Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Jacob Reckless discovers a secret world behind the mirror in his father's office.  It's a world where fairy tales are real, from Sleeping Beauty to witches who eat children.  In this world, Jacob can escape from his depressed mother, missing father, and needy little brother.  This world is Jacob's alone, where none of his problems can follow him.  But then, after many years, Jacob's little brother follows him.  One mistake, and now it's up to Jacob to save his brother's life, and he doesn't have much time until his brother becomes a monster.

OK.  So, I didn't love Inkheart (please don't hurt me!).  I didn't not like it, I just...I kept saying to myself, "How am I on page 300 on nothing has happened yet?"  And yet, it was OK.  I just found it...slow.  Yes, I found it slow.  So I was interested to read this, what with it having some good buzz and I wanted to give Cornelia Funke another go.

It was not slow.  Not at all.  Great pacing.  Exciting, entertaining, and unusual in the fact that things do not work out very well for our hero.  He tries again and again to save his brother, and he fails again and again.  Nothing goes right.

I enjoyed the subtle blending of classical fairy tales in with completely new elements and creatures.  It would have been boring if we were just in a Snow White world, but there was just enough so you could easily grasp the feeling of where we were, while still being new and interesting.  It was a very violent world, which ties in nicely with classical fairy tales, because fairy tales, really, are not very nice.  The world is in the middle of a long-standing and very bloody war.

I found what Funke did with the war very interesting.  I didn't find myself identifying a "good" side and a "bad" side in the war.  The Goyle had been hunted and killed by the humans, because the humans disliked and feared their stone-like skin.  Now the Goyle retaliate.  Well, the humans shouldn't be killing others now should they?  But the Goyle retaliate by killing humans in mass.  Well...that's not very good either.  And back and forth it goes like that, getting some the Goyle perspective and some of the human perspective and realizing that there isn't a right or wrong side.  They're all wrong and they're just trying to trick and kill each other and get the upper hand and it will go on forever.

So I liked this very much.  Lots of intriguing, flawed characters.  No one was good or bad.  Adventure and love.  This is a book that will appeal to all kinds of readers.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Liza and Annie met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  They are fascinated by each other and soon become friends, although their worlds are very different.  Liza lives in Brooklyn Heights and goes to Foster, a private school, while Annie lives in a rundown apartment building and attends a school where they need security guards at the doors. As Liza and Annie spend more time together, their feelings for one another go beyond friendship.

As the two girls begin to accept and explore their relationship, which for Liza is not always easy, they find that many people are not willing to accept them.  Liza is not sure if her and Annie's love is strong enough to overcome everything else.

This was really beautiful.  I felt that it was one of the more true portrayals of a relationship that I've read.  Of any kind of relationship, heterosexual or homosexual.  One of the things that annoys me about many of the YA romances I read is that I just can't understand why the characters are in love.  They're always just drawn to each other.  It's destiny.  They're powerless to fight against their love.  This was just so beautifully real.  And yes, they do feel drawn to each other, that's the physical attraction part.  But it perfectly captured the excitement that you feel when the person you have a crush on calls you, and then you realize you have absolutely nothing to say.  The nervousness when you get to see them, the slow developing of trust.  Telling each other things about your life, getting to know them, realizing you are falling in love.  It was so real

Annie on My Mind was written in 1982, and while a kid wouldn't be able to be expelled for being gay, or teachers be fired from their jobs because they live together, the intolerance the girls face still holds true in our current world.  Still people to tell them they're immoral.  Still people to say it's just a phase, that it their love isn't real, that if they would only try, they could decide to not be gay anymore.  It was also one of the most frequently challenged books of the 90s.


I really like the cover of this book.  Even though it's clearly a very 80s cover, it just captures the feeling so well.  There is a new cover, which I do not like.
It just seems so...glossy.  So generic.  Nothing special about it.  Do you know what I mean?  Someone who has read it back me up here.

I'm doing a jump so I can talk about the end.  Don't jump if you haven't read it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Zombies and airships and history; this book had everything!

There was gold to be mined, supposedly locked under the ice of the Klondike during the early days of the Civil War.  Russia commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a machine that could cut through the ice.  Levi created such a machine, but during the first test is took out a chunk of Seattle, releasing an underground gas that kills anyone who breaths it and turns them into the walking dead.  The city is evacuated and walls are erected to contain the gas.

16 years later, Blair Wilkes lives outside Seattle with her 15 year-old son Ezekiel.  Blair is shunned because she was married to Leviticus Blue, the man everyone blames for their troubles. Zeke is convinced that his father was innocent, that Levi didn't intentionally destroy the city.  Zeke sneaks back into Seattle, overrun by "rotters" and Blight gas to try and prove his father was a good man.  And now Blair must go in after him.

While I was reading this, I totally had a dream that I was bitten by a zombie and was slowing turning into one.  It was very unpleasant.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yule Ball 2010

Last night, Anna and I attended the Yule Ball.  The Yule Ball, for those of you who haven't read Harry Potter (OMG, where have you been, go read them RIGHT NOW!), occurred in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and was a dance around Christmas as part of the festivities of the Triwizard Tournament.

The Yule Ball that took place in Cambridge, MA last night was a Wizard Wrock concert.  Yes, there is Wizard Wrock.  Wizard Wrock is music that is inspired by the works of J.K. Rowling.  It was begun in Massachusetts in 2002, by brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge, who formed the group Harry and the Potters.  It has quite a following now, with many, many groups of all different kinds.  Wizard Wrock is awesome as it promotes literacy.  The motto of The Remus Lupins is "Fight evil, read books."  Wizard Wrock is also a strong promoter of social justice.  Wrock groups stand behind The Harry Potter Alliance, created by Andrew Slack of Somerville, MA, which encourages lovers of Harry Potter to fight real evil in the world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

Deo escaped from the genocide in Burundi and Rwanda.  He arrives in New York, speaking no English, with hardly any money, having experienced horrible atrocities and believing his family is dead.  After languishing for several months in a slum, Deo meets several people who begin to help him take control of his life in America.  As he struggles to get a green card, he dreams of resuming his medical studies and returning to Burundi to build a free clinic for his people.

I'm finding this hard to write about.  And it was also hard to read.  I didn't really know about what happened in Burundi.  I had learned about the genocide in Rwanda, but I didn't know about Burundi.  How many other things are happening in the world that I don't know about?  That we won't hear about until many years afterward, and wonder how we could have missed them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

News

Excellent news!  Independent bookstores aren't dying out!  Thanks in part to e-books, go figure. From NPR.

And, speaking of e-readers, now that some are in color, they're making the move to picture books. From The New York Times.

It's a Book continues to cause people to clutch their pearls in distress.  From UPI.com.  And, interestingly enough, the YouTube version omits the controversial last line.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction shortlist announced.  From SLJ.

Upcoming books from authors you know.  From SLJ.

