Friday, April 27, 2007

Baby by Joseph Monninger

Monninger, Joseph.
Asheville, NC : Front Street, 2007
ISBN 9781590785027
Baby.  Can you imagine anyone naming their daughter Baby?  And if that isn't enough, she's abandoned as well.  She's a teen in the foster system with few options.  This may just be her last chance.  So here she is somewhere in New Hampshire living with some ex-hippies.  These people seem nice enough although they are a bit off.  It doesn't matter to Baby.  She has no plans to stick around for long.  As soon as her boyfriend can find her, she's out of there.  She and Bobby don't need anyone else.  But for the time being, Baby will try to hang out and not make too many waves.  And it isn't going to be all that bad.  You see, the old hippies have some really cool dogs.  They run sled dogs and they are teaching Baby to run her own team.  Yea the dogs are cool but they are not Bobby.  Will Baby blow her last chance in the system or will she find something to work for?

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Find your daemon

New Line Cinema has put up a Golden Compass website to promote the film coming out December 7. There are some really neat parts of the site. My favorite is Meet Your Daemon. You answer 20 questions and then your own personal daemon is assigned. You can even ask your friends if they agree with the choice. So what is mine? Leonidas the ocelot. He's rather attractive don't you think? I'll like having him around. 

Want to find your daemon?  Check out

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The night of the buring : Devorah's story

Yesterday I had fun speaking with Linda Braun via Skype.  I had never used Skype before so it was a new experience.  Linda is teaching a class for Simmons College and we were speaking about the use of technology in school libraries.  Really fun.  At one point during the conversation, my 3 year old grandson came into the room to try to figure out who I was talking to.  He was a bit confused because no one else was in the room and I wasn't on the telephone.  Really funny expression on his face before he walked out.

I am on April vacation this week and had planned to just sit around and read.  I just haven't been doing too much reading lately.  Unfortunately, it hasn't turned out that way yet.  I have a few more days but lots of projects with deadlines.  The classes I'm teaching at Plymouth State and NH Technical Institute both end next week so maybe I'll have time then.  Although I'll have all those final projects to grade!!

I did get to this book last week.

Wulf, Linda Press.

New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006
IL 5-8, RL 5.7
ISBN 0374364192
It's 1921 and Devorah has lost just about everything that mattered to her.  Her parents have died.  Many other people from the town have died during the war.  And now Poland is not a safe place to be if you are Jewish.  When a gentle man arrives from South Africa, Devorah and her younger sister may just have a way out.  The man has raised funds to transport 200 Jewish orphans to South Africa where they will be safe.  Where they will have enough to eat.  Where they will have a chance to go to school.  And where they just might find a new family to love.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tamora Pierce

I was sitting comfortably at home this afternoon catching up on my email when I learned that Tamora Pierce was in town! She was speaking at the Audi at 2:00. Well, it was 1:50 at that time so I threw on some clothes, jumped in the car and drove through a spring Nor'easter to see her. I was not disappointed. The first thing I noticed was how many teens were in the audience without their parents. The teens had also braved the nasty weather to see this icon of fantasy literature.

Ms. Pierce spoke about fantasy literature being about kids and their problems. Many stories begin with bullying. Just like many of our teens experience. She spoke of her books addressing real issues of today but placed in a fantasy world. Stories about drug abuse and terrorism and even guerrilla warfare. Emotional issues tackled include honor, religion, violence, justice and making choices

Ms. Pierce also mentioned many other authors whose works she has read. When I spoke with some of the teens after, this really made a point with them. They realized that even famous authors continue to read and learn from others. A couple of the teens thought it was cool that she mentioned so many other authors. I just thought the whole afternoon was cool!!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Janet McDonald

I was looking at the Farrar, Straus and Giroux fall catalog yesterday and was happy to see a new book by Janet McDonald coming out.  I love her books and am looking forward to getting a copy of Off-Color due out in October.  Then I read today that she has passed away.  I am very sad to hear this.  We have lost a unique voice in YA literature.

The first book of her's that I read was Twists and Turns.

Teesha and Keeba have finally graduated from high school.  Well, it took them a few extra years to do it but they did it.  Now what? A few of their friends from the projects have gone on to college. One even hit it big doing television commercials.  But the Washington sisters have no direction.  No idea what will happen to them. But when the local librarian gives them an idea, things begin to change. At first, the girls just laugh at the idea.  When they really think about it, hope sets in.  Can they really pull it off?  Can two teens from the projects open their own business?

