Book Review: Birdwing

Birdwing by Rafe Martin

SUMMARY: Once upon a time, a girl rescued her six brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans. But one boy, Ardwin, was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp: one arm remained a wing. And while Ardwin yearned to find a place in his father's kingdom, the wing whispered to him of open sky and rushing wind. Marked by difference, Ardwin sets out to discover who he is: bird or boy, crippled or sound, cursed or blessed. But followed by the cold eye of a sorceress and with war rumbling at his kingdom's borders, Ardwin's path may lead him not to enlightenment, but into unimaginable danger.

OPINION: You might remember the author of this book, Rafe Martin, from your younger days. He wrote The Rough Face Girl, which is often used by elementary school teachers. You might also remember the fairy tale this story is based on, called The Six Swans. That fairy tale ends when all the boys are rescued with shirts that break the swan spell. Unfortunately, one shirt isn't completely finished, and the youngest boy is left with a wing. This story takes up where the other leaves off. Sure, he was rescued, but did he really want to be? Why did he get the unfinished shirt? How is he supposed to fit in when he only has one arm and his wing won't behave? Is there a place for him in his father's kingdom? If you have read other fairy tale books (like those by Donna Jo Napoli), you will be captivated by this beautifully written story.


Book Review: Avalon High

Avalon High by Meg Cabot (NEW!)

SUMMARY: Avalon High seems like a typical high school, attended by typical students: There's Lance, the jock. Jennifer, the cheerleader. And Will, senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy. But not everybody at Avalon High is who they appear to be ... not even, as new student Ellie is about to discover, herself. What part does she play in the drama that is unfolding? What if the bizarre chain of events and coincidences she has pieced together means -- as with the court of King Arthur -- tragedy is fast approaching Avalon High? Worst of all, what if there's nothing she can do about it? (from the inside flap)

OPINION: Last summer's reading theme was JOUST READ, and it was all about medieval times. We even had Camelot Night (a bit late, but we had it)! This book takes the legend of King Arthur and brings it into the present day. Ellie's parents are medieval scholars, and she starts to see parallels between the people at her school and the stories she has heard all her life. Is it possible that the legends about King Arthur's return could be true? This book is part romance, part English lesson, and part mystery. I am not a Princess Diaries fan, but I really liked this book by Meg Cabot!

WEBSITE: Read an excerpt of the book and do a crossword puzzle on the Avalon High page of Meg Cabot's website.


Book Review: Jason & Kyra

Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson

SUMMARY: Jason is a basketball star and one of the most popular guys in school. Brainy Kyra isn't popular, but she doesn't much care what other people think. Under normal circumstances, Jason and Kyra would live in their separate worlds until graduation. But fate intervenes, and the unlikely duo is paired up for a class project. Although preconceived notions abound on both sides, Kyra soon realizes that Jason is not the dumb jock she anticipated. And Jason finds himself telling Kyra things he can't even tell his best friend. As the two become close and eventually start to fall in love, no one in school can believe it, especially Jason's ex-girlfriend, who is determined to get him back. Being together means navigating the obstacles that are coming their way, but staying apart may be impossible. (from the inside flap)

OPINION: In some ways, this book is typical chic-lit teen romance. Do two unlikely people fall in love? Yes. Do others try to keep them apart? Naturally. Is there a happy ending? Of course. But in other ways, this book couldn't be more different. For one thing, the characters are wealthy African-Americans in suburban Detroit. There is not too much chic-lit featuring minority characters, let alone ones that live in unromantic places like Detroit. The characters are also all talented magnet school students, with abilities in areas both athletic and academic. The plot is dramatic and really captures the angst of true love and high-school. The author knows what she is talking about...she's a teacher! (The writing style reminds me a lot of Sharon Draper, who is also a teacher.) Look for this book if you need a romantic read with some substance.



To form an anagram, just rearrange the letters in a word or phrase to spell another word or phrase. For example, an anagram of SPOT is POTS. For harder anagrams, check out this online anagram server. Just type in your words, and it will give you all the possible combinations.

One funny anagram of SELLERS LIBRARY is SLY LIBERALS ERR. I wonder what that says about us?? An anagram of GRETCHEN IPOCK is CROCHET PEKING. I don't think that has any real meaning, but it's funny!! Go to the website and try some phrases like your name, your school, your town, etc.


Book Review: The Perfect Shot

The Perfect Shot by Elaine Marie Alphin

SUMMARY: This engrossing thriller weaves issues of civil rights, racial prejudice, the judicial system, and the lessons of history into a suspenseful tale of a high-school senior who wants to do the right thing. Brian's girlfriend, Amanda; her brother; and their mother are shot to death in their garage. The husband and father of the family is put on trial for the crime. On the day of the murders, however, Brian saw something that he thinks might affect the case. What might have been a straightforward mystery grows richer as Brian compares Amanda's father's situation to the 1913 Leo Frank murder case he is researching for class. Another thread follows the arrest of Brian's friend and basketball teammate Julius, one of the few African Americans in their small Indiana town. Brian's personal dilemma--should he speak out and make waves or keep his doubts to himself--will keep readers' attention until the very last page. (adapted from the SLJ review)

OPINION: Brian, captain of the high school basketball team, is under a lot of pressure to do well in school, to lead the team to the championships, and to deal with his grief over the death of Amanda. When a history teacher assigns a major project right in the middle of basketball season, it seems like nothing can possibly go right. But Brian gets assigned to research a court case that seems to have a lot of parallels to Amanda's father's situation. And he starts to wonder if what he saw that day could be the key to proving her father's innocence. This book blends basketball, murder, and history into a gripping mystery that I couldn't put down. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it!