The Pretty Little Liars television show is doing well enough that Sara Shepard will be writing four new books.  From EW.com.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Alternate Histories and Steampunk Week

OMG guys, I'm a day late posting this, but the week of December 13th is Alternate Histories and Steampunk week, started by Leila over at Bookshelves of Doom.  Lots of fabulous blogs are taking part of this, so look for great alternate histories and steampunk book reviews from such blogs as:
And probably many others as well.  I think I will read Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, for my contribution.  It is sitting on my bookshelf and I haven't gotten to it yet so this is the perfect opportunity.

Learn a little more about steampunk and alternate histories:

Steampunk: Full Steam Ahead from SLJ
Steampunk 101 from Tor.com

Censorship from the Library of Congress?

I was reading on Librarian in Black that the Library of Congress blocked access to Wikileaks on all of its computers.  The Library of Congress' official statement is “The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information.  Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents.”  But the New York Times claims there was no order to block the web site on government computers.  Hmmm.  Library of Congress, this sounds a awful lot like censorship...doesn't it?  Thoughts?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

The Realm is ruled by Protocol.  Time stands still as no progress is allowed.  Everyone must adhere to an arcane code of conduct and rules.  The Queen wants Protocol to continue, but some, including Claudia want to see Protocol ended.  Finn has escaped from Incarceron, the inescapable prison.  Claudia believes he is the true heir to the throne, imprisoned in Incarceron and wiped of his memories by the Queen.  Finn is still not convinced he truly is Giles.  He is more worried about his oath brother, Keiro, and his friend Attia, still trapped in Incarceron.  However, since the Warden took both Keys and disappeared into Incarceron, there seems to be no way to get them out.  Time is running out for both Claudia and Finn and for the Warden, Keiro and Attia, trapped in Incarceron.  The prison itself wants to escape too, and to do so would most likely mean the end of both their worlds.

There was a lot of stuff going on in this book.  I was getting pretty confused at points actually.  What was going on with Claudia and Finn out in the Realm I was fine with, but the stuff that was happening in Incarceron I had a hard time following.  I think part of this has to do with the fact that I've never really grasped what the world of Incarceron is like.  This is in partly because it's constantly changing; Incarceron can pretty much do whatever it wants.  But as Kiero and Attia are running all over and all this crazy stuff is happening and suddenly they're in the middle of an ocean and suddenly they're on top of a cliff climbing through a hole...there were so many shifts.  It was hard to keep up at times.

Anna had mentioned how in Incarceron, Claudia kind of annoyed her.  I was fine with her in the first book, but man, did Claudia ever annoy me this time around!  She was so clueless!  She was so whinny!  She was totally incompetent.  Isn't she supposed to be really smart?  Why is she doing all this stupid stuff?  She was also totally doing all of this for her own personal gain.  She was using Finn just like everyone else was using Finn.  She tried to make herself feel better about this by saying it was for the kingdom or for Finn's own good and whatever, but no, totally all for herself.  Moreover, she needed her father and Jared to get anything done or make any decisions.  She was completely lost without them.

It was interesting, it was exciting.  I did want to know what happened next.  Sapphique ends with plenty of the story left to tell, so there will be another book coming no doubt, which I will want to read.  So while it's not going to be my favorite fantasy/dystopia book, I did enjoy it.

Sapphique comes out December 28th.

Friday, December 10, 2010

News

Scholastic's list of Ten Trends in Children's Books from 2010.  Like we didn't already know.

Brave New World will be kept in a Seattle school's curriculum.  From The Seattle Times.

Anita Silvey has a new blog!  The Children's Book-A-Day Almanac.  Now that's dedication.  Anita Silvey is magical.

Oh dear, Anna is about to be in a fight with Rockport.  They're barring It's a Book because it uses the word "jackass."  From Boston.com.

You go British writers!  British Children's authors protest library budget cuts. From SLJ.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Incarceron: The Movie


You guessed it! Incarceron is being made into a movie. There's not a whole lot of info yet, but I've discovered this: Taylor Lautner is going to be playing Finn. You might know Taylor from a little franchise called Twilight. No? Well then you need to get out more.

Gut reaction? NO!!! Sweet Moses NO! I'm not saying that he's a bad actor - young and inexperienced, yes - all out bad, no. But just not the correct physique, personality, or star power that Finn should be. Whoa, strong reaction to something not so terribly important. But a girl has to draw the line somewhere, and mine is Taylor Lautner. We are in an official fight.

Hearts for John Green

John Green talks about getting inspiration from community in a guest post at TeachingBooks.net.  John Green is fabulous.

Gary Busey is also sort of fabulous, in his way.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Trip to Narnia Please?


So you all need to check this out before the University of Washington takes it down. My favorite part? "Since Narnia is not connected to time here in the real world the program will last six months in Narnia but no time in the real world." Awesome, I salute the person(s) who did this.

Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder spoke at the school where I work the other day.  This was a pretty big deal.  It's Tracy Kidder!  Pulitzer Prize winning author!  I was looking forward to hearing him talk.

I have not read anything by Tracy Kidder, shame on me.  I actually have Strength in What Remains, his newest book, sitting on my bookshelf.  I totally meant to read it before I saw him speak.  Really I did.  But there was always a YA book I wanted to read first getting in my way.  I swear, as soon as I'm done with Sapphique, I will read it.  It's good to read an adult, nonfiction book every now and then.

The talk, I'm sorry to say, was a disappointment.  Tracy Kidder is not a good public speaker.  Not at all.  And I was surprised, which isn't really fair.  I guess I just assumed, that being Tracy Kidder, he must have to give speeches and talks and lectures and do interviews all the time.  And if he wasn't a good speaker, he'd take lessons and learn how to be one so he could present himself well.  This was not the case.  The speech sounded very canned.  He was reading off a paper the whole time, and despite this, it felt disorganized and confused.  He kept going off on tangents and then getting back to his shaky main point.  How could he be reading from a script but still be totally disorganized?  It just didn't make sense.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Year in Disturbing Celebrity Book Deals

Flavorwire has made an amusing list of celebrities who have written books that make us cry, "It's just not fair!  Why does Snookie get to have a book published but I can't even get someone to look at my literary masterpiece?"

There should be a Year in Disturbing Celebrity YA Book Deals.  It would start like this:
  • Lauren Conrad
  • Hilary Duff
  • Tyra Banks

Forever Young Adult recently had a post on celebrity authors they wish would write a YA book.

Friday, December 3, 2010

News

This Saturday is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.  If I had a child, I would totally participate.  From NorthJersey.com

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is going to be a movie, directed by Martin Scorses.  In 3D!  One must always say "in 3D!" accompanied by an exclamation point. From the Guardian.

In other book-to-movie news, Catherine Hardwicke, director of Twilight, will be directing The Maze Runner movie.  From The Wrap.

Learn a little more about Allen Say.  From the Oregonian.

Some interesting thoughts on being a bookseller.  From Publishers Weekly.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

Adelia, a doctor and mistress of the art of death (someone who performs autopsies) has been ordered by King Henry II of England to accompany his daughter Joanna to Sicily and act as her doctor. Adelia is devastated, as it means leaving her young daughter behind and such a journey could take months, maybe even longer. Adelia can't even say she is a doctor. A female doctor is unacceptable in England. Adelia must pretend that her trusted friend Mansur is the doctor, and she is only carrying out his instructions. However, Mansur often falls under suspicion as well, being an Arab.

