Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Club Report: Grades 10-12

There were 17 in attendance at this month's 10-12 Book Club meeting on Tuesday. We discussed Tell the Wolves I'm Home, the Alex award-winner by Carol Rifka Brunt. The book received high marks from most of the members present, who praised its realism and its writing.

Julia felt that the author perfectly captured the character of a 14-year-old girl, in her estimation not an easy age to write. Mason and Alyssa had a few problems with it (like the incomplete exposition of the title, and the restoration of the painting), but generally liked the story and the writing. Everyone who enjoyed the book agreed that Toby was the best character; those who didn't like it mostly complained that it had an exceedingly slow start, and they didn't make it past that to the interesting part. The final rating was 8 out of 10.

Next month Anarda and I decided to experiment with an eye towards our summer Book Café: Since we have a lot of fantasy readers with a few hold-outs who like realistic fiction, instead of buying one book for the entire club to read, we split the club down the middle, buying The Blue Sword, a high fantasy novel by Robin McKinley, for half the group, and Meet Me at the River, a realistic coming-of-age novel tinged with the paranormal by Nina de Gramont, for the other half. At next month's club, we will discuss both books, with each half listening to the other, and then those who wish to will trade books!



We postponed book selection for our over-the-summer book until next month, to give everyone time to think about what they'd like to propose. So think and bring in May! Remember that the May 5 meeting is our last of this year, so please do try to arrange your schedules (work, swim practice, choir rehearsal, whatever) so you can attend--we're saying goodbye to quite a few seniors! (There are rumors of pizza in their honor...)



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Guest review: Sci Fi series continues

In The Archived, a young adult fantasy by Victoria Schwab, readers were introduced to the Archive, a huge repository in which the life experiences of the dead, who are referred to as “Histories,” are stored, maintained, accessed and “read” by staff called Librarians. If a history wakes and leaves the Archive, Keepers are dispatched to retrieve them before they can leave the Narrows (a twilight perimeter surrounding the Archive) and slip into the Outer (our world).

Mackenzie Bishop is the youngest person ever to be made a Keeper, trained and recommended by her paternal grandfather. When Mackenzie and her parents move into the Coronado Hotel to create a fresh start for the family after the accidental death of Mackenzie’s younger brother, Ben, odd things start happening, and activity in the Narrows skyrockets. Mackenzie is able to solve the mystery of the connection between the Archive and the Coronado, with the help of her new friend and fellow Keeper Wesley Ayres. But the events leading up to and surrounding that resolution are traumatic. Wesley is badly wounded. Mackenzie is almost killed.

In The Unbound, the next book in the Archived series, only a few weeks have passed since these events. While Mackenzie puts on a brave face and says that she is fine, it is becoming increasingly clear that she is not. She can’t sleep, and when she does, she is plagued by nightmares about the History who attacked her and Wes. And her dreams are so incredibly real that they have started to bleed into her waking hours.

In addition, people have started disappearing. They seem to simply vanish, and the police can find no connections between the cases, but Mackenzie can: She was recently with all of them. She wonders how and why these people have disappeared, and strongly believes that the Archive may know more about what is happening and why, but she is reluctant to ask. Agatha, the Assessor who oversaw the resolution of Mackenzie's and Wes's recent trauma, did not agree with Mackenzie’s methods, and has the power to declare Mackenzie unfit to continue as a Keeper. As a result, Mackenzie is feeling more isolated--and less supported--than she ever has in her dealings with the Archive.

On top of everything else, school is starting. Mackenzie must face the beginning of her junior year in a new school where she knows no one. Any of these sets of circumstances would be challenging on their own, but together they are going to push Mackenzie to her limits. Will she be able to cope?

What I liked about this book is, rather than make Mackenzie superhuman, Victoria Schwab (who wrote The Near Witch and is also the author of book club favorite Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic under the name V.E. Schwab) writes her as a vulnerable young woman struggling to keep up with all of her responsibilities. Schwab also explores how, both as a group and as individuals, the Bishop family is still coping with their grief over the loss of Ben. Mackenzie may be taking unnecessary risks, while her parents are leaning in the opposite direction--being overprotective of their remaining child in the wake of Ben’s death. Schwab’s writing is strong, and she fleshes out existing characters as well as creating some new ones for The Unbound. The last chapter of indicates strongly that there will be at least one more book in the series, but no publication date has yet been announced.

Reviewed by Daryl M., reference librarian


Editor's note: You can find the first book in the series at all three libraries, and the sequel at Central and Buena Vista.

Monday, April 6, 2015

For Sixth Graders

"Hey, what did you do at the library today?"
"Oh, I flung some marshmallows."
"Um...what???"


HEY, SIXTH GRADERS!

The Children's Dept. is including YOU in a cool program!

It's APRIL CRAFTY KIDS, on Friday, April 10, at 4:00 p.m., in the auditorium at Central Library. You will make mini catapults, mini marshmallow launchers, and paper airplanes, and there are rumors of a distance contest for flinging marshmallows!

Email jdarwent@burbankca.gov to SIGN UP! For grades 2-6 only!