Thursday, June 26, 2014

ALA Annual Conference 2014

Vegas here I come!  I am headed off to the 2014 ALA Annual Conference which this year is in Las Vegas.  Lovely this time of year.  I hear it's been 100 or above all week.  I'll probably be spending my days in an over-air conditioned convention center, however, so it won't be too bad.  Everyone remember to hydrate!

The conference begins Friday evening and ends Tuesday.  I'll be doing full updates whenever I can on this blog, but make sure you're following me on Twitter @ariannalechan so you can know what's going on every minute.

Vegas, prepare yourself.  You are about to be overrun with thousands and thousands of librarians.  It should be good.


Next step in the conversation on diversity.  From The Toast.

An art exhibit in New York honors Madeline.  From The Wall Street Journal.

Author and illustrators tell us what's on their summer reading list.  From SLJ.

Young adult authors reveal their favorite book-to-movie adaptations.  From moviefone.

Peter Sis on The Little Prince.  From NPR.

Maria Kalman on working with Daniel Handler.  From Flavorwire.

Eric Hill, author of Spot the Dog dies at 86.  From SLJ.

The hot new thing?  Reality.  From PW.

The first winner of the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity has been announced.  From SLJ.

The best possible response to the "adults should read YA" argument.  From Nerve.

Some The Fault in Our Stars news:

SLJ's movie review.

5 changes from page to screen.  From Book Buzz.

Why The Fault in Our Stars in better on page than on the screen.  From Buzz Feed.

The Fault in Our Stars is not a YA novel savior.  From The Atlantic.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

Vidya is growing up in British occupied India during 1941.  She loves school and sports and her family.  When a tragedy hits her family that Vidya blames herself for, her family must move in with her extended family, who is very traditional.  The men live upstairs, and the women live downstairs and serve the men.  Vidya is afraid that soon she'll be married off and never finish school or fulfill her dream of going to college.

This looked at a side of history we rarely see: India during WWII.  India is still under British rule, and England is involved in the war.  There were all-Indian troops under British leadership that are rarely heard about.

While WWII is going on, India is involved in their own fight for freedom against British rule.  Lead by Gandhi, this fight was largely a non-violent one.  Vidya's father strongly believes in the non-violent approach, although Vidya's brother questions whether it is the right way.

Monday, June 23, 2014


The next big thing: realistic fiction.  From

Book girls.  From Jezebel.

A first look at Raina Telgemeier's Sisters.  From SLJ.

How YA books engender a true love of reading.  From Publishing Perspectives.

Does adult fiction lag behind YA in terms of depicting LGBTQ relationships?  From The Millions.

David Levithan on LGBTQ books for the young.  From Yahoo! News.

5 favorite children's books turn 50 this year.  From Bustle.

Liking books still makes you a nerd.  From The Guardian.

Book world video roundup.  From SLJ.

13 things J.K. Rowling told Nickelodeon Magazine in 1999.  From BuzzFeed.

Some thoughts on reading Beverly Cleary as an adult.  From Avidly.

Keeping kids' library records private.  From SLJ.

The Fault in Our Stars effect.  From The Hollywood Reporter.

Perspective on the Common Core from a 9-year-old.  From The New York Times.

Books about incarcerated teens.  From SLJ.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since Rose was five.  Rose loves it there, and loves seeing her summer friend, Windy.  This summer, however, things are not the same.  Rose's mother is acting odd, and her parent's keep fighting.  Rose and Windy find themselves witnessing the drama of the local teenagers and taking sides.  Everything seems the same but different.

Beautiful coming of age story.  There's so much that's left unsaid, that doesn't need to be said because of the power of the illustrations.

I don't think it's ever explicitly said how old Rose is.  My guess is 12, maybe?  She's in that in-between stage.  She isn't a teenager, not in high school yet.  She's too old to think of herself as a kid anymore.  She's getting crushes on boys, thinking about getting breasts and her period.  Her best summer friend, Windy, is about a year younger than she is.