The traveling party carries on innocently enough, until strange things begin to happen. First Adelia's horse is poisoned. Then a knight she was angry with is killed during a boar hunt. Then the washerwomen she fought with is found drowned. It seems that someone is trying to cast suspicion on Adelia. But who could it be?

Oh it was so good! So good! This is the fourth book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, and they have all been this good. I would suggest reading them in order, but you don't have to, they stand on their own just fine. There's enough exposition at the beginnings to catch a reader up if they haven't read the previous books, but not so much it gets annoying for those who have read them all.

Besides being exciting and thrilling and you don't know who the murderer is (I was totally, totally wrong. I thought I had it, and I was SO wrong.), the language is beautiful and you get such a clear picture of what the world is like. Adelia is frustrated at having to pretend she isn't a doctor, when she knows she a better doctor than all the men. She knows she can save people by doing things that the Church forbids, and it drives her crazy.

I like that at the end of the book, there's information about each of the historical characters, so you can get some perspective on their actual lives and understand what was changed to make it work with the story. I think Ariana Franklin and Ellis Peters, who wrote the Brother Cadfael books would get along very well.

You're writing another one, right Ariana? We have to know what happens to Rowley. You wouldn't leave it like that, right? There has to be more coming. We share a name (although we spell it differently), help a girl out!

Libraries in Literature Quiz

Oh man, I did SO BADLY on this! To be completely honest, I guessed on all of them except the last one. I felt pretty confident on that one. I'm sure you will do much better. But let me know if you do badly, so I can feel better about myself. Libraries in Literature.

Oh all right, you can tell me if you do really well too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News

What librarians make by Joyce Valenza in response to Dr. Marc Bernstein, Superintendent for the Valley Stream (NY) Central High School District who suggested "eliminating the antiquated requirement that all high schools have at least one full-time librarian and a minimum number of books."


Medallion Press launches Ya-Ya Imprint. YA books written by young adults.

10 best illustrated children's books as chosen by The Observer's Kate Kalleway.

Check out the most beautiful public libraries in the US.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher


Incarceron was created years ago to take the undesirables out of the world. These prisoners would be part of a grand experiment; they would live in a utopia that was monitored by the Sapienti and maintained by Incarceron. Perfect right? The poor, the protesters, and the criminals, would all be gone and yet could still be rehabilitated in an enclosed space that they couldn't get out of. But no one took into consideration that Incarceron would slowly become sentient, and she would no longer want to play by someone else's rules.

Finn is a seventeen year old prisoner inside of Incarceron, he plays his role as an underling in a cutthroat community and survives. Finn is different, he cannot remember his childhood and has strange visions and memories that come to him during fits. Sapient Gildas calls him a Star Seer and believes him to be the second coming of a mythical man that got Out. His Oathbrother Keiro believes that Finn is a tool to be used to get what he wants. The dog-slave Attia sees Finn as a hero who she owes her life to. As they travel through Incarceron, Finn questions who to believe as he puts all of their lives into the hands of a girl he talks to through a key.

Claudia has grown up learning how to maintain a house in-Era and play the political game better than most men twice her age. She is on the verge of becoming queen and all she wants is a way to get out. As her wedding day to an odious royal brat draws nearer, Claudia is drawn in to the mystery of Incarceron. She discovers Finn through a key she steals from her father's office. Soon she is playing a game that is over her head and all she can do is hold on to the belief that Finn is the one to save not only herself but the kingdom as well. Claudia believes Finn is meant to be king.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Alex got drunk for the first time at a concert. And that night she was date raped. Alex knows the administration at her prestigious boarding school has a history of looking away from any issues that might make their students seem less than perfect. So Alex goes to the Mockingbirds, a secret student organization that tries crimes and doles out punishment. As Alex slowly remembers more and more about that night, she wonders if she's doing the right thing.

I had mixed feeling about this book. On the one hand, I think date rape is an important topic to talk about. Rape does not have to be done by someone the victim doesn't know; it doesn't even have to be especially violent. The lack of consent is what makes it rape. Alex struggles with this, wondering if it's her fault. She got herself drunk, she was talking to Carter. Is it his fault? Or is it her fault? Does she have a right to be upset about it?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Orleans 2011!


Here we come Louisiana! It's official, the wandering librarians (plus one) are headed to New Orleans in June. Once again we're headed to the annual ALA conference, this time in steamy New Orleans. See you there, just 304,504 minutes until we touchdown. Awesome.

Alberic the Wise and Other Tales by Norton Juster, illustrated by Domenico Gnoli

A compilation of three short fairy tales: "Alberic the Wise", about a man named Alberic who spends his life searching for wisdom and trying out many vocations along the way, only to find as an old man he is perceived as wise because of his experiences; "She Cries No More", about a young boy named Claude, who doesn't care about anything until he steps inside a painting to help a beautiful lady; "Two Kings", where a king who lives in poverty and a king who lives in great abundance set out to find out if there's another kingdom better off or worse off than they are.

While this was a very short book (only 88 pages) and it wasn't very complex, and it has pictures and all, this isn't really a children's book. In the same that fairy tales weren't really meant for children, it just ended up that way. They are stories that teach a lesson, and they were nice stories, and I enjoyed them very much, but I also don't really see myself recommending this as a fun read for very many children. It is the kind of book a parent gets to read aloud to their kid and then talk about it.

For example, in "Two King," Good King RNP's kingdom is in ruins. The weather is always bad, no one has any money, and no one even knows who the king is. He's completely miserable, but his only adviser assures him that it's probably worse everywhere else. Meanwhile, King Magnus the Abundant's kingdom is beautiful, happy, and plentiful. However, King Magnus wonders if somewhere out there there's some who has more than he does. Both kings set out to see for themselves. King Magnus' people love him so much they don't want him to be sad when he gets somewhere where people don't greet him, so the entire kingdom packs up and secretly travels to King RNP's kingdom, fixes everything up, and then lines the street to greet him. King Magnus is happy, until he sees how new and beautiful everything is and thinks that someone does have things better than he does. King RNP arrives and King Magnus' deserted kingdom, where a storm as destroyed much of it. He looks around at the destroyed, abandon town, and thinks that some does have things worse than he does. King RNP goes home happy, and King Magnus goes home sad.

I was most interested in "Alberic the Wise," where Alberic goes from vocation to vocation, but not really being good at anything and then moves on. This reminded me very much of Lloyd Alexander's Tarran Wanderer. I bet there's some Old Norse or Old English story that both were based on. Maybe I'll email my Literature and the Fantastic teacher and ask her.

So anyway, I liked it a lot, I love Norton Juster, good stories, not exactly a kid's book though.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FABLES: Legends in Exile by Willingham, Medina, Leialoha, and Hamilton


Fairytales live among us, but they're not what you'd expect. They've been driven out of their homes by a mysterious power only known as the Adversary. Those who can fit in with the 'mundies' live in Manhattan, while those that are more difficult to explain away live up on the upper eastside on The Farm. They have their own government, identities, and issues. They are not the Disney-fied characters that you grew up with.

