Thursday, November 17, 2005

National Book Award


Yay, yay, yay!

Birdsall just won the National Book Award for Penderwicks.

I know there was some talk in the circles about how this book was "young", but not all young people and teens want to read grit all the time. So yay!

I am predicting that this will also be a Newbery award winner at ALA in January. We shall see!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Day Joanie Frankenhauser Became a Boy

I took this off my friend Karyn's pile at work. It was way too young for her highschool audience so I thought I would give it a go. This is a sweet book that I think tomboys in the range of 4-6th grade would enjoy.

Joanie's mom wants her to act more like a girl. Joanie doesn't understand why just because she is in 5th grade she is supposed to give up skateboarding, football and basketball. She simply can't identify with those girly girls at school. You know the ones. They giggle and talk about lipgloss all day?

Well...when the family moves from Boston to Yardville PA, Joannie gets the chance of a lifetime. The first day at her new school, a typo has the teacher introducing her as "John" instead of "Joan". Joannie doesn't correct the teacher and takes the opportunity to enter the secret world of boys.

She starts hanging out with Zane and his buddies, and soon finds herself over her head with dares to prove how macho she is. Zane wants to do crazy stuff like hang upside down from a tree over a ravine, and whip firecrackers at old man Corrolla's place. And she doesn't feel very comfortable making "boobie" jokes at Lucinda. Will she find a way to come clean...or stay a boy for as long as possible?

The writing is breezy and there are chapters written as stories about "Super Kid" that Joanie writes. I would recommend it to 4-6th graders. It's an interesting look at the gender divide without sexual overtones, and helps to show that the grass may not always be so green on the other side.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lauren Child


I just have to take a moment to say how much I LOVE Lauren Child. Especially the Charlie and Lola books.

As a librarian, I most likely would not have picked these books out for my 2.5 year old daughter if I hadn't seen the show. Seeing the stories performed gave me the cadence necessary for reading these aloud. The text is squirmy and swimmy, but all you have to do is put on a bad English accent, and read about pink milk, absolutely positively not going to bed, hippos and invisible friends.

Charming, charming. If you are parents you know that you will have to read certain books hundreds of times. These ones won't make you want to poke your eyes out.

So. Yay for Lauren Child.

The Myth of You and Me

Wow. I LOVED this book! I don't know if it's because I am 35 and at that point in my life where I feel like connecting with old friends and loved ones, or if Leah Stewart is just one heck of an author.

We take a journey through Cameron's eyes back and forth from past to present regarding her friendship with Sonia. Sonia and army brat Cameron became best friends after Cam witnessed Sonia's mother's cruelty. Mme Gray is like no other mother I have ever read.

Cameron was working for, and living with, famous historian Oliver Doucet when Sonia comes back into her life in the form of a letter. Cameron has no wish to contact Sonia because of an unnamed betrayal, but Oliver has different ideas.

The reader feels priviledged to witness this friendship between these girls/women. What they go through is so everyday, yet so poignant that it truly stirs the soul. Friendship between women tends to be dicey and Stewart has caught the very essence of this.

The teenagers looked nothing like Sonia and I had looked at their
age...These girls probably snuck into rock clubs. They did drugs
and went to poetry readings. They knew all about Zen Buddhism
and read articles in The New Yorker. What I recognized was the
way they kept looking at each other even though they were each
talking to a boy. Every so often they exchanged these quick,
knowing glances, each making sure the other one was still there,
still with her. I wondered how long their friendship would last,
and felt sorry for them, because they didn't know it wouldn't. "

Ouch. Yet most likely true. I have so many pages in this book turned down and could quote endlessly, but I won't. I think this is a book that every woman who ever walked away from a friendship or lover should read.

So good.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Ok. So I FINALLY got my copy of Peeps back, with a very nice inscription I must say (thanks Scott!) and got back down to the business of finishing it.

Very interesting take on the vampire novel.

The last vampire story I read was Twilight, by Meyer. A very traditional story. Westerfeld has explored a different angle involving parasites. Which when you think of it we all are in some form or another.

Cal has been working for the NightWatch pretty much since he turned. He has been hunting down the few that he has infected during his year as a peep (parasite positive). The only one he can't find is his progenitor, Morgan. Partly because her name is all he can remember about her, aside from her appearance. A drunken hook-up in Manhattan. It happens everyday. No last name. Can't remember exactly where she lives. Doesn't know where she works.

But she has left Cal with a legecy of enforced celibacy (parasite positivity is sexually transmitted), and a huge craving for protein.

While searching for Morgan, Cal comes across Lace. Lace is looking for her own answers. Like why is her rent so low, and why did someone write "He was so pretty I had to eat him" in what looks like blood on her wall.

What follows is a NYC centric adventure with Cal searching not only for Morgan, but also the deep menace that he feels is stalking the city.

Westerfeld has interwoven chapters about parasites between the plot. Real parasites. Yucky parasites. In exquisite detail. I know I won't be peeing in a tropical river anytime soon.

This is an interesting take on vampirism, and I really enjoyed Cal's character. Lace drove me a little nuts with her "dude"-ing at the beginning of every sentence. The ending was left open.

Is this going to be a series? you know?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Black Hole

I dreamt about highschool last night. I wonder if this gn had anything to do with it?

It's the 1970's in suburban Seattle and a new STD is making the rounds. It's not like the STDs that you can typically cover. This can manifest itself in giving you a tail, extra mouths, webbed hands, facial deformity etc. (Wow! Come to think of it the hardcore bible belters may use this to scare teens off sex before marriage!)

Our story concentrates mostly on Keith and Chris. Keith is a nice run of the mill guy, who hangs out with his friends smoking pot among other things. He pretty much hates his teenage existence. He is searching for something, but he's not sure what.

Chris is in his biology class and she is the object of his affections. She too, is a nice girl, if more popular than Keith.

One night at a party Chris finds herself attracted to Rob. They both drink heavily and head out to the cemetery for an intimate moment. Right before they have sex, Rob tries to warn Chris about something, but she shushes him and continues on. Soon after, Chris is showing symptoms.

I think this is more a story about what it is like to be in high school than it is a sexual warning. Burns has captured those manic highs and lows where every outcast feels like a leper, and falling in love happens fast. I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed this as a may have creeped me out. There are quite a few full frontal pictures, and the deformations are the kind of things that make my skin creepy crawly.

That said, the starkness of the black and white is stunning, and the bold style of the illustrations suit the story perfectly. Some of the art reminded my of the Bongwater album, Too Much Sleep. Upon checking, that artwork was done by Jim Shaw. It's got that same yearbook thing happening.

Overall, I really enjoyed this gn. I sat down and read it in a short period of time, and was very satisfied. I am glad I didn't read it in comic form, simply because the waiting would have been difficult!