Takoma Park Maryland Library · 101 Philadelphia Avenue · Takoma Park Maryland 20912 USA · 301.891.7259

June 30, 2008

YAHC Lit?

The morning gift by Eva Ibbotson
Reviewed by Ruya

If you've read other Young Adult historical chick lit by Eva Ibbotson, you'll know to expect a story full of passion and excellent characters. It takes place in the early World War II era, about a young woman named Ruth Berger who was born in Vienna and raised by a Jewish-Austrian professor. Her family makes plans to escape to England before they are captured, but the plan goes wrong, and Ruth is left behind. To join her family, Ruth marries a young English professor, Quin Somerville, so she might become an English citizen. He promises that the marriage will be quickly dissolved, but this is more difficult than they first assume, and soon, Ruth is torn between her pianist boyfriend, Heini, and her charming, intelligent professor, with whom she shares a powerful attraction.

The character of Ruth is probably my favorite part of the book. She's very easy to love, because of her intense curiosity, her determination to find beauty in all things, and how she so often says quirky things like “I swear on Mozart's head!” She's very similar to Ibbotson's other heroines, in her love of books and her innocence, but at the same time, she is unique in her situation. But just as Ruth is easy to love, the character of Verena is easy to hate. Verena is the clear antagonist, someone who comes between Ruth and Quin, and someone who hates the same traits in Ruth that the audience is brought to love. Her sheer evil is something which I love about Ibbotson's antagonists, though, because you can't feel guilty about hating a fictional character. Quin is also a character I love in this book, because he's so sweet, and even his ignorance, while irritating, is rather enjoyable, but I don't think we get enough insight into his personality, and it would be nice if his relationship with Ruth was more developed.

All in all, the story is just the type of fluff which is nice to read on an airplane or on a rainy day. It's very enjoyable, and parts, like that about Mozart, are even true to history, but it's not realistic in the least. But don't let the slow parts put you off, because I swear on Mozart's head that you're in for a great overall story.

Librarian's note:
Eva Ibbotson was herself born in Vienna, and her family emigrated to England in the 30's. Her original name was Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner. An interview

Ibbotson is the author of both children's books and light romances. In addition to The Morning Gift, the latter include:
A Countess below Stairs
Magic Flutes
A Glove Shop in Vienna and Other Stories
A Company of Swans (We have this one.)
Madensky Square
A Song for Summer

As for her children's books, try:
Journey to the River Sea and
The Secret of Platform 13 .
She wrote many others, but those are particularly noteworthy. (We have both.)

Posted by library at 03:18 PM

June 28, 2008

Chica Lit

Honey blonde chica : a novel by Michele Serros
Reviewed by Segen

So, most of us only like books that have a lot of drama in them. If that's the case, pick up the book Honey Blonde Chica (Who Is Evie Gomez?) by Michele Serros. This book is a book that flows really well and gets you hooked the minute you start!

Honey Blonde Chica is about Evie and her best friend Raquel and how they hang out with “the flojos”, the kids who do nothing whatsoever. Everything pretty much goes smooth until there old friend Dee Dee comes back in town and ruins their friendship. The worst part about it is that Dee Dee, now called Dela, has changed drastically over the years with her designer stuff and skinny look and on top of that, she doesn't get along with Raquel anymore. When Evie realizes that she now has two VERY different friends, this Chica will have to choose whether or not she wants to stay a flojo chick or become a mini Dela drama queen!

Personally, I think you should read this book because it has everything you want in a book! Friendships, a mix of Spanish and English ( which is really easy to catch up on) and a whole lot of drama. Honey Blonde Chica ( Who Is Evie Gomez?) by Michele Serros is an awesome book. So next time you go to the library, you know what to read!

Librarian's note:
The sequel to this book is
Scandalosa! : a honey blonde chica novel, which we also have in the YA section.