I'm really enjoying this series so far. I've wanted to read it for a while, and a friend loaned me the first two volumes. I'm so happy she did. It seems that each volume (so far) deals with mysteries with the overarching theme of the Fables getting back to their lands and overthrowing the Adversary. There's all these little plot twists and turns to keep things interesting, but what really got me was the character development. They fairytale characters are essentially immortal and so they have twisted personal issues that have lasted for centuries; e.g. when Beauty doubts her love for the Beast he gets horns. But they're not all silly, most of the fairytale characters are dealing with doubts about self-worth, money, identity, and overcoming the stereotypes that they were written into. These are characters with depth and emotions that are tapped into beautifully through the illustrations of Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha. This is what was one of the main contributors of what hooked me; how well the drawings and the text play into each other and really develop it into something really special.

ZENtertainment kind of epitomizes the feeling I got from reading this, "FABLES not only lives up to - but actually exceeds - all of the hype." Volumes 1-13 are already out and the 14 comes out in December.

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante

Julia has just graduated from high school. She was valediction. She's getting a free ride to college where she will be pre-law. She will be spending her summer at a law related internship. Everything is perfect, just as Julia's life has always been. Then Julia's sister, Sophie, comes home. Sophie never got along with their parents. She's still angry about the time they spent in Milford, before Julia was born. Julia thinks she knows everything that happens, but Sophie says there's something that their parents haven’t told her. Julia ends up spending the summer with Sophie, helping Sophie getting ready to open her own bakery. Julia wants to learn the whole truth, but even Sophie has a hard time explaining.

This book and I got in a fight on page 105. This is Sophie talking to Julia about her bakery: "Plus, I want to have a wall for all different kinds of specials. Maybe a certain bread - like Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, fruitcake for Christmas, or challah bread for Passover - whatever." Challah is eaten on Shabbat. Shabbat starts every Friday night and ends Saturday night. Every single week. On Passover, Jews don't eat any food that has leaven, so Passover is actually one of the few times when challah would NOT be eaten. Why, when writers are writing about a culture that is not their own, don't they double check things? Why don't the editors? I'm sure this happens all the time and I don't pick up on it because I don't know. But when I can pick up on it, it annoys me to no end. So of course, I immediately went to my computer to send an email to Bloomsbury. There's usually a "please e-mail your comments" address on the back of ARCs. Which there was. And the contact person was Deb Shapiro. You know how cranky it made me that I had to email someone name Deb Shapiro and tell her that Jews don't eat challah on Passover? I know, I know, I'm sure Deb didn't have anything to do with the editing of the book. They have not emailed me back, by the way.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Or, Get a Plan, Harry Potter.

Anna, Alana and I sallied forth to see the latest and second to last installment of Harry Potter. For the most part, I was fine with this one. I wasn't left with the WTF feeling I had after The Half-Blood Prince. There was still plenty for me to be all shirty about, of course, but really it still comes down to what I've thought about all of them: If you haven't read the books, you're probably kind of confused. Now, it's probably safe to assume that most people have read the books (although I know people who have never read the books and are very fond of the movies) so they can do a fair bit of filling in the holes. And there are plenty of holes.
Hello, it's Anna. I'm going to be adding a few thoughts, which will be in purple (obviously).

P.S. Arianna doesn't warn you but there are a crap ton spoilers here, so now you are warned. Proceed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Good Horse by Jane Smiley

Abby Lovitt lives with her mother and father on a ranch in California during the 1960s. Abby's father buys horses, which they then train and sell. Abby knows she can't get attached to the horses because they aren't really hers. There is one horse, Jack, who she does think of as hers. Jack is still just a baby, and his mother died. Abby has been raising him and training him and loves him. Then Abby's father gets a letter from a rancher in Texas. Several of their horses were stolen, and they think Jack's mother might have been one of them. If she was, then will Abby have to give Jack up?

I had a period in elementary or middle school when I read a lot of horse books. I wasn't actually that interested in horses, but my next-door-neighbor and best friend LOVED horses and she rode and was totally obsessed, so I tried to keep her company. I just wasn't that interested, however.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Election by Tom Perrotta

A brief review of Election.

Tracy Flick was running unopposed in her high school's election until Mr. McAllister put Paul Warren, a popular football player, up for running. Then Paul's sister, Tammy, decides to run too. A simple high school election shows us the backstabbing, betrayal and smear campaigning we see so often in politics.

I had seen the movie Election, which I enjoyed, but I had never read the book. After hearing Tom Perrotta speak at the Boston Book Festival, I wanted to read all his books because he is fabulous. So I took a small break from reading my ARCs to read Election, which came out in 1993 and makes many a reference to the elections that were happening at that time.

It was good. It was funny in a horrible way. It was, really, depressing. No one is this books is actually happy. Tracy had an affair with her English teacher and is friendless and alone. As is Tammy. Friendless and alone that is. She's in love with her best friend who's left her for her brother. Paul is popular but isn't really satisfied either. All their parents are divorced because of affairs. Mr. M, the supposedly inspiring teacher, interferes in the election result and has an affair of his own with his wife's best friend, which all stems from his own unhappiness and dissatisfaction with his life. Affairs and politics. Well, I guess that's quite realistic.

I flew through this. It was so awful and funny and true. You're good, Tom Perrotta. I'm looking forward to reading your other work as well.

YA literature as product

I found this article very upsetting. James Frey, of A Million Little Pieces, the "memoir" which turned out to be fiction, has a company called Full Fathom Five. They hire young writers, give them amazingly crappy contracts where they have few rights and can't say they actually wrote the book. The goal is to churn out YA books as quickly as possible and produce a best seller that will get picked up for a movie. They have already begun this with the book I Am Number Four. I Am Number Four came out in August and was on the NYT best seller list but hasn't actually done very well in the YA community. I hope it stays that way. The book, however, was picked up to be made into a movie before it even came out.

James Frey clearly thinks he's pretty badass, and that conventional ethics and moral obligations do not apply to him. I think he and Nicholas Sparks would get along well. They both think quite a lot of themselves. Please don't buy anything that Full Fathom Five produces. Don't give them any of your money. It's bad enough that they churn out alien of Gossip Girl type books, but one of their proposed projects is “high-school revenge project” in which “four girls from separate cliques at a high school discover they’ve all been date-raped by the same guy and team up to plot vicious revenge.” It upsets me to think of such an serious issue being dealt with by a company like Frey's.

Maureen Johnson wrote a very thoughtful response on her blog in response to the article.

Friday, November 12, 2010

News

The OED is trying to save little used words. Head on over and adopt one. Mine is 'woundikins,' which means 'mild profanity.' Appropriate.

Who knew that Daniel Radcliffe loves Tom Lehrer, like I love Tom Lehrer. The secret and deeply hidden science/music nerd in me loves this.

