Libri Dilectio: March 2010

31 March 2010

Book Review: Twilight Graphic Novel

Twilight the Graphic Novel: Volume 1, Stephenie Meyer illustrated by Young Kim

Synopsis from Amazon:
“When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret..”

I suppose this really didn’t need a synopsis. Pretty much everyone in the world knows what this story is about! I think I prefer it as a graphic novel though. It takes the important aspects of the story and cuts out the rest. It definitely made the plot move along much faster, which I appreciated. My only real plot complaint is that Bella and Edward seemed to fall in love out of the blue. Maybe it did need a little more interaction before the love, but overall, I was happy with what was left in and what was taken out.

The illustrations (is that what you call pictures in a graphic novel?) are amazing! Young Kim has such a beautiful style. She mixes her illustrations with photos which gives the novel a realistic feel. Also, there is something about manga hair. I want it. Seriously, if I had a genie I would wish for manga hair.

This is a fun adaptation of the novel and fans of the book will definitely want to read it. Make sure you order copies for your library and get ready for the teenage girls to want it!

30 March 2010

Book Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves

The Dead-Tossed Waves, Carrie Ryan
(Gr 9+)

Synopsis from Amazon:

“Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.”

I didn’t read this in one sitting, but boy did I ever want to! Unfortunately for me, family dinner and work got in the way a little bit, but I did finish it in 24 hours. The story was just that awesome!

I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth so I was super excited to read this companion novel. I wanted to know more about the world full of unconsecrated/mudo. Frankly, even after I finished this book I STILL want to know more. I want to know about The Return. What happened? How long ago did it happen? Why did it happen? Carrie Ryan needs to answer my burning questions before I go crazy and turn into a zombie myself!

Gabry is a great protagonist. She’s not unbelievably perfect. She’s flawed and afraid, but she fights through it for the people she loves. I was completely engrossed by all the twists and turns in her story, you will be too! Run, don’t walk, to the library and get a copy of The Dead-Tossed Waves…OR if you’ve yet to read the first of this awesomely awesome series (what’s wrong with you?!) get a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth instead. You will NOT regret it.

p.s. I have now added another thing to the long list of “Things that Don’t Exist that Fiance Must Protect Me From”

29 March 2010

Book Review: Bloodhound

Bloodhound, Tamora Pierce
(Gr 7+)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Beka Cooper is finally a Dog—a full-fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, dedicated to keeping peace in Corus’s streets. But there’s unrest in Tortall’s capital. Counterfeit coins are turning up in shops all over the city, and merchants are raising prices to cover their losses. The Dogs discover that gamblers are bringing the counterfeit money from Port Caynn. In Port Caynn, Beka delves deep into the gambling world, where she meets a charming banking clerk named Dale Rowan. Beka thinks she may be falling for Rowan, but she won’t let anything—or anyone—jeopardize her mission. As she heads north to an abandoned silver mine, it won’t be enough for Beka be her usual “terrier” self. She’ll have to learn from Achoo to sniff out the criminals—to be a Bloodhound. . . .”

I really loved Terrier which is the book that first introduced readers to Becka Cooper. She is such an awesome heroine for teenage girls! She’s smart, courageous, resourceful, and strong, while also being stubborn, shy, and naive. She’s a real girl! Granted, a ridiculously tough real girl, but a real girl non the less. I actually like her as much as Alanna, and believe me, that’s saying A LOT!

The secondary characters in this series are as interesting as the main ones. Non of them are what they seem. I find myself constantly second guessing everything any of them do or say. I love it! Turn my brain to confused soup and I’ll just keep coming back for more. Tamora Pierce has the unmatched ability to make me fall completely in love with some of the most crooked characters.

The first person journal format of the novel allows the reader to feel very much a part of the action. Becka is very open and descriptive in her journal because it keeps her memory fresh for her official reports. I like that the level of depth of her journaling is explained that way. Sometimes it’s jarring to realize that a novel full of dialogue and deep descriptions is supposed to be a journal. I always find myself thinking, “Who in the world keeps a journal like that?!” Answer, a member of the Dogs who has to keep her memory sharp.

