SASP Spring 2011


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Susan and Sarah's Picks Spring 2011

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  • Grades 10 up -   Ruby and Chloe are sisters. The story is in Chloe's voice; she is the younger sister. Ruby is everything to Chloe. Ruby is magical and everyone in her world is affected. She is about 6 or 7 years older than Chloe but seems generations older. Their mother is a drunk and a very minor character. Two different fathers, long gone. It is when Chloe is challenged to swim across the reservoir, but instead finds a friend's dead body in a row boat, that the world becomes more surreal. Chloe is sent away for two years but then Ruby brings her back and in this familiar but strange world, London the dead girl is alive. Chloe knows this ... but no one else seems to except of course Ruby. Does Ruby really have this kind of power?  The story of a town named Olive  flooded out by the reservoir  becomes a minor character in a nightmare sort of way. Chapter titles are a haunting echo of the first lines of each chapter. So the chapter "Ruby Tried"  begins with Ruby tried to convince my dad. The reader is aware that the events of the story can't really happen, but then again, the reader isn't really sure when reality is present. The last chapter does not serve up any answers; only more questions regarding Chloe's world.
  • The world of a sixth grader is captured perfectly in this novel.  Lucy Wu was going to have the perfect year: her older sister is off to college, she would then have the bedroom all to herself, she is looking forward to basketball practice and games with her best friend Madison, all is going to be just perfect. But then Lucy learns her grandmother's sister from China is coming for a long visit and will bunk with her. But then her parents get wind of a Chinese school on Saturday mornings (the same time as basketball) and figure Lucy should go so she can communicate better in Chinese. And then Lucy learns that her competitor for the 6th grade basketball captaincy is none other than Sloane Connors, who knows nothing of basketball but everything about bullying. How can Lucy possibly have a good year? Lucy is a wonderful 11/12 year old. We learn a lot about China and Chinese customs and culture, through the eyes of a second generation.
  • Words in the Dust resounds with authenticity. The author was in Afghanistan, serving in the army. He bases his story on real events. Zulaikha is a young Afghan girl who is destined for the fate of all girls in Afghanistan - marriage to some prechosen male. Except she has a horrible cleft lip; she is called Donkey Face by the local lads.  Her sister Zeynab is married off to a local businessman who can help their father in his business of building. Then Zulaikha has a wonderful opportunity to have her lip fixed by the Americans. She also has an opportunity for further education in a school for girls. The differences in cultures is really shown in this part of the story. Eventually her lip is changed but her sister is horribly burned in an "accident". It is amazing to know  that the author of this book is a male. His care, respect, and research are evident through this story. It is a story our children here in the States should read and understand.
  • When stories are framed on true events, they ring honest. so it is with this book. Told in free verse. Based upon an actual year in the author's life, the reader experiences the dislocation of a Vietnamese family at the close of the Vietnamese war in 1975. Ha's family comes to the US as Saigon falls. Her father is MIA for most of her 10 years. Through Ha, we realize what it is like to go from what you know and are good at to feeling and looking dumb. A good discussion book - how would our 4th and 5th graders do in another country and language? The author reminds us in the end to look for the story within, not just the face without.
  •   The three are the most unlikely friends: Nonie, a fashion crazed teen Jenny, a starlet Edie, seeking green solutions and world equality Told in Nonie's voice, this is a great story of a teen world of superficiality and hormones turning into one of global awareness and helping. Crow enters their lives, a 12 year old refugee from Uganda with a learning disability and a unique talent for clothing design. The friends go beyond their own needs to help Ugandan children. The cover of this book doesn't really do anything for this story which is a rare treat.
  • The title of this book intrigued me more than anything with the suggestion of a tapestry. A tapestry is indeed one of the main players in this story. A tapestry and an ancient book are included in an auction lot that Tessa and her father buy along with books. Her father runs a bookstore. Tessa is strangely drawn to the tapestry's central figure of a unicorn and when she inadvertently pulls a loose thread from it, the unicorn pops out in the form of a gorgeous young man from the 16th century. William de Chaucy is the younger son of a lord, turned into a unicorn by Gray Lily who seeks eternal youth. At the same time, the three Fates called the Norn see their tapestry of life disrupted by Gray Lily and her actions but believe it is Tessa. Along with fantastical creatures such as the unicorn, there's an underlying layer of great humor. For example, Will and Tessa are on his horse and Tessa asks how fast they are going. Reply - the horse is just walking. Will is intrigued by the 21st century, playing with light switches and loving pizza. Love, intrigue, mystery, and terror are woven intricately into this story.