Speaking of good old Danny, I'm not sure if you've heard of a little franchise called Harry Potter? Word on the street is that the movie is coming out in exactly one week.

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Lena was supposed to claim herself for Dark or Light on her 16th birthday, but she didn't. Now the moons have been thrown off course. Lena seems to be drifting away from Ethan, her mortal boyfriend. Ethan thinks it's because Lena is mourning her Uncle Macon's death, but it might be something more. Could Lena be going Dark? Ethan refuses to accept that the girl he loves might be leaving him forever. He will do everything he can to save her.

My first problem was I hadn't read Beautiful Creatures, the first in the series, so I spent a good part of this book confused since I had no background and I didn't know what had happened at Lena's 16th birthday and the history of the Casters (although I got plenty of that over the course of the book). This is not a series that is easy to read out of order. Definitely start with the first one.

News

Chicken Spaghetti has very thoughtfully made a list of a whole bunch of Best Children's Books lists.

Adult Books 4 Teens blog. Very cool.

Public libraries that are creating teen friendly spaces with gaming areas. From SLJ.

I heard on the radio this morning that The New York Times will start having a best seller list for ebooks. Interesting. I wonder how closely it will match up with the traditional best seller list? From NPR.

New mobile app for the ipad that makes reading a more social experience. From YPulse.

And in censorship news, at North County High in Maryland, a small group of parents feel opting out of reading A Brave New World isn't good enough and want the book pulled from the curriculum. From Maryland Gazette.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jim Henson


Having grown up on Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and the Muppets, I had to check this out. Jim Henson created an experimental live short back in 1965, it was crazy! Someone must have loved it because it was nominated for an Oscar. Awesome. Time Piece is now available to view for free on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

9 most subversive children's books as told by Laura Coffey

Now I'm all for stirring up the children and raising a little hell. With all the standardization that kids go through they need a little push to think for themselves. Bring on the revolution! But I will say that this movement will generally not happen when adults are judging what literature is going to be 'subversive' for kids of the 21st century. Laura Coffey has written a short article for the Today Show about the nine most subversive children's books. And let me just say, snore. Yes they are classics, and I feel like they do have great messages, but I generally don't think many kids are going to get the socialist leanings of Yertle the Turtle or why Madeline's Rescue is a call for children to defy their elders. I personally only got the greater meaning behind the stories when I was much older. Not necessarily something I would expect a three to five year old to pick up on. But what do I know? I just have my masters in library science, and Ms. Coffey has written budgeting articles for MSNBC.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Vera's best friend since childhood, Charlie, is dead. Vera could clear his name, but she can't tell anyone what happened. She's not even completely sure what happened, but she knows it wasn't his fault. Vera and Charlie hadn't been friends for months, after he did something unforgivable. But Vera can't get Charlie out of her head, and it's hard enough being in high school with no friends and working full time as well and having a father who wants to ignore anything bad. Months have passed now and Vera still hasn't told, and her own life isn't exactly going great either.

Monday, November 8, 2010

News

Dear Scott Westerfeld. Let us marry. For you, sir, are made of awesome. Scott Westerfeld lets the haters of steampunk have it.

Well, it seems I have not read many of PW's Best Children's Books 2010. However, Monsters of Men is on the list. Yay!

This is my YA book cover:
















You can create your own at 100 Scope Notes or check out the gallery. Some of them are really good. I didn't do the author's name part, because as Sam at Parenthetical pointed out, it's actually people's names and that doesn't seem right.

Yes, it's very sad that the New England Mobile Book Fair is being sold, BUT if Anna and I can just find ourselves a generous benefactor, we're totally going to buy it, so never fear book lovers! If anyone has any tips on finding a generous benefactor, do let us know.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jane by April Lindner

In this modern retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Moore is forced to drop out of college after her parent's death. She takes a job as a nanny for Madeline, daughter to famous rock star Nico Rathburn. Although Jane doesn't like Nico much at first, she soon falls in love with him, and much to her surprise, he feels the same way. All is not roses, as it turns out that Nico hasn't been telling her the whole truth.

So. I did not like Jane Eyre at all. I have no interest in self-centered, brooding jerks who for some reason are appealing to the female heroines. Also, mad wife in the attic. This is also probably the reason the Bronte novels don't get as many updates as Austen novels. What do you do with those mad wives in the attics? How do you put that into modern times?

Quite neatly, if you're April Lindner. I enjoyed this very much, which is saying something as it is a.) based on Jane Eyre, which I didn’t like, and b.) still, really, a Gothic romance that I also usually don't care for. So well played! I can't really explain why Jane falling in love with this guy in like a week didn't piss me off the way most of the other books with the girl falling in love with someone in a week do. I think it was because we got to see some of what Jane fell in love with. It wasn't love at first sight. She thought he was kind of a jerk. But then she started talking to him and spending time with him and we learn about both of them and we see he's not such a jerk at all. Character development! I love it! That's what it was! Character development! I didn't even realize because it's been so long.

The update that was done worked pretty well. In a note at the end, Lindner talks about how she made it work. How would a modern girl find herself in a position of being forced to work taking care of someone’s child? So Jane becomes an orphan with a messed up childhood who can no longer afford to go to college and needs a job that will help her make some money while also giving her a place to live. The biggest problem is, of course, the mad wife in the attic. How on Earth can you give that an update? And this was my only real issue with the book. I don't think it quite worked.

In Jane Eyre, we have the wife because one didn't get divorced. You just didn't. It didn't matter if she went crazy later on, you married her, now deal with it (although hopefully you don't deal with it by locking her up). When Jane learns this, she takes off but then later returns when she learns that Mr. Rathburn has been blinded in a fire and now needs her, which is really what Jane wanted all along. In modern day, that doesn't fly. Why wouldn't the wife be hospitalized? Why wouldn't Nico have just gotten a divorce? So in order to make it work, Nico still needed to be in love with his wife. She was made into a schizophrenic who refused to take her pills and would become violent. But Nico hoped that someday she would take her pills and return to the person he loved. On the one hand, awww, he still loves his wife. On the other hand, Nico is more of a cad (yes, I said cad) then Mr. Rathburn was because Mr. Rathburn actually did love only Jane. Nico was still in love with someone else and tried to marry Jane anyway.

If your friend calls you up and says, "You know that guy I'm totally in love who I'm getting married to? Well, it turns out he was actually still married. And she lives in his house. He didn't get a divorce because he's still kind of in love with her, but he told me he loved me and then tried to marry me. Then, when it all came out against his will, he said it was OK, we could just live together. What do you think I should do?" I hope your answer will contain the sentence, "Get the hell out of there." That's an awfully big lie Nico.

I am willing to accept this, however, because I really did enjoy the book, because I accept the fact that Jane is a pushover. A total pushover. However much we want to spin her as an independent women with mind of her own, Jane is a pushover and lets other people take advantage of her. That's why she can't speak up for herself, that's why she lets her family walk all over her, that's why she was going to for the Haiti with a guy she didn't really like because he really, really wanted her to, and that's why she went back to Nico. Because yes, she still loved him, and sure, he loved her, and despite the fact he'd totally screwed her over she felt badly about leaving and went back and apologized. And his wife had conveniently died in a fire and they all lived happily ever after. Yay!