Check these:
Kelly Parra 's Latina YA blog
NPR interview with Michele Serros

Posted by library at 12:33 PM

June 26, 2008

1984

George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four
Reviewed by Grady

1984 is highly thought provoking and is still relevant and inspirational today after almost sixty years in print. Orwell's dystopian nightmare centers on Winston Smith, a man who has become critical of his government but can not protest or even be seen writing his complaints in a journal without risking being executed by the authorities. In this world opening a journal is Thought Crime and would result in the Thought Police stepping in and killing him. The government has found ways to suppress every kind of dissent down to the removal of rebellious language. Within this dark environment, Winston tries to express his true beliefs in his diary, work for the underground rebellion, and form relationships with people in ways that his government doesn't approve of. This novel shifted the way I viewed government. Through 1984 I saw the ways that modern government is subtly oppressing its citizens and the potential for things to get worse. More than anything 1984 shows the psychology of oppression. Winston must categorize not only his actions but his thoughts into what he is allowed to think and what is Thought Crime. His personality is shifted by the oppression and it becomes the central force in his life. The paranoia of the characters is also very powerful. The children join a Boy Scout-like organization called the Spies and inform on any adult that they suspect of thought crime. This makes home a scary place to be for any parent as the government enforces its power on them through their children. Orwell breathes life into this story through its melancholy tone. Everything seems to be in a state of decay, most people are devoid of hope and those with any hope left devote it to advancing the power of their government. However cold it may be, 1984 is a brilliant novel and is necessary in its negativity.

Librarian's notes:

An online comic version of 1984
List of online Orwell resources
Grady's review of Animal Farm

For the ordinary man is passive. Within a narrow circle (home life, and perhaps the trade unions or local politics) he feels himself master of his fate, but against major events he is as helpless as against the elements. So far from endeavouring to influence the future, he simply lies down and lets things happen to him.
George Orwell (1903–1950), "Inside the Whale", Inside the Whale and Other Essays, 1940.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
George Orwell (1903–1950), Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949.
Posted by library at 03:04 PM

June 23, 2008

Nix's Week

Keys to Kingdom - series by Garth Nix.
Reviewed by Joie

Mister Monday Keys to the kingdom ; bk. 1
On the first day, there was mystery. There was frogs hidden in throats, houses no one else could see, and a will. A boy is dying, only to be saved by the shrouded power of a key shaped like a minute hand on a clock. Slowly, a new world opens up to the Rightful Heir, and he must choose between fulfilling a changed destiny, or living in ignorance. The time is ticking, as soon, the day will be over, and Monday will end. Not before, however, Mister Monday has dealt his blow.

Arther Penhaligon is not your usual hero. He has asthma. And he's about to die. After foolishly defying the use of his inhaler, during a gym jog, he is dying of an asthma attack. Until two men appear. One gives him a key shaped like a minute hand. And, suddenly, his asthma disappears. He is pronounced the Rightful Heir, and the two men disappear, locked in battle. Now, however, a house has appeared on his driveway. A house no one else can see. If he is to enter it, his life will never be the same again.

This series, called Keys to the Kingdom, is written by the renowned Garth Nix, who also wrote the fabulous Abhorsen trilogy as well as the Seventh Tower series. Mister Monday, the first of seven books, is fabulously written and won't disappoint Nix's previous fans. It is a fast paced story, with plenty of drama and mysteries. In my school library, these books vanished off the shelves like free Popsicles on a summer day. The characters are, not necessarily human, but interesting and well constructed. This book is recommended any day, especially for fans of fantasy. And no matter what, Denizens agree that it is best read on Monday.

Grim Tuesday Keys to the kingdom ; bk. 2
On the second day, there was darkness. Deep inside a filth of soot, Nothing, and Void, the Pit, there is only death, payment, and no escape. Narrowly escaping death only hours ago, on Tuesday, heroes must face one of the catastrophes of the sin that Grim Tuesday wields. A mysterious seaman, a strange Nithling-like creature, and the disorganization of the Lower House has left everyone with only one choice. Take down Grim Tuesday.

Arther Penhaligon is satisfied that he gets at least six years of peace before he must be called back as Rightful Heir. He is also pleased that the Sleepy Plague is stopped by the Nightsweeper. What becomes terribly upsetting, however, is that a phone call from the emergency phone Dame Primus gave him, informs him, just hours after setting the Nightsweeper free, that Grim Tuesday is bombarding the Lower House with debts to be paid. And these payments are twisted so they appear in Arther's Earth, causing major damage to whatever normal life he might lead. Once again, he will dive into the House, to meet the worst, and hopefully emerge victorious.

This book was delightful to read after Mister Monday, as Grim Tuesday is Monday's sequel. The action keeps you going and it is nearly impossible to stop until you're done. Grim Tuesday is a expectation exceeding sequel, with plot twists and painful realizations. Garth Nix, once again, never fails to wow readers with new characters, strange beings, and the mysterious world of the House. If you've read Mister Monday, definitely stop by for a copy of Grim Tuesday. And, if all possible, adventures to the Far Reaches are best read on Tuesdays.