  • 14 year old Alex wakes up one day to discover that while he is Alex inside, the body he inhabits belongs to Philip or Flip. He wakes up in Philip's house, with a mom and dad totally unknown to him as well as a sister a few years older than him (Flip). From adjusting to a new body to figuring out his new life, Alex tries to make sense of it all.  If he is in Flip's body, where is Flip? and when he discovers that the body of Alex lives, that adds a whole new twist to it. His body is in a coma and time is running out. How to get back to his body? He encounters Rob who seems to have answers about psychic evacuees which is what Alex is. While a totally improbable story in that sense, Alex's search for who he is and what matters to him will resonate with teen readers. If you've ever heard a teen groan, I wish I was someone else, this is the book for them!  I was also strongly reminded of a TV series called Life on Mars where a cop is in an alternative universe while his body lies in a coma. Author's successful debut into writing teen lit.
  • I am not usually drawn to dystopic stories nor to books in a series of which this is both. This is the first in the Iron Code series. It takes place in Lovecraft, Massachusetts, during the 1950s but a 1950s in an alternate universe where magic is controlled and individuality is squashed. Lovecraft is protected by a huge machine that makes sure life is regimented. Aoife an almost 16 year old girl attends an engineering school, the only girl. She lives under the threat of madness which took both her mother and brother at age 16. Then one day she gets a cryptic letter from her brother Conrad. Does this mean he is alive? She must find him and find the answers before she turns 16. She leaves Lovecraft and enters a world of darkness and creatures with her best friend Calvin and with Dean their guide through the dangerous world. Strange words and worlds made this a challenging read for me but one that totally engaged me as Aoife seeks to find the answers in none other than books!
  • This book from the author of The Dust of 100 Dogs reminds me why I love YA lit. It is edgy and crafted well. Characters have depth, story has resolution. Vera Dietz has tried all her life to be invisible. Best not to be noticed by peers or teachers at school. Her best friend is Charlie, since the early grades. Charlie is one of a kind, a rebel, a magnet to other kids. And he attracts the Detention crew, especially one Jenny Flick especially. Charlie and Vera fight and part ways. Vera does her best to keep Charlie out of her life ... until he dies. And then she is seemingly haunted by multiple Charlies who seem to point her in a direction she doesn't want to go in. Other characters are her Dad who is raising her by himself. A recovering alcoholic he is hoping in his own way his daughter will avoid such a pattern. The pagoda where many of the books most dramatic scenes occur even has a speaking part in this book! I have decided I like books which surprise me and hold me until the end with good writing and story flow.
  • Free verse format. Beginning to like this for certain books - like this one. 16 year old Liz is Photo Girl. She is an accomplished photographer - her pictures are good; she feels sure of herself and her PMS "preparing my shot". Her best friend Kate is a dancer or wants to be a dancer. The two have Saturday slumber parties every week. this particular slumber party, they fight - Liz tells Kate she has to take more chances, criticizing Kate's boyfriend as a doormat. Angry, Liz goes to her own bed to sleep, leaving Kate alone in the couch. Liz has a brother Mike, one year older and in college. He is home. Kate has always had a crush on him. Sunday morning - Kate has left early. Kate avoids Liz. Liz doesn't know why until she hears from another friend that Mike and Kate did it, right there on the couch in Liz's home! Then Kate brings rape charges against Mike. And Liz's world becomes incredibly unfocused. Every work in this story counts. Told in Liz's voice, we hear a side of a rape story that we don't usually hear and Liz is as much a victim as anyone. Her best friend accusing her brother of rape! So it is a perspective that is necessary to hear. There is no happy ending here...but it is realistic.
  • Third in this trilogy, wrapping up the main characters of the previous two books into this third. Even if you haven't read the other two, this is a good read. Yes vampires. yes to angels. but also a neat tie in to Bram Stoker's Dracula, making it a guide book of sorts to how to get rid of Dracula! 17 year old Quincie has a lot on her plate: she's just been transformed by Brad into an eternal, her boyfriend Kieren, a werewolf, is on the run for crimes he did not commit, and she's got to continue the family business, a restaurant. Oh yeah and save the souls of countless individuals who are threatened by eternal life. There are some good plot twists, good characters, and I always like a book with a sense of humor about the whole idea of vampires in modern day life.
