March: Book Three and 2017 YALSA Nonfiction Awards

Today’s featured library book is March: Book Three, the recently released concluding volume of the graphic memoir trilogy by John Lewis, co-authored by Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. The trilogy tells the riveting true story of Congressman Lewis’ fight for justice alongside civil rights heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The book is a finalist for YALSA’s 2017 Nonfiction Award. Check it out!

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The Serpent King and 2017 Morris Award Finalists

In the months ahead, I’ll be highlighting new additions to our library collection that have recently won or been nominated for awards. One of the major awards in young adult literature is The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, which was first awarded in 2009. The Morris Award “honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.” YALSA recently announced the 2017 Morris Award Finalists. I’ll highlight one of these today.

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is an unusual story about an unusual group of friends: Dill, a talented musician whose Pentecostal minister father is in jail for unspeakable crimes; Lydia, whose hipster fashion blog promises to launch her far away from their rural Tennessee town; and Travis, who finds meaning and, maybe, real love through his favorite fantasy series and online fandom. The novel unfolds in the third person, with alternating chapters devoted to the experience and perspectives of the three characters.

I loved these characters, their realness, and the complexity of their struggles. And it was refreshing to read a young adult novel set in the rural South, in which issues of poverty, class, and religion simmer in the foreground. Among other things, this book takes an honest and compelling look at the challenges facing working class young people, some of whom are the first in their families to consider applying for, let alone attending college. While the serpent theme was somewhat underdeveloped ( more snakes, please!), this debut novel by Jeff Zentner is full of brains and heart.

Author Event and Reading Without Walls Challenge Update

On Friday, December 2nd at 4 pm, local author Matt Phelan will read from his new graphic novel, Snow White, at Main Point Books in Wayne. Set in New York City during the Great Depression, this fairy tale retelling imagines Snow White as a dispossessed yet independent young woman, and the seven dwarves as a ragtag band of street urchins. Fans of film noir will appreciate the dark, moody, atmospheric style of the watercolor illustrations. Watch the official film trailer here.

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Also, this week is your last chance to sign up for the “Reading Without Walls” Challenge! See Ms. Murphey in the Library to sign up by Friday, and mark your calendar for Thursday, 12/15. We’ll have a party and book discussion in the Library during mentor period and lunch, with prizes and donuts for everyone who successfully completes the challenge. PS: Please bring your book so I can take your picture for our Reading Without Walls “All-Stars” wall of fame!

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Reading Without Walls Challenge Update

I’m thrilled to share that 18 individuals (students and faculty) have signed up for the “Reading Without Walls” Challenge! It’s not too late to participate. See Ms. Murphey in the Library to sign up, and mark your calendar for Thursday, 12/15. We’ll have a party and book discussion in the Library during mentor period and lunch, with prizes and donuts for everyone who successfully completes the challenge. See below for criteria and proud RWW Challenge participant, Mr. Needham. 

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The Reading Without Walls Challenge

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One of the many things we’ve learned during this historic and unpredictable election year is that many of us in this country don’t really talk to people who are different from us, or spend time in places that are totally different from where we live. Here’s one thing we can do about that…

In 2016, Gene Luen Yang was appointed the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. Mr. Yang is an accomplished and beloved author and illustrator of graphic novels, including American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints (you can find these and more in the Hill Top library).

What does it mean to be an ambassador? Basically, this means that you get a national platform to inspire kids and talk about books and reading. Each Ambassador gets to choose a “platform” for their two years of service. Mr. Yang’s platform is “Reading Without Walls.” He’s challenging young people to step outside their comfort zone and explore their world through books. Here’s how:

  1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.
  2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
  3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.

If you really want to go for the gold star, read a book that fits all three criteria!

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When you finish, take a photo of you and the book (or just the book if you’re shy) and post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls. You’ll inspire others to do the same!

I’m really excited about this challenge, and am inviting everyone at Hill Top to participate. Between now and the end of the fall semester, I invite you to choose a book from the school library (or find one on your own) that meets one or more of these criteria. Please let me know if you want to participate, and what book (or books) you decide to read. Everyone who participates will get a prize, with a special prize for gold star winners, When the challenge is over, we’ll have a party with donuts to celebrate!

Local Author/Illustrator Night at Children’s Book World: Friday, 11/4

On Friday, November 4th at 8 pm, Children’s Book World in Haverford will host their annual celebration of local authors and illustrators. Over 30 local authors and illustrators will attend, including Hill Top parent Gene Barretta. Come meet, chat, and get your books signed! See below for a full list of authors/illustrators. 

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Creepy Reads

Halloween is just around the corner, so I’ve packed the library’s display shelves with creepy reads (and listens) to send a chill down your spine. Highlights include a great selection of graphic novels and nonfiction, such as an illustrated Macbeth by the great Gareth Hinds; Emily Carroll’s spooky and gorgeous fairy tale collection, Through the Woods; and the weird and wonderful The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan by Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa. If you’re looking for an audiobook, check out The Diviners by Libba Bray, or dive into the history and sociology of cadavers with Mary Roach’s Stiff. Ready to take on a classic? Step into the world of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Don’t forget your flashlight!

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