Friday, April 27, 2012

Mo Wren, Lost and Found by Tricia Springstubb

If you are looking for a new series for your 7-10 year old reader, please check out (children's librarian) Tricia Springstubb's 2 books about the Wren family: What Happened on Fox Street (2010) and Mo Wren, Lost and Found (2011).

The stories wrap around themes of family - especially the ones you create, being a good friend, and growing up. Mo is the steady older sister trying to hold her father and sister together now that their mom has died. She's thoughtful, caring, and smart. The secondary characters are equally fascinating and real, although I wanted to give Mr. Wren a swift kick in the pants on more than one occasion (for instance, leaving his kids at a laundromat for a few hours.)

In the second book, the Wrens move to the other side of town (across the river) from the homey Fox Street to the anonymous 213th Street. Mo and Dottie meet new people, learn to navigate city streets, help their dad start a new restaurant business, and encounter a local curse. It's scary and different but our steadfast Mo keeps (mostly) calm and carries on. As their dear elderly friend Da says, "fortune favors the brave".

Feel good books that will be a pleasure to read and share. Check them out.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars - post-it note edition

Last week my copy of John Green's book finally came in on library holds. It was on hold since February (the earliest it was available here) and while I was anxious, I was pleased it had such a long holds list. To make it more fun, this was inside my book:

Aw, Nerdfighters. Right back atcha.

Patti already reviewed the book here. I second that it is an amazing work. Plus, it mentions stormtroopers. But seriously, I am so happy John Green writes books.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mock Printz-ing it up

We are well into our reading for potential Mock Printz titles. Here are three of the titles that we're considering that I've recently finished, in very brief :

The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth

I feel like there is a lot of buzz about this one that I've sort of skimmed over. I think it was a really strong piece of writing that took a long time to get to the best part. It is set in the 90s and the main character would actually have been the exact age I was (which was sort of neat). I felt like it took a long time with Cameron's journey. The real strength of the book is the part of the plot where Cameron is sent to a boarding school to get "de-gayed." I know these places exist, but I have never read a YA book that deals with them. The author really shines during the last third and writes with an amazingly level of empathy for everyone involved, while clearly showing how devastating such places are. I wish that we had gotten to explore that more. I think the book would have been stronger for it. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz

Another book dealing with gay teens, this one also written beautifully and with an amazing level of empathy and set in El Paso. The parents in this book are really great in that they are good supportive parents, although not without flaws. It is also set in the 90s (i don't have a copy in front of me, but it was set in the recent past i do remember that). This one I questioned more about the dates because I wasn't sure why it was set then. It was another quiet journey of self-discovery. I knew this one was going to make me cry before I picked it up, and it did - but not as much as I had feared. 

After the Snow - S. D. Crockett

The thing I've seen most in reviews of this title is the comparison of Willo's voice in this title to the girl's voice in Blood Red Road. I can see that comparison. I see the similarities for sure. I don't think the vernacular is as strong here, especially since it is only Willo who seems to talk this way. I also don't know why language would have changed so much in only one generation. Or why Willow seems to have a totem animal that talks to him other than he is wicked isolated. Or why after only 20 some odd years the entire system would have fallen apart to such extremes. I don't know - something about the timeline really bothered me. I think it got a ton of starred reviews, but I didn't think it stood out that much for me.

Book Source = Library Copies

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na

When I saw this book in the spring/Easter display at my library I was immediately drawn to it. Ah, of course it is Il Sung Na! I absolutely adore A Book of Sleep. I love the layered illustrations and the whimsy.

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons follows in similar style to A Book of Sleep. The animals in the forest are getting ready for winter. We have geese flying away from the cold and bears hibernating. But he also includes a couple unusual animals: turtles swimming to warmer water and alligators (or crocodiles) still in the water. My favorite are the squirrels, mainly due to the fact that my 3 year old calls them "swirls". The narrator on this journey is our dear white rabbit... who, as we move through winter into spring, changes color.

I think this would make a fine storytime book about the seasons. Be sure to brush up on why the rabbit (or hare) changes colors.

Absolutely charming. Extremely beautiful. Unquestionably talented.

Also, this book is called Brrrr...A Book of Winter in the UK where all his books are first published. A Book of Sleep is titled Zzzzz..A Book of Sleep. I think this is funny.

