Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hideously Overdue (but I've Got A Freebie For You Too!)

Folks, it's coming. Really. The High School Summer Reading List is in the works, and if I have to stay up all night all week, it will be in the mail by Friday am.  It's been a wonderfully crazy spring, lots going on in the library and I'm just plain behind schedule. (fyi - the junior high list went out a week ago, so I'm only half hopeless :-)

However . . .  the pool is open for summer checkouts!  Students are welcome to come in anytime to select their summer reading. As always, books that go out for the entire summer go on a parent library account, and a student must bring in the parental permission for that (a signed note or an email to me, giving permission and taking responsibility for all materials that go out on the parent account).  Junior high and high school students don't need a parent present, just the note.  There is a limit of 40 items per family, and the due date is September 1.

I will be in the library until noon on June 6, at which time we'll close for the summer.  Come in during the day, or after school, anytime until then. Students are welcome to make their chosen stacks (aka "shopping carts") of selected books, and can take them home when the parental permission is received.

Please call or email me if you have any questions about how any of this works.

The Freebie -- 
Awesome FREE Audiobooks

Every summer, Sync (a Young Adult program of AudioFile) presents a season of paired new and classic works for listening, for FREE.

Each week, Sync gives away two complete professionally recorded audiobook downloads – a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic title. Each pair of audiobooks can be downloaded for free for a 7 day period only (if you miss it, you miss it), but can be listened to at any time and as often as you wish.

During Summer 2014, at least 4 young adult titles on this year's Paideia summer reading lists are included, plus Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and more.  But really, anything and everything on this list is a fine summer reading choice.

You'll need the Overdrive app to listen to the Sync audiobooks.  Go to  to find out how to listen.

Here's the season schedule -
to sign up for weekly email reminders, go to

May 22 – May 28 -- right now! Hurry!!
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 29 – June 4
CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)

June 5 – June 11
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 12 – June 18
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)

June 19 – June 25
I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)

June 26 – July 2
FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)

July 3 – July 9
TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)

July 10 – July 16
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)

July 17 – July 23
THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 24 – July 30
HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)

July 31 – August 6
DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)

August 7 – August 13
LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

Right now I'm enjoying listening to Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey (no, not that one. This one's funny!!!!) and have downloaded Cruel Beauty and Oedipus from Sync.  I'm still working on Les Miserables, but that's a multi-year challenge.   What will you listen to this summer? 

Friday, May 16, 2014

High School Reading Club Today:
Room by Emma Donoghue

The book for our final meeting of the year is Room,
by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

Short author bio (from her website):

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the bestselling Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Landing, Life Mask, Hood, and Stirfry. Her story collections are The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Kissing the Witch, and Touchy Subjects. She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two small children.

Official publisher's book trailer -

The publisher's Reading Group Guide questions are here -

Short interview with Emma Donoghue:

Another interview with the author on

More questions (in Janet Maslin's New York Times review)

  • Was the world inside Room somehow safer than the world outside?
  • Will it be damaging for Jack to have to share his mother with new people in her life—or with the people she left behind?
  •  Will Ma still be content to do nothing but interact with her frisky son?
  • Is it harder to choose freely from a whole bowl of lollipops than to have no choice at all?

About the Fritzl case (Donoghue's direct inspiration)

More to think about - quotes from books Ma reads to Jack
--> why this reading list for Room? how do these books relate, illuminate or expand the story?

Click the drawing for an interactive model of Jack's Room.

Inspiration & research for the book

Author Aimee Bender's New York Times Sunday Book Review 

Emma Donoghue talks about writing Room (in The Guardian)

New Yorker chat with the author (transcript) -

Author Q&A with readers of Real Simple

You can even download Jack's handwriting as a font for your computer!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 Awards Reading Report #3: Brewster

Lack of review posts notwithstanding, I really have been keeping up with my personal challenge to read all ten of the 2014 Alex Award books. Today I'm going to tell you about the one I finished a couple of weeks ago.

