Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Trailer for THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE by David Wroblewski Trailer created by Nancy McIntyre


Check out this trailer for the book THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE, by David Wroblewski. The book is appropriate for high school students and there is an AR quiz available for it. The trailer was created by Nancy McIntyre, who is the librarian at Stephenville High School. Check out her blog at:
http://svillelibrarylady.edublogs.org/

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trailer for DARKWING by Kenneth Oppel Created by Analine Johnson

Check out this trailer, created by Analine Johnson, of Laredo, Texas. If you'd like to view her blog, go to: http://centeno.edublogs.org There is an AR quiz for this book and it is appropriate for middle grades (4th-6th) and up.
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Book Trailer for Savvy, by Ingrid Law, Created by Analine Johnson

Check out this trailer, created by Analine Johnson, of Laredo, Texas. If you'd like to view her blog, go to: http://centeno.edublogs.org/ There is an AR quiz for this book and it is appropriate for middle grades (4th-8th) and up.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trailer for SOMEONE NAMED EVA by Joan M. Wolf Trailer Created by Analine Johnson

Check out this trailer, created by Analine Johnson, of Laredo, Texas. If you'd like to view her blog, go to: http://centeno.edublogs.org/ There is an AR quiz for this book and it is appropriate for middle grades (4th-6th and up)
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Monday, September 21, 2009

BATTLE OF THE BANDS posted by Addie B., Senior

BATTLE OF THE BANDS
by K.L. Denman
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Upper Grades

One band's dream to rule the stage, one romance gone bad, one romance that may or may not happen, and jealousy rule the plot of Battle of the Bands, as well as death, soul-searching, and friendship. It is easy and fun to read. Whether you are a boy or girl, you will find yourself laughing at the thoughts of Jay, the main character.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Trailer for LUV YA BUNCHES by Lauren Myracle Trailer Created by Mrs. Schauer

Check out this book trailer for Lauren Myracle's newest book, LUV YA BUNCHES, which will be available in bookstores on October 1st. The target audience for this one is "tween girls," but heck, I'm 42 and I LOVED it!

For a detailed review of the book, click on the following: Review of LUV YA BUNCHES

It is also viewable in full screen at: Full Screen of Trailer

I had a fantastic time creating this trailer, because I was fortunate enough to be able to get the author's input along every step of it's creation. Lauren Myracle is a brilliant author who knows exactly what teens and tweens are looking for in books. I am honored to say, "Hey! I know her!" I hope you enjoy the trailer, and that you'll read this book once it's published.


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ON VINEY'S MOUNTAIN by Joan Donaldson Blog Entry by Amannda Murie, PHS Sophomore

ON VINEY'S MOUNTAIN, by Joan Donaldson
AR: Not Yet--book is slated to be published on October 1st
Interest Level: Middle Grades and Up

I was twitchy all day Saturday because I was busy most of the day around the house when all I wanted to do was go out to our barn and sit atop the hay and have this book with me.

ON VINEY'S MOUNTAIN, by Joan Donaldson is a tale about Viney, a sixteen year old girl who has the odd view for the era that she can take care of herself and her mountain without the help of a man. This changes whensettlers start coming to builda town, which has an effect on Viney's mountain. At first she looks at this negatively becasue they are ruining her home. Then, she meets Charlie--and falls in love.

This is one of the few books that are entwined with history that I've truely enjoyed and it left me thinking about the lesson of Viney's experience. Viney...many people (including me) can relate to her easily because at some point in life, everyone goes through the confusion and turmoil of trying to figure out exactly what they want.