Drowned Wednesday Keys to the kingdom ; bk. 3
On the third day, there were pirates. A sea that reaches everywhere, from the Secondary Realms to the House itself. Except it's not supposed to. A Trustee's invitation, would it be a trap or a treaty? Questions still fade into the dark, however, no matter what happens, they are ready to face it now. If only a couple days of rest would be in order. They must march on, as Drowned Wednesday has come.

When the sea itself swoops in to wash away Arther and a mortal friend, they are swept into the House. Leaf, his mortal friend, is picked up by a ghostly ship with green sails, while Arther must cling onto a buoy in order to stop himself from drowning. He is marked, however, by the infamous pirate Feverfew, and soon, the mechanics of finding the Will and the Key is in hand. Arther has a lunch date with Drowned Wednesday, and what happens is up to you to find out.

A stunning, plot twisting book after Grim Tuesday. The third installment to a seven part series, Garth Nix still hasn't run out of fresh plot twists, clever hiding places, and new secrets about the not so trustful Trustees. The series, Keys to the Kingdom, and Garth Nix has outdone himself again in the strange world of the House. I suggest it for anyone who enjoys fantasy and adventure, especially if they've read the other Keys to the Kingdom books. Packed full with interesting plot devices and other fulfilling fantasies, and best read on Wednesdays, this book is sure to please.

Sir Thursday Keys to the kingdom ; bk. 4
On the fourth day, there was war. A force of creatures, unlike any Nothing Creature seen before. An army, the Glorious Army of the Architect, receiving strange and mysterious orders to open the gates to Nithlings. War is soon upon them all, and nothing will stop it. Separated from friends and allies, the hero must forge on. It is Thursday, the time of Sir Thursday.

Whisked away to the Glorious Army of the Architect, Arthur finds himself struggling to avoid Sir Thursday's eye, while training in the Army. A various amount of mishaps befall Arthur and his new friend Fred, as they are drilled as Troopers. But slowly, something is messing with the Great Maze, where the Army lives, drills, and fights. The Maze isn't functioning anymore, and Arthur, who is trying to find the Will before trying on Sir Thursday, is horrified when a new enemy appears. And all during this time, back at Earth, a doppelganger of Arthur is spreading the mind controlling Grey spot mold. A Nithling of a higher order, Leaf is the only one able to find the item to destroy it and save her home.

This action paced book whisked off the shelves when it came out. Full of new surprises and a new, lasting antagonist, this book has more plot twists then any of the previous. It surpasses the previous books in terms of new characters and character developments. It also makes one feel as this is the turn point for the entire series. A wonderful addition to the fabulous Keys to the Kingdoms, Garth Nix makes this story begin to build up, and hopefully wowing us to the final book. A breath holding book, Sir Thursday is in power on Thursday, so read it then!

Lady Friday Keys to the kingdom ; bk. 5
On the fifth day, there was fear. A deadly lady, Lady Friday, who took all memories and experiences from a person, leaving them like an empty shell. Humans dragged away to be sampled and then tossed away. A throne to be fought over, and a vicious Piper that binds his subjects are in play here. And even on the hero's side, there is one vindictive lady with wishes of execution. What is Lady Friday's true plan? Has she given into her desires? Friday has come, and it seems, there is no stopping her.

A long and weary day has past after the Newniths' attack to Thursday citadel. Unfortunately, it seems no sorcery wishes to allow Arthur peace. Shortly after speaking to Dame Primus, whose nasty plans are quickly punctured by Arthur, a messenger arrives. She supposedly was relinquishing her power over the Middle House to whoever could claim it first, Arthur, the Piper, or Superior Saturday. She would retreat to some Secondary Realm and remain there for her own pleasures.

Against his will, Arthur is transported to the Middle House and must begin his campaign to find the Fifth Part of the Will, and, supposedly, Friday's Key. Meanwhile, back at home, a new doctor, named Lady Friday, is taking sleeping patients into some sort of portal. Leaf, who is currently hospitalized, sneaks into the legions of sleep walkers, in attempt to figure out what is going on. A fight for memories is about to begin, and everyone must do their part!

Lady Friday was an excellent book. Though it lacked some of the action of the fourth book, the plot brought us through tight clinches and wary decisions every time. Not only are there elegant new characters, but the true nature of the Piper is revealed. Two tales woven into one, Arthur and Leaf must make their decisions to trust, or not to. Friday's desires are insatiable, and this book, read on Friday, may be your key to your survival.