Can’t wait for Mastiff! She talked a little bit about it at her book signing and now I’m dying to read it! Not that I wasn’t already.

26 March 2010

Fanfare Friday: Rocketship Run

Rocketship Run, Laurie Berkner Band

This CD is just the right amount of fun, dancing songs and quiet relaxing ones. Laurie Berkner has a really sweet sounding voice that kids will respond to. Her songs are about things that they will understand or things that they think about a lot. This album will also give kids a fun introduction to different styles of music. One song, about a treasure hunt, continues in three parts throughout the CD and each part is in a different style. With “Going on a Hunt” kids will learn about ska, blues, and conga music! Yes, it is as much fun as it sounds.

 My personal favorite song on this CD is “Mouse in My Toolbox.” It has a really catchy tune and ridiculously cute lyrics. That’s not to say that I don’t love the rest of the songs, because I really do. I can’t stop humming them! Here’s Laurie and the band performing the title song “Rocketship Run” on Noggin (which is apparently Nick Jr. again!). Enjoy!

24 March 2010

Book Review: Smile

Smile, Raina Telgemeier
(Gr 6-8)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama.”

This is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever felt like everyone around them is growing up faster then they are. Raina is a happy fun loving sixth grade girl scout at the start of this story. She’s getting ready to get braces to correct a slight overbite, no big deal, strictly routine metal mouth embarrassment. That is, until she falls and knocks out her two front teeth. Now she’s facing years of major dental work and more embarrassment than one girl should have to handle, but not all from her mouth.

This graphic novel is really sweet, funny, and smart. Raina’s stuck in that awkward period when some of her friends are growing breasts and thinking about fashion, and she’s obsessing over The Little Mermaid and drawing comics. There’s that time in junior high when suddenly some friends seem to be years older and some still stuck in childhood. Raina negotiates this bumpy road with help from her family, a few good friends, a lot of visits to the dentist, and her own teenage strength.

Overall, I really loved this story. The illustrations are great, Telgemeier also does the graphic novel adaptations of The Babysitter’s Club. Her drawing style is fun and accessible to those who are both new to the format and old pros. The only warning I have is, if you’re like me and a little dentist-phobic, some parts of this story might make you cringe. But, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this great book!

Here’s a super cute trailer for the book, in case you needed more encouragement to read it!

23 March 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Dead-Tossed Waves

This is a weekly meme run by MizB at Should Be Reading. Check it out for other Teaser Tuesday books. Here’s how it works.

1) Grab your current read
2) Open to a random page
3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
4)Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*Before you read my teaser this week, it will help to know that Mudo (meaning mute/silent ones) are zombies. Yeah, zombies. Cool cool cool. 

“The world that seemed so still is now moving in the moonlight. Around me Mudo drag themselves from the dunes, all of them between me and the seawall. I’m trapped against the waves without a weapon. ” –The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan. pg. 80

22 March 2010

Book Review: Nation

Nation, Terry Pratchett
(Gr 7-9)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“The sea has taken everything.
Mau is the only one left after a giant wave sweeps his island village away. But when much is taken, something is returned, and somewhere in the jungle Daphne—a girl from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a ship destroyed by the same wave.

Together the two confront the aftermath of catastrophe. Drawn by the smoke of Mau and Daphne’s sheltering fire, other refugees slowly arrive: children without parents, mothers without babies, husbands without wives—all of them hungry and all of them frightened. As Mau and Daphne struggle to keep the small band safe and fed, they defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down. . . “

I’ve read several of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books (mostly the ones featuring Death!) and I really enjoy them, but I had never read any of his books for teens. After reading an article by Pratchett in the January issue of Hornbook, I was more intrigued than ever to read this book. It was his description of the character Daphne that made me need to read this.