Donaldson's setting and plot are in essence simple. A beginning settlement and the trouble that follows, and Viney's love story in the mix make it easy to follow; but how she describes this through a first person perspective gives it the complexity that makes this book unique. Her writing is fluent and clean, never being being so simple that it becomes boring, or so complex that it requires the reader to have to fully concentrate on deciphering the vocabulary. This book was slow only in the first chapter, but then it had me until I finished it. I hope to see this book , published and on the shelves at PHS so others can enjoy this wonderful story that Joan Donaldson has created.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

THE CHOSEN ONE, by Carol Lynch Williams Trailer created by Sherry Thompson

Check out this FANTASTIC book trailer for THE CHOSEN ONE, by Carol Lynch Williams. The trailer was created by Sherry Thompson, librarian at Flower Mound High School, in Flower Mound, Texas. There is also a blog entry for this book: http://pettushs.blogspot.com/2009/05/chosen-one-by-carol-lynch-williams.html There is an AR quiz available, and the interest level is for Upper Grades.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ON VINEY'S MOUNTAIN by Joan Donaldson Blog Entry by Carol Riley Cain, PHS English Teacher

ON VINEY'S MOUNTAIN
by Joan Donaldson
Blog Post: Carol Riley Cain, PHS English Teacher
AR: Not Yet
Interest Level: Middle Grades and Up
NOT PUBLISHED YET....WILL HAVE BOOK IN OCTOBER

Take a 16-year-old “spinster”, drop her smack dab into the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee in 1879, and you have the premise of On Viney’s Mountain by Joan Donaldson. In spite of it being a Young Adult book, it is engaging and captivating for all readers. Told completely from the point of view of Viney, the spinster in question, this story will capture your interest before you finish the first chapter.

Viney, the youngest of three siblings, has been raised by her aunts after her mother dies in childbirth and her father leaves the mountain. Now that they are grown, these three teens live in their father’s cabin and work hard to support themselves. Viney is unusually independent for a girl of the 1800s, and does not think all women have to marry. She is determined never to be like her older sister, who can’t wait to marry, and has hopes of finding a suitable mate in the group of settlers.

Filled with a deep love for her mountains and the nature around her, Viney harbors strong opinions when that nature is encroached upon by a group of English immigrants, intent upon creating an Utopian settlement practically in Viney’s back yard. Determined to do what ever it takes to rid her community of these encroachers, Viney is quite taken aback when she finds herself with feelings for one of the settlers.

The author’s realistic writing style combined with the use of authentic dialect throughout the story made me feel as if I was watching a movie. I was sad when it ended, as you will be if you read this book. I wanted to read more. Will we find a sequel in the future? Do we get to discover if Charlie returns to wed Viney? Only the author can tell.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Trailer for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman Trailer created by Dayna and Karin Greene

Check out this trailer for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman. The trailer was created by Dayna and Karen Green of Comstock ISD in Comstock, Texas. Click on the following link to visit their library page: Comstock ISD Virtual Library This book has an AR quiz and the interest level is upper middle grades (6th-8th) and up. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trailer for THE LAB by Jack Heath Trailer by Robin Henry

Check out this trailer for THE LAB, by Jack Heath. The trailer was created by Robin Henry. Mrs. Henry is the librarian at Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas. Visit their blog at: http://wakelandlibrary.wordpress.com/ AR: Yes Interest Level: Middle Grades
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trailer for THE POISON APPLES, by Lily Archer Trailer created by Kristy Unger

Check out this trailer for the book POISON APPLES, by Katy Archer. It was created by Kristy Unger. This book has an AR quiz and is appropriate for middle grades and up. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trailer for SKELLIG, by David Almond Trailer Created by Miss Briggs

Check out this amazing trailer for the book SKELLIG, by David Almond, created by Miss Briggs who is the librarian at Dexter and Brownville-Glen Elementary Schools, which are located in Brownville, New York. There is an AR quiz available for this book and it is appropriate for middle grades (4th-6th) and up.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Trailer for MAYBELLE IN THE SOUP by Katie Speck Trailer created by Teacher Tube member "Mubarama"

Check out this trailer for the book MAYBELLE IN THE SOUP, by Katie Speck. The trailer was created by Teacher Tube member "Mubarama" and I will post more info about her as soon as she sends it to me. Enjoy! This book is appropriate for Elementary students and there is an AR quiz.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Trailer for SCARY STORIES created by Rebecca Baker