Librarian's notes:

  • Sir Thursday has disappeared. Perhaps a Bibliophage got it. We will get a new copy.
  • Superior Saturday has been released in Australia, and will be released in the US later this summer. Nix is Australian.
  • Garth Nix is probably writing about Lord Sunday who will likely be afflicted with pride. Here is the list:
    2003 Mister Monday - sloth
    2004 Grim Tuesday- greed
    2005 Drowned Wednesday - gluttony
    2006 Sir Thursday - wrath
    2007 Lady Friday - lust
    2008 Superior Saturday - envy
    2009 Lord Sunday - pride?

Posted by library at 03:22 PM

June 21, 2008

X-Men

X-Men : The Dark Phoenix saga writer, Chris Claremont.
Reviewed by Grady

Chris Claremont's X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga is a joy to read. It chronicles the ascension of Jean Grey from a telekinetic mutant into a sun-eating super being called Dark Phoenix. The story starts with a battle with the Hellfire Club, New York's mutant elite, that ends when Jean Grey manifests her new power and attacks her friends. As the Dark Phoenix becomes a menace to those around her, the story comes to involve beings from other planets and even the benevolent watcher who lives on the moon. Claremont shows his strength as a writer in the execution of this story. He's writing about a force that's much more powerful than any of the X-Men and presenting a conflict that couldn't be resolved with a simple super hero battle. The Dark Phoenix Saga could have just been a boring story of Jean Grey ripping through her friends and the rest of the universe but Claremont knew how to show the humanity of Dark Phoenix. Dark Phoenix is shown as an out of control being with too much power that is infinitely craving more power. This is shown as she eats a sun, killing off every being within its solar system, and still craves more energy, knowing that the ecstasy she feels is nothing compared to what she will soon feel. She becomes a cosmic force of nature and the forces governing the universe ultimately have to step in to stop her. This story is necessary for understanding what the X-Men are about and shows what could happen when a superhero becomes too powerful.

Astonishing X-Men V.2, Dangerous writer, Joss Whedon.
Reviewed by Grady

“Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous” is a joy to read. It's written by Joss Whedon, the creator of the television series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” and he brings angst to the comic that is reminiscent of the show. The story involves the X-Men's Danger Room battle simulator as it comes alive and rebels against them. The Danger Room takes the form of a robotic woman with long metal dreadlocks. She presents a fierce challenge to the X-Men because she's fought each of them countless times in battle simulations and is able to predict every move they make. Whedon humanizes the characters, breathing new life into X-Men that have been written about for decades. In the preceding graphic novel Whedon brought Colossus back from the dead and in “Dangerous,” Colossus becomes over-protective of his girlfriend Shadowcat. The greatest strength in the story is the Danger Room because Whedon took such a simple part of the X-Men storyline and invented an entirely new character with a point of view. Through her perspective, the reader receives a new way at looking at the X-Men as the Danger Room calculates their weaknesses and hypocrisy. Overall “Danger” is not an epic story or a necessary read but it provokes new thoughts about the series and Joss Whedon's writing makes it worthwhile.

Ultimate X Men V.2, Return to weapon X writer, Mark Millar.
Reviewed by Grady


Mark Miller's “Ultimate X-Men: Return To Weapon X” is a fun fast paced thriller. In the “Ultimate X-Men” series, the X-Men story is retold from the beginning and taken in a new direction. “Return To Weapon X” begins with the kidnapping of the X-Men as they are whisked away to the Weapon X program where super-powered mutants are turned into weapons for the government. The story centers around their missions under the direction of Weapon X and their struggle against the program. This story really brings out the new X-Men and uses their Weapon X captivity as a vehicle for exposing their character. One highlight of the story is the flashback to Wolverine's past as a Weapon X killer in the first Iraq War where he is shown as ruthless but still maintaining his morals. Wolverine's story drives the plot as he's brought back into Weapon X only to find his friends captured with him. Sabertooth, Wolverine's nemesis, makes his first Ultimate appearance here and in their back and forth tormenting each other a complicated history is suggested and both of their story lines are developed. This is one of the best graphic novels in the Ultimate series and would be a great place to start for anyone just beginning with the X-Men series. For readers familiar with the X-Men, “Return To Weapon X” is a fun take on their beginning and brings their story in a new direction worth exploring.


