Over the past few years, I’ve participated in a challenge to read the books that won or were nominated for ALA book awards. Think of it as the book nerd’s version of seeing all of the movies that were nominated for the Oscars. Some of the best books I’ve read through this challenge have been the books nominated for best non-fiction.
First Flight Around the World by Tim Grove looks at the race to be the first to circumnavigate the globe by air. It was the 1920s and the US, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Italy and Argentina were all trying to claim those bragging rights.
In an effort to claim those rights, the US Army sent out four planes and eight young men. This books looks at the things they accomplished and the challenges they faced. I find it really interesting that much of the book is based on a journal kept by one of the crew members (that’s what’s called a primary source, right?).
I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds fascinating and there are some wonderful photos and maps to accompany the text. And it may be interesting to pair this with one of 2014’s nominees, Courage Has No Color which is the story of America’s first Black paratroopers (which I also have in audio).
We have a great new book in the library. I read a review copy over the summer and it was so much fun to read. The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshavri.
The Vice President has been kidnapped. He’s got secret codes. And he’s not good at keeping secrets. So he needs to be rescued as soon as possible. But sometimes, you need to make sure the bad guys don’t notice that you’re conducting a rescue. That’s when you turn to The League of Unexceptional Children.
For this particular mission, Jonathan and Shelley are newly recruited in the League. They are straight C students. The kids who live next to them, constantly assume they’re the new kids they heard moved into the neighborhood, even though they’ve all gone to school together since the 1st grade. And this ability to blend in, to go unnoticed, is their superpower.
Along the way, they have to deal with a crazy Community Patrol, an inept security guard (on whose watch the VP was kidnapped), a maniacal, musical genius, and a school nurse who may be hiding something (hmmm…maybe we should take a closer look at what Mrs. Butler is doing?).
This book was a lot of fun. Jonathan and Shelley are normal kids. Although Shelley may talk a little too much. And make up too many answers when she doesn’t know for sure. But through the course of the story they find what they’re really good at. This ends in a way that it could be the set up for a series. And I have to say, I wouldn’t mind going on another adventure with these two.
Back in the ’90s, I spent most of my Friday nights, and then my Sunday nights, hanging out with a group of friends watching The X-Files. It was a bonding experience. Needless to say, I’m very excited about the reboot that started last weekend (although I haven’t watched it yet, so don’t tell me anything…I’m rewatching the original series before starting the new one). My book for you today is related to this love of all things Mulder and Scully (and Skinner…I truly believe the Assistant Director is one of the more underrated characters in the show).
Over the summer, I had a chance to read a review copy of Weird Girl and What’s His Name by Meagan Brothers. I think I chose it mostly based on the title, because you know I love a good title. I didn’t know much else about it. But ended up really enjoying it.
Lula and Rory are the outcasts in the school and town – the eponymous Weird Girl and What’s His Name. They are one another’s best friends. And they bond over their shared love of The X-Files. But they have their issues. Lula is dealing with the knowledge that her mother dumped her with her grandparents and disappeared. Rory has some secrets he won’t even share with Lula. Then Lula disappears and things go topsy-turvy.
The first part of the book is told from Rory’s perspective. The second part from Lula’s. I loved how Brothers used this to give you insight into one person, while keeping you in the dark about the other. It really helped give you a sense of being confused by another person’s actions; it got you into their head.
This is a great story about the importance of friendship and the feeling of devastation when you feel that friend has betrayed you. It’s about feeling like an outcast and then actively trying to find your place in the world, whether it’s the larger world, or just the world of your family and your school. And it’s got lots of classic X-Files references.
Oh, and this is totally a “contemporary novel” so if you’re still looking for a book for Mrs. Selinsky’s independent reading, this would work!
Each year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) gives out several awards for young adult literature. We won’t find out most of the nominees until next week when the honor books (runners up) and winners are announced at a big conference that’s taking place in Boston. (That morning is the librarian equivalent of the Oscars…I’ll be live streaming the awards in the library that day.)