Check out this book trailer for SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, created by Rebecca Baker. This book is appropriate for middle school students and there is an AR quiz available. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

RULES, by Cynthia Lord Trailer Created by Jill Suarez

Check out this book trailer for the book RULES, by Cynthia Lord. The trailer was created by Jill Suarez, who works at Whittier Health Science Academy, in San Antonio, and the book is intended for middle and high school students. Enjoy!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

THE BOOK OF ONE HUNDRED TRUTHS, by Julie Schumacher

Check out this trailer for THE BOOK OF ONE HUNDRED TRUTHS, by Julie Schumacher. There is an AR quiz available for this book, and the intended audience is 5th grade and up. Enjoy!
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LUV YA BUNCHES by Lauren Myracle Posted by Mrs. Schauer

LUV YA BUNCHES
by Lauren Myracle
AR: Yes
Interest Level: 4th Grade and Up

I was EVER SO fortunate enough to get my hands on an advanced copy of Lauren Myracle's newest book so that Ashlynn and I could read it. I have to be honest and say that I loved, loved, LOVED this book and think it will be a hit with every 4th-7th grade girl who gets her hands on it. (I think some of the older girls will love it too--I am 42 and I thought it rocked!) As soon as it is published, I will order a couple of copies of it for both of the Pettus libraries. (Psssst for now, though, if you ask nicely, I'll let ya borrow my ARC!)

This is the story of four fifth grade girls named Violet, Katie Rose, Camilla and Yasaman. They don't have a whole lot in common with each other, but they are each going through their own private misery, and drama ensues when their paths cross and their stories merge.

It's also the story of Modessa and Quin, but I don't want to talk a lot about them, because they are SO INCREDIBLY hateful that I don't want to waste my time on them! (If you've seen the movie "Mean Girls" think Regina George and you've got the idea)

I don't want to give away any of the story, and if I write too much, then that's exactly what I'll end up doing, so I'll just say that this book is for you if:
  • You are a "tween" girl or older
  • You have ever had to deal with a mean girl
  • You have ever felt like you don't fit in because of your family, your religion, the color of your skin, or for any other reason at all
  • You are clumsy and awkward (even just a little)
  • You are popular, but you're afraid people will find out you're really a dork on the inside
  • You like chatting online with your friends
  • You want to have a MySpace of Facebook but you're not old enough and your parents won't let you
  • You've read TTYL, TTFN, or L8RG8R (There's a tiny cameo appearance by one of the minor characters from that series)
  • You like to laugh
I have already said it, but I really loved the book. Lauren Myracle is one of my favorite authors of books for teens and tweens. She does such a fantastic job of capturing the voice and emotions of her characters that the reader develops a personal relationship with each and every one of them.

I predict this one will be a HUGE HIT! You did it again, Lauren!! You rock!!!!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

WILLOW, by Julia Hoban posted by Mrs. Schauer

WILLOW, by Julia Hoban
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Upper Grades

This is another one I picked up at Barnes and Noble because I was drawn to the book cover. (I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I am often guilty of it) I took it home and added it to my "to read" pile. Then Hailee had Cat over to spend the night. Cat, who can never resist picking up a book, started reading it so I let her take it home. Since I didn't have the book in my possession, I decided to download the audio book and listen to it on a trip to East Texas. (By the way, Cat says she's read it four times--guess that means she liked it!) Man, I'm glad school's starting again so I can get recommendations from my kids! But I digress...

This story centers on Willow, a 17 year old high school junior, whose parents were killed in a horrible car accident months earlier. Willow is consumed with guilt over the fact that she was the one driving the car the night her parents drank too much wine and asked her to drive them home. Since their death, she has moved to a new town to live with her older brother and his wife. Everything in Willow's life has changed since the accident, but the thing that's changed the most is her relationship with her brother. Once extremely close, now there is only discomfort as they each try to adjust to their new roles--he as a parent, and she, as his charge.