“There had to be a girl. She would be a Victorian girl, with all the baggage that the word brings with it. She would have to be prim and, by the standards of the trouser-wearing peoples of the Northern Hemisphere, well brought up. But under those stiff Victorian clothes she would be as tough as nails. I took that as a given, because my creativity always fails me if I try to write a soppy girl. I just can’t. You could poke me with sticks, and it would have no effect. Oh, a girl character sometimes starts out soppy as anything, but as soon as she finds that it doesn’t work, she tends to become a reasonably close relative of Miss Piggy.”

 Is that not the best description of a female character ever? I love any author who is incapable of writing a wimpy girl. Daphne is a great character who I was immediately drawn to. She’s a prim, noble girl, educated in the ways of throwing a proper tea party, but not in the helpful ways of the world. She gets over that pretty quickly though, as Terry Pratchett said. Her name isn’t even Daphne, it’s Ermintrude, but she hates that name and decides to call herself Daphne instead. Even when she’s at her weakest, she’s still a tough as nails, sweet and caring, female character.

Mau is another great character. He’s strong to a fault, never resting and feeling like he has to do everything himself. A huge part of the story is Mau’s inner struggle against everything he’s ever been taught about the Gods that guard his Nation. After the wave comes and destroys everything, he finds it hard to believe in Gods or religion at all. He hears the voices of his ancestors in his head, commanding him to observe the old traditions, but he doesn’t understand why he should. He has some wonderful arguments with a priest who eventually finds his way to the island.

Yes, religion and faith are strong themes in this narrative, but Terry Pratchett is neither condemning or supporting them. He merely lays out questions for his characters and then watches to see the conclusions they come to. I think he’s saying that there’s nothing wrong with belief, as long as it doesn’t stifle the rest of your life. This would be a great book to discuss with junior high students. It has all the things that will pull them in, adventure, humor, mystery, a wee bit of romance, and some things that will keep them thinking long after the last page is finished.

19 March 2010

Fanfare Friday: 76 Trombones

76 Trombones, Dan Zanes

Everyone loves Broadway, right? This CD gives you a chance to start sharing some classic Broadway favorites with your preschooler! The arrangements are simple, with only a little instrumentation so they’ll be easy for kids to listen to. The songs are still fun though, very danceable. The CD features some duets with a few familiar voices like Carol Channing and Matthew Broderick.

I especially love the arrangements of “I Won’t Grow Up,” “Thumbelina,” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You.” It’s fun to listen to a CD of songs that I already know, but with new arrangements. It’s like rediscovering old favorites, and I’m sure parents will have fun sharing these songs with their kids! Here’s a clip of Dan Zanes performing “Thumbelina” on the CBS news (check out his hair! It’s wild!).

18 March 2010

Book Review: Waiting for Normal

Waiting for Normal, Leslie Connor
(Gr 5-7)

Addie is waiting for normal. She wants her life to go back to how it was when her family was all together. Now they have more twists and turns then most people can follow. Her two younger half sisters live with her step-father and she lives in a bright yellow trailer, under a train bridge with her all or nothing mother. Mommers has trouble remembering things and sometimes leaves Addie alone for days at a time, but Addie is a strong girl who knows how to take care of herself. All she really wants is to get “all to home” with her sisters, step-father, and mother. She wants normal.

This is a nominee for the 2011 Rebecca Caudill Award and a well deserved one at that. Addie is a sweet, simple character who feels like a real girl. She isn’t the type of child who thinks like a grown up and acts to good to be true. She makes mistakes, incorrect assumptions, and worries about things that she can’t fix. The whole time I was listening to this story (audiobooks rock!) I wanted to reach out and hug her, or take her out for ice cream!

Addie’s family is full of wonderful people and not all of them are related to her. Her friends at the store across the street, her step father, her grandfather, and her little sisters all love her and want the best for her. She has an incredible support system, that she seems to overlook from time to time. She feels trapped, alone with a mother who doesn’t often remember her and rarely makes her a priority. A story like this could be really sad, but this book is filled with hope and moments of pure wonder.