Whatever, it was well written and fun. Jane came out on October 11th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In case you were wondering...

Teacher's First Amendment rights stop at the school door. Well. That's...good to know.

And if you were curious what was going on with those parents having a sit-in to demand a library in a Chicago elementary school, this is what.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend: A Secret Diary by Cora Harrison

Jenny Cooper, cousin to Jane Austen, records the occurrences of the Spring of 1791. When Jane become seriously ill at boarding school, Jenny risks going out at night unchaperoned to send a letter to Jane's mother. After being removed from the school, Jane and Jenny spend the Spring at Jane's family home, having a grand old time visiting and painting and playing piano and going to balls. Until! The one person who knows of Jenny's nighttime escapades come to town. Will he ruin her reputation? Or will it all end happily ever after?

I might have made it sound more dramatic than it really is.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Help: The Movie


You might remember back in July when Arianna wrote a review of the audiobook The Help by Kathryn Stockett. If you need a refresher, it was AWESOME! If you haven't read it, do it now. As in stop reading this posting and get the book and read. Don't skip over anything, don't scan it, read it completely through. Then come back.

Anyways, they're making a movie out of it (because Hollywood can't leave well enough alone), and generally I'm a bit eh with some of the actors they've chosen. I think I'm mostly Debbie-downer about it because of Emma Stone. I don't know what it is, but I just don't picture her as Skeeter Phelan. Emma Stone's so pretty and seemingly charming. Just not what I pictured, but I guess that's why she's paid the big bucks to convince me and I'm just a lowly librarian making judgment calls on a blog. And let's be perfectly honest, are my objections going to stop me from seeing it? Probably not.

The movie comes out Aug. 12, 2011.

News

A little late, but you'll be ready for next year! I think this is a great idea. All Hallows Read. Idea originally from the the ever fabulous Neil Gaiman.

Oh hurrah! Teens haven't shelved reading for pleasure! And you were so worried! From The Washington Post.

I have discovered a place I can go to covet other peoples' bookshelves. Amazing, fabulous bookshelves. Why doesn't my apartment look like this? Clearly I need more bookshelves. Also books.

Awesome. Prize is created for gay literature for young readers. From The New York Times.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Page to Screen


More page-to-screen wackiness.



Danny Devito is set to voice the Lorax in a new 3D animated adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story. Betty White and Zac Efron also voice characters....and what's this?! The Office's Ed Helms will voice the Once-ler? I hope, for the sake of all Dr. Seuss fans out there, that this one is better than recent take on Horton Hears a Who. I remember my Kindergarten teacher's father coming into our class to read The Lorax. It was the first time I had heard that particular Dr. Seuss story, and I can still remember where I was sitting, and things I thought about as it was read aloud. Never underestimate a good read-aloud.
For now, I'm going to cross my fingers that my page-to-screen idealism holds. C'mon, Lorax...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

So I'm 0-2 for the being judgy on the last books I've read and then been totally wrong. Isn't it so nice to be wrong? To think something's going to suck and then it doesn't suck at all? Delightful!

Benny Imura lives in a "safe" town. As safe as can be, since First Night, when the dead rose. Benny doesn't really remember a time before the zoms, although he does have a memory of First Night. That was when Benny's brother Tom grabbed him and ran away, leaving their mother to die. Benny resents Tom, and they've never gotten along since. Tom kills zombies for a living, and now that Benny is 15, he needs to find a job too. Tom offers to take Benny on as his apprentice, and eventually Benny agrees. Benny discovers that Tom isn't like the rest of the bounty hunters, and that his perception of the zoms isn't completely true. Benny also realizes that the zoms aren't the only monsters out there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

No connection to Girl, Interrupted.

Griffin was only thinking of how proud his father would be when he stole the fancy Escalade from the mall parking lot. Unfortunately for him, he didn't realize there was someone sleeping in the back. Now Griffin doesn't know what to do. He only meant to take a car, not kidnap a girl. The girl, Cheyenne, turns out not to only have pneumonia, but is blind. Griffin's father plans to get money from Cheyenne's father to give her back safely, but Griffin is beginning to wonder if giving Cheyenne back is part of the plan at all.

So I got all judgy on this early on because the back cover was so melodramatic. "How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare? She's not only sick - she's BLIND!" And then the beginning seemed so far-fetched. When the kid realized there was someone in the back of the car, and that she was blind, wouldn't he just bail? But as it went along I bought in more to the "in over your head" place it was going to and how one bad decision forces a whole bunch of other really bad decisions.

Excellent news!

Oh hurrah! Sticky Washington has regained his rightful skin tone! From 100 Scope Notes.

Less excellent news: New Hampshire Parent Challenges The Hunger Games. From SLJ.

Thoughtful news: Rick Riordan on Four Way to Get Kids with ADHD to Read. How very...reasonable. From The Wall Street Journal.

Humorous news: Lane Smith's Use of the Word "Jackass" Stirs Controversy. Well, maybe not humorous. When I read It's a Book, I loved it and thought it was great and funny, but I also thought, "This isn't really a children's book, even if it is in picture book format." Which I think is fine. But if you decide to you do want to read it with younger kids, I don't think you should change the words. Talk about it or use something else. Also, I think The Higher Power of Lucky comparison is totally off base. Lane Smith used "jackass" for comedic effect, Susan Patron used the anatomically corrected word for a body part and people clutched their pearls and had to carried off to their fainting couches because what if their child asked them what scrotum means?! Not a similar situation at all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spring 2011 Scholastic Librarian Preview

On Tuesday I watched the Spring 2011 Scholastic Librarian Preview webcast. Live! It's OK if you missed it, because you can watch the whole thing (unlive) at Scholastic's web site. The editors of various trade imprints of Scholastic talked about what's going to be coming soon. A few authors spoke as well. While the webcast itself was a little clunky, there are some books I'm going to be keeping a watch for.

As I'd previously written, Dear America is coming out with some new books (as well as reprinting some of the past ones) and one of them is going to be written by Lois Lowry! That's pretty cool. It's called Like the Willow Tree, and takes place in Maine during 1918. It will be about a girl who is not only dealing with WWI, but who also looses her parents to the Spanish flu. It will be available January 1st.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guys Read: Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka

Ten short stories geared toward middle school boys from ten fabulous authors such as Adam Rex, Eoin Cofler, Kate DiCamillo and Christopher Paul Curtis. The stories have a range of topics, from aliens to murderous turkeys, to ripping off your own wart with pliers and getting blood poisoning.

This is going to be a series, in a way. There's going to be a Guys Read: Nonfiction, and a Guys Read: Action/Adventure, and things like that. I think this is a great idea. Short stories are an excellent way to get kids (boys or girls) who might not love reading yet to try out different genres and also have a sense of completion. It can be overwhelming looking at a 200 page novel and thinking how long it's going to take to get all the way through it. Short stories are less intimidating, and can be lots of fun. Plus, if they really like one of the stories you can say, "You know, he's written these other books too, want to take a look at them?"

