My Summer Reading So Far

collage- first have summer covers

Hey folks!

Hope you’re all having a great summer. I’ve definitely been having a good time. I’ve got a flourishing garden (something I’ve never managed before), a semi-organized house (just doing one room per week), and a lot of books added to my “finished” list.

So, I started the summer finishing up some books for my work with the Teens’ Top Ten Committee. Teens’ Top Ten is a top ten booklist put out by YALSA. About 20-30 books are selected by teen book groups around the country. That list is then made public and teens vote for their favorites between August and October. As an adult committee member, I don’t have a say in picking the books at any point, but I did get to make book trailers for 5 of them. Rather than sum up the books, I’ll just give you the trailers.

5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Dewey Class 000’s: 001 deals with UFOs and this book deals with an alien invasion)

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett (Dewey Class 100s: 135 deals with dreams and the main character in this book is a Nightmare – literally)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Dewey Class 300s: 302 and 305 deal with social groups and social interactions and this book looks at how labels affect our ability – both positively and negatively – to get to know someone)

(The other two books I read before summer, so I’m not including them here. If you go to the YALSA youtube channel and can pick out my other two trailers, you can claim a prize in September.)

Other books I’ve read:

Chasing the 400 by Sheilah Vance Mrs. Fitzpatrick recommended this book to me. It’s an adult book about the African-American community in Ardmore in the 1950s. Really interesting. (Dewey Class 900s: 974 would include PA history.)

Random by Tom Leveen I got this as an advanced copy and will definitely add it to the collection in the fall. A girl is about to go on trial for a cyberbullying incident when she gets a mysterious call, supposedly at random. The story takes place over just a few hours. Really interesting. This author also wrote the zombie book Sick. (Dewey Class 300s again: 302 for social interaction,  cyberbullying.)

Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw This is another advanced copy. It’s a memoir by a young man from Bethlehem who has spinalmuscular atrophy, a severely debilitating physical condition. He gained notoriety for his tumblr Laughing at My Nightmare. It was okay, but I wasn’t wowed by it. (Dewey Class 600s: 616 deals with diseases and since most of Shane’s story revolves around his condition, seems a good place to drop it.)

Welfy Q. Deederhoth: Meat Purveyor, World Savior by Eric Laster This was kind of like Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by with aliens and deli meats. Welfy, a homeless teen, gets a job in a NY deli. One night, he literally stumbles through a portal to another planet, where he is the Chosen One that the citizens believe will save him. There are cool weapons and lots of deli meats. Loved this book! (Dewey Class 900: 999 is the history of extraterrestrial worlds.)

And last night I was up waaaay past my bedtime finishing an advance copy of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King By now you should all know that I’m a huge fangirl when it comes to A.S. King. In this book, a young woman acquires the ability to see a person’s past and future when she looks at them. Through these “transmissions” she can see and starts to write the (future) history of the Second Civil War. Needless to say, I loved this. I always love A.S. King’s books. (Dewey Class 200: I’m stretching here, but the 210s have to do with Natural Theology, the existence of God and Humankind, and there’s a throughline in the story about a bat and God and having omnipotent knowledge like God. Plus, I need a 200 book.)

I’ve listened to two books. Nostradamus Ate My Hamster by Robert Rankin which was a crazy story involving time travel, Hitler, holographic movie stars, and a prop house. I’ll throw this in the 700s, since film falls in 777. And Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick which I got through the Sync program. I really, really did not like this book. Like Random, it takes place over a short period of time and is told by a young man who is planning to kill one of his classmates and then himself. The problem was, I really didn’t like Leonard, he was kind of a jerk. This can go in the 100s, since there’s a definite psychology bent to this book and psychology falls in the 150s.

I’m in the middle of an advance copy of Conversion, which weaves the story of Salem, MA with a current case of possible mass hysteria. So far it’s really, really good. And I’m listening to the Mysterious Howling, which was a Sync download last year.



Spring Break Reading – Meet the Author Edition


If you want to add another dimension to your spring break reading, consider these two opportunities, courtesy of Children’s Book World.

On Tuesday, March 25th, Tom Angleberger, the genius behind The Origami Yoda series, will be at Children’s Book World promoting his newest book, Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue. (I don’t have that one yet, but we did recently get The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet – and Mrs. Trusty has a Jabba the Puppet hanging on her bulletin board.)

Then on Thursday, the 27th, stop by to meet Johnathan Stroud, author of The Bartimaeus Trilogy. He’ll be promoting his new series, Lockwood & Co.

Both events begin at 7PM. If you can get there, I highly recommend it. Children’s Book World puts on a great event. They’re usually not too crowded, so you have a chance to really have a discussion with the author as part of a group, and then time to talk with him (or her) individually if you get a book signed. I’ve met lots of authors there over the last few years and always have a great time.

Spring Break Reading – Nonfiction Edition

So, for those of you who prefer reality reading, I have three new nonfiction selections for you. All three of these books were nominated for Best Nonfiction by YALSA.

James L. Swanson’s “The President Has Been Shot!” is an account of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He starts with an overview of Kennedy’s life and his political impact. In the second half of the book, Swanson gives a detailed account of November 21st through the 25th. The book is packed with photos, diagrams, and resources for anyone who wants to learn more. And this isn’t Swanson’s first foray into presidential assassinations. He also wrote Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer about the search for John Wilkes Booth (which is also available in the library).