Coming soon: Hide and Seek (June)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Letting Go

When we moved into our house I finally had space to take some of my old things still residing at my parents' house. I particularly looked forward to acquiring my extensive L.M. Montgomery collection. I imagined lining them up on our bookshelves and admiring them.

But the reality is that we don't have the space and the books sat in a box for a year and a half. This week I let myself admit the hard truth: I can't keep them here anymore. Okay, I am keeping the first few Anne books, but the rest need to be released.

Other than space, the pressing issue is that this is Florida. Stuff gets funky. Paper stuff gets really funky. I was such a good librarian-in-training 25 years ago that even though they have age issues (discoloration, odor) they hardly have any creases or dents. I treasured them. So before the whole collection spoils and is useful to no one, I am going to donate them to my library's book sale. Maybe the book sale won't want them but I can't think like that! I am going to cling to the thought that the books will get to the sale and some wonderful person will be thrilled to her fingertips. The books deserve to be out and about and not just admired once a year or whenever I get around to cleaning out the closet. I am a hopeless romantic...which you probably figured out since I have a zillion Anne books.

From 7th grade through high school I scoured book stores and libraries for titles. I checked the book list in the front of each Bantam Books edition for new titles. Among the Shadows? What is this?! I fortunately began my obsession during the resurgence of Anne due to the TV series. (See well loved AoGG in above picture.) Older and obscure L. M. Montgomery stories were collected and republished and it just fed my fascination. It was a perfect storm of swooning nerdy teenage awesomeness.

Thanks for being my friends, dear beloved books. I hope you encounter another kindred spirit and bring some light into her life.

Your obedient servant,

Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside
Emily of New Moon,  Emily Climbs, Emily's Quest
Pat of Silver Bush, Mistress Pat
The Blue Castle
Magic for Marigold
Jane of Lantern Hill
The Story Girl, The Golden Road
A Tangled Web
Kilmeny of the Orchard
Chronicles of Avonlea, Further Chronicles of Avonlea
After Many Days
Akin to Anne
Among the Shadows
The Road to Yesterday
Along the Shore
At the Altar
The Doctor's Sweetheart and Other Stories
Maud: the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce

(See also : Top 10 YA, and prequel review.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Holy mackerel people! I found the ARC to Insurgent squirreled away among the adult ARCs that our adult selectors receive. What are the chances! Needless to say, I snagged that sucker.

And I couldn't put it down. I think I liked it more than the first book. Seriously. It was pretty much awesome from start to finish.

The book basically begins where the last one left off. They are still on the train escaping. Tris, Tobias, Peter, Marcus, and Caleb hop off the train and are given refuge with the Amity. Only the refuge doesn't last long and from the start of the book until the end there is non-stop plot-progressing action that is fantastic. Tris is still Tris. Meaning she is still awfully hard on herself - to the point where it can detract a little from the story - but by mid-book I think you can see a turning point. And by the end, she's come to terms with a lot of things she needed to.

Looking back over my review of the first book, I feel as though the author addressed almost all of my "potential problem" list:

Love interest too perfect? Not anymore, now that we spend more time with Tobias we realize he's got flaws just like the rest of us. And some pretty gaping ones at that.

Factions don't really make sense? Well, they still are sort of strange - but we have an entire plot dedicated to learning more about them and we learn about all of them. We spend some quality time with Amity and Candor and it helps to expand the storyline in necessary ways. The author did a good job expanding the reader's knowledge of the political structure without it bogging down the action. And then we get to the end of the story and it blows the whole thing wide open. And I mean wide open. I can't wait to see where the story goes in the next book.

Are the simulations for real? As in, why wouldn't they have immediately recognized Tris as divergent? Well, turns out they sort of did, but there were things going on that couldn't be revealed until the sequel. I loved the continuation of the nefarious simulations created by Jeanine. And how Tris is forced to endure more of them.

People heal waaaaaay too quickly? No magical-at-the-speed-of-light healing in this one. People who were injured early on remained injured throughout - they did heal, but bullet wounds did not go away after a week. Indeed, serious injuries did not completely heal at all.

We've got people showing up that were thought to be dead, we've got more traitors than you can shake a stick at, we've got an entire political structure that is imploding and so many people fighting for power that it seems as though things are never going to improve.

If you at all liked the first book I think this one will knock your socks off.

Book Source = ARC found on 4th floor