X-Men : Days of future past writers, Chris Claremont and John Byrne.
Reviewed by Grady

Chris Claremont's “Days of Future Past” is an X-Men classic. The graphic novel contains the stories “Rage,” “Demon,” and “Elegy” as well but “Days of Future Past” which is the most memorable and powerful. The story begins when Kitty Pryde of the future mentally switches places with Kitty Pryde of 1980 to prevent the assassination of Senator Kelly, a politician with a strong prejudice against super-powered mutants. In the future storyline monstrous robotic Sentinels rule America killing and imprisoning any mutants they find and only a few X-Men remain. In the storyline set in 1980, Kitty Pryde of the future leads the X-Men against the mutant would be assassins. As the X-Men series progressed there were many conflicts between the government and the mutants but in “Days of Future Past,” Chris Claremont showed a conclusion of that conflict. He showed a cold world with most of Marvel's favorite characters dead, including Spider Man, Iron Man, and Captain America. The imagery of John Byrne collaborated with this cold setting by providing the menacing Sentinels who are in themselves a dark picture of the future. The story is at its strongest when the few remaining X-Men go against the Sentinels in what would have been their last battle and their humanity and inner character is exposed just before its beaten down by the calculated efficiency of the machines. “Days of Future Past” is overall a story of catastrophe evolving from people unwilling to accept their differences. It is one of the best X-Men stories ever written.

Librarian's note:
Go to J 741.5973 X-MEN for fifty or so X-Men collections.


Posted by library at 02:39 PM

June 20, 2008

Baby Teeth

Arthur's tooth by Marc Brown.
Reviewed by Olyad

Finally Arthur had a loose tooth he wiggled with his finger. One day at school at math class Francene jumped up she said "my tooth fell out" and she cried. Mr. Marco said how many of you lost a tooth? Everybody raised their hands but Arthur didn't raise his hand. Arthur went home and try to take it out. He tried it by tooth brush, he tried it by eating hard food, but he couldn't. The next day ...

Librarian's note:
We have so many Arthur books we've reserved a special shelf for them. Instead of searching in the picture book section, go to the round kiosk in the middle of the room and look for them there.

The Arthur website at PBSkids
Reading Rockets Marc Brown interview (8 minute video) (transcript)

Posted by library at 10:14 AM

June 19, 2008

Once Upon a Time

The green fairy book edited by Andrew Lang ; with numerous illustrations by H. J. Ford.
Reviewed by Joie

RumpelstiltskinFairy tales have long enchanted the people of many different cultures. There are versions of Cinderella from around the world from different cultures. Anyone who can imagine and believe the tales can bring great meaning from them. That's why the accomplished feat of compiling a book, not just with the well known every day tales, but also tales from hidden pockets of the world, is the creation of a magnificent book. This is The Green Fairy Book, Compiled by Andrew Lang.

From the most familiar story of the Three Little Pigs to the stranger, but lovely story of the Fairy Gifts. Each holds new surprises to be read at night, tucked into the soft quilt before falling into slumber. These stories come from the ancient time hundreds of years ago with the writers so utterly faithful to their belief in these tales. Not only children, but adults can love these stories, if just to remember the time of complete belief.

This is a wonderful book, with exotic fairy tales that might have been lost, if not for such archives. The third one of the Fairy Book series, it does not truly matter in what order you read them in as up to twenty or more fairy tales from two pages to thirty are independently arranged in the volume. I enjoyed reading them every night, allowing the magic sweep the young innocent minds away into a land of fantasy.

Librarian's note:
We have many volumes of the Arthur Lang fairy tale collections. Blue, brown, crimson, green, grey, lilac, olive, orange, red, rose and violet. Go to J 398.2 LANG

Randomly Selected Fairy Tale



Posted by library at 07:58 AM

June 18, 2008

Old Major's Revolution

Animal farm by George Orwell.
Reviewed by Alanna

So the story seemed simple enough, when I first picked up Animal Farm by George Orwell. A bunch of farm animals who sneak out of their pens at night to have meetings, and who are secretly much smarter than humans suspect. Sounds like a Disney movie right? But as I found out, this book about horses, pigs, and sheep was totally different than what I assumed.