It's unclear for most of the story what's going on with Rose's mother.  Is she sick?  She does appear to be very thin and drawn.  She portrayed coughing a few times.  But we come to understand that Rose doesn't know what's going on with her mother either.  Just that she very withdrawn, often short-tempered, doesn't seem to have to patience for things they've always done.

Rose is close with her father.  He laughs and jokes and teases her.  She feels abandoned when he leaves to go back to the city in the middle of their summer.  Now Rose feels she's completely on her own, trapped with her mother who isn't acting like her mother.

Windy's relationship with her mother is a sharp contrast to how Rose feels about her own mother.  Windy's mother seems open and passionate and outwardly shows her love for her child.  All the things Rose feels like are missing right now.  Although it's never said, Rose also feels some resentment toward her mother for wanting to have another child.  Why doesn't her mother feel like she is enough, like Windy's does?

Rose finds herself witness to the drama of the older teenagers of Awago Beach.  Rose has a crush on Doug, who works at the town store.  His girlfriend, Jenny, gets pregnant.  Doug won't talk to Jenny or call her.  Rose immediately falls into defending Doug in her head.  What if Jenny's lying?  What if it's not Doug's?  What if Jenny is cheating on him?  That Jenny is a slut.  Rose has no base for any of this thinking, really.  She has none of that "girls should stick together" mentality.  She just wants the boy she likes to be a nice, good guy.

There's a theme of children and childbirth.  Wanting babies, not wanting babies.  Being too old to have one, being too young to have one.  It gave the story a life-cycle feel.  Beginnings and endings.  Summer beginning, summer ending.  Growing up, getting older.

The art if just beautiful.  It's black and white, but the blacks have shades of blue and gray.  The quietness and peace of the summer that Rose so loves is reflected.  Through uses of close-ups and wordless panels, we get a clear understanding what the characters are thinking and feeling.

Quiet, beautiful, powerful story.  Highly recommended.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Think you know how fairy tales go?  You're wrong.  Hansel and Gretel run away from home to escape their child-killing parents.  Their journeys lead them though many a violent Grimm fairy tale as they struggle for survival and safety.

This was great.  I can see why the series is so popular.  Adam Gidwitz frankly acknowledges that kids love a little bit of horror.  And he gives it them in spades.  I remember reading the real Grimm fairy tales as a kid.  They are seriously dark.  Nothing like the Disney-fied versions.  Gidwitz uses the characters of Hansel and Gretel to wander through this fairy tale world, becoming part of lesser know Grimm fairy tales such as Faithful Johannes, The Seven Swallows, and A Smile as Red as Blood.

The scary parts are not skipped over.  So that means we have cannibalism, heads being hacked off, souls being ripped out through people's throats, and parent's gambling their children away to the devil and dooming them to hell.  The thread that follows Hansel and Gretel through the story is their sad search for some parents who aren't completely horrible.  Who won't do things like cut their heads off or try to eat them.  A lot harder to find than it should be.

Hansel and Gretel start off as foolish, greedy children, and their trials cause them to grow and change and they are not the same people at the end of the story they were at the beginning.  So not only do we get some great gore, the retelling of classic fairy tales most people have never heard of, but also so great coming-into-their-own story and a steadfast brother-sister relationship.

This series is certainly not for everyone.  Not all kids want to read about scary, gory things.  So fair warning!  This is for kids who like a little bit of horror.

If kids love this (and many will) maybe you can even them to read the original Grimm stories!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Minli lives with her Ma and Ba in the Valley of Fruitless Mountain.  Life is hard, as very little grows, and everyone in the village must work hard day after day just to grow enough rice to eat.  Minli loves listening to her father's stories in the evenings, and one day decides she will find the Old Man of the Moon who knows the answer to everything.  She will ask him how she can change her family's fortune.  So Minli sets off on an impossible journey.

This was lovely and poetic.  A lesson is learned, but it never felt heavy handed or preachy.  Storytelling is an important part of the narrative.  Often Minli encounters others along her journey that tells her a story, and the story becomes important in some way.  All the stories end up fitting together beautifully in the end.

