Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Club Report--last of the school year!

The comments at the last meeting of our 10-12 Book Club were a surprise: We read two books, splitting the club down the middle between The Blue Sword, the high fantasy novel by Robin McKinley, and Meet Me at the River, the realistic novel with paranormal elements by Nina de Gramont. Eighteen of our 22 members were in attendance to talk about them. (Band and choir kept the other four away.)

Anarda and I had previously read them both; and we were a bit worried that the McKinley novel would be too high fantasy, while we thought the people who read the other book would really like it (we did!). Imagine our surprise when The Blue Sword got uniformly high ratings from every person but one, while Meet Me at the River was decidedly a "meh" selection! You just never know.

We are so proud of our eight seniors, who are heading off this fall to various locations: Derek to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Henry to Cal State Northridge, Susie to UC Berkeley, Erica to Northwestern University, Jordan to Mills College, Cameron to Glendale City College, Alyssa to Makeup Designory (MUD) here in Burbank, and Mason to Cottey College for Women in Missouri! What a diverse bunch! We are really going to miss you all!

There were 15 out of 19 members present at the last 6+7 Book Club, to discuss The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski. This book may have had the widest spread of votes ever: There were five people who gave it a perfect 10, while there were two people who gave it a "really boring" three! That pulled the rating down to about a 7.75. Three people had liked it well enough to go on to read the two sequels already. Everyone liked the mechanical creatures, some liked the alternate-world historical characters and setting, but the detractors felt there wasn't enough action and there were too many characters and too much that was implausible in the plot.

We had a little extra time after our book discussion, so Anarda and I picked the club members' brains about things they would like to see at the library. There was consensus that a "Good Books" poster in the teen section would be a popular feature, including top recommendations in various genres and possibly with annotations. Some also liked the idea of "YA Recommendations," like you see in independent bookstores, where a staff member will write a little card and stick it in a book that's on display to tell why they would recommend it. We're hoping some of our book club members will write these for us to display in our sections! We also made a big long list (I won't publish it here) of books the club members would like to read over the summer or next year, which we will keep on hand for the August meeting.

We have 10 members promoting into the 8+9 Book Club next year, leaving nine in this club. But we will fill it out with people moving up from the 4th and 5th Grade Book Club, I'm sure.

The last 8+9 Club meeting was small, due to band and choir concerts at a couple of schools, with only six in attendance, but we had a lively discussion of Sarah Cross's book Kill Me Softly. Three people liked it a lot, while the others felt that the combination of insta-love and excess teen angst detracted from what could have been a clever fairy tale retelling. The book ended up receiving a rating of 7.5, with a 10, a 9, an 8, four 7s, and a 5. (If you're doing the math, Anarda and I voted too.)

There is only one person promoting from this club into 10-12, which leaves nine behind, but since they will be joined by 10 from the 6+7 Club, that will make this club larger next year.

No new books were selected for any of the clubs--we will have a joint meeting of all three book clubs in August, introduce new members (those coming in from 5th, and those promoting up to each club), and pick our books for September.

We hope everyone in book club will bring their expertise in book-talking to Book Café at Teen Meetup in the Burb, our teen summer reading program, to show others how it's done. Sign-ups begin June 1 (go to and look for the link), and the club runs June 14 through July 24. We'll be talking more about it here on the blog any day now! And check out the new pages (tabs at the top of this page) especially for summer reading!

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