Willow has a secret--She has descended into an extremely self-destructive addiction that is as honest and sincere to her as it is deceitful and insidious . Willow is a Cutter. She has found that the only way she can block out her emotions surrounding the accident is to slice her own skin with a razor blade. She compares the pain that floods her body to the way she imagines an opiate addict must feel as heroin seeps into their veins.

Willow manages to hide her wounds from everyone...until she meets Guy while working part time at the University library. From their first meeting, Willow is drawn to Guy, and they bond over a shared love of eccentric literature. Guy "gets her" like no one ever has. Early on in their friendship, Guy discovers Willow's secret and becomes the one person on Earth that Willow can almost imagine trusting with her heart--almost. At her request, Guy preserves her secret, but it tears him apart inside. While her cutting causes real, physical scars on Willow's skin, the emotional wounds they inflict on Guy are every bit as painful. Can she stop cutting? If she stops, will she be able to face the pain, grief, rage, sorrow, sadness and guilt that she's struggled to keep at bay for months? If she decides to face her demons, will she survive them?

It doesn't feel right to say "I loved this book" because the subject is so jarring. I did become emotionally attached to Willow, though, and reading her story gave me a better understanding of Cutting. People who cut do so because it is a way for them to control their pain, rather than facing a pain that they can't control. Willow's story will resonate with many readers--of that I'm certain. I am on the lookout for more books by Julia Hoban!

Book Trailer for WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell Trailer by Robin Henry

Check out this trailer for WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell Trailer Created by Robin Henry. Mrs. Henry is the librarian at Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas. Visit their blog at: http://wakelandlibrary.wordpress.com/
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades

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Book Trailer for WAKE by Lisa McMann Book Trailer by Robin Henry

Check out this book trailer for WAKE, by Lisa McMann. The trailer was created by Robin Henry. Mrs. Henry is the librarian at Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas. Visit their blog at: http://wakelandlibrary.wordpress.com/

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Book Trailer for WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson Trailer created by Jace Daily

Check out this book trailer for WINTERGIRLS by Jace Daily. Mrs. Daily is the librarian at Burleson High School in Burleson, Texas. Visit her library website at: http://elklibrary.glogster.com/BHS-Library-Web-site/
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades

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HOMEBOYZ by Alan Lawrence Sitomer Trailer by Christine Acosta

Check out this trailer for THE AFTERLIFE by Alan Lawrence Sitomoer. The trailer was created by Christine Acosta, the librarian at Taft High School. Visit her blog at: http://tafthslibrary.blogspot.com
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades

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THE AFTERLIFE by Gary Soto Book Trailer by Christine Acosta

Check out this book trailer for THE AFTERLIFE by Gary Soto. The trailer was created by Christine Acosta, the librarian at Taft High School. Visit her blog at: http://tafthslibrary.blogspot.com
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades
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PLAYING WITH MATCHES by Brian Katcher Trailer by A. Brewster

Check out this book trailer for PLAYING WITH MATCHES by Brian Katcher. The trailer was produced by Aleathea Brewster, who is the assistant librarian at the high school in Canadian, Texas.
AR: Yes Interest Level: Middle and Upper Grades

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THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins Trailer by Robin Henry

Check out this book trailer for THE HUNGER games, produced by Robin Henry. Mrs. Henry is the librarian at Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas. Visit their blog at: http://wakelandlibrary.wordpress.com/
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

HARMLESS, by Dana Reinhardt Created by Christine Acosta

Check out this amazing trailer for the book HARMLESS, by Dana Reinhardt. The trailer was created by Christine Acosta, the librarian at Taft High School, in Texas. Check out her blog at: http://tafthslibrary.blogspot.com/
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades

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THE LATENT POWERS OF DYLAN FONTAINE by Suzanne Severns

Check out this book trailer for THE LATENT POWERS OF DYLAN FONTAINE, by April Lurie. The trailer was created by Suzanne Severns, who is the librarian at Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. Visit her library pages at: http://bowielibrary.wetpaint.com/
AR: Yes Interest Level: Upper Grades

