Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Oh, I just read "Boy Meets Boy". It was such a sweet story but then, I've always been a sucker for a teen romance.
I also read "My Contract with Henry" by Robin Vaupel in which a group of high schoolers build a cabin in the woods ala Henry Thoreau to try to understand what he expereinced at Walden Woods.

Recent Reads:

Two Moons in August by Martha Brooks

Blizzard's Wake by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, who planned to live an unusual life by Martine Murray

Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Friday, December 19, 2003

Recent reads:
"Acceleration" by Graham McNamee - Duncan's working in the lost and found when he comes across a journal outlining a psychopath's journey from torturing animals and setting fires to his current plan to kill one of three women. And so begins his quest to find this potential murderer and possibly lay some of his own demons to rest. Great for those interested in FBI profiling and forensic psych, plus Duncan and his friends go to the library and find useful information. Yeah!
"Utterly Me, Clarice Bean" by Lauren Child - The first chapter book featuring the Clarice Bean character from Child's picture books, this story is utterly charming. There is bouncy text and lots of little pictures and perfect for those pre-teens who've outgrown Junie B., Judy Moody and Ramona.
"The Goose Girl" by Shannon Hale - In a retelling of a Grimm fairy tale, misfit Princess Ani's must leave home to fulfill an arranged marriage to a neighboring prince (and thereby, eliminate the threat of war with the country). Betrayed by her lady-in-waiting, Ani ends up disguising herself, living and working as a goose girl, until she can find a way to reclaim her rightful place, stop the marriage of the prince to the false princess and prevent a war. And of course, there is romance and happy endings and the villians get theirs in the end. This is a beautifully told story and the girls who are into Meg Cabot are eating it up.
"Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Neil Gaiman
I love the Hitchhiker's Guide series as well as just about everything else Douglas Adams has done so I thought I'd give this one a whirl. It's a biography, of the Hitchhiker series in all its media formats (radio, tv, film, plays, etc.) and to a lesser degree of Adams himself. Not a must read, but if you are curious about how it all came about, it's not too bad. And there's some great one-liners as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Spitting Image by Shutta Crum is my most recent read. I loved it and this is why:
a. Great main character, Jessica "Jessie" Kay Bovey, a tomboy with a sense of justice who has no qualms about bearing her fists to defend her best friend Robert Ketchum. They don't make'em more loyal and honest than Jessie.
b. It's southern fiction. Love the locale, the language and the locals.
c. Bad guys who drink and smoke and wave their guns around
d. Ol' One Eye, the evil rattlesnake
e. Quiet kind old Lester
f. Jessie's Mom calls Jessie "the light of her life". What a beautiful thing for a mom to call her daughter.
g. The grandmother who drives a white Thunderbird and changes her hair color as often as she changes husbands.
h. The jacket is awesome!


Read it and you'll love it!

Monday, December 15, 2003

It is hard to write anything that does any justice to the lyrical beauty of Martha Brooks' True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. This is the first book of hers that I have read and I can tell you that I have just about all of her others on hold right now and I am playing eeny meeny miney mo to decide which ones to bring on the plane home with me next week.

This book follows an exciting trend I have noticed lately (and maybe it has been written about in SLJ or Voya or Horn Book) of awesome adult characters in teen literature. Some authors are acknowledging the fact that there are some cool adults out there who are experienced in the ways of the world and capable of understanding what a trouble teenaged soul is going through. Take Noreen for example. She's an angstful teen--and rightly so with Stupidhead the step-father and her mom, "Amazing" Grace. She shows up in the small town of Pembina Lake without a hope in the world and is taken in by some of the locals: Lynda, Dolores, Del, Seth and the dog, Tessie. Despite the fact that everything Noreen touches turns into a huge disaster, these strangers want to help her. They refuse to not help her. That's not to say they aren't human, they talk about the fact that Noreen is such trouble. And worry about her. But due to each of the adult character's own regrets, burdens, and tragedies, they realize that this girl needs help and they stand by her. The characters are deep and true and human. Noreen is a gem. This book is for your YA patrons.

Recent Picture Books that I have LOVED:

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Crum

Yikes!!! by Robert Florczak

Love is a Handful of Honey by Giles Andreae (illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, one of my brother's high school classmates)

Read Anything Good Lately? by Susan Allen

Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I know this time of year is supposed to be about giving and not getting but I just opened my box of Librarian Action Figures (no one was going to give them to me but me) And yes, there is an "S" at the end because as anyone who's anyone knows you have to keep one toy in the box and one to open...and because it fit in my budget I have an extra one which I think I will donate to my library. Anyway ... I know most people got tired of hearing about the Librarian Action Figure but I thought it was pretty cool and I am glad to have one...ummm...2, well 3 right now... but I am a little disappointed with the mechanics of the thing (I have no strong opinion on her shushing or outfit, both are just fine with me) but sometimes the shushing looks more like nose picking and it is very difficult to make her own book stay in her hand. It's not the kind of thing that amuses one for hours but amusing for minutes is still pretty darn good.
Want your own?
Or would you rather spend your money on a "Reading is Sexy" T ... if you know me you know I want it all!

PS Allison, that is "Da man" to you...ha ha ha...get the joke!

I just sold out to the man and read "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown. I liked it a lot. Read it in about 3 days-couldn't put it down really. However, my lifelong distaste for mystery novels has yet again shown its ugly face. I get so frustrated at the end of a mystery when the author has to explain everything and I have to read it to know what was going on through the whole book. I know that this is the way mysteries work but I get so bored with the Scooby-Doo-like pulling off of the masks at the end of the story. What a cool story though--Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child...together...Woah!