My favorite character, other than Addie, was her step father Dwight. He was such a real character. He wants to be everything to everyone. He wants to be a real father to Addie, but not step on her mother’s rights. He’s honest and caring. I took to him immediately and was very relieved every time he showed up on Addie’s doorstep.

This is a wonderful story that I will happily recommend to lots of kids at the library. Although, since it’s a Caudill nominee, I don’t think anyone will need much convincing to read it.

17 March 2010

Bust a Gut Picture Books : Act 3

Everyone loves a good picture book…especially a funny picture book. I don’t have a lot of patience for “sweet” stories, but oh how I love a good fart joke. Here are the picture books that are busting my gut lately. Maybe you’ll notice a theme…


What Will Fat Cat Sit On?, Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas’ picture books are a storytime staple for me. They never fail to entertain the kids and the librarians. This book is about a fat cat…and what he may or may not sit on! Will he sit on a cow, a chicken, a pig, or maybe a wee little mouse? He’s awful big. This book could end in disaster!


Chester’s Masterpiece, Melanie Watt

Chester is probably the world’s most self centered cat, and that’s saying a lot! With his red marker and his ego in tow, he has taken another book away from Melanie Watt. This is the type of book that just gets funnier every time you read it. Seriously, even the more business pages of the book are worth a read. Oh how I love Chester…almost as much as he loves himself. This time around he’s decided to write a whole book all by himself, with absolutely no help from Melanie Watt or that pesky little mouse. The only problem is, he doesn’t actually have a story.

There Are Cats in This Book, Viviane Schwarz

This lift the flap book may not survive many circs at a public library, but for the lucky kids who get to read it, it will be tons of fun! The title doesn’t really leave much to the imagination does it? Yes, this is a book about cats in all their cat glory. They talk to the reader; encouraging page turns, describing their cat behavior, and, at one point, begging the reader to return to the page with yarn on it. I love books that have a character that talks to the reader. It’s such a fun, different experience in a book. This book was first shared with me by a good friend, who’s knowledge of hilarious picture books is unmatched!

Walter the Farting Dog, William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray illustrated by Audrey Colman

Had to include one for the dog lovers! Have you noticed yet that many truly hilarious books have painfully obvious titles. I think it adds to their overall hilarity. This book, for example, is (surprise!) about a dog named Walter and his uncontrollable flatulence. Ahhh…I just love a good fart joke, especially if it’s repeated over and over and over. Don’t worry though, this sweetly disgusting story has a moral all it’s own and a message for the kids who laugh through it.

01 March 2010

Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson
(Gr 7+)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma—so she’s been told—and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions. What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?”

This is the kind of book that you start out knowing something is wrong, and if you’re like me, you know almost exactly what’s wrong, but you love it anyway. Jenna is a very sympathetic character. I wanted to know more about her from the start of the story, although frankly, so did she! Every time something happened to her, I felt angry with her and worried for her.

Nothing is as it seems with all the characters in this book. The problems/mysteries with Jenna are the center of the story, but everyone has secrets. As she gets to know the people around her, she starts to realize that the world she lives in is bigger than her own problems. My favorite character, other than Jenna, was her grandmother. She was such a strong woman with values and beliefs that mattered. She has trouble accepting Jenna, but her gruff outside is definitely hiding a softer inside.

A main issue throughout this novel is medical science and how much is too much. This seems particularly relevant now with all that’s happening (and not happening) with health care. How much should medicine try to fix? What percentage of a person is necessary for them to still be considered human? What happens when science stops death? These questions are floating around in my brain and I will have to discuss them with my own personal scientist/fiance.

This book is a well written and fast paced. It will leave the reader questioning a lot of different things. This would be great to read with high school students. I could see it leading to some really interesting discussions and they’ll definitely enjoy it.

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