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

THE COMPOUND, by S.A. Bodeen

THE COMPOUND

by S.A. Bodeen

AR: Yes

Interest Level: Middle and Upper Grades


I listened to the audio of this one during a trip to San Antonio to go to the dentist. It didn't grab me right away, but at a point about a quarter of the way through, the pace picked up. I got to town early, and was so riveted by the story that I purchased it on my Kindle so I could continue reading after I got out of the car. While parts of the plot are not entirely believable, it was entertaining and it made me think, which is what any great book should do, right?

Fifteen year old Eli is the son of one of the richest men in the world, Rex Yanakakis. On Eli's 9th birthday, his father escorts him, his mom and their two sisters into an underground sanctuary where they are going to "ride out' the fifteen years of a nuclear winter that is occurring above ground. Everything happens so fast the night the war is to start, that his twin brother and his grandmother don't make it into the shelter before the huge silver door closes.

Once safely ensconced in the opulence of the underground compound, Eli tries to come to terms with the fact that he'll never see his twin brother or grandmother again, and he tries to adjust to his new life. When problems with the food supply start to mount, and their survival is threatened, Eli begins to suspect that all is not as it seems with his father...or their predicament. Is there really a nuclear war raging above them? If there isn't a war, then why would his father force them into solitude for fifteen years? Could it all be a lie? And if it is a lie, is Eli the only one who can guarantee the survival of his mother and sisters? I'd answer these questions for you, but then you wouldn't have a reason to read the book, now would you?

Monday, June 29, 2009

THE PACT by Jodi Picoult Posted by Mrs. Schauer

THE PACT
by Jodi Picoult
AR:  Yes
Interest Level:  Upper Grades

I selected this older title (c 1998) to read on my Kindle during my travel on a business trip and it definitely held my attention.  This is the story of Emily and Chris, and their bond that began, literally, from the moment they met, in infancy.  The children of best friends and neighbors, they began their life together when they were introduced by being placed in a bassinet together the day Emily was born.  They grew up best friends, and it was only natural that they would also take their relationship to the next level upon entering their teen years.  Their lives, on the surface, from the outsider, were perfect.  They were intelligent, witty, well-rounded young adults from respected families.  They were destined for success and a long happy life together.  All this is shattered, though, when Emily is found dead, in Chris's arms, at 3:00 in the morning.  Could it really have been a suicide pact gone wrong, as Chris tells the police upon being questioned?  Could Chris have murdered her?  Nothing is certain, except that lifelong friendships are shattered, and the outlook of two families is bleak, as they try to fit the pieces of the shattered puzzle that has become their lives, back together.  

This book was hard to read--Jodi Picoult does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and making them care about her characters.  She tackles tough and timely subjects head-on and to the point.  My heart broke for Chris as well as both sets of parents.  I'm thinking about a trailer for this one.... hmmmmmm

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Authors Who Have Commented on Our Blog!

Since starting our blog, we've had a few authors comment on our blog posts. We thought it would be cool to post an entry that will link to their comments. To view what the authors think about what WE think, click on the book covers below:



      


Friday, June 19, 2009

VIBES 
by Amy Kathleen Ryan
AR:  Yes
Interest Level:  Upper Grades

I listened to this one on audio, on my way to and from Austin and it was an easy, breezy listen.  The story centers on Krisiti, a high school student who can read minds.  She knows that almost every boy who looks at her thinks about her self-described "enormous gazoombas", she knows that the one guy she is head over heels for (Gusty, short for Augustus)  thinks she's sick, and she knows that her ex-best friend Hildie (who also happens to be Gusty's little sister) absolutely despises her.   She thinks she's got everyone figured out--until her "vibes" don't tell her a few very important things--and she has to readjust the way she thinks about everything.  What if she's been wrong about everything? What if she can't really read minds?  This book will be enjoyed by teen girls--I've already ordered it for our library.  

