Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Image courtesy of Library Thing

L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Dell Publishing, 1962.

1963 Newbery Medal Award
1964 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
1965 Sequoyah Book Award

Annotation: Meg Murry's father is a scientist working on a top-secret government experiment. When his letters stop coming, Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and friend Calvin set out to find him. With the help of the three magical witches, the children search through time and space to find Mr. Murry.

Book Talk:
1 family
A father missing
A mother waiting
2 special children and 1 gifted friend
3 witches help them tesseract through time
4 planets to visit
A universe to explore
...on Earth?

A Wrinkle in Time Video

"I love Fantasy. I have recently discovered the (Harry) Potter books because we were asked to read them in class but I like them because they are so much better than the movies! You can really picture the scenes and characters." (Liam, 11).

Rapunzel's Revenge

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Image courtesy of Library Thing

Hale, Shannon & Hale, Dean. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. Rapunzel’s Revenge. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008.

An ALA 2009 Notable Children's Book
A YALSA 2009 Great Graphic Novel for Teens
An Al's Book Club for Kids selection (See Shannon and Dean on NBC's Today show)
A Kid's Indie Next for fall '08 (formerly known as Booksense Picks)
2011 Young Readers Choice Award (presented by the Pacific Northwest Library Association)
A Junior Library Guild Premiere Selection
A Best Book of the year from and
A Cybil Award winner
Winner of the Utah Book Award for Children's Literature
Winner of the 2009 Leah Adezio Award for Best Kid-Friendly work from the Friends of Lulu
A Texas Maverick Graphic Novel
Winner of the Young Readers Choice Award, presented by the Pacific Northwest Library Association (Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana and Washington)

Annotation:  After being locked away in a tower, Rapunzel strikes off on her own to rescue herself. Along the way, she frees her mother, liberates her countrymen, and even manages to find true love.

Book Talk: In the modern day Rapunzel remix, you won’t find a damsel in distress pining away for true love’s rescue, but rather, a swashbuckling shero! Rapunzel refashioned her long hair into lassos that she skillful wielded to get out of any sticky situation. Join her on the adventure of a lifetime!

Image credit: Hale, Shannon & Hale, Dean. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. Rapunzel’s revenge.(p. 75). New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. Scanned on 11/13/11.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Step from Heaven

A Step From Heaven by An Na
Image courtesy of Library Thing

Na, An. A Step from Heaven. New York: Penguin Group, 2001.

2001 National Book Award Finalist
2002 Children's Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association
2005 California Collections Selection
2005 Asian American Booklist, Grades 9 and Up, Read Across America, National Education Association
2001 - 2003 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, Text in Children and Young Adult Fiction – Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association
2004 Reading List – Women's Division Reading Program Committee, General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
2003 - 2004 Gateway Readers Award Nominee, Missouri Association of School Libraries
2003 - 2004 William Allen White Children's Book Award master list
2002 Notable Books for a Global Society – International Reading Association
2002 Notable Children's Book – American Library Association
2002 Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
2002 Children's Books of Distinction Award – Riverbank Review
2002 Fanfare Book – The Horn Book Honor List
2002 Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award
2002 CCBC Choices
2002 Children's Literature Choice List
2002 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Master List
2002 Amelia Bloomer Project List
2002 White Ravens – International Youth Library of Munich
2002 Notable Books for the Language Arts – NCTE
2002 Notable Books for a Global Society, Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest group of the IRA
2001 Editor's Choice – Booklist
2001 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
2001 Best Books – School Library Journal
2001 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book Shortlist
2001 Best Children's Books – Publishers Weekly
2001 Best Book –
2001 Book LInks Lasting Connections
2001 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children
2001 Top 10 Youth First Novels – Booklist

Annotation:  Mi Gook means America, the land a little Korean girl named Young Ju dreamt of with her father (Apa) and mother (Uhmma). However, none of them can imagine what awaited them there, nor for how living in Mi Gook will forever change this once happy family.

Book Talk: When you grow up A Step from Heaven, you know something better is not far off. You just don’t know when you will be in its midst.