Two exceptions to this are the Non-fiction Award and the Morris Award. The nominees for those two awards are announce early in December. Which means I have a heads up on some awesome new books to order.
Today I’m featuring one of the Morris nominees. This is the award given for best debut book by a new author.
Leah Thomas’s Because You’ll Never Meet Me sounds fascinating. (I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s high on my list.) The story is about the friendship between Ollie and Moritz. Ollie lives in a secluded forest, away from the world because he is deathly allergic to electricity. Moritz lives in the city, but wishes there were fewer people around. He also has a weak heart and is kept alive by a pacemaker. So, he and Ollie can never meet. Instead, they write letters (real letters…on paper and everything).
The story is told in alternating perspectives. And I can’t wait to read it.
Two completely unrelated suggestions for today. The first is a series that looks like a lot of fun!
The Cold Cereal series follows the adventures of Scottish Play Doe, known as Scott, a leprechaun named Mick on the run from the Goodco Cereal Company, and their friends, the twins, Erno and Emily. Each book pits the four of them against the evil Goodco Cereal Company, run by a fairy named Nimue, who are trying to used breakfast foods to take over the world. These are by the same author of my perennial favorite The True Meaning of Smekday, which was the basis for the movie Home.
Since there’s a big good versus evil story out today, I thought I’d highlight a book that’s a little more ambiguous about good and evil. Victor and Eli were college friends who stumbled on an idea…near-death experiences imbue people with extra-ordianary powers. What starts out as purely theoretical research quickly moves into experimental trial. And Victor winds up in jail. Ten years later, Victor is out of jail and wants to stop his old friend. I read this over the summer and could not put it down.
And a package arrived yesterday afternoon containing most of the Morris and Non-fiction Award nominees for this year.
Today I’m focusing on the author Brandon Sanderson. I first became a fan years ago when I read Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, which many of you know I consider a how-to guide for librarianship.
Mr. Wesler was intrigued when I spoke about Sanderson once because he knows him as the author who took over Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after Jordan passed away.
In other words, Brandon Sanderson is prolific and has an incredible breadth of writing styles. And three of his books are new to our library.
First, let’s talk Alcatraz. We’ve got the final installment in the story of the kid who has a gift of breaking things, Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens.
Then there’s The Rithmatist. This is the first in a steampunk series. Rithmatists have the power to bring two-dimensional drawings to life. These creatures are known as Chalklings and the Rithmatists are the only ones who can defend the American Isles against Wild Chalkings. There is, of course, a young boy who admires the Rithmatists and becomes the only hope when they start disappearing. One of the Goodreads reviews said, “Brandon Sanderson just made chalk figures scary.”
Finally, the first in another series, Mistborn (also titled The Final Empire). I haven’t read this one yet, so I’m just going to quote the publisher’s blurb because they make it sound really cool, “In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?” Sounds intriguing.
I have a feeling I’m going to be spending some quality time with Mr. Sanderson this summer.
Today’s featured books are part of a series that I discovered through the Sync Audiobook program. Either last summer or the summer before, one of the books included in that program was the first in this series. And I LOVED it. Then someone donated the second book to our library, so I decided it was time to get them all.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series tells the story of three feral children. They had been left in the woods (by whom, we don’t really know) and were presumable raised by wolves. One assumes they were raised by wolves because when they are discovered and brought into Ashton Place to live, they behave very much like wolves and communicate through barks, growls, and howls. Miss Penelope Lumley is hired as their governess and must try to “civilize” them.
Each book puts Miss Lumley and her three wolfish charges in situations which challenge the children’s new-found human behaviors and which present a mysterious problem for them.
I’ve only read (well, listened to) the first book, The Mysterious Howling, but it was awesome…especially if you’ve ever wanted to ditch the fancy clothes and run wild through a stuffy party. I assume the rest of the books will be just as much fun to read. We have the first four, which include The Hidden Gallery, The Unseen Guest, and The Interrupted Tale. A quick look on Goodreads tells me there’s a fifth book out now (The Umapped Sea) and a sixth book in the works.