Hearts for Norton Juster

OMG, if I ever met Norton Juster is real life I would probably throw up from excitement. Which would be horribly embarrassing and I would never live it down. I still have the ARC of Alberic the Wise and Other Stories, which comes out November 1st which I must read. And I had the same reaction when I saw it at ALA. "Wait, this is by Norton Juster? THE Norton Juster?"

THE Norton Juster
? from PW.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boston Book Festival: Part One Second

I would like to begin with the fact that BBF starts EARLY! Anyways, Arianna and I went to Cartooning: You can do it too! which was really the perfect way to start the day off. Because it started at 10am, there weren't many people there which was nice (little did we know that this was all going to change during the later forums). Of course I also started the morning by sticking my foot in it, as we wanted to attend a panel that started at 10:30am I let Arianna know that I hoped the panel would start on time. To which a smiling gentleman replied, "Me too!." Wouldn't you know it, the dude was Jarrett Krosoczka? At least I didn't tell him we were friends before we were properly introduced.

Side note: Jarret's daughter is ridiculously adorable. Everyone's little daughter should be forced to have pig-tails that stick straight out of their heads.

Anyways, the panel had Jarrett Krosoczka, Aaron Renier, Jef Czekaj, and Alexis Frederick-Frost. Robin Brenner was hosting the panel. After the four artists all got over the giggles that seemed to overcome them, they introduced themselves and did a quick sketch of their well-known characters, except Jeff but he totally made up for it which we'll get into in a little bit. Generally each of them told a little background about themselves and their illustrations and then they were going to collaboratively create a comic. Jarrett talked about how he went back to his old school and realized he still believes that his lunch lady lives at the school and doesn't leave. Aaron made me giggle as he drew Turnip the Elephant and muttered, "This is turning out really good." Jef didn't draw, instead he rapped! It was CRAZY AMAZING! Everyone should read Hip and Hop Don't Stop with his music in the background. Alexis got me to try and copy his illustrations (which I have to admit turned out moderately well), so well done Alexis.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Boston Book Festival: The second part first

So Anna and I ended up going to all the same things, so she's going to write about the morning and I'm writing about the afternoon. So after some delightful lunch, the wind blew us back to the Back Bay Convention Center were we attended "From Page to Screen" with Dennis Lehane and Tom Perrotta with host Ty Burr. A.M. Homes was supposed to be there as well, but alas, she was sick. Ty Burr was a good host, he asked leading question and then sat back and let them talk. No interrupting. It started out with playing clips from movies that had been made from Dennis Lehane and Tom Perrotta's work. I am sorry to say I have not seen any of them accept for Election. They look really good though and it made me want to. Has anyone seen Little Children? It came out in 2006 and I don't remember it at all. It looks hysterical.

The first question Ty Burr asked was, "Can a novelist get respect in Hollywood?" Dennis Lehane felt that the writer doesn't have very much power. You only have the power to sell it to whom you want to, so you need to trust them. Tom Perrotta said you have power when you write the book, and that's about it. This of course led into a question of how do you get the people who bought it to respect the work. They both agreed that you have to work all that out before you decide to sell. Choose carefully, and walk away when you need to.

BBF for Kids

As an elementary school librarian, I, of course, found myself drawn the sessions for kids at the second annual Boston Book Festival.

At promptly 10:00AM I arrived at the "Fun with Fancy Nancy" session with Fancy Nancy author, Jane O'Connor, and illustrator, Robin Preiss Glasser. Everyone was dressed especially fancy in hot pink feather boas and sparkly rhinestone tiaras. Jane and Robin read Nancy's newest adventure "Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique" and it was a real hit!

Seeing and meeting authors and illustrators (the faces behind the books)is so exciting for me as an adult, I can only imagine how neat the kids think it is to meet a "real live author."

In the afternoon, I attended the Kids' Keynote, where Jeff Kinney was promoting his newest "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book "The Ugly Truth." I was worried about this keynote at first because I was not sure what to expect, but it was actually really interesting. Again, it was great to see the face behind the books, but Jeff Kinney focused much of his talk on how the Diary books came to be, and that was actually quite interesting.

Some fun facts:
**Greg Heffley will be making a debut appearance in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
**Jeff Kinney lives in Natick, MA, and works full time downtown Boston on the online site for kids, Poptropica.
**Originally "Diary" was supposed to be a novel for adults in one volume. Jeff never thought of it as a kids' book. He says he decided to write and draw it like a middle school boy because that is the extent of his artisitic talent. If he couldn't draw better than a middle schooler, then he would write as one!
**Jeff began releasing "Diary" online one page at a time, like a comic strip (which I thought was an interesting idea). It makes me wonder how the story changes for the reader in paginated installments, rather than a whole book at a time.

So, readers look for "The Ugly Truth" on bookshelves if you are just dying to know if Greg and Rowley's friendship can last, and if you can't wait to see the ugliness of puberty rearing its head in Greg Heffley's world.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

BFF BBF!!


So today is the day of the Boston Book Festival. While we're not expecting glorious amounts of ARCs, there are some pretty good speakers and it's free! We'll let you know how it goes. YAY BOOK FESTIVUS!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

32 twelve year olds have been chosen to compete in the Annual Candymakers Contest, and groups of four will train at different candy factories. Miles, Daisy, Philip and Logan are all training at the Life Is Sweet candy factory, which belongs to Logan's father. All four are under considerable pressure to win the contest, and all for very different reasons. First impressions turn out to be deceiving, and much to their surprise, the children must work together to win the contest.

I really, really liked this. At first, there is the inevitable question of, "Is this going to try and be some remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Because what's the point?" And fair question, with the book beginning with children waiting outside the doors of a mysterious candy factor having just won a contest. But luckily similarities end there. I also spent the first chapter or so trying to figure out if we were in a fantasy world or not. It just seemed like such a magical place, but it turned out to take place in the real world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter


The Hardscrabble siblings are weird. Otto, the eldest, is a mute and has a way with animals. He also has a tendency to go berserk if someone touches his scarf. Lucia, the middle child, talks enough for her and Otto and enjoys a morbid tale. She's been looking for a lost sultan for the past four years. Max is the youngest. He likes to think deep thoughts and has an excellent sense of direction. Animals do not like Max. Their father is an artist, who goes on long excursions doing portraits of dignitaries. Their mother left them five years ago, no one knows why and the Hardscrabble children have given up hope that she's still alive. They have learned to live with the fact that people whisper about them because they are weird and their mother is gone. They lead relatively normal lives, until their father sends them off to London to stay with their aunt. All of a sudden the Hardscrabbles are on an adventure that will change their entire world.

The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke

It's 1952, and Clementine admires her cousin Fan more than anyone else does in the world. Fan is beautiful and free spirited, the complete opposite of Clementine who is cautious and worries about everything. Clementine and Fan don't get to see each other very often though, Clementine lives in the city and Fan lives far, far way in the country. On the first visit Clementine can remember, she realizes while Fan might seem happy and free, her life is far from ideal.

