Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Talk

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Samantha Kingston is given a strange opportunity after she is involved in a car accident that will eventually kill her.  She gets to relive the day she dies several times.  At first she tries to change events so that her death is avoided.  Then she understands that her chance isn't about saving herself, she is going to die, but it is about helping other people live their lives happily.  Really entertaining story.  Samantha is so evil at the beginning that I found it hard to believe I was hoping she would survive at the end.  Very dynamic character.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Books Talking

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The twist of having Katniss return to the arena caught me off balance, I thought that the revolution would have begun near the beginning of the book rather than at the end, but it was still an extremely exciting read.  I am a curious about the trend in young adult fiction to write trilogies.  Matched by Allie Condie presents a government run society where even our husbands and wives are picked for us.  The first book in this trilogy really doesn't do much, just introduces the society.  It is curious that we are trying to make stories more verbose.  I love it when I am entranced by a novel and I don't want it to end, so I understand why we are heading in this direction, but there is a balance between poetry and too verbose prose.  Just thinking aloud.  Wondering where this trend will take us.  Movies are getting longer as well to do justice to the wonderful novels that are being produced.  Is our creativity as a whole that much better? Does new digital graphics allow us to create such remarkable visions that a three, four, or five hour movie becomes the norm.  The holodeck in Star Trek is a remarkable idea.  Living in a dream world.  Doing whatever it is we like.  Interacting with characters throughout history.  If that is where we are going, then I can see why more verbose prose becomes necessary.  It isn't necessarily the story that is important, but being in that place, wherever or whenever the story is communicating to us. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Books Speaking without Voices

National Velvet by Enid Bagnold

I knew this one as a movie first. The 1944 production with Elizabeth Taylor is a favorite movie of mine. The color was so rich, I felt like I could smell the hay in the barn and the clods of grass that Pie ran through. When I read the book for the first time, these sensations only became more palpable. I felt rooted in the English countryside, wanting to be there taking care of the horses and training for the Grand National.  The rich fields called my name.  The small town gave me life.  The stable gave me a home.  This was written for a young audience, but it is ageless.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Books Talking

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Klugar

Fabulous romantic comedy filled with an interesting take on a boy coming out of the closet, broadway shows, the BoSox and Mary Poppins. Just a wonderful read from beginning to end.  As a 7-12 librarian I feel like I read some of the same stories over and over again when looking at the latest realistic fiction.  This one had some of those characters, but Klugar put it together in a matchless way.  It never slowed and there are definitely some completely memorable characters, interactions and dialogue, articles, constructions, etc...  Who could forgot Hucky Harper giving signs at the baseball game, the fact that everyone knew Augie was gay before he knew, or the relationship between T.C.'s father and his guidance counselor.  Please pick this one up and give it a chance.  It's certainly worth it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Talking

Truancy by Isamu Fukui

An amazing emergence onto the literary scene for this young person. I think it is wonderfully done, but worry that the schools we have provided for our children are completely missing the mark. If a young person can write this novel and have such a poor opinion of our schools, what should we think? How would Fukui set up are schools? What does a young writer need to succeed? Why does such an accomplished writer think the people working at schools are clueless? Many good questions concerning our schools arise from this sixteen year old writer.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Daily Book Talk

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

While I read I knew where we were headed, but hoped for some sort of exemption for the young boy. But, if Boyne had let the boy off the hook it wouldn't be a Holocaust story. The brutal nature of the boy's death doesn't quite pierce the armor of the German war machine or do justice to the memory of all those who were murdered, yet in losing the life of one so young it does manage to clearly say, "You bastards!"  The play with matches and you'll get burned metaphor is a little off target.  Does this book show the viciousness of the Nazis? Do we get a sense of what the gas chambers were really like? The Holocaust seems simplistic through the eyes of a boy.  Boyne obviously does this on purpose, portraying the father as a good man, Hitler's man.  It makes the cruelties that much more unfathomable.  Can we really be doing this to a race of people? Really? How do we fall in line when the rhetoric gets insane? It's more than scary that the human condition allows us to believe the Nazi propaganda.  What do I believe now that will be looked on as crazy in fifty years?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Daily Book Talk

The Demon's Lexicon by Sara Rees Brennan

Well done, I liked the ending, didn't suspect where the author was going. You'll have to read the whole thing to find out.  I wish she would have got there sooner, but I guess that was the big cliffhanger for book two in the series.  Thought this would do as well as P.C. Cast, City of Bones, and some of the others new popular vampire/fantasy lit, but it didn't, so I am wondering what grabs and what doesn't.  Enjoyed the dancing scene the most.  Reminded me of the magic of dancing that Tamora Pierce uses in the Circle Opens: Magic Steps.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Daily Book Talk