Minli sets off on this journey mostly because she wishes her parents didn't have to work so hard and wishes her mother wasn't always so worried and sad and her father so tired.  After Minli leaves to find the Old Man of the Moon, we don't completely leave Ma and Ba to follow her.  The story keeps coming back to her parents, who at first try to follow her, and then decide to wait and hope she will return.  Minli's parents grow and change while she is gone.

Minli encounters many strange people and creatures on her journey.  All the stories her father would tell her in the evenings turn out to be true.  Minli meets a dragon that accompanies on her journey.  She meets kings, talking goldfish, and many wonderful, kind people, as well as some who aren't as wonderful and kind.  Minli is confused when some of the people she encounters, who seem as poor or more poor then she and her family have no interest in coming with her to see the Old Man of the Moon to find out how to change their fortunes.  Minli doesn't understand this at the time, but when she finally meets the Old Man of the Moon and has to make a hard choice, Minli realizes what actually brings happiness to a family.

A great middle grade novel for the kid who likes sweet happy endings and a little bit of fantasy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


How diverse are comics and graphic novels?  From SLJ.

Beyond the maker space.  From Library Journal.

2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winners.  From The Horn Book.

Diversity in children's lit: mediocrity matters as much as masterpieces.  From The Atlantic.

Round-up of Maya Angelou appearances and speeches.  From Library Journal.

Prosecutors investigate book for "gay propaganda."  From The Moscow Times.

Explorations of gender and sexuality in new YA fiction.  From SLJ.

Jane Yolen on rejection, reading out loud, and the keys to writing great books for kids.  From The Huffington Post.

Kate DiCamillo's picks for summer reading.  From NPR.

DC announces new Wonder Woman series.  From SLJ.

Gates Foundation no longer offering grants to libraries.  From Library Journal.

California's Modesto City city school to end library instruction for elementary schools.  From SLJ.

47 charming facts about children's books

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

Don't Touch comes out September 2, 2014.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Raleigh is fairly sure she doesn't have a soul.  She's also fairly sure a cat stole it.  She hates cats, but they always seem to be around her.  She's not good at interacting with people.  She doesn't seem to feel what other people feel.  And everything's always just so horribly confusing and mixed up all the time.  And now she's in a car with three classmates who she hardly even knows on a never ending road trip, and isn't even sure how she got there.

Raleigh's story slowly unfolds.  She's in a car with three other kids she doesn't seem to know super well.  It's unclear we're they're going to or heading from all how they all ended up in the same car.  Raleigh is very much trapped in her own head.  Her thoughts swirl in turmoil and confusion.  She's not good at interacting with people, or reading people.

In bits a pieces Raleigh reveals her background that got her to where she is now.  At the same time, the four teens are trying to get back home, dealing with car issues and trying to find hotels.  Raleigh starts to warm toward the others, although she's hesitant about opening up to people.

The whole "my soul was stolen by cats" thing was weird.  But her new friends take it in stride when she finally tells them this and they gamely sneak out cats to see if they can find Raleigh's soul.

The drawings are black and white and lack detail.  For the most part it was presented in traditional comic book frames with a few full paged spreads.  The darkness of the drawings and the lack of detail fit perfectly with Raleigh's confused and worried mind.

I found the ending a little unsatisfying.  It just ended after the big reveal.  There wasn't much more to conclude things.  We don't really know what happens.  I think it captures a teenager's angst and confusion well.

A little spoilery

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

Are the accidental death of Deshi Li's brother, Deshi sets out to find a bride that will keep him company in the afterlife.  When a woman's body is hard to find, Deshi turns to more desperate means find one.

Deshi Li is the younger son, and clearly his older brother was the favored one.  His parent doted on him.  As the book progresses, we learn about the older son and how he was not quite as perfect as his parents thought.  Deshi struggles with his guilt over the part he played in his brother's death, which he does not tell his parents about.  Deshi Li does not believe in the custom of burying unmarried men with a woman to keep them company, but he is determined to do this for his brother and to give his parents a reason to take pride and comfort in him.

Deshi is a scared and timid character.  We really learn very little about him, even over the entire course of the story.  It's not clear what motivates him, aside from fear of his parent's and guilt about his brother.  What does he want?  What does he hope for?  I have no idea.  We learn much more about Lily.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...