Animal Farm is about, well, a farm. The farm appears very normal. There's a farmer ( who's also a alcoholic), his bossy wife, lazy helpers, and plenty of animals. Then one night, the pigs, the smartest creatures on the farm, call the other animals on the farm for a meeting. One pig, Old Major, tells the rest of the animals about the condition they're actually in. The animals are over-worked and underfed, and when they become old and useless, the farmer has them killed. Soon after, Old Major dies. But his words last in the animals heads. Finally, all the animals chase out the farmer and the other humans. One of the pigs, Snowball, is elected leader of the farm, which is renamed “Animal Farm”. He has big plans for Animal Farm which he'd like to take into action. Before he does, though, another pig named Napoleon drives Snowball out, using vicious dogs. Napoleon declares himself leader and uses his power to do as he wishes. After a while he starts to mistreat the animals, overworking and underfeeding them, to the point where they're just as mistreated as they were when the farmer was in charge.

Funny enough, Animal Farm is not just a story all made up by Orwell. It's based on events that happened pre-World War II, in Russia, a time called " The Russian Revolution" . You can impress your teachers with your knowledge of history by reading this book. It's a short read, and a good mix of realistic fiction and violence (which some people might enjoy). I thought of the book as a much more interesting version of my History textbook. The book is much more enjoyable though, if you know a little about the Russian Revolution or Communism.

I found the characters to be a lot like humans, even though they're animals. Each character had a distinct personality: there were dumb but hardworking horses, pessimistic donkeys (remind you of Eeyore?), and powerful, evil, intimidating, pigs.

So next time you pick up a book with a title like Animal Farm, don't assume that it's a book for babies, because it might just be your history textbook, just a more exciting version.


Reviewed by Grady

Animal Farm is a complex and wonderfully written novel. It is the story of the animals on a farm called manor farm who rebel against their human masters and try to govern themselves. Even though it is about animals, the story ultimately deals with human nature and the potential for power to corrupt. The animals try to create a fair and equal government as opposed to the totalitarian one that they rebelled against. Over time it is revealed that the new animal leaders are not very different from their human predecessors. Animal Farm tells an interesting story about animals that is also a satire of the Soviet Union and a warning of the corruption that comes when anyone tries to take the place of an evil leader. The characters aren't very complex and are mainly satirical versions of government figures and concepts like religion but this is never a problem throughout the story. Rather than developing the characters, the entire cast is developed through the stages of building their new government. As corruption begins to take hold, the characters show in their reactions the way that people throughout history gradually accept such corruption. Orwell uses his vehicle of the animals on the farm to create a warning that is less dark and yet nearly as effective as 1984 .

Librarian's note:
The original farm?

Posted by library at 09:22 AM

June 17, 2008

Pretty at 16

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.
Reviewed by Anna

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, was among the worst books that I have ever read. I started it, got about 200 pages into it, and then decided to stop reading it, as i thought it was a total waste of time. It was a huge disappointment, because many of my friends into fantasy stories thought that it was amazing. I had a different experience with it. The book started out very interestingly. It started out with the main character, Tally, sneaking off to a separate part of her world. I also found that the concept of the story was quite interesting. This book was about a girl, Tally, who couldn't wait to turn 16. In her world, until you turned 16, you were ugly and lived in the ugly part of the world. Then, when you did turn 16,you had this magical operation that turned you pretty. Sounds great, right? Well, it was at first. That is until the girl in the book, Tally, met Shay. After that, the book seemed all dialog. Now, don't get me wrong, dialog is great and all. But well, a story with very little action can be quite dull. Also, the characters seemed a bit unreal, and so did the setting. The story was choppy, and it put me in a bad mood. Like I said earlier, to me, this book felt like a complete waste of time. Hopefully, if you choose to read it, you will enjoy it more than I did.

Librarian's note:
Uglies (no. 1) is the first book in a series. The other titles are
Pretties (no. 2)
Specials (no. 3)
Extras (no. 4)

Posted by library at 04:37 PM

June 16, 2008

þæt wæs gōd cyning

Beowulf (Anglo-Saxon epic poem)
Reviewed by Grady

1st page of beowulf
Beowulf is ancient and difficult but when I came to understand it, I found it to be a very entertaining story. Beowulf is about a fearsome knight who becomes a king and his quests as he battles mythical creatures like a dragon and a giant. It is a fairly simple story that conveys strong messages about honor and the test of strength. The language is very old English and describes Beowulf's battles poetically. It has the direct feel and excitement of a Greek myth as the writer celebrates Beowulf's nobility and power. Beowulf shows the roots of English writing and provides an example for readers of any generation.