Karaoke and Donkey Konga Report

We had a small but dedicated group of 8 teens show up for Karaoke and Donkey Konga tonight. And they got a bonus...Rachel not only brought Donkey Konga, but also provided Super Smash Brothers Melee. We projected the video games onto the wall, which was excellent. And we sang a variety of karaoke songs, including Walk Like an Egyptian, Louie Louie, Dancing Queen, and Flashdance! It was great to hang out with everyone at our last special teen event (until June).

It might be fun to do a combination DDR/Karaoke event this summer with my XBox. What do you think?


BBYA Display

I took down the Printz Award display this week, but in its place I put up titles from this year's Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) list. BBYA titles are selected every year to show that YA books cover a range of interesting topics and excellent writing styles. This year's list has 91 great fiction and nonfiction books on it. You can find some of the titles on two display shelves in the Teen Corner.

Here are the BBYA 2006 Top Ten:
(The italicized titles are ones our library owns.)

  • Akbar, Said Hyder and Burton, Susan. Come Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager's Story.
  • Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow.
  • Buckhanon, Kalisha. Upstate.
  • Green, John. Looking for Alaska.
  • Lynch, Chris. Inexcusable.
  • Meyer, Stephanie. Twilight: A Novel.
  • Vaughan, Brian K. Runaways: Volume 1 HC. Illus. by Adrian Alphona.
  • Westerfeld, Scott. Peeps.
  • Wooding, Chris. Poison.
  • Zusak, Markus. I Am the Messenger.


Book Review: Elsewhere

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

SUMMARY: Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? (from the inside flap)

OPINION: This book may sound kind of strange, but it is gorgeously written and very moving. (Yes, it made me cry.) Elsewhere is told from the point of view of a dead main character, much like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold or The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher. A main difference, however, is the story's focus on living the afterlife. This book creates a unique perspective on death by remaking heaven into a place where new decisions can be made. In Elsewhere, you age in reverse, but can still find satisfaction in family, friendship, work, and recreation. It is a very cool imagining of life after death, and it is suprisingly uplifting. We have the book and the book on CD, so you have no excuse for not reading it!


Book Review: Played

Played by Dana Davidson

SUMMARY: When one of Ian's boys dares him to get plain-faced Kylie Winship to sleep with him in just three weeks, he thinks it'll be a breeze. Tall and fine, with honey-colored skin and eyes, Ian is used to getting what he wants from girls. And if he succeeds in playing Kylie, he'll be down with the most popular crew in his high school. But this girl, who everyone considers a nobody, is turning out to be more surprising than he ever could have imagined. Kylie has a gut feeling that something's up when Ian Striver starts pursuing her. But how often does one of the hottest guys in school ask you out? Even though she's cautious at first, their relationship heats up quickly, and soon Kylie will have to decide whether to listen to her heart, or her head. (from the inside flap)

OPINION: This book is a romance, but it is devistatingly realistic. It's not all sweetness and light, like some fluffy dime novel. Ian starts talking to Kylie because of a dare, but soon finds out that he actually likes her. Of course, this doesn't mean that he can be with her in front of his friends or even acknowledge her at school. Despite his behavior, Kylie keeps giving him chances because of the way he acts when they are together. He even respects her mom and hangs out with her little siblings. Both Kylie and Ian have to face some harsh realities about themselves and some tough choices about each other. Their decisions aren't always right, but they are authentic. Look for this new book on the shelves!


Dr. Seuss Day Success!

Yesterday, the TAB did our first ever program for younger kids. We coordinated activities to celebrate Read Across America Day, which is always March 2 in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday. Alexa, Arwa, Kara, Laura, Marissa, Megan, and Sara came to run the different stations. Kids and families dropped in after school, despite yucky weather, to enjoy our event. We made hats, painted faces, read stories, and played Pin the Eggs on the Plate. Our most popular station, though, was the macaroni pictures. There were some real Seussian creations there! (And the TAB rocks at dyeing macaroni...all of the library employees were really impressed with the bright colors.) We had about 25 kids come by during a 2-hour time period, which was great! Thanks, TAB, for all the hard work!


Book Review: Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

SUMMARY: Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader--smarter than some, a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, falls, has a nosebleed that doesn't stop, and is diagnosed with leukemia. All hell breaks loose. Mrs. Alper's days and nights revolve around getting Jeffrey to his chemotherapy treatments, and Mr. Alper retreats into a shell, coming out only occasionally to weep over the mounting medical bills. Steven becomes the forgotten son, who throws himself into drumming, even as he quits doing his homework and tries to keep his friends from finding out about Jeffrey's illness. Sonneblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and the one thing you can always change is yourself. (adapted from the Booklist review)

OPINION: The main character of the story is an 8th-grade boy, and there aren't too many 8th grade boys who don't love drums and girls! I guess that explains the first two words in the title. (Actually, as a drummer, that was a highlight of the book for me.) However, the seemingly fluffy title of this book belies the depth of emotion that it contains. This book actually becomes very serious as Steve's family falls apart while dealing with his brother's illness. But, despite the content, the story is optimistic, humorous, and not totally depressing. It made me cry, but I loved it. This is a great realistic fiction read.