Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Did You Know About This?

Remember how much I liked Coraline?

Well, turns out they are drawing a graphic novel adaptation, in addition to making a movie. I'm torn between frothing at the mouth with excitement and being a little disappointed that it isn't being drawn by Dave McKean, who did those great illustrations in the original. Still, it's Coraline, and it's a graphic novel. Plus, that movie looks really really cool. Merry Christmas to me!

And part of my New Year's resolution is to write a book review. Set the attainable goals, that's what I say.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Apparently I have Been Living Under a Rock

That's the only explanation I can come with for the fact that I've been scooped by approximately 95% of the blogosphere on the title for Harry Potter Seven: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.

But . . . seriously? Deathly Hollows? Or maybe I've just read so much Harry Potter fanfiction in my time that just about any title sounds a little wacky.

Okay, now let's have a release date please!

Thanks to most of the people on my Blogroll for cluing me in.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Meme for Book Bloggers

Okay, this is for all you fellow YA and kidlit book bloggers out there. This is my attempt at starting a meme. I'll go first.

How many other kidlit blogs do you read?
Erm . . . a lot. Check out the ones on my blogroll off to the side, and even that's shamefully out-of-date. Whenever I find a new one, I add it to my Bloglines, which I check in with multiple times per day.

What's the most recent add?
Interactive Reader. She does a lot of YA books . . . 100% so far.

How often do you post a book review to your blog?
I try to do it every Monday and except for a few times when life intervened, I think I've been doing all right.

Do you post about anything else?
I used to post tidbits that came my way, (mostly from Blog of a Bookslut) but I've been very lazy/busy since about October and haven't really done much of that.

Do you only blog books you like, or the stinkers too?
I try to blog only books that score an 8 or higher on my personal scale. Usually I will pick up a book and within a few chapters, I'll know I have to blog this book. Though I admit to having blogged the occasional 7.5, which isn't so much gottablog-gottablog as, well, it was a pretty good read and I'd give it to a kid who asked for this type of book.

How do you keep track of what you want to read?
I actually do it non-digitally . . . the horror!! I have a blue cloth-covered journal that I bought at Target and keep on hand most of the time. I list the title and author when I initially hear about the book, then I take it to work and see if my system has it. When I find it and check it out, I cross it off. I just sent in a full page, typed, single-spaced, to the central purchasing department of books I'd heard about and been VERY PATIENT, I think, waiting for them to just buy it already. Clearly they needed a kick in the pants . . . um, I mean, a gentle reminder of the existence of this book.

How do you keep track of what you've read?
I used to keep it all in my head *gales of laughter*. Then I got into LibraryThing and started recording and tagging everything obsessively. I have to say, what the tag list reveals about my reading matter is . . . interesting. Some are predictable (love) and some aren't (apocalypse?!)

Do you work with kids?

In the age group of the books you mostly blog about?
I'm a children's librarian but I mostly blog YA books. That being said, I routinely find fabulous picture books and run after co-workers going, "You have to read this!" To which they say, "I'm on lunch! Go away or I'll set you on fire!"

Do you read grown-up books?
The occasional mystery or romance, but 99.9% of my reading matter is kidlit.

Okay, that's it. I tag whoever's reading this.

The Amazon Papers

Book: The Amazon Papers
Author: Beverly Keller
Published: 1996

16-year-old Iris wishes her mom and aunt would lay off. So what if she prefers reading philosophy and fixing cars to going out on dates and having adventures? She’s happy the way she is. Even if she does wish that gorgeous pizza deliveryman would pay her a little more attention. Let other girls drink the cup of life; Iris is happy the way she is. Her staid reputation backfires, however, when her mother takes off on vacation and not only leaves her home alone, but saddles her with a pair of demonic under-five cousins. Nothing can happen with Iris around, can it?

Iris didn’t think so either, until she gets her foot smashed by a stiletto heel, her mom’s car gets stripped in the parking lot of a bowling alley, and she winds up at the airport at midnight to pick up an incontinent dog. If this is the cup of life, she wishes the damn waiter would come back.

It probably took me about an hour and a half to read, but I grinned all the way through. The whole thing has the feel of a Marx Brothers comedy, and Iris’s realization that she may not be the sensible girl everyone takes her for increases with each new disaster, until she finally takes control of her own destiny. Keller’s dry, literate humor and her sense of a heroine in thoroughly over her head makes this a quick little read that you’ll enjoy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo

Book: Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo
Author: Greg Leitich Smith
Published: 2003

Elias loves Honoria. But Honoria, alas, loves Shohei. And Shohei?

Would love it if his parents just gave the whole Japanese thing a rest.

Welcome to the slightly off-kilter world of the Peshtigo School, a place where science fairs spur animal-rights protests and Galileo-esque trials. At the center is this triad: Elias, Honoria, and Shohei, whose longtime friendship is being sorely tested by oncoming adolescence and the aforementioned science fair. They have a million questions: is it possible for piranhas to prefer bananas over bloody meat? Do plants really grow better on baroque chamber music? Can you get away with making your little brother do all your science-fair project? Can Elias ever live up to his genius brothers and sisters? Is Shohei ever going to convince his adoptive parents that really, he’s doing just fine without being immersed day and night in Japanese culture? Who is Honoria’s secret admirer, who by the way, writes really corny love e-mails? Will that snobby, condescending science teacher to admit Elias’s project might be valid, in spite of getting contrary results to the ones expected?

And the big one . . . is their friendship going to survive?

I had fun with this book. Smith intertwines the three stories in multiple-POV format, throwing in just enough lunacy to keep things interesting, but retaining the heart of these likeable middle-schoolers. While a lot of kids’ books assume that their readers have no interest in science, history, or law, Smith assumes all three and mixes them in like chocolate chips, without overloading readers with dull information. He’s written a companion/sequel called Tofu and T. Rex, which returns to the Peshtigo school if not these characters, and I hope he’ll continue. It’s a place where I want to return.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Not the End of the World

Book: Not the End of the World
Author: Geraldine McCaughrean
Published: 2006

“The end of the world is a busy time if you intend to live through it.”

And Timna’s family does. While their neighbors mock and taunt, they have been preparing for an apocalypse--packing their things, gathering animals, and building an ark. Because this is most definitely the end of the world . . . at least for anyone who’s not in Noah’s family.

Then the flood comes, and Timna’s confidence in her family’s choices is shaken as she watches the terrible deaths of all those neighbors who mocked them. When she involuntarily rescues a young boy and his baby sister, she tries to tell herself that they are demons and her fervent father is right. But she keeps protecting them, until it all comes to the point where the world ends . . . again.

I knew the story of Noah and the ark so well, growing up, that after reading this book, I realized I didn’t know it at all. McCaughrean has actually sat down and thought about the effect of a mass flood on a population, and on a single human being. Thanks to this preparation, Not the End of the World is a shocking and thought-provoking book. She portrays the interpersonal relationships, strained and warped by claustrophobic shipboard life, in a way that the calm and sonorous tones of Genesis never evoked. While it’s mostly Timna’s story, McCaughrean also narrates through other characters (although only one Biblical character and never Noah), and she also gives distinct and fascinating voices to the animals aboard.

Timna herself, instead of being an idealistic rebel from the start, comes around to an understanding of her father, of God, and of moral choices gradually. It’s probably a good idea to know the story of the Ark before diving into this book, but when you do, be prepared to have the familiar story turned inside out.