NEW! Joust Read Book List

This week, I made a new teen book list of titles that go along with our summer theme. It is called, of course, Joust Read!! It includes fantasy, contemporary and historical fiction, short stories, and series books. Pick up a copy of the list on the Teen Beat summer reading display and look for the books in our teen section!

Book Review: The Sledding Hill

The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher

SUMMARY: Fourteen-year-old Billy Bartholomew is dead. His best friend, Eddie Proffit, is not. Eddis has always had a mind that worked in odd ways. Odd and brilliant. Like now. He's on the sledding hill. Him and Billy. They're talking the way they always did. About school. About Jesus. About freedom. About banning books and fighting for books. Eddie knows it might make people think he's crazy, but talking to Billy helps him figure out exactly how to deal with the political issues happening in his community.(adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: I really wanted to like this book. I love Chris Crutcher. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is an amazing book that everyone should read. I usually appreciate the complexity of the characters and situations in his books. But this one didn't do much for me. Eddie is a great character, and one I was totally invested in finding out about, particularly as Billy makes contact with him. But many of the other characters came out as stereotypes in the book banning portion of the story, such as "the intolerant pastor," "the heroic librarian," "the political school board," and "the sanctimonious students." Sure, Crutcher is one of the most banned YA authors around today (probably second only to Judy Blume); if anyone should write this book, it's him. And it's totally cool how he writes himself into the story. Still, I just wish the second half of the book continued the character development rather than devolving into a series of speeches. Also, the title really doesn't have a whole lot to do with the story. Nevertheless, if you are a Crutcher fan or if you are into free speech issues, you should pick up this book.

BEST QUOTE: "Man, why do they want to control your head? Jesus would have finished that book. He would of taken Chris Crutcher out for a McWine and McBread lunch after he read it, too. He would of underlined all the good parts and read 'em to His friends out in some corner of the playground. Jesus was a tough guy. Didn't those guys READ those Bible lessons? Jesus wouldn't stop you from reading stuff; he'd talk to you after you did." (p.145-146)


Book Review: I Was a Teenage Fairy

I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block (NEW!)

SUMMARY: This is the story of Barbie Marks, who dreams of being the one behind the camera, not some barely flesh-and-blood version of the plastic doll she was named after. It is the story of Griffin Tyler, whose androgynous beauty hides the dark pain within him. And finally, it is the story of Mab, a pinkie-sized, magenta-haired, straight-talking fairy who may or may not be real. (excerpted from the back cover)

OPINION: This postmodern fairy tale is told in a stream-of-consciousness style that will pique your interest as it dares you try to sort out whether Mab actually exists. I was hooked after the first page! This is not a teen issue book, but these teens have issues. And Mab is the one thing they need to correct the wrongs in their lives.


Second Sisterhood Event a Success!

Tonight, 15 more teens came to make butt pillows at the library to celebrate the new Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. We had a great time, and everyone's pillow creations were wonderful. If you have not read the Sisterhood books, get in here and check them out!!

At the event, Kari won a Teen Ink book and cute kitten socks. Everyone from the Monday and Wednesday events also entered to win a signed copy of The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares. The winner of the book was Marissa. Congratulations!!!

Here are our Ten Rules of the Pants Pillows:

1. No farting on the pillow.
2. No one else may use the pillow, except BFFs.
3. Boys may not touch the pillow. This includes dads and brothers.
4. No pillow fighting.
5. Do not wash the pillow.
6. The pillow must stay on your bed, except while it is traveling.
7. Cats may not use the pillow for a scratching post. Dogs may not use it for a chew toy. Generally, there must be no animal usage.
8. Do not put food in the pockets.
9. Do put money, notes from secret admirers, and other cool stuff in the pockets.
10. Love your butt, no matter what shape or size it is!


First Sisterhood Event

Tonight, we had our first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Butt Pillow event. Twelve girls made really great pillows out of old jeans, decorating them with ribbon, beads, patches, and writing. Olivia won a pair of fabulously fluffy flip-flops, and everyone entered to win a signed copy of the second Sisterhood book by Ann Brashares. (The drawing for that will be on Wednesday evening.)

