Monday, October 29, 2012

May B.

If you've ever been a fan of Little House on the Prairie, you'll enjoy this book, and if you enjoy May B, you should check out Little House on the Prairie.  We have the books in the library, and you can get the TV show from Netflix.

May feels useless.  Her struggles in reading mean her chances of returning to school are slim, and she's not a boy, so she can't help out on the farm like her brother, Hiram.  Her parents have decided to hire her out to Mr. Oblinger and his new wife; they need the money and it's only until Christmas, just five months.  But for May, five months might as well be forever, and the fifteen miles to Oblinger's farm might as well be a hundred.

Soon after she arrives at the lonely sod house, things go wrong, and May will have to find a way to survive on her own.  During these lonely hours she will also work out old frustrations and fears.  It is so tempting to just give in to depression.  Will May B. find a way to gather her strength?  Maybe she will; maybe she won't.

Read Caroline Starr Rose's new book, and you'll be transported back to another time when May's survival is a day to day matter, but many of her struggles are the same ones children face today.  The format of this verse novel contributes to the starkness and loneliness of May's life on the prairie.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gathering Blue

In this companion book to The Giver, Lois Lowry creates an alternative to Jonas's overly safe and highly technological world.

Kira's village is a cruel and hard place, and now, as Kira mourns her mother's death, she is all alone.  Just a few days after her mother's death, the women of the village try to take her home by force.  With her twisted, useless leg, Kira isn't sure how she will survive, let alone win this battle with these dangerous women.

She quickly realizes she has a protector who knows about her skills with threadings.  Now that her mother is dead, Kira will find purpose in repairing the ancient robe worn by the singer who sings the the story of the world each year.  Now she is no longer living in her mud hut with the rest of the village.  She is in the council edifice with all it's little luxuries Kira's never imagined.

Soon, however, Kira comes to see beyond the veil of comfort the council offers her to see the truth about her society and the lies those in power use to control the people.

Lois Lowry says that after she wrote The Giver, she started to think about the different societies that could develop after a post-apocalyptic event.  It seemed logical to her, that some communities would be stuck in a backwards world devoid of technology.  Gathering Blue explores many of the issues Lowry raised in The Giver through a different lens.

The Unwanteds

Alex has know since he was ten years old that he was unwanted, so when purge day arrives for the 13 year old, he knows he will be separated from the life he's always known including his identical twin, Aaron, and sent to his death.

What did he do to deserve this fate?  Alex's main infraction was drawing in the dirt with a stick.  In the the barren and desert land of Quill, creativity is forbidden and the people are protected and controlled by High Priest Justine and a barbed wire dome covering the city.  While life in Quill is harsh and oppressive, it is better than the certain death Alex and the other unwanteds must face.

But when they arrive at the Death Farm, the wasteland and lake of boiling oil magically transform before their eyes into lush gardens and jungles.  The grey walls of the buildings are transformed into a castle, and the unwanteds slowly come to realize they are not about to die.  They are now part of the greatest secret in the land.  While the Quillens sent them to die for their creative impulses, in Artime they are welcomed and praised by strange creatures and a mage called Today.

They are amazed by this new life, but the intrigues aren't over.  There are secrets and rivalries even in Artime, and in his desperate need to see his twin again, Alex could put everyone in danger.

If you are looking for something new to fill the Harry Potter shaped hole in your reading, give Lisa McMann's new series a try.  It's a fantastic adventure!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Stella is only staying with her great-aunt Louise in Cape Cod until her mother gets things back together.  As soon as she gets a job and finishes those parenting classes, Stella won't have to live with her grumpy aunt anymore.

Aunt Louise takes Stella in, like she did Stella's mother, because the girl has nowhere else to go, but she decides Stella shouldn't be alone, so she also takes Angel as a foster child.

Angel is just biding her time in one foster home after the next until her aunt can get a job, her green card, and a home.  Now that Angel's father is dead, her aunt is the only one left to take care of her.

Soon after Angel arrives, Aunt Louise dies unexpectedly  and the girls have a decision to make.  They know they should call the police, but Angel doesn't want to go to another foster home, and Stella doesn't have any more relatives.  The girls decide to take over Aunt Louise's job of managing the vacation properties next door and hide her death, just for the summer.  By the end of the summer, Angel will have enough money to meet her aunt in New York, and Stella hopes that will be enough time for her mother to get her life together.

This is one summer when two girls will learn to accept one another and the truth about their own lives.  If you like realistic fiction, you will enjoy Sara Pennypacker's new book.

The Fairy Ring

Elsie and Frances were two cousins who became roommates during WWI when Frances's father went to war.  The first time Frances went to play in the English country side, she saw the little men peeking at her from undergrowth, but when she and Elsie told the adults about the fairies, no one believed them.

That's when Elsie gets the idea to take a picture.  Using fairies she has drawn herself, Elsie takes a picture of her cousin, Frances, with a fairy.  Eventually, that photograph and others like it will make their way all over England and the world as evidence that fairies really exist.  Even Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books, believes the photos are real.