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II looks at the treatment of Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Author Martin Sandler looks at what life was like for the families sent to relocation camps. He includes a lot of pictures and other artifacts including poems written by people in the camps.

Finally, there’s the Nonfiction Award winner, The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb. This is the story of the hunt for Adolf Eichmann. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks like there’s a lot about spy craft, team work, and survival.

Spring Break Reading Suggestions – Pi Edition

(image via Flicker user jorel314)

Friday is Pi Day! The day loved by math geeks and baked goods aficionados alike! How better to add to the celebration than with some books that celebrate pi?
First up…I mentioned this one last week: John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. Colin has been dumped by 19 girls named Katherine. So, as a math geek, he wants to figure out how to create a formula to understand relationships and predict from the outset who is going to dump whom. Might not sound like pi is involved, but there is a place in the book where Colin explains the sentence he uses a a mnemonic to remember pi to about 99 places. Could help you take the title from Matt K! (And just to add, this was a Printz Honor book in 2007.)

The second book is Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early, a Printz Honor book this year. I’m not very far into it, so I can’t tell you much more than this: it’s post WWII and Jack’s mother has just died. Now Jack has been sent from Kansas to a boarding school in Maine so he can be closer to his military father. Eventually he will meet a kid named Early. And Early has a fascination with pi. I’m just on chapter two, but already they’re setting the ground for pi being integral to the story, “What is the holy grail of mathematics? Something that is so mysterious as to be considered by many almost miraculous. Something woven throughout the world of mathematics. A number that is nothing less than never-ending. Eternal” (p.16).

It’s That Time Again…Spring Break Reading List Suggestions

And this year there’s a bonus…Spirit Week. Those of you going to Florida will also need some reading materials for the plane and the van rides, right?

I’ve been reading books for the YALSA Best of the Best Challenge. These are all books that received some type of recognition from YALSA awards committees for being outstanding in their category. The two books I have to suggest today are ones that are on that list.
Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks paired up on the graphic novel Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong and landed on the Great Graphic Novels list. This is a fun story pitting the robotics club against the cheerleaders for school funding. And the school’s star basketball player is caught in between (since his best friend is the head of the robotics club and the head cheerleader is his ex-girlfriend). When things get out of hand, both groups lose any chance at getting funded. So the come up with an alternate plan…robot cage fighting…on Thanksgiving. You can’t see how that might go badly, can you?

(Faith Erin Hicks is one of my new favorites…she has lots of web comics that are worth checking out.)

On a completely different note is Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon, a Printz Honor book. I’m not even sure how to describe this particular book. Standish Treadwell has two different colored eyes and a learning disability. He and his grandfather live under an oppressive government (could this be somewhere in Europe if Germany had won WWII?). Standish’s best friend has disappeared. A moon man has appeared. And Standish may very well topple the image the government has worked to hard to cultivate. It’s a strange little story, but definitely interesting.

By the way…if anyone is interested in doing our own best of the best challenge, please let me know and we’ll come up with our own parameters (you can also go to The Hub and sign up to do the challenge yourself).

And finally, many of the awards lists ask for input from the public. If you’ve read a new graphic novel that you think should be considered for Great Graphic Novels, come and tell me and we’ll submit it to the committee.

Some Books for Women’s History Month

women science
A few weeks ago, Baila told us about Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. When I posted about that, someone commented on that post, “I think you mean Rosalind Franklin. Forget Watson and Crick!”
This was news to me. I had never heard the name Rosalind Franklin. So a quick DuckDuckGo search lead me to learn that she was a biophysicist who, among other achievements, helped science come to understand how DNA was formed. Her work was crucial to what Watson and Crick were able to do. They based their findings on her research and, unfortunately history hasn’t given her he share of the credit. So, if you want to know about the origins of DNA, you may be interested in reading Rosalind Franklin and DNA by Anne Sayre.
Want to know about other women working in science, in laboratories, making discoveries, and paving the way for women in a typically masculine field? You might want to read Women in Science: then and now by Vivian Gornick.

This Week in History – in Books

So yesterday Jake told us all about the history of Florida. Florida. I bet it’s nice and warm there now. I bet there’s no snow on the ground in Florida. I bet I could run outside if I were in Florida.
Oooopps. Did I type that out loud?
Anyway…back to the books. So how about some books set in Florida?
Carl Hiaasen is one of my favorite writers. He writes for adults and kids and both sets of books are equally as engaging and funny. Hoot, Flush, Scat, and Chomp are set in Florida. Each book looks at a different environmental issue facing animals (and people) there. Usually, quirky kids are going up against big corporations and figuring out how to make their points heard.

On a completely different topic, Michaela yesterday talked about school integration. One of my favorite books on that topic is Elizabeth and Hazel: two women of Little Rock. This is probably one of the most iconic pictures from the civil rights movement
(photo by Will Counts via
The African-American student is Elizabeth Eckford. She was one of the Little Rock Nine. The student yelling at her is Hazel Massery. Author David Margolick sought out the two women a few years back to see where life had taken them both. The result of that is this book.