Back at home, Clementine has her own life and problems to deal with, and although she writes to Fan at first, Fan never writes back. Clementine doesn't really hear anything about Fan again until her aunt writes to say that Fan is married, at 15, with a baby on the way.

Library news

This article makes me angry, but it's nice to hear there's a teacher's union standing up for having certified librarians in their schools. Who is against library volunteers?

In other news for things that make me angry/sad, picture books are apparently on the decline because parents want their four year-olds to read chapter books. They're going to miss out on some important developmental markers if you don't read them picture books. Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

Does anyone else think the girl on the cover of this book looks like Kristen Stewart?

Lady Catherine Archer is one of Queen Elizabeth's attendants. She, like everyone else in Elizabeth's court, constantly strives for the Queen's favor. No one can do anything without the Queen's favor, not even fall in love. Catherine becomes fascinated with Walter Ralegh, who is held in very high esteem by the Queen, and she funds his explorations to the New World. When the Queen learns of the letters and poems Ralegh has been sending to Catherine, she has Catherine sent off to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke in the New World while keeping Ralegh close to her at court. Catherine, who now calls herself Cate, is determined to learn to live in the New World, where she experiences freedom for the first time. But life is much harder than she ever could have dreamed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

HILARIOUS!


Onion is one of the most hilarious magazines ever. I guess they've branched out to radio, because here's a clip about a young urban man who dies in a library. While part of me can't help but just giggle, the other part is a little sad at the play on old librarian stereotypes. Oh well!

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson

Jeff, an editor to his very core, is working as an administrative assistant. He isn't loving it. Then he gets a slightly crazy idea; take a road trip cross country and help those in need. In need of editing that is. And then he actually does it. With various friends along the way, especially Benjamin Herson, Jeff tracks down typos and fixes them. Sometimes with permission, sometimes without. Things go along pretty well until the two are accused of vandalizing a sign in a national park. And then the typo hunters enter dark days indeed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

MSLA Conference

Hello all! After a long day in Sturbridge, here's the lowdown of what I saw during the MSLA conference "Working Smarter."


Keynote: Michael Dahl

So after waking up at 5:30 this morning, and an hour and a half commute, Michael Dahl was the perfect way to wake me up. He's from MN, so bonus points there, and is a big supporter of graphic novels, so much like Lane Smith we're big friends. He works for Stonearch Books and has written several mystery books and a hi-lo series called The Library of Doom, which FYI looks fantastic. Most of his talk was about the influence of libraries and librarians on his life. How libraries "found (him), at the same time (he) was looking for it." He talked about how the amazing power of a story led to his future choice of career, and that books should always show that there was thought and effort behind them because kids can tell. Kids can pick up on the effort put in took to make it and it can increase their self-worth, and that librarians can guide them to those books. Dahl says that librarians help equate reading with pleasure, helping students plow through reading when it must be done for assignments.

"Save a librarian, save the world."

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

This past Friday I got to attend the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, which were held at Simmons College. It was delightful, although in all honesty not super exciting. Horn Book is not one of the publications we get at my library, but it's a lovely journal. We got a copy of the latest edition in the folder they gave us, and it happens to have the most adorable cover ever. As my colleague said, "I would wear that on a shirt." Me too.

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards are a bit different than other awards. First of all, the book does not have to be written or illustrated by an American citizen, although it does have to published in the US. Also, when a book wins, both the author and illustrator (if applicable) gets the award, which I think is lovely and totally makes sense since so often it's the two together that makes the book excellent. There are only three categories, nonfiction, picture book, and fiction/poetry. There are two honor books and one winner in each category.

MSLA 2010

This wandering librarian has made it to Sturbridge, MA for the annual MSLA conference, "Working Smarter.". Today's topics will cover literature and technology as well as a myriad of other subjects. Personally, i am interested in attending the learning.commons panel and the session on grant writing (though they are at the same time) and session on new children's books. So, more to come on those and more . . .

Friday, October 1, 2010

As Banned Books Week Comes to a Close...

Check out this interactive display of the most targeted books of 2009. From Good.is.


Ban the Banners! The fabulous Jo Knowles has started a meme in honor of Banned Books Week and #speakloudly, which goes a little something like this:

1. Go find your favorite banned book.
2. Take a picture of yourself with said book.
3. Give that book some love by explaining why you think it is an important book.
4. Post it to your blog.
5. Spread the word!

Reposted from Gwenda at Shaken & Stirred

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

School of Fear: Class is Not Dismissed by Gitty Daneshavari

Dear Gitty Daneshvari,

No.

Madeleine (fear of spiders), Theo (afraid something terrible is going to happen to his family), Lulu (fear of confined spaces), and Garrison (fear of water) are returning for a second summer at the School of Fear, quite against their wills. The children are convinced they've already been cured of their phobias, although that turns out not to be the case. They are joined by new student, Hyacinth (fear of being alone), as they...ummm, waste time for about 200 pages before trying to save their school from closing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

For your viewing pleasure:

I know many of you have seen this, but it makes me giggle each time I see it. I think it is a goofy fantastic example of censorship.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

I went into this book with my mind already made up. For two reasons. 1.) It's by Lisi Harrison, author of the Clique and Alpha series. She kind of only does one thing. 2.) I was aware there was a line of dolls from Mattel called Monsters High so this was clearly a tie-in, and I'm judgey like that.

Frankie Stein is soooo excited to be going to high school! She's only 15 days old, but she is all set with spending the days in her father's lab. She wants to get out into the world! The only problem is, she must hide her true identify, because people get freaked out by monsters and all. Luckily for her, her high school is where all the other teenage monsters go (in disguise, of course). Melody and her family have just moved to town. Melody yearns for someone to accept her for who she is, not for her surgically created beautiful exterior (she got a nose job at her family's promoting). Although she might be beautiful outside, on the inside she's still that bumpy-nosed girl. Both Frankie and Melody struggle for acceptance, with a good old dose of Lisi Harrison style makeup and brand dropping and stealing other people's boyfriends. With monsters.

Banned Books Week!


Happy Banned Books Week everyone (though it actually started yesterday)! In celebration of freedom of speech, intellectual freedom, and not letting the man keep you down; I'm going to try and find a little something for you each day that banned books week is going on. Support challenged books, they're the ones that once they get labeled you want to go and read anyways, and support allowing children the resources they need to understand the world around them.

"10 Banned Books you didn't expect" Who knew Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do You See? was supporting Marxism?

Here's a fun little video talking about banned books.

And in case you haven't seen it in a while, the top ten banned books of this year and of the decade.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson

Tillie Harris goes into labor six weeks early, in her new apartment in a new city where she doesn't know anyone. And her husband is away on business. The only person Tillie can think of to call is her father, who she hasn't spoken to in years. As Tillie is in the emergency room, she thinks back to when she was 8, and how that single year formed her relationship with her father.

The year she was 8 the family moved to Washington, D.C. and her mother completely fell apart. Tillie recalls the helplessness and frustration she felt, as she struggled to understand what was happening around her.
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