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Wonderful, steampunk has now fully entranced me! Loved the machines that were created, very Star Wars like with the walkers on Endor and the ice planet Hoth.  But even better were the genetically engineered animals.  Great look at alternate histories - two directions the world could have gone.  Fans of Kenneth Oppel should check this one out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Daily Book Talk

His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman

Awesome, it's up there with Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Susan Cooper.  He is part of the 'Steam Punk' genre that is catching so many readers.  The second and third books both head off in directions that are more and more distant from what Pullman created in The Golden Compass.  Mostly new characters and settings, but it all works and is entirely entertaining.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Daily Book Talk

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

She had me laughing the whole time. The British teenage sense of humor is awesome. She is totally self aware and can laugh at all her funny characteristics and it makes her heroine delightful.  As a male librarian I feel slightly awkward recommending this book to teenage girls, mostly because of the title.  But, it is completely hilarious and should definitely be picked up and read.

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 17th Discussion Books

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose

What did you think of this month's books?  Share your thoughts at next Thursday's book discussion after school in the library.

 My favorite couple phrases from The Help were:

"If only singing was a color."

"I only been cooking white Thanksgiving since Calvin Coolidge was President."

My moment of repulsion happened when Miss Hilly says to Aibileen, "How do you like your new bathroom?"  She then waits for Aibileen to thank her before moving on.  'Waits' is probably not accurate because she prods her to say thank you.  Skeeter is standing outside the room, praying that Aibileen doesn't say it, but it can't be avoided.


Photos by Mackenzie Reese

We have some new artwork on display- wonderful and whimsical mobiles created by Ms. Reckord's Art 1 students last semester.  We love having them in the definitely brightens things up when it's snowy and gray outside.  Thanks to Mackenzie for taking these great photos!

Daily Book Talk

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

A staple of Arthurian legend.  This was the deepest look into Camelot and the time before the explosion of literature that came out with Marion Zimmer Bradley and all the others in the 1990s.  I am sure that all of the more recent authors went through White's work for information on the age.  It is a little drier than some of the more romanticized recent stuff.  It is probably for a slightly older audience than Gerald Morris's and Vivian van Velde's.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daily Book Talk

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Wonderful book, I thoroughly enjoyed running around Venice, having been there a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It is a modern day Robin Hood.  Slightly disappointed when the thief turned out to be just a boy who was rich and was basically stealing from himself and his friends.  Though Funke did create the Robin Hood illusion for this character that lasted through most of the book; we didn't know that the thief was just a rich man's son until very near the end.  The magic at the end with the merry go round was very cool.  I wish she would write this again.  I think she jumped back and forth between the realm of magic and the real world, but I would have liked for her to create an inbetween place that is neither only real nor only fantasy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Daily Book Talk

Foundling by D.M. Cornish

Robert Jordan's recommendation and the cover got me a little more excited than I should of. Cornish creates an interesting world and I'm sure if I read more it will become deeper with each stroke he paints and strand he weaves. Comparing to Tolkien went a little far though. Neat monsters and the monster hunters seem to have cool capabilities.  Didn't fall in love with the protagonist.  He is your typical picked on orphan who just needs a chance to prove himself.  The first book was released in parts, so Foundling seemed to end midstream.  Very good.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Daily Book Talk

Peak by Roland Smith

Loved it! Talk about a great message, 'Going to the top isn't everything'. I wish he would have put the flag where he did and then climbed to the top. This might have played on the personal success versus success in the eyes of our peers idea. It would have really brought home doing things that you value no matter what everyone else thinks. I still think the idea of not having to accomplish things is huge, but that message is easily converted to being completely unproductive. Smith's novel asks us what we should value.  What is important to us as people? Have we lost site of what really matters? Pro athletes, some of them idols of thousands/millions, are making very questionable life decisions and we let them do this and continue on because the Sunday afternoon television of whatever event it is is more important than teaching our children how to live.  Why do we have to go to the top? Why are there phrases like, 'winning isn't everything, it's the only thing'? Why doesn't participation count? Why do we have to be the best?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Daily Book Talk

Westmark by Lloyd Alexander

Alexander was the first author I fell in love with. The Book of Three was the first book that I liked. So, naturally anything he writes intrigues me. I have read all of his and most of the time I will only read one by any author.  He introduced me to daring rebels willing to take on the establishment, colorful dwarves that can become invisible, peaceful valleys untouched by war, and all the other 'first' big ideas that I had.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Daily Book Talk

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

This is one of my all time favorites. I remember a teacher reading this to us in early elementary school. It certainly changed the way I looked at the world.  Were there magical wells everywhere or just in Babbit's world?  Probably the book that made me realize I wanted magical wells with 'Fountain of Youth' powers in my world as well.  Thank you Natalie Babbit for pushing me with such tender thoughts.