  • The beginning of Spoiled has very little substance. Molly is 16, her mother has just died of cancer but before she dies she tells Molly that her father is actually the movie star Brick Berlin! and that he has agreed to take her in upon her mother's death. So Molly moves from Connecticut to LA and lands herself in an incredible mansion where not only her father but her half sister Brooke live. Brooke also 16 is passionate about making her own way in films and making sure that she remains the star of their father's eye. Thus the conflict: Brooke against Molly. When Molly is befriended by Brooke's enemy Shelby, the reader knows that can't be good. What gives the story more substance is that relations are actually explored. Between Molly and her boyfriend back in CT, between Molly and Brooke when they aren't at each other's throats, and even with the somewhat goofy stereotypical Brick. The ending wraps up with a comedy of errors and you just know that there will be a sequel.
  • A fantasy with all the tongue twisting names and languages including a city which floats above the water. How does it float? it is a combination of air dragons and kajuraihi or flying men. one is chosen to be a kajuraihi and one should be of the city.  But Trei is from another city and only comes to the Island because his family has died, an uncle has refused him refuge in another city, and this uncle and aunt with his cousin Araene accept him. As soon as he sees the flying men, this becomes Trei's dream. his young cousin Araene has her own dream which involves dressing up as a young boy and experiencing her life that way. When tragedy strikes, Araene takes it a step further and goes to the hidden school to become a mage. How these two take on their dreams but then face the biggest  danger yet becomes the story.  It took me a bit to get into the story but I got to know their characters and their worlds and that made it a bit easier. It's a fantasy but somehow resonates with what we are experiencing today with earthquakes and potential nuclear disasters!
  • SASP Spring 2011

    1. 1. SASP - Susan and Sarahs Picks Spring 2011Susan Babb Sarah SogigianAdvisor, Youth Services Advisor, Youth Services Massachusetts Library System
    2. 2. by Nova Ren Suma Dutton Books, 2011ISBN: 978-0-525-42338-6 Grades 10 up
    3. 3. By L.A. Weatherly Candlwick, 2011978-07636-56522 Grades 8+
    4. 4. By Wendy Wan-Long ShangScholastic 2011ISBN 978-0-545-16215-9Grades 4-6
    5. 5. By Trent ReedyScholastic 2011ISBN 978-0-545--26125-8Grades 5-8
    6. 6. By Thanhha LaiHarper, 2011978-0-06-196278-3Grades 4-7
    7. 7. By Anthony Horowitz Philomel, 2011 978-0399250576 Grades 8+
    8. 8. By Sophia BennettChicken House, 2011ISBN 978-0-545-24241-7Grades 7-9
    9. 9. By Katie Crouch Poppy, 2011978-0316078498 Grades 7+
    10. 10. By Maurissa GuibordDelacorte, 2011ISBN 978-0-385-73891-0Grades 9 up
    11. 11. By Andrew Lane FSG, 2011978-0374387679 Grades 6+
    12. 12. By Martyn BedfordRandom House, 2011ISBN 978-0-385-73990-0Grades 7-10
    13. 13. By Caitlin KittredgeDelacorte, 2011ISBN 978-0-385-73829-3Grades 7-10
    14. 14. by James L. SwansonCollins, 2010978-0061560897Grades 7+
    15. 15. by Asher and MacklerRazorbill, 11/119781595144911Grades 8+
    16. 16. by Matt PhelanCandlewick, 2011978-0-7636-3619-7Grades 5+
    17. 17. By A. S. KingPlease ignore Vera DietzKnopf 2011ISBN 978-0-375-86586-2Grades 9 up
    18. 18. by Shaun TanArthur Levine Books, 2011978-0-545-22924-1Grades 5+
    19. 19. By Kimberly MarcusRandom House, 2011ISBN 978-0-375-86693-7Grades 8 up
    20. 20. By Cynthia Leitich SmithCandlewick Press, 2011ISBN 978-0-7636-4326-3Grades 9 up
    21. 21. by NelsonKnopf, 2011978-0375867002 Grades 8+
    22. 22. By Heather Cocks and JessicaMorganPoppy Books, 2011ISBN 978-0-316-09825-0Grades 7-10
    23. 23. ed Trisha TelepRunning Press, 2011978-0762440924Grades 8+
    24. 24. By Rachel NeumeierKnopf, 2011ISBN 978-0-375-84705-9Grades 6-9
    25. 25. By Holly Goldberg SloanLittle Brown, 2011ISBN 978-0-316-12279-5Grades 7 up
    26. 26. by Roland SmithScholastic, 2011978-0545081757Grades 6+