Learn more about the Sisterhood! Visit the Sisterhood Book Website or the Sisterhood Movie Website to do lots of fun online stuff.

Here are our Ten Rules of the Pants Pillows:

1. No pillow fighting.
2. Do not wash the pillow.
3. Do not stuff the pillow in your closet. Keep it on your bed.
4. You can sit on it, as long as it doesn't mess up the pillow.
5. No one else may use the pillow.
6. Do not put food in the pockets of the pillow.
7. Do use the pockets for nice notes, pictures, and lip gloss.
8. Boys are not allowed to unstuff the pillow.
9. Do take the pillow on vacation.
10. Use the pillow at least two times a week.


Melee on the Lawn!

Tonight, 30 teens and several other spectators enjoyed a presentation by two knights from the Society for Creative Anachronism. Darmon and Az donated their time for our Joust Read summer program kick-off event, and we are very glad that the rain went away so we could do this outdoors! Darmon and Az showed their armor, described fighting weapons and defenses, answered questions, and (of course) demonstrated some fighting. They also taught us some basic swordfighting moves with our excellent neon inflatable swords! It was really cool. At the end, Daniel and Gore won bobblehead knights donated by the PA Ren Faire.

If you missed the program or if you want more information, check out these weblinks:

East Kingdom (oversees Mid-Atlantic States, New England States, Eastern Canadian Provinces)
Shire of Hartshorn-Dale (servers Chester and Montgomery Counties)
The Barony of Bhakail (serves Philadelphia and Delaware Counties)
SCA Rules of the Lists (basic rules governing SCA combat)
SCA Weapons Standards
SCA Armor Requirements


Book Review: Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last

Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last by Susan Juby

SUMMARY: This book is the third one about Alice, intrepid fashionista and overall individualistic personality. With a jailed mother and a jobless father, Alice feels some reponsibility for her family. Not enough responsibility to motivate her to help around the house or give them her summer job money, but enough to write herself in as the heroine of her amazing screenplay. After all, she is only working until Quentin Tarantino buys the rights to it and makes her famous.

OPINION: These books are really quirky, but in a good way. Alice is hilariously unique, especially with her thrift-store chic ensembles. In this book, Alice even manages to put her own spin on the typical "summer romance," with three bizarre boy experiences that might put your personal boyfriend troubles to shame! Read the other two Alice books first, then pick this one up!


Book Review: The Order of the Poison Oak

The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger

SUMMARY: 16-year-old Russel, tired of being the freak at school, tries to escape as a counselor in a rural summer camp with his two best friends. The camp kids are pre-teen survivors, scarred and disfigured, and Russel identifies with them. But Russel fights with his friends, especially after discovering that he and bisexual Min are attracted to the same gorgeous counselor guy. This is an honest, tender, funny, first-person narrative that brings close what it's like to have a crush and hate a friend.

OPINION: This book is a sequel to Geography Club. Although I liked that book and recommended it to our teen book group, I was somewhat disappointed in this sequel. The character development is really good, as Russell and his friends grow and change in new directions away from school. But, it seemed to me that the author was trying too hard to convey the message about coping with differences and finding hidden beauty. I am not given to exploring the subtleties of metaphor in authors' writing, but Hartinger really beat the reader over the head with the message. I hear that more books are planned about these characters, and I am still looking forward to them.


And There's Not Even a Crack in the Ceiling!

Last night, 22 teens jammed into the upstairs program room to play DDR. Some had never played before while others were experts, but all had fun! We were noisy, but at least the building is still intact after all that jumping. Sixteen teens competed in a single-elimination tournament during the program. Ashleigh made a strong showing, but Jamie won in the final round dancing to "Monkey Punk." Ashleigh and Jamie each won gift cards to GameStop! Look for another DDR night or two on the schedule this fall.


New Books!!

