Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Promise the Night” by Michaela MacColl May 27, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Historical Fiction,Multi-Cultural,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 3:25 pm
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Promise the Night cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

246 pages; published January 2012

The Basics

Pioneering aviator Beryl Markham started life as the unusually bold daughter of an English colonist in Africa. Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Beryl is raised by a distracted horsebreeding father and the Nandi tribe that works for him. Her childhood is spent learning to glide noiselessly in the woods, hunt large game, jump higher than her head, and train some of the finest horses on the African continent. MacColl interlaces her account of Markham’s early life with journal entries detailing her daring flight that set her as the first female aviator to fly solo from England to North America.

Booktalk

What would you do if a leopard had just dragged your favorite dog from your sleeping hut? Well, first of all, few of us would ever be in that situation. But even fewer – as 10-year-old girls – would plunge into the African jungle intent on saving the dog and fighting the leopard. But Beryl Clutterbuck, daughter of an English colonist in Kenya, was never like most people. Most people don’t know how to jump higher than their heads, willingly hunt a lion, train champion racehorses, or fly alone in a small plane through endless darkness just to be the first person ever to fly solo from England to North America. Beryl, better known by her married name of Beryl Markham, lived a life of wild adventure. This exciting novel shows where it all began – hunting alongside the Nandi tribe in the early years of the 20th century – and reveals the details of her daring trans-Atlantic solo flight in 1936.

Random Thoughts

I have been fascinated by Beryl Markham for a long time, having read her autobiography, “West with the Night.” By both accounts, she was clearly a very intense and difficult person, but also amazing and courageous.

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That book is awesome! May 26, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult,Zombies/Undead — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:38 pm
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Yesterday, I booktalked “Rot & Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry to seven groups of middle school students. Although I’ve already blogged about that book, it seem worth noting that each time I picked up the book, at least one student in the room raised their hand and said, “That book is awesome.”

So, if you don’t believe me, believe a parade of Claggett Creek Middle School students – “Rot & Ruin” is amazing!

https://myssr.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/rot-ruin-by-jonathan-maberry/

 

“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher May 25, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 6:52 am
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Thirteen Reasons Why

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

288 pages; published October 2007

The Basics

Before Hannah Baker took a fatal dose of pills, she created a set of tapes that tells the story of 13 people and 13 incidents that are her central reasons for taking her life. Tonight, the tapes arrive at the home of Clay Jensen, who had a crush on Hannah and who connected with her at a party only days before her death.

Booktalk

“Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo. No return engagements. No encore. And this time, absolutely no requests. I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.”

Those are the words that introduce Clay Jensen to the most difficult and emotional night of his life. He had a big crush on Hannah. He already surviving the confusing sadness of her suicide. Now – when it’s too late – he is about to learn what was really going on with Hannah. He’ll find out the truth about moments in her life he already knew about, and learn about secrets he never could have imagined, all the while waiting miserably to learn where he fits in to her 13 reasons why.

As the sad, complicated story unfolds, Clay sees how people’s actions and disregard work together toward a terrible final moment.

“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life.”

Random Thoughts

I avoided reading this book for a long time because I thought it would be sad. I was right. It is brilliantly written and devastatingly sad.

Awards/Honors

  • South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2010)
  • Florida Teens Read (2008)
  • Georgia Peach Honor Book Award (2009)
  • Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice
  • California Book Award
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)
 

“Kill You Last” by Todd Strasser May 23, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Mystery,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:45 am
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Kill You Last book cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

288 pages; published November 2011

The Basics

Shelby is having a really, really bad week. Or two. Multiple girls who had signed up with her father’s modeling agency/photography studio have gone missing. She can’t believe her dad would have anything to do with it, but then again … she’s starting to find out there may be a lot she doesn’t know (or wouldn’t admit to herself) about her father.