BAIT, by Alex Sanchez posted by Mrs. Schauer

BAIT
by Alex Sanchez
AR:  Not Yet
Interest Level:  Upper Grades

The cover of this book caught my eye while I was browsing the new releases at Barnes and Noble.  When I read the book's summary, I knew it was a book I had to read.  BAIT is the story of Diego, a teenage boy who is living with a great deal of pain and guilt he's carried over from his childhood.  He was born in Mexico and came to America as a small boy when his mom married Mac, the man who would become his stepfather--and the only father figure he would ever know.   There is more to Diego and Mac's relationship than meets the eye, and when Mac commits suicide, Diego is left to deal with the secrets and lies that are tightly woven into the very essence of who he is as a person. 

The book opens with Diego being introduced to Mr. Vidas, his probation officer.  He's in trouble for punching a known gay guy in the face for flirting with him.  At first, Diego is defiant and reluctant to talk to Mr. Vidas.  He has trouble controlling his temper whenever his masculinity is threatened in any way, and he continues to find himself in trouble.  It doesn't take long though, for him to realize that Mr. Vidas genuinely cares and wants to help him. Mr. Vidas tells Diego that he has to deal with his anger or it will deal with him--and that one phrase makes so much sense to Diego that he decides to open up to his probation officer.  The reader is taken on a painful journey of fear, pain, guilt, abuse, and self-hatred as Diego struggles to deal with his past.  

As far as contextual difficulty goes, this book was fairly easy--was it an easy read though? Absolutely not--it was one of the toughest reading experiences I've had in a while.  I was so sad for Diego and what he experienced in his childhood--and it really made me stop and think about the kids I come into contact with every day.  I consider myself a pretty "with it" adult, but this book really drives home the importance of loving every person--and taking into consideration the things they've been through along life's path.  That being said, Sanchez  does a fantastic job of driving home the importance of dealing with whatever issues might be eating away at the soul--finding the problem, identifying it, and cutting it out--so the wound is clean and can finally heal.  

This was a difficult book to read, but it is a powerful book that I feel will help so many who have been abused.  It's definitely not a book that everyone will be comfortable reading, but reading this book could be a life-changing event for someone who really needs it's message.  

Well done, Alex Sanchez!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams posted by Mrs. Schauer

THE CHOSEN ONE
by Carol Lynch Williams
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Middle and Upper Grades

I first heard about this one by reading a post written by Cynthia Leitich Smith, praising it's merits. I spent all day yesterday glued to my Kindle--once I started reading it I could not put it down.

The story is Kyra's, a thirteen year old girl who lives on a polygamist compound that is home to "The Chosen Ones," and is run with an iron fist by "The Prophet," a man everyone worships because he claims to be in close communication with God. Over the years, the prophet has demanded the compound become more and more closed off from the rest of the world. A huge fence has been erected around the compound, and all communication with the outside world, including books and newspapers has become forbidden. Kyra is the most headstrong of her twenty (yes, twenty!) brothers and sisters. She is a constant worry for her father and his three wives. She wants to be obedient, but she sometimes has difficulty blindly accepting the laws of the prophet.

Kyra carries secrets--she secretly sneaks to the edge of the compound to meet the Mobile Library on Wheels where she checks out one forbidden book at a time, that she hides and reads at the top of her favorite tree. She's secretly in love with a boy named Joshua--whom she hopes and prays will be able to "choose her" as his wife as soon as he is old enough. Her darkest, and most fearsome secret though, the one that she fears will cause possible eternal damnation for her and her family, are her private thoughts--of killing the prophet.

Kyra's life begins to spiral out of control when the prophet pays her family a visit and decrees that he has seen vision, and that Kyra has been chosen to marry her sixty year old uncle. From the minute this announcement is made, Kyra's life becomes a nightmare. Without going into details, I will say that Kyra learns the hard way that life on the compound means threats, beatings, emotional and physical abuse, and banishments. She must decide if she will continue to live this way, or if she will take the risk of running away and abandoning her family forever.