“Here, try this drink. Everyone in Mi Gook loves Ko-ka Ko-la…He gives me a cup with dirty black water inside. I can see the bubbles floating…Just drink it, Young Ju, Apa growls. I put the cup to my mouth and take a small taste. Ahya! It hurts. This drink bites the inside if my mouth and throat like fish bones.”

Mi Gook and her life there was not at all the haven Young Ju envisioned. The American Dream was supposed to have be as sweet as the soda, but instead stabbed her with it’s sharpness, as Apa unraveled under the pressure of providing as an immigrant laborer.

“ 'Why does Apa do it?' I finally whisper and look to Uhmma for the answer.
Uhmma stares into the mirror, lipstick tight in hand. 'Young Ju, go now,' Uhmma says.
But I will not leave this time. Will not pretend. The sight of the dark bruises, some as big as an iron across her back, lingers in the inside if my eyelids…
'Why does Apa do it?' I ask again, louder…
'He is a very prideful man', Uhmma says.

'So he has to hit us,' I say and turn my face away.”

A Child Called "it"

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
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Pelzer, David. A Child Called “it”: One Child’s Courage to Survive. New York: Health Communications, 1997.


Annotation: The story of a young boy told from the perspective of a child who grew up in unfathomable abuse and how his unbreakable spirit endured.

Book Review: David Peltzer grew up in a time when teachers and neighbors minded their own business and did not interfere with one another’s domestic affairs. This was a recipe for the disastrous abuse that met young David, A child called “it”. While his father was indifferent to his struggles, his mother was a manipulative and abusive alcoholic who singled David out amidst his two brothers. While they ate, he was forced to fend for himself. His mother even subjected him to inspections where she would make him vomit to see if he had eaten that day. The first time his school attempted to aide him, his mother pulled off a brilliant display of acting and David paid the price at home. Finally, David was freed after a subsequent attempt and placed in a foster home. Amazingly, David grew up to have a family and raised his son with love and care, effectively breaking this cycle of abuse.

The Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl (abridged audio)…
Image courtesy of Library Thing

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl. New York: Double Day, 1967.Print.

Awards: n/a

Annotation: The true account of a young Jewish girl living in a secret annex in the Netherlands during World War II. The Diary of a Young Girl chronicles a remarkably challenging time in history as a Anne Frank grows up in hiding.

Book Review: This story began during the Nazi occupation in The Netherlands with Anne Frank and her family. Slowly Anne, a Jew, lost privilege after privilege, until her father Otto decided the family must go into hiding. Simple things were no longer taken for granted. Just having your homework graded or even flushing the toilet became luxuries because they could have led to discovery! In spite of the extraordinary times Anne lived in or the remarkable circumstances hiding in a secret annex presented; The Diary of a Young Girl still told the story of typical teenage growing up with common adolescent concerns.

Penned to her best friend Kitty, her diary, Anne shared her story. Starting with learning about her period by reading novels, to styling her hair like movie stars from magazines, to her first romance with Peter who was also living in the annex; Anne related all of her quintessential teenage moments. More uncommonly, she never gave up hope even as she faced discovery and deportation.

 “It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything; I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
-Anne Frank


Image courtesy of Library Thing

Spinelli, Jerry. Milkweed. New York: Knopf, 2003.

2004 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2004 Golden Kite Award for Fiction

Annotation: The heartwarming story of a true innocent, Milkweed shares the journey of an orphan eeking out an existence in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

"I like reading historical fiction because it based on real events." (Nicholas, 16).

Book Review: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but how about an orphan  who answered to “Filthy son of Abraham?” This young boy, who also called himself “Stop Thief” and was later dubbed Misha by the orphan who took him under his wing; saw the world through innocent eyes. When viewed through his perspective, a reader revisits this horrific time with a renewed faith in the human spirit. Though Misha makes his living by stealing; he never takes more than he needs, and never fails to feed others. He provides for both the children in the orphanage and the family he adopted himself into. Indeed, his nimble swiftness ensures the survival of them all in the Warsaw ghetto.

At the end of the war, Misha comes to America and is given new name, Jack. Yet, the most beloved namesake will be waiting for him at the end of this book. This story reminds us that any trial can be improved when it is met with a kind heart and a generous nature. Especially if you never give up and have people to be loved by and to love.

