Saturday, June 26, 2004

I have heard about Home but haven't seen it yet...I heard it is a lot like Window which I have always loved and even without words sends a strong message.
Right now I am re-reading The Golden Compass ... I am trying to catch up to Mike who is reading the series for the first time but I also never read The Amber Spyglass so this is actually really going to help me because I have forgotten a lot. I think when I recommend these to kids (and adults...since I seem to be doing a lot of that lately) I will suggest reading the series back to back.

From the same publisher that brought us Snow I also recently read The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey. It's a re-invention of Arabian Nights. It was definitely intriguing & fast paced...a weak spot here or there but these books really are perfect for those girls who love extended fairy tales... they would make great beach or travel books! They're from Simon Pulse if you're looking to purchase. I have the Sleeping Beauty one (Beauty Sleep) on my nightstand which I started but I think I overdid it trying to read 3 like that in a row...I like variety...why I guess I don't usually read a series back to back! Anyway, I have forsaken Beauty Sleep for Golden Compass...no regrets there :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I just put a book down and couldn't wait another second to tell you all about it. It's a wordless picture book called Home by Jeannie Baker. It has so many stories to tell and there is so much to look at in each illustration. It's about family, community, growing up, revitalizing neighborhoods, bringing nature into the city, and so much more. Feast your eyes on this book and enjoy the stories!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I just read:

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes
This was not my favorite of Marian Keyes' fun escapist single women novels, but it was a fast read and kept my mind off being sick and all the busy library stuff going on with the summer reading program.

I also had the pleasure of reading A Northern Light which is a new historical fiction book by Jennifer Donnelly. This is a must read for all book people, word people, writing people, dictionary people, history people, women's movement people, poetry people, animal people, love story people etc. You get the picture? The setting is upstate New York, near Old Forge, in the early 1900s. Mattie is the oldest daughter and bound by a promise to her now dead mother that she will stay with the family and take care of her Father and siblings. But Mattie is an excellent writer and a great lover of words. Her teacher encourages her to take the New York state Regents exams to be able to apply to college. Mattie is torn apart by her desire to continue her education and become a real writer. She feels obligated to take care of the family since her Mother's death. She also has a love interest, that handsome Royal Loomis. When his arms are around her she couldn't be happier. Will Mattie choose her family or an education? Please read this wonderful novel to find out!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hello all, and thanks for letting me join!

I just read Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. It is about Alex Rider, a 14-year-old who is an orphan and lives with his uncle. Then his uncle is killed, and Alex finds out that the uncle wasn't a banker, but a spy for the British government. Alex is then recruited to finish his uncle's last task. Unbelievable, yes, but a really fun read. There are lots of James Bond-esque elements, like the nifty gadgets (zit cream that can disolve metal, and a Gameboy that is an exray machine), death-defying stunts, and Dr. Evil villains. It was a lot of fun to read, and I can almost guarantee that boys will love it. I booktalked it in 6th grade classes yesterday, and they were very interested.


Also this weekend I read More than You Can Chew by Marnelle Tokio. It is about a girl with anorexia who is an in-patient in a rehab clinic. It was good...I think it shows that most girls with anorexia aren't quiet submissive types. On the contrary, they are so take control that they get into trouble. The only trouble I had with the book was the presence of the ex-boyfriend. He was mostly a two-dimensional character, and the rest of the characters put a lot of emphasis on him, and I am not sure why. It is almost like he played a large role at one time and got almost completely edited out. I'm not even sure why he was there.

And I read Doing It. I really liked it. I thought it had a lot of heart. Yes, there was graphic sex, and I probably wouldn't book talk it, but I have a feeling the kids are finding it anyway, because it is never in. *Grin*

Anyone read The Garden by Elsie Aidinoff? Voya called it a banned book waiting to happen...can hardly wait to read it!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Ooops! Almost forgot... just finished listening to Shattering Glass by Gail Giles. Scott Brick does an incredible narration...one of the best I have heard so far (Tale of Despereaux probably being my all-time favorite) The only con to the audio is that I want to go back and read the quotes from the beginnings of each chapter...they come from documents related to the narrator, Young Stewart's, parole hearing. Parole hearing? you say...yes...you hear the story from his point of view five years later and it's a doozy (to borrow a word from my mom). Another con to the audio is that I couldn't skim over the gruesome violence that culminates at the end of the book... I had to just grimace tightly while driving home. This is Giles' first novel and I am still amazed at that fact. I feel like she could have been (and maybe was) some sort of juvie counselor or a young teenage boy herself in a past life. Every part of this story rang true...seemed so real...and it's a pretty depressing one at that so prepare yourself but don't pass it by...it's one of those books that will haunt you.

I have not even heard of "Doing It", but based on the title I now want to read it...a lot. Wild Beth, will you tell us what you thought?
A colleague (love using that word) recommended Snow by Tracy Lynn and I really liked it ... some might point out it's no Pulitzer Prize contender but who really cares about that anyway...I want a good story! Something enchanting and that's what Snow is...well it is an extended fairy tale so it should be enchanting. I found the whole story intriguing and read it in one lazy Saturday (Probably another reason why I associate this book with good times!). Snow is not your Disney Snow White ...clueless and naive ... her mistake is in being human and in wanting desperately to be loved and cared for by her stepmother...who herself is not wicked just because... there is a story there, a past, an ambition that makes her the deranged woman she is. And there are no adorable sneezing dwarves...instead Snow is taken in by a band of mutant thieves, and both sides have to earn each other's trust and respect. No handsome prince awakens Snow from her peaceful slumber but there is a happy ending!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Haven't read Doing It yet, but I just ordered it for my library.