OK, so I am a sucker for any book that has a wise librarian in it but I liked this book because I liked the pluck of the girls. 

In Brother Hood, the setting is Harlem and we have another teen trying to beat the odds but stay true to himself.

It's hard enough being from the hood but when you are leading a double life,things get really crazy.  Nate is an academically gifted 16-year-old who lives in Harlem but attends school at an exclusive private boarding school.  When he is at school, the girls think he is cute and the boys want to shoot hoops with him.  But when he comes home for visits, he stops into the boys' room at Grand Central Station to change out ofhis school clothes and steps into his low-riding jeans, do-rag and his shades.  Now he fits into his neighborhood and can hang with his friends and his girlfriend.  But it isn't a smooth transition.  Different places require different personas.  And what will happen when his two separate worlds collide?

I am looking forward to Janet McDonalds's new book and sad that it is her last.  Rest well, Janet.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tyrell by Coe Booth

Fifteen-year-old Tyrell doesn't have much in this life but it doesn't stop him for wanting more.  His spaced out mother has gotten them kicked out of the projects.  OK, life in the projects isn't great but it's what Tyrell knows.  And its what he wants for his younger brother.  Living in some awful homeless hotel is not what he wants.  He doesn't want his brother falling in with he kind of people that frequent the shelter.  But his mother isn't interested in what Tyrell wants.  As a matter of fact, she is trying to get Tyrell to start selling drugs so she'll have some money.  Tyrell just has to find a way back to the projects to keep himself and his brother safe.  But how?

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Three teens with one thing in common.  They have each entered Aspen Springs Center after an
unsuccessful suicide attempt.  Tony has taken an overdose.  Vanessa has slit her wrist.  And Conner shot himself in the chest.  And now they are beginning their journey to understanding.  Told in alternating chapters we learn about the events in their lives that led them to this place.  Tony's  mother who cares little for him and would rather see him locked up in juvie than lose a boyfriend.  Vanessa who is a secret cutter.  She believes that she has the same bipolar order as her mother.  And Conner who has it all.  Good looks, money, brains but also an emotionally distant mother.  Will they all come to terms with what life offers?

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

yalsa celebrates teen literature day

This is cool.  April 19th has been designated as Support Teen Literature Day by YALSA.  This is duing National Library Week but is geared specifically to teen literature.

"Librarians all across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day by hosting events in their library. The purpose of this new celebration is to raise awareness among the general public that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens. Support Teen Literature Day also seeks to showcase some award-winning authors and books in the genre as well as highlight librarians’ expertise in connecting teens with books and other reading materials. Many of these activities can be featured throughout National Library Week or simply featured on Support Teen Literature Day."

For a list of recommended activities, visit YALSA's web site:

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Fun day with great English teachers

So today I spent the day at the New Hampshire Council of Teachers of
English conference. What a great group of people. My program was
the first in the day so I got to spend the rest of the day going to
other workshops and discussion groups. At one point I wandered into
a book discussion centered around "adult" books. I so very rarely
read anything other than children's and YA literature that this was
fascinating to me. I learned about a lot of books I had never heard
of but now want to read. Gibson Books from Concord, my favorite
independent bookstore, was selling books at the conference so,
needless to say, I left with a bag full of new books. When I'll have
time to read them, I don't know but I couldn't resist them.

I got to meet a NH author I hadn't met before. Joe Monninger is a
professor at Plymouth State and has written a YA book. He's sending
me a copy. I can't wait to get it. Not only does it take place in
New Hampshire, but it's about a girl who learns about dog sled
racing. Since I know absolutely nothing about dog sled racing (other
than that one time when I lived in Vermont that I tried it -- don't
ask), I'm looking forward to learning more about the dogs and the racing.

Another NH author, Ernest Herbert, was the keynote. Again, adult
author so I haven't read any of his books. But, they sounded good so
I picked up his latest from Gibson's and have put it near the top of
my pile (mountain) of reading to do.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April update

The April update of Booktalks Quick and Simple has been
uploaded. There are many guest booktalkers this month which is
really exciting to me. Many students have sent in their
booktalks! Nice to get a student perspective. There were a couple
that I didn't use because they were the "I like this book" variety.

I'm speaking at the New Hampshire Council of Teachers of English
conference on Friday. I always look forward to this conference since
I'm talking with ELA teachers. And I get to go to some cool workshops.