Category Archives: New Books

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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Fearless

On October 14th, Hill Top’s 8th grade attended a talk called “The Art of the Possible: Overcoming Adversity” with syndicated cartoonist, West Philly native, and Shipley alum Robb Armstrong. It was so inspiring to hear Robb’s life story – and to see him in action with his markers. After a long wait, we FINALLY received our copy of Robb’s new memoir, Fearless: A Cartoonist’s Guide to Life. It’s full of (literally) colorful stories about Robb’s rough and tumble siblings, dealing with early loss and hardship, and getting to meet his idol, Charles Schultz. Each chapter is bookended with an Art Lesson (“Learn to sketch fast and loose”) and a Life Lesson (“Stick to your dreams”). I love this book, and hope you will, too.

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Author Laurie Halse Anderson at Children’s Book World

Last week, Ms. Gargiulo, Ms. Gillespie and I attended a special author event at Children’s Book World. Laurie Halse Anderson, beloved author of Speak, just released her latest book, Ashes, the much-anticipated third installment in the Seeds of America trilogy. (Hill Top’s 8th graders read the second book in the series, Forge, this summer.) Laurie was a treat to see in person. She spoke passionately about her subject – the American Revolution – and the responsibilities authors have to be accountable to their characters, particularly when dealing with race, religious, or other differences. Ashes is a heart-thumping page turner that reveals the fates of Isabel, Ruth, and Curzon while exploring the meaning of freedom. Check out our signed copy in the Hill Top library.

Welcome Back! An intro and two new titles for back-to-school

Dear Students and Families,

It’s a beautiful day on the Hill as we approach the end of our first full week of classes. I’ve always loved this time of year: the still-warm days and cooler nights, and the excitement, anticipation – and yes, craziness – of a new school year, new schedules, new friends…and new books!

For those of you who don’t know me yet, I’m Anna Murphey. I’m thrilled to be back at Hill Top for a second year as the Librarian after assisting Ms. Gillespie in the library last year (thankfully, she’s still literally just around the corner in the Reading Room, making awesome things happen in her expanded role as Director of Post-Secondary Transitions).

I look forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting many of you for the first time at today’s Back to School Night. In the meantime, here are two new books with back-to-school themes. Come check ’em out!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling)

Some of you Harry Potter fans gobbled up this much-anticipated eighth installment to the series immediately after the book was released on July 31st. As you probably know, it’s the script to the new stage play which is being produced in London. Set nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, the book follows Harry (now a middle-aged bureaucrat at the Ministry of Magic) and his reluctant son, Albus, who as the story opens is just starting his first year at Hogwarts.

Complex father-son dynamics, adolescent angst, and Time-Turners…all your favorite themes, characters, and magic are here. But it’s a play, not a novel, which makes for a unique reading experience. Once you get used to navigating the clunky-looking dialogue and stage directions, you may find your imagination is filling in the blanks – like a movie sequel playing in your head. Make some popcorn, find yourself an air-conditioned room, dim the lights, and read. It’s as good as going to the movies.

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SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

This book is weird and wonderful. Though it’s technically a graphic novel, there’s little in the way of linear story-telling here from the brilliant author of This One Summer. The book takes place at a private school that’s a little like Hogwarts – that is, for kids who have some kind of special magic ability and are, well, mutants. And they’re also typical teenagers grappling with crushes, class projects, and the existential question of what to do after graduation. I loved these characters and the dreamy artwork in each comic strip. Recommended for mature readers with an absurdist sense of humor.

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New Audio and a New-ish Book

SYNCHEAD-150x150Okay, somehow I missed that yesterday was Thursday and forgot to announce the Sync downloads for the week. The contemporary book is 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith, which I really liked (which is saying something because I hated the first book I read by him and just had to stop reading another after only 51 pages). The classic book is This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. Download them here.

As for the new-ish book. We’ve been taking the time this month to recognize mental health and we’ve had some wonderful presentations aimed at helping us understand how the brain works differently in different people. This seemed like a great time to talk about what has been my favorite book I’ve read so far this year.20160520_091330

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is a very strange story in the best possible way. It is the story of Colin Bosch, artist in residence on a ship headed for the deepest ocean. It is the story of Colin Bosch, odd high school student. There are pirates and parrots and families.

I don’t want to give too much away except to say, give this book a chance and just trust the story. At the beginning it may not make a whole lot of sense and it may be difficult to follow. But there are amazing “A-HA!” moments in the book once everything falls into place. And there is a great author’s note at the end. You can read it first, if you want a heads up as to what’s going on in the story, but I recommend you leave it until the end.

In short…please read this book. It is wonderful, and beautiful, and amazing.

Oh…and next week…

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Books in Verse

We haven’t had many opportunities to meet and talk about books in April. And there are so many great books in verse for Poetry Month. With the few remaining days, I have a couple to highlight.

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Today’s book is The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. How do I love this book? Let me count the ways.*

  1. It’s about basketball. I’m not much of a sports fan, but there are two that get me: professional baseball and high school or college basketball. There’s a grace to basketball that comes through in the poetry. They go so well together.
  2. It’s about siblings. Josh has a twin brother Jordan. They should get along. They should be each other’s best friend. They’re not. And it’s complicated.
  3. It’s about family. Josh’s parents are real characters in the story. They’re not stupid adults; they’re not mean adults; they’re just real adults.
  4. Vocabulary. Okay, this is where my teacher dorkiness comes in. Every so often, Alexander will use a term in a poem. The next poem will be a definition of that term. Not a basketball person? Not sure what a crossover is? There’s a poem for that. You do know what a crossover is? Have you ever heard it described in verse?

The book is a quick read…but don’t blow through it too quickly. You’ll miss some of the beauty of the poetry and the basketball.

*Junk to anyone who can name the literary allusion there. Mrs. Selinsky, you are not eligible.

 

April Is…

…a lot of things. If you’ve been here long enough to remember the Great Snapple Incident of ’14 (maybe ’13), you’ll recall that it is both School Library Month and Occupational Therapy Month.

And it’s also National Poetry Month. Which I always find fun. And it’s a great time to highlight books written in verse, which I absolutely love. A book written in verse has such a different flow from a narrative story. There’s also a special beauty to reading poem after poem as they move together to form a whole story.

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So, today’s book in verse is brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson has written some great fiction (After Tupac and D Foster is one of my favorites). In this book, she not only turns to poetry, but also to memoir. This is her autobiography in verse. She tells of living in Ohio, then  moving to South Carolina to live with her grandparents, then moving again to New York with her mother. She tells about growing up in the era of Jim Crow laws. Of balancing religion in her life. Of finding new friends. Of struggling to learn. And of finding a voice in telling stories.

I really enjoyed this book. It won a few honors and awards last year when it came out, and for good reason. It would be an excellent choice for celebrating National Poetry Month.