I just read Andrew Clement's new book The Report Card. Although I still prefer Frindle and The School Story, the new book is good and takes on the important issues of standardized testing and grades. Nora Rose Rowley is a genius. She is a fifth grader who learned to read when she was two years old and is currently taking an advanced online class through MIT. The only one that knows Nora is a genius is...Nora. And that's the way she wants it. Nora doesn't want to be targeted as a smart kid and then tracked into the gifted and talented program or sent to some special school. She wants to be a normal kid. She is quite the observer and thinker and begins to despise how all the kids and teachers are so obsessed with grades and tests. She thinks it gets in the way of really learning and being a decent person. The kids with bad grades get down on themselves and the kids with good grades get all stuck up. So Nora devises a plan to turn the system upside down. She deliberately gets a report card with all D's and one C. This leads to a face off with her parents, teachers, the principal, a school administrator and a little help from her wonderful school libararian, Mrs. Byrne. In the middle of it all, Nora even hints that she might like to become a librarian someday. Yeah Nora!

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Hi there! I've been lurking for a few weeks now - just wanted to know if anyone else has read Doing It by Burgess and what did you think?
Beth G

Thursday, June 10, 2004

This week I have read:

The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer by Gary Paulsen
Not as strong as his other stuff. Wow, he has had quite a rough life and faced some horrible things. Still, this is not one of my favorites...

Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulsen
This is a sad story that really dives into the heart and soul of a soldier. It is a novel but also a psychological evaluation of what seeing so much death and destruction can do to a person. This is a sad sad story, but a really important one. It seemed so timely with the death toll in the Middle East constantly rising.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
There is no way to describe this book. But I'll give it a shot anyway. It is a fiction book but feels like more like non-fiction. It is about the Vietnam War. It is storytelling at its finest, but it is also about the art of storytelling. It is one of the first things that I've ever read that really and truly made me understand why my Dad will not speak about his experiences as a Marine is Vietnam and why still, 34 years later, he has nightmares every night. All I can really say is that you really need to read it.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I apologize for not having the time to write real reviews for these books, but I just want to get the list out there before I forget what I've read lately. I've been out sick this week and since I couldn't feed my stomach, I decided to feed my brain...

Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates (what a powerful book--just as good, if not better than Big Mouth Ugly Girl)

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (oldie-but-goodie)

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen (I think he is one of the best writers alive today!)

Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: tales from a bad neighborhood by Hollis Gillespie (talk about heart and heartache and humor and love and friendship and wackiness--this is an awesome adventure)

Cirque Du Freak: Book 1 by Darren Shan (I finally got to see what all these middle school boys are so hyped about. This starts as a fun and playful story and has quite a chilling ending. Can't wait to see what happens to Darren in The Vampire's Assistant)

Izzy Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt (We have this shelved in children's and I really think it should be a YA book. Anyway, Cynthia Voigt just never disappoints. Izzy loses her leg in a drunk driving accident. How will she cope? How will her family cope? How will her friends cope?)

The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney (A classroom pet, Humphrey the Hamster, becomes more than a pet when he starts making weekend visits with the students in his classroom)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Yesterday I finished Searching for Anne Frank: Letters from Amsterdam to Iowa by Susan Goldman Rubin. I think everyone should read this book...especially everyone who has read Anne Frank's diary ... in fact, I am going to re-read the diary next. The book was inspired by letters exchanged by Anne and her sister Margot with Betty and Juanita Wagner from a small town in Iowa. For years many people didn't even know this correspondence existed. It was just a couple of letters right before the war started ... I wondered how this would translate into a book and it's done beautifully. There are lots of photos...including one of the diary itself, and also shots of the letters and other sources. The chapters alternate between Amsterdam and Iowa and follow the lives of the girls and their families. I think this book is especially important for readers of the diary to get the perspective of WWII in America. Times were hard and people were scared but it was nothing compared to what was going on in Europe. The author also mentions the anti-Semitism in America as well as the set up of Japanese interment camps... something that gets convoluted in my mind...which war was that again??? This book ties it all together while telling the story of Anne Frank and her family. It also doesn't end with her death but keeps telling the story of how her father got the diary published, about the play and film, and also what happened to Betty and Juanita... how the letters became public and what happened to them. There are great resources in the back ... you just couldn't ask for a more complete book. It's on our middle school's summer reading list and I am so glad...I am going to recommend it to everyone I can!

For Allison...and everyone else who liked Make Lemonade...try Sahara Special ... I just read that for my book review group and really liked it and it reminded me of Make Lemonade.... a young, city-dwelling girl struggling in school, trying to make her life better. Her mom reminds me a little of the Make Lemonade mom and they both live in similar situations. Luckily for Sahara she encounters a unique and inspiring teacher.