Author, Mary Losure, uses plenty of description and detailed research to recreate the people who were involved in these events.  Frances and Elsie seem like two fun and mischievous girls, even when they are old enough to be grandmothers.

If you've ever looked at a photo and wondered, "Is that for real?" you should read this book!

The video below is Frances's daughter talking about the pictures on Antiques Roadshow in England.  You can see prints of the photos in the video as well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Fair!

Book Fair is coming to the library next week!  You can shop from Tuesday through Friday; we will be open before school and during lunches.  You can also come by after school if you aren't riding the bus.  If you can wrangle a pass from your teacher, you can come during class.  You will be coming to preview the book fair with your Language Arts teacher, but you don't need to wait for that to shop.

Remember, the book fair is a library fundraiser.  Every purchase you make gives the library a little more money to buy books for the collection!

You can also make book fair purchases online!  Click on the image below to be redirected to our online book fair site. 

More Author Signings!

Visit Blue Willow's homepage for even more events!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Giver

After hearing Lois Lowry talk about Son last week, I decided I needed to reread The Giver before plunging into the new book.  I am so glad I did!  It had been so long since reading the first book that I really only remembered the high points (including the end) and that I loved it.  Reading The Giver after more than ten years felt like a new experience, and I was on the edge of my seat, completely enthralled, just like the first time.  If you haven't read this book, read it now!  If it's been a while, read it again!  You won't be disappointed.

It's almost time for Jonas's twelfth birthday, which will be celebrated with the rest of the children born in the same year.  This is the year they will be assigned their careers and begin training.  Jonas feels apprehensive because he has no idea what career the council of elders has chosen for him.

In this perfectly ordered society, there are very few choices to make.  Similarities are the focus, and differences aren't tolerated.  Everything seems perfect in the community; there is no pain, no discord, no crime.  Jonas has never questioned his life and his community, but when he is chosen as the new Receiver at the ceremony of twelve, he begins a journey that will reveal the truth about his community and himself.

The Giver is a masterpiece of YA dystopia.   Lowry presents her readers with a society free from many of the ills we lament in our own world.  As Jonas undertakes his Receiver training, the veneer quickly begins to fade, and we see, along with Jonas, the terrible price for this "perfect" society.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lois Lowry Was in Houston Today!

Today was awesome because I got to meet Lois Lowry again!  Ms. Lowry spoke at Johnston Middle School this afternoon at 3:00 as part of inprint Houston.  Her new book is a sequel to The Giver called Son and follows Gabe's birth mother.  As a fan of Ms. Lowry's books, I am super excited to get started on reading it!  I picked up one autographed copy for myself and one for someone to win at the end of the year celebration.  Come by the library to check out some of her other books!
Here is a photo of Lois Lowry signing the book you could win!
Princess Buttercup hugged the books as soon as I put them down to take a picture.  I guess she's a fan, too!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Ghost of Graylock

Every town has it's secrets, and Hedston is no exception.  Everyone know the story of Graylock Hall, the mental hospital hidden in the woods outside of town.  Everyone knows about the kids who died there and Nurse Janet who killed them.

It's no surprise that ghost hunter Neil discovers the story soon after moving to town.  One of the first things he does is venture into the forest to investigate the abandoned building.  Once they are inside, though, Neil and his sister sister Bree have some ghostly experiences that seem all too real.

Bree wants to put this behind her and move on with her summer, but Neil wants to investigate.  As they unravel the mystery of Graylock Hall, it is clear they are in danger from forces both natural and supernatural.

And the ghost of Graylock isn't going to let them go so easily.

Visit author Dan Poblocki's website for more information about him and his books.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

Ivan is a gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.  His life isn't so bad.  He has his friends Stella the elephant and Bob the dog to talk to, and he has his art.  Ivan loves to draw with the crayons and paper his friend Julia passes through the hole in the glass of Ivan's cage.

One day a new baby elephant named Ruby arrives, and Ivan begins to see his world through her eyes.  All the things that seemed not so bad for 27 years suddenly seem broken and sad.  But Ruby does more than help Ivan see his the darkness of his life at the Exit 8 Mall, she also helps him remember his life before when he lived in the jungle with his family.

Now Ivan knows he has to help Ruby.  He can't let her grow up to be sad and broken.

Go to author, Katherine Applegate's, website to find out more about her and the real Ivan who inspired the story!

I love this book!  It broke my heart and put it back together again.  I hope you will read this book and think about who you are and how you fit into this world.

The Apothecary

It's 1952, and Janie Scott and her parents have moved to London from California.  It's hard enough moving to a new place, but when that new place is the exact opposite of sunny Los Angeles, Janie is frustrated by everything.  Things start to change when Janie goes with her father to visit the apothecary, think pharmacist, and he gives her a cure for homesickness.

She is soon swept up into a world of magical transformations and dangerous Russian spies.  When the apothecary disappears, Janie and his son, Benjamin, travel across London and the freezing ocean to save themselves and the world.

Read Maile Meloy's first book for young adults and join the journey.