Weetzie Bat

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Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat. New York: Harper Collins, 1989.

ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Parents' Choice Gold Award
2009 Phoenix Award, Children’s Literature Association

Annotation: The story of Weetzie Bat follows a young girl and her best friend through the 80’s punk scene as they search for love, happiness, and ultimately their purposes in life.

Book Review: Weetzie Bat grew up in the Hollywood world of glitter and glamour, yet never had a place to truly call home. Her father ran off to New York when she was just a girl because the falsehood of LA living saddened him deeply. Left to be raised by absentee mother, Weetzie seeks a real home filled with true happiness and unconditional love.

After meeting her best friend Dirk, the real adventure is sparks when three wishes are granted from a genie in a lamp. Then the race is on to find soul mates, produce movies, and expand their family. Refreshingly ahead of its time, Weetizie Bat offers the reader a positive glimpse of open homosexuality, same sex marriage, and co-parenting by a gay and straight couple.  If you are looking to read a tale that ends happily without worrying about the ever after; this book is for you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saving Francesca

Image courtesy of Library Thing

Saving Francesca

Marchetta, Melina.  Saving Francesca. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 

South Australia Premier's Awards, Children's Literature Award, 2004

Annotation:  Francesca is forced to make new friends when she leaves her all girls’ Catholic school to enroll in co-ed St. Sebastian’s. To make matters worse, her best friends have all enrolled in another parochial school, the boys at St. Sebastian’s only care about burps and farts, and Francesca’s mom hasn’t been feeling well. Francesca faces a year of trial and testing on her own.

Book Talk:

“ ‘Just ask me how I’m feeling,’ I want to say. ‘Just ask and I may tell you.’
But no one does.”

Francesca is a 16 year old Italian Catholic school girl living in Australia. She and her closest friends have had some terrific years at St. Stella’s and she’d like nothing more than to enroll in St. Pius to finish with them. The trouble that is her overbearing mother insists she attend St. Sebastian’s and then continues to drive Francesca crazy by signing encouraging anthems before school and posting inspirational messages on her bathroom mirror. How will Francesca ever fit in with a mother like that? Although, mum has been acting kind of strange lately…in fact she isn’t even getting out of bed. 

" 'My mum's sick,' I say in a hushed tone.'
...I look at them and I don't know what to say... People want symptoms. They want physical evidence. This thing my mum has is like the X-Files. It can't be explained to the non-believer, and I'm just not ready to describe it at all right now."

Who will be up to the task of Saving Francesca when she hasn’t got a soul to preserve her?


 Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
Image courtesy of Library Thing

Buckhanon, Kalisha. Upstate. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005. 

2006 Audio Publishers Association Award in Literary Fiction
2006 American Library Association ALEX Award

Annotation:  Antonio and Natasha are a boyfriend and girlfriend whose high school lives are turned upside down when Antonio get locked up. They both must battle to survive in jail and a tough neighborhood in Harlem respectively. United in spirit through their love letters, they fight to hold on their dreams and their love. Together they struggle to grow up and stay positive in challenging circumstances as they both work towards a better life.  

Book Talk:

Natasha is a typical junior in high school, and like a lot of teenagers, she is in love. Not a crush, not puppy love; she has found the real thing, true love.  Her boyfriend Antonio knows it too. He even writes her love poems:

March 26, 1990

Dear Natasha,

Nubian Princess
Always got my back
Totally real and fresh
Antonio’s woman for life
Smile like sunshine
Hair like silk
All the Woman I need

    Love you forever,

The only difference is, Antonio sends them from a jail Upstate where he is awaiting trial for the murder of his father. He won’t say too much about it, but he begs Natasha to believe in his innocence.  Antonio wants this shorty to be there through his incarceration and Natasha wants to wait for her man. However, neither one realizes just how much they will both miss if they stay together while Antonio is behind bars. Can their love last through this ultimate test?

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Image courtesy of Library Thing

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Random House, 1993.