We have been getting bunches of new stuff recently. Some are new publications and others are for summer reading, but it is great to see our teen shelves filling up for any reason! Look for these titles:

The Mediator: Haunted by Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Ninth Key by Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Reunion by Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Shadowland by Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Twilight by Meg Cabot
Children of the River by Linda Crew
LBD: Live and Fabulous! by Grace Dent
The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
Under a War-Torn Sky by L. M. Elliott
Breaking Point by Alex Flinn
Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry
The Maze by Will Hobbs
Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
The Stranger Next Door by Peg Kehret
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Sexy by Joyce Carol Oates
What Happened to Lani Garver? by Carol Plum-Ucci
Midnight's Choice by Kate Thompson
Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale
Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer? by Eleanor Updale
The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Blogging for Teens by John W. Gosney
Teen Knitting Clubs: Chill Out and Knit by Jennifer Wenger, Carol Abrams, and Maureen Lasher


Book Review: Under the Jolly Roger

Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber by L. A. Meyer
This book will be published in August 2005.

SUMMARY: When Jacky finishes her stint on a whaling boat, she expects to find her beloved Jaimy once and for all. But, when things don't go as planned, she is soon off on another wild sea adventure. She thwarts the lecherous advances of a crazy captain, rallies the sailors to her side, and ultimately gains command of a ship in His Majesty's Royal Navy. And that is only the beginning! (adapted from the back cover)

OPINION: This is the third book in a series that I have enjoyed very much. Fans will be happy to know that this book is left wide open for a continuation of the story. YESSSS! I could not put this book down. It is incredibly action-packed, yet the events are not repititions of those in the the previous books. What I love most about this series, besides the crafty Jacky, is the unique historical details woven into the narrative. As a girl struggling to do a man's job, Jacky endures her share of harassment. Yet, as the series progresses, she seems to be more able to enjoy and embrace her place in both worlds. Hurrah for Jacky! One tiny flaw: I did find the title somewhat misleading, but true enough in the end.



Tonight is the prom at UD, so I created a short booklist of YA prom books in honor of the event. Look for these books at the library:

  • Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (realistic fiction)
  • 24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley (humorous fiction)
  • Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot (realistic fiction)
  • Max & Jane by Elizabeth Craft (romance)
  • Prom Date by Dianne Ho (thriller)
  • Much Ado About Prom Night by William D. McCants (realistic fiction)
  • A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan (humorous fiction)
  • A Night to Remember by various authors (short stories)


Book Review: Breaking Point

Breaking Point by Alex Flinn

SUMMARY: After a heartbreaking divorce, Paul goes from being homeschooled to attending a swanky private school where his mother gets a teaching job. Marked as an easy target for bullies, Paul struggles to fit in. That is, until he is befriended by Charlie, the school's golden boy. Soon, Paul is sucked into Charlie's psychologically screwed-up world, in which vandalism and violence are tokens of friendship. What will Paul do to be Charlie's friend?

OPINION: This book is on the BH summer reading list for incoming seventh graders, but it is not your typical school reading. This book is anything but a preachy cautionary tale against bullying. Instead, it really gets into the psychology of both the bully and the bullied, and tells a gripping story.

"Happy teen years are overrated," Binky announced.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Show me someone who's cool in high school, I'll show you the unemployed guy eating double his share of hors d'oeurves at the ten-year reunion." (p. 32)


Book Review: The Realm of Possibility

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

SUMMARY/OPINION: This novel in verse interweaves the stories of 20 high school students through a series of 20 poems written in different styles. The poems create a wonderful atmosphere of possiblity, just as the title suggests. Also, reading this book is rather like a mystery, as you fit pieces of information from the poems together to learn about each of the characters.

BEST QUOTES (I couldn't pick just one):

the town of North Orange is still recovering
from the day the students came to biology class
and found their teacher lying on a table,
his chest cut open, his body dripping with
formaldehyde. the window was open and all
the frog tanks were
empty. (p. 67)

once time is lit, it will burn
whether or not you are breathing it in.
even after the smoke becomes air
there is the memory of smoke. (p. 11)

the first time i kissed someone
my heart raced for hours
I didn't know if I'd ever recover
if it was already too late
I just lay in my room
and reveled in the newfound power
that a motion so small
could have the full force of fate (p. 40)

He carries a knapsack
Covered with buttons for bands whose names seem to come
From the Dictionary of Contentious Words. (p. 127)