Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year” by Ramsey Beyer September 26, 2013

Little Fish cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

272 pages; published September 2013

The Basics

Lists, journal entries, reflections, comic strips, and drawings are blended together to tell the sweet, sometimes funny story of a girl leaving a small, small town to be a little fish in the big pond of art school in Baltimore.

Booktalk

Ramsey Beyer was a shy girl who loved art and punk rock, growing up in Paw Paw, Michigan. Although she had a great family and good friends, she didn’t quite feel like Paw Paw was “her” place. If you’ve ever felt that way, you will relate to this book. Ramsey does the brave thing and heads out – 600 miles away to attend art school in Baltimore. She makes new friends, gets homesick, gets a crush, learns new things, has great adventures, gets sad sometimes, and changes her major. She tells it all in her own style, through reproducing lists and journal entries from when she was in college, as well as new drawings and comic strips. It is beautiful to look at and beautiful to read as you find out what it is like for this little fish to learn to swim in a new pond.

I’ll Recommend This Book To …

  • Readers who like realistic fiction
  • Seniors who are nervous about college
  • Graphic novel and art fans
  • Other people who make lists

A Page from Little Fish …

There are LOTS of lists. They are very interesting.

 

Image courtesy of zestbooks.net

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“The Symptoms of My Insanity” by Mindy Raf June 27, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:23 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
The Symptoms of My Insanity cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

374 pages; published April 2013

The Basics

Izzy has a lot to worry about – her boobs that are growing at a wild pace (and unevenly?), her mother who says she’s fine but still seems very ill, the deadline for her art portfolio, and Blake Hangry’s unexpected and inexplicable interest in maybe dating her. Add in Izzy’s near-addiction to cataloging her own possible diseases on Symptomaniac.com and a best-friendship that just got weirdly complicated, and you’ve got “The Symptoms of My Insanity.”

Review

Izzy is hilarious. Her wry sense of humor is front and center whether she is suffering through three loud Russian women fighting over her bra size (“Nyet! Nyet! A D, a D. They a DD.”) or awkwardly, but successfully flirting with the guy who just poured a sports drink on her head (“Holy Mother of Gatorade, I just made him laugh.”).  She’s going to need that sense of humor, because she’s got a lot coming at her. Her mom is keeping up appearances, but not actually recovering properly from her stomach cancer surgery last summer. She may be getting worse.

Izzy needs to finish her art portfolio for a bit competition, but instead of being inspired, is obsessively running symptoms – her own (maybe imagined?) and her mother’s (all too real) – through Symptomaniac.com. And just when she needs a friend, her best friend is furious with her for no reason Izzy can understand and her former best friend seems to want her again – well, as cover so she can go to a lame frat party. Izzy certainly has plenty of reasons for starting to feel a little insane, but she’s happy to take you along, laughing (and maybe crying a little) all the way.

 

“Berlin Boxing Club” by Robert Sharenow June 6, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Historical Fiction,Multi-Cultural,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:36 am
Tags: , , , ,
Berlin Boxing Club cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

399 pages; published April 2011

The Basics

As Nazi-led anti-Semitism grinds ever deeper into Berlin society in the late 1930s, Karl Stern’s family is slowly stripped of everything they hold dear. Although they are non-religious, they are targeted for bullying, loss of business, and eventually the loss of their home. Through his father’s friendship with German hero and boxer Max Schmeling, Karl finds himself training as boxer and gains new strength.

Booktalk

Coming from a non-practicing family, Karl Stern has never thought of himself as Jewish. But in Berlin in the late 1930s, he suddenly finds that a group of school bullies is all to aware of his Judiac heritage – and hates him for it. The beating he takes that day leads to a chance to train with the great German boxer Max Schmeling. Karl has never considered boxing before, but in the end, finds the strength he will need to face increasing Nazi oppression inside the walls of the Berlin Boxing Club.

Random Thoughts

This book is exciting and fast-moving. I got so involved that I read it in one day. Given it’s focus on the lead up to the Holocaust rather than the Holocaust itself, it is a slice of history that is less known and quite fascinating.

Awards/Honors

Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teen Readers (2012)

 

“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)