Booktalk

What would you do if you dad was the kind of guy who looks a little too long at your friends chests? Or comments on their looks? Or just seems a little too interested? Shelby Sloan has always kind of ignored it, but now she’s wondering … she wonders if maybe she had told her dad it was kind of creepy, maybe he would have stopped. And maybe it wouldn’t be so easy for everyone at her high school to believe he could be involved when three girls go missing who have had pictures taken by his modeling agency/photo studio. And maybe she wouldn’t be getting weird emails from a mystery person who is clearly enjoying watching her life and her father’s life unravel. She could particularly do without the last message … the one that said: “I like you, Shelby Sloan. If I have to kill you, I’ll kill you last.”

 

“Page by Paige” by Laura Lee Gulledge May 21, 2012

Page by Paige cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

192 pages; published May 2011

The Basics

Paige Turner has just moved from Virginia to New York. A bit lost and lonely, she pours her feelings and innermost thoughts into a new sketchbook, and ends up creating a record of her discovery of friendship, first love, and a new confidence in herself.

Booktalk

Paige Turner (hey – her parents are writers) spends a lot of time in her own head. It’s not easy for her to speak up or say what she really means or make new friends. After a move from Virginia to New York City, she’s pretty lost until she decides to take some advice left behind by her grandmother. Rule #1 is – “No more excuses! Buy a sketchbook and draw a few pages each week.” It’s not easy at first, but she draws – she draws how it feels to be surrounded by two-dimensional people in a new city, how the inside of her head is different that what people see, and how sometimes her head gets cluttered with thoughts and she feels like she needs to shake them out like a salt shaker. As she follows the other rules … “Draw what you know” … “Listen to what’s going on in your head” … “Let yourself fail” … “Figure out what scares you and do it” … she connects with new friends, finds love, and releases a bold, creative, playful side of herself for everyone to enjoy.

Random Thoughts

The drawings are absolutely striking and express so much emotion. The experience is really lovely. Here are some examples in the YouTube book trailer:

Awards/Honors

Cybils Award Nominee for Graphic Novels (Young Adult) (2011); ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012); YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens (2012); Texas Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List for Grades 6-12 (2012); Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee for Best Lettering (2012)

 

“Chopsticks” by Jessica Anthony, illustrated by Rodrigo Corral May 19, 2012

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Graphic Novel,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 7:25 am
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Chopsticks book cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

272 pages; published February 2012

The Basics

Told in the format of an extraordinarily detailed scrapbook, Chopsticks explores the mental deterioration of Glory, a teen-aged piano prodigy who has lost touch with her life and her gift in the wake of her mother’s death.

Booktalk

Glory is a piano prodigy, pushed relentlessly onto the world stage by her father. Glory is a grieving teen, missing her mother. Glory is in love, with Frank, the rebellious boy who moves in next door. Glory is lost in her mind, stuck in the repeating pattern of playing Chopsticks over and over and over. Now, Glory has disappeared.

This is a beautiful story and a beautiful book. Absent any traditional text, Glory’s story is laid out in photos, pictures, letters, news clippings, screen shots of texts, graffiti, postcards, grade reports, letters and more. The reader is pulled into the heart of the story, leafing through Glory’s family albums, reading her most heartfelt letters, viewing Frank’s dark, angry artwork. The experience is both lovely and sad.

 

“Revived” by Cat Patrick May 17, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:32 pm
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Revived cover image

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

33 pages; published May 2012

The Basics

Daisy has died 5 times – and been brought back to life as part of a top secret, extended FDA review of a drug called Revive. This time, Daisy is 15. This time, when she is renamed and relocated, she makes a true friend, falls in love, and starts questioning the strange circumstances in which she is being raised.

Booktalk

Like most people, Daisy is afraid of death. She’s afraid because she knows exactly what death feels like. It hurts. And coming back from the dead makes her feel just awful for a few days – sleepy with a really bad headache. How does she know? Well, Daisy has been dead five times, starting with a freak bus accident that killed 21 people when she was only four. That bus accident is how Daisy and 13 of the other children killed that day became part of a top secret program to test the drug Revive.

Each time Daisy dies, of course, she has to move and get a new name. This time, she’s Daisy West of Omaha, Nebraska. This time is different. Loner Daisy makes a friend and falls in love, and starts to notice that not everything is quite right inside the Revive program.

Random Thoughts

A fast-paced thriller, Revived also leaves the reader pondering who deserves to live and die – and who has the right to decide.