This book was an easy, breezy read--as far as textual difficulty is concerned. I have to say, though, that it ranks up there with one of the most difficult books I've ever read--on an emotional level.

Bottom line: I loved this book and think it is going to be one of my top circulating titles as soon as school reopens in the fall.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

FLIRTIN' WITH THE MONSTER posted by Mrs. Schauer


FLIRTIN' WITH THE MONSTER
Edited by Ellen Hopkins
AR: No
Interest Level: Middle and Upper Grades

This is a compilation of essays written by favorite YA authors as well as a judge, an addiction specialist and other therapists, in response to the books CRANK, and GLASS, which give readers a glimpse into the life of a teenager's entry into and spiral down the tunnel of "the monster," crystal meth. There are also essays written by family members, including "Kristina" herself.

I loved this book, and think it should be read by parents, teens, teachers, probation officers, judges and any other person who might come into contact with this insidious drug, either directly or indirectly. (Which means, basically, everyone should read it!)

The book opens with an introduction from Ellen Hopkins herself. After reading it, and the subsequent first contributed essay, I was so taken with what I read, that I ended up reading my favorite parts aloud to my husband. I was so touched by the books CRANK AND GLASS, and it was amazing to read other peoples' reactions and realize that they were so similar to my own. I also sent an email to Ellen to express my gratitude to her for sharing her story with the world. I truly believe that an untold number of teens will be spared the nightmare of dancing with the monster, because of Ellen's strength and amazing method of getting her personal pain on paper and sharing it with the world. My favorite quote from her introduction is, "Never pray lightly. Someone just might be listening."

My favorite contributed essay is by Niki Burnaham, a popular YA author. Her take on YA literature is one I hadn't considered before. I am one of those librarians who believes that teens want to read books that are relevant to them--this means some of the content of such books might not be content that adults feel are savory or "appropriate" because they might contain situations and language we don't deem as acceptable for our teens to take part in or use. Many people feel that YA authors have a responsibility to limit their writing so it is only about characters who are good role models. In reading only about "perfect" characters, however, teens aren't exposed to characters who are real, or believable. Burnham drove her point home when she talked about popular children's literature...I had never thought about it before, but even small children are drawn to stories about characters who have flaws, or who don't always make the best decisions. The example she used in her essay was a popular children's book about a bunny whose mother loves him even when he misbehaves. The story is believable and desirable to small children because they can relate to the bunny's desire to assert his independence, even if it means he gets in trouble by doing so. By the teen years, Burnham explains, life has become more complex and the stories teens read should reflect that reality. In the real world, people swear, they hurt others, they lie, and they struggle with knowing the right thing to do in situations that don't always have simple black and white answers, and they must learn that actions have consequences. Teens don't learn life lessons from characters who are perfect; they learn from those who are imperfect. When a book is so sanitized that in contains only perfect characters, or characters whose role in the story is only to teach a reader a lesson, that book no longer rings true to the reader. I had never stopped and thought about all the books for young children that are about characters who aren't exactly role models for our wee little ones to base their own choices and decisions on. Teens are drawn to books about broken characters too, and with older characters, naturally the situations they find themselves in because of their brokenness are going to be grittier, and sometimes even harsh. This doesn't mean they're not books that are worthy of being read--it makes them even more worthy of being read--especially if reading them will impart a lesson that might prevent the reader from making the same mistakes as the broken character. As a parent myself, and someone who has established relationships with many of my own teen patrons, I would rather my kids read about unsavory situations than experience them for themselves.

I could write my own essay in response to almost every essay contained in this book, but if I were to do that, then I wouldn't leave you with a reason to read the book on your own. The sections written by family members, especially the essays by Kristian and her son Orion, are essays I will read time and again. This is a fantastic book--fans of CRANK and GLASS will be drawn to it, and will have a hard time putting it down from the time they open it, until the last page is read.