If you go to www.skeptic.com much of the history in this book is debunked.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Posted on behalf of the lovely Marcella:
I just finished Garbo Laughs which I LOVED-by Elizabeth Hay. Quiet yet powerful novel centered around one family and neighbourhood in Ottawa during the big ice storm (big for us. not sure if it was for you guys too) and in particular one woman who 'lives' through movies-particularly old movies-her emotional life really revolves around the stars and plots and so she tunes out of her real life for ehr reel life- oh the cliche marcella anyway- I loved the language and storyline and i think you will too! xomarcella

Yay! I finally read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I really loved this book but it felt a little dire at first. The main character, Virginia, has a great voice...she is a really likeable character but she seems to have no friends and her parents are just awful and her big sister is in Africa...she just seems to have no one (even her best friend has moved away) ... but I hung in there because with all teen novels (and almost all stories) it gets better...and it finally does for Virginia. I found much of this story interesting because Virginia is overweight. Though this seems to be a huge problem for her it is hard to tell just how overweight she is. At times she refers to herself as "chubby" but she shops in the plus size department at Saks where she feels like everything is for 40 yr old women. Well, I am chubby and I don't need to shop at matronly plus size places...I mean even if my mom dragged me there (like poor Virginia) nothing would fit right. Also, just being "chubby" shouldn't affect your self esteem to the point of having only one friend in high school. Sometimes when I read these books with a weight issue I wish I could get a photo (because even a number doesn't always satisfy me...you'll see why in bit) because I want so deeply to understand what the character is experiencing on that level. I really think Virginia's biggest problem is not her weight but her mother and that does come through in the book... and though she tries crash dieting Virginia ultimately realizes if she wants to change her shape she needs to do it for herself. And she doesn't lose it all to become a glam and fabulous person who now is popular etc. ... that would really turn me off. But by realizing some other things and changing her outlook and attitude she does gain the friends and confidence she has been looking for. I do like that she didn't have to lose weight to "win" but she does want to be a more healthy person. I'd love to read about Virginia and her life in another year or two.

Interestingly I read another "weight issue" book just after putting The Earth...down. It's called Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw and Allison blogged it pre-reading. Sorry to beat you to the punch but it's one of my review books and it just looks so tempting! The cover has a chocolate dipped cherry hovering above the title written in chocolate script....who can resist? It's also a slim book...meaning: quick read. I absolutely loved this book! It is a gem. Great voice, amazing character development of Cyril (think Cyrano and you will see the major plot line here...nice nod to the inspiration by the way). But what makes this an interesting tie-in to The Earth... is that Cyril is an overweight teen too ...but a boy... he loves to cook and wants to be a chef but he also has a bad habit of emotional eating. It's never explained here why he developed this habit though we see why he does it...stress, nervousness, unpleasantness...and usually we see this as a female trait. But what makes this book different from some of the overweight girl books I have read is that even though Cyril isn't thrilled about being overweight and it definitely affects his self-esteem he does not diet. Never, not once and never thinks about it. Exercise or lack of is not discussed. It's just interesting because even though we have seen a lot of change in this area I do think it is more socially acceptable for a male to be overweight than a female. In fact, and this brings me to my photo comment earlier...Cyril is 240 pounds. Now I might not just remember but I don't think we learn how tall he is and depending on that and his build 240 might not look so bad. If I knew Cyril was 350 then I would know we are talking about a mammoth sized person. Anyway, he has friends, his family does not berate him for his size, he hears maybe one insult...just such a vast difference from the above book but also another one I read recently, Alt Ed by Catherine Atkins (which is fantastic but also a bit on the dire side at first). And I am not saying that Cyril's life is perfect despite the weight but it's an interesting difference to notice. It has put me in the mood anyway to re-read Judy Blume's Blubber just to see how far or little we have come in dealing with weight and body image. I also have Fat Kid Rules the World on my nightstand so I should probably approach that one soon for even more indepth comparisons! Maybe if I ever brave grad school again I will study Children's Lit and write a thesis on weight in the teen novel....hmmm, has probably been done before. Nevertheless, two great reads!

Oh! I almost forgot...Flavor of the Week includes recipes...ok an overweight female novel would never do this! Am I wrong on that one?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I want to second all of April's comments about Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle. It's an awesome teen identity book. It's a journey and exploration and exactly what I love about good teen coming of age fiction. Myracle manages to tackle some tough issues with heart and maturity while still appealing to a teen reader. The story goes something like this: Lissa and her best friend Kate share a kiss and a little bit more on a drunken party night. Now, they aren't speaking. Lissa holds on to this secret tightly. (The way she holds on to this secret reminds me of the main character in Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.) Lissa is ashamed and scared and missing her friend Kate. But through some new friendships that she makes in Kate's absence, Lissa gains the courage to face her feelings and come to terms with the fact that she might be gay. I put the book down feeling like Lissa was not completely resolved about whether or not she was a lesbian and I really liked that. There is so much ambiguity in those pesky teen years...it just seemed like the right way to end the book.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Recent reads. I liked the first one a lot and the second one I give...hmmm...5 out of 10.

Not Quite a Stranger by Colby Rodowsky. You have a mom and a dad and a younger brother. You like your parents even though your Dad is a famous book writing pediatrician and your Mom writes embarrassing articles about you and your family for the local paper. One day the doorbell rings and you open the door to discover a young version of your father on the front step. Who is this kid? You've never met him before in your life, but he certainly isn't a stranger.

The New Rules of High School by Blake Nelson. You are smart, headed to an Ivy League school far from Oregon. You are editor of the school newspaper and you are dating the perfect girl. One evening, after a rather boring date with your perfect girlfriend, you break up with her. Then you start hanging out at a downtown dance club. Then you get drunk and have an accident. then your mom will barely talk to you. Your life spirals and your mind just rambles and wanders all over the place. The rules have changed.