mother's love for her was fierce in just one way--she saw the two of them as a unit, never to be separated--but otherwise her disregard was devastating to Callie's upbringing. When her mother is finally arrested and Callie is sent back to her father, her story begins.

I liked this quite a bit. The attention to the detail in an individual's life, and the general story arc reminded me quite a bit of Sarah Dessen's or Deb Caletti's stories…but this book is much edgier, and there's quite a bit of explicit detail about sex, so this is for upper-grade high school and above in age. It also reminded me a bit of Holly Goldberg Sloan's book, I'll Be There, because of the similar circumstances of a parent who lives his or her life with almost total disregard for the well-being of the children.

I thought Doller accurately portrayed the reintegration of a stolen child back into the life she was supposed to have, and the unforeseen difficulties that would be encountered, both by her and by the happy but bewildered family around her. The love story was sweet and passionate both (hot boyfriend alert), and it was lovely to see this girl whose every experience of attention from the opposite sex had been negative and exploitative learn that things could be different. I also liked the way Doller wrote the mother with her psychological problems and the father who never wavered in hoping to get his girl back and, now that he has and she's a bit different than he imagined, doesn't hesitate to embrace her wholeheartedly anyway.

I'd give it at least a 4 out of 5.