Brewster, a Vietnam-era coming-of-age story by Mark Slouka, is a sad novel.  It starts out sad, is filled with sad, and ends sort of hopefully sad.  The sadness isn't anything that Jon Mosher, a lonely runner and child of Holocaust survivors, or Raymond Cappicciano, an angry bad boy with a violent, dismissive father, can do anything about.  It comes from their parents, and the parents don't, or can't, care.

Jon had a favored older brother, Aaron, who was killed in a freak accident when he was 5 and Jon was 4, an accident of Aaron's own doing .  He found a discarded lamp on the street, brought it inside and plugged it in, and was electrocuted.  Mrs. Mosher's life broke that day,  and she blames Jon.  His father is a kind man, but withdrawn in the family. Nothing Jon does -- as an excellent student or a top long-distance runner -- can win his parents' attention or approval.

Ray's father was a cop, but was let go from the force for reasons not quite clear.  He's had two wives leave -- Ray's mother years ago, and little Gene's mom recently.  Gene is still in diapers, and is Ray's only reason for caring.  Ray is a self-made bad boy, with long coat and long hair, always ready to fight.  Sometimes he misses school for days, recovering from some pit fight or other in another town.  Mr. Cappicciano never has a good word for his elder son, always badmouthing or criticizing him, while he praises Jon's successes and says he's the son he wishes he had.  Jon kind of likes the attention, since he gets none from his own parents.  It blinds him to the truth.

Jon and Ray are best friends, opposites attracting.  A girl comes into the picture, Karen, whom Jon likes but who immediately goes for Ray.  She's good for him, and together the three dream of leaving Brewster for some bigger, better place.

Things don't work out they way they hope, and the sadness is that it's not because of anything the teenagers choose to do. The odds are stacked against them because adults who should love and care, are too wrapped up in their own pain, loss and anger to make the world a safe place for their children.

Does this sound like a potential lit book?  Oh yeah, and I'd recommend it.  The writing is lovely, the issues and characters are real, and the conflict is relatable, but not too close (I hope, but really, one never knows).

Have you read Brewster?  What do you think?  Comments welcome!

~  ~  ~  

Challenge progress

Lexicon: A Novel 
Help for the Haunted
The Lives of Tao
The Death of Bees 
Mother, Mother

Yet to be read

Golden Boy by  Abigail Tartellin.

 The Sea of Tranquility 

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Poetry Month Finishes With A Flurry of Poetry

On Tuesday afternoon, on the final day of National Poetry Month, Jennifer Swift's 8th graders came to the library to create their own edge poems.  Several students created more than one poem, and Jennifer participated as well.  In all, 25 poems were 'written' during the visit.  Two winners and two runners up were chosen from the group.  Thanks to all students and teachers who contributed to a wonderful Month of Poetry.

Winner - "Hitler"  by Jordy

Winner - "9/11" by Daywe

Runner Up: "The She"  by Zach

 Runner Up - "Realization"  by William

"Killing Secrets"  by Nailah

"Lost Flight"  by Nailah

"Skeletons in My Family Closet"  by Jada

"When the Night Comes"  by Jada

"Wonder" by Zach

"Torn" by Emery

"Misery"  by Carly

"No One Has Answers"  by Jada

"Not What It Seems" by Ryan

"Rebel"  by Camille

"Rebel"  by Daywe

"Shadow Talk" by Griffin

"Teacher" by Charlotte

"The Story of Women's Past"  by Jada

"Awaken"  by Nick

"Bastard Born"  by Alice

"Black Warrior" by Daywe

"Crumbling" by Griffin

"Forced Out"  by Hope

"Teaching Middle School" by Jennifer Swift

"Becoming Mama"  by Jennifer Swift

Thank you for reading our poetry! I hope you've enjoyed the junior high poetry month work.  Do you have a favorite?

ps - May is Mystery Month.