ALA Best Book for Young Adults
ALA Notable Book for Children
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Boston Glove-Horn Book Honor Book
Newbery Medal, 1994
William Allen White Award, 1996.
Winner of the Regina Medal

Annotation: Young Jonas is eleven and eagerly looking forward to The Ceremony of Twelve's. On this sacred day, he will be assigned his future role in the community and begin his career training. Then Jonas' education truly begins as he sees the world he grew up in through an entirely new set of eyes.

Book Talk:

Imagine living in perfection.

In the future, scientific advancement will be so streamlined that one will never have to feel pain or hunger. The wise elders will be there to make  life effortlessly...pleasant. They will analyze aptitudes to predict the perfect job. They will consideration temperaments to select the perfect spouse. Children, 1 boy and 1 girl per family unit, will be applied for and women will not be burdened with carrying them. Suitable young mothers, chosen carefully by the elders, will supply new offspring each year. Life will be a utopia, as your embrace this streamlined world of "sameness"

But what becomes of those who are different?

The Silver Kiss

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Klause, Annette Curtis. The Silver Kiss. Delacorte Press, 1990.Print.


Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nomimee, 1992
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award, 1992
Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award, 1993
South Carolina Children's Book Award, 1993
California Young Reader Medal, 1993

Annotation: Zoe is lonely young girl. Her mother's battle with cancer has taken both parents away from her, as dad spends every moment in the hospital with Zoe's mother. To make matters worse, her best friend Lorraine is moving away. Awash in this anguish, Zoe takes risks with a dangerous new friend; a very lonely vampire named Simon.

Book Talk:


"He saw the dark haired girl. He went to her helplessly, drawn by he fear. He couldn't help but touch her to taste it."

"Beautiful," he whispered. "Pale as the milk of death, thin and sharp like pain."

"You have to invite me in," he said. "I can't come in unless you ask." He waited for her answer with eyes lowered.

The First Part Last

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson 
Image courtesy of Library Thing

Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last. New York: Simon Pulse, 2003. Print.

Coretta Scott King Award, 2004
Michael L. Printz Award, 2004

Annotation: When 16 year old Bobby is suddenly thrust into the role of father, he must face the challenges that come along with raising his daughter Feather and himself simultaneously.

Book Talk:
“I used to laugh at this old dude, “Just Frank” from the corner, used to ask me if I was being a “man…” I laughed ‘cause I didn’t consider him much of one, a man, hanging; on the corner, drinking forties at ten in the morning. He was joke. Always has been.

Two day after I bought Feather home, Just Frank got killed trying to save a girl in the neighborhood from being dragged unto an alley by some nut job…I went to the funeral at Zion AME, then walked home and held Feather for the rest of the night, wondering if I would be a man, a good man.”

The First Part Last, is the story of just that, where 16 year old Bobby faces tests that will ultimately determine if he is a man or not. Faced with the unimaginable challenge of raising his infant daughter Feather, while still struggling with normal teenaged pressures; Bobby is about to find out what he is made of. If you have wondered if you have what it takes to be a good man or  woman, then join Bobby on his journey in The First Part Last.

Getting It

Getting It by Alex Sanchez
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Sanchez, A. Getting It. New York: Simon Pulse, 2006. Print.
Winner, Myers Outstanding Book Award 2007
International Latino Book Awards, 2nd place, Best Young Adult Fiction in English, 2007
New York Public Library 2007 "Book for the Teen Age"
Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection

Annotation: 15 year old Carlos and his friends learn how to impress girls in their quest to "get it."

Book Talk:
“Fifteen and still a virgin, Carlos Amoroso wanted more than anything to get a girlfriend and hopefully get laid.”

Carlos wants this so badly that he secretly befriends Salvador EncarnaciĆ³n, despite the fact that all of his friends rip on Sal for being gay. Carlos is hoping Sal can give him a “A Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” makeover so that he can win the love of his “Aztec Princess” Roxi. Along the way, Carlos learns more than just how to cleanse, tone, and moisturize. His friendship with Sal has him question who he wants to be, and who he wants to be with as he examines what truly matters to him.
For anyone who has every wanted someone to sincerely love, who had wanted something more than  a hook up and felt badly about not wanting just a casual love;  this book is for you. You might be just as ready as Carlos to truly “get it.”