Librarian's note: we have several editions of Beowulf in the adult section, most can be found at 829.3 Beowulf.
Note especially Seamus Heaney's Beowulf : a new verse translation .

In the J room please look for:
J 829.3 Beowulf
Beowulf adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds.
Beowulf as told by Michael Morpurgo ; illustrated by Michael Foreman.
Beowulf story by Stefan Petrucha ; artwork by Kody Chamberlain.
Beowulf, a hero's tale retold by James Rumford.

Read parts of Beowulf, and listen, in Old English.

Then read this translated bit of the prolog aloud. (Gummere translation)

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honor the athelings won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes, from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore, awing the earls. Since erst he lay friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him: for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve, till before him the folk, both far and near, who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate, gave him gifts: a good king he!
Posted by library at 06:11 PM

June 15, 2008

Tales of Flying Bunnies

Horowitz horror by Anthony Horowitz .
Reviewed by Jackson

As far as I know, everyone has heard of the Alex Rider adventures, by Anthony Horowitz. Few children don't love that series. Yet, this book, Horowitz Horror, made as a collection of short stories by Horowitz himself, is rarely spoken of. After reading this book, I can see why. It's so un-scary, it's scary. This book is weak. I read the book twice, just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. A more suiting title for this book would be Horowitz Tales of Flying Bunnies. The best thing about this book is that if you imagine enough, it can transform into a pillow for you to sleep in during American History class. The worst thing about this book is the trickery it uses. So many people love Anthony Horowitz, they assume that this book might only have one badly written story. The reader reads on and on for at least an hour before realizing that there are no scary stories, only stories about psychic computers (BLECH!!!) and respecting nature. The characters may seem real, if by real you mean a boy who “accidentally” walks into an arcade game. The setting changes each story, from London to farmland, and cannot hold my attention for more than ten words. I got bored to tears when I was reading this book. There was too much story, and not enough action. The author called his character's parents by their first names, which was very confusing. Boys ages 8-10 might enjoy this book more than the older kids, who are probably reading comics. Sure, this book is scary, if you haven't read The Lottery yet. That was a scary book.

Posted by library at 03:49 PM

June 14, 2008

Derk Returns

Year of the griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
Reviewed by Joie

Magic, once again, is at its work in the magical world of the Wizard Derk and his family. Years fly by with wings, yet barely anything is accomplished as only young wizards with deep pockets attend the famed University. One wizard with dreams too large for the earth, plans for the moon. Retirement leaves the university without capable staff. Curses and jinxes on students cause small magical catastrophes, and horrible family relationships combined with insane money making plans cause assassins, hidden gifts, pirates, and journeys to the moon to rage out of control. This world is Year of the Griffin, by Dianna Wynne Jones.

A chaotic sequel to the famed, Dark Lord of Derkholm, Year of the Griffin goes to the first year of a group of varying friends. Elda, Derk's daughter, is a golden griffin, along with dwarfs, marsh people, royalty, and jinxed humans all come together. They become a strong band of friends, especially when problems like lack of real magic instruction, assassins, and hostile overseas griffins, begin to take a hold in the badly supervised Wizard University. Worse of all, Corkoran, a wizard with an insane goal to get to the moon, schemes up money making plans to help the University's finances. All the chaos drags in Blade and Kit, Elda's two older brothers, and royalty clashes in the University.

This book is brilliant and manages to hold, maybe even out shoot expectations for a sequel of the legendary Dark Lord of Derkholm. Charming old characters come back, as well as fresh new ones. The magic comes together as new, inventive young wizards break the old, limited standards of magic. Diana Wynne Jones creates a sequel that has just as much imagination as the first. You laugh at strange, messed up spells, and you feel anxious during various unfriendly people attack. And not all are people. I recommend this book to anyone who likes Dark Lord of Derkholm. That same crazy, lovable chaos, that reveals the best in normal and the worst in the false comes back, during Year of the Griffin!

Posted by library at 12:41 PM

Derkholm

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Reviewed by Joie

The lands are riddled with evil. They decay and fall apart as the reign of the tyrannical Dark Lord stretches far and wide. Only you have the power to stop the maniacal campaign before all is lost. The clues are scattered across the land, in secret places. For it is they that contain the power to rid the land of the Dark Lord once and for all! Are you up to the feat of doing so? If you can, join Mr. Chesny's Pilgrim Parties to set your powers against the Dark Lord. Join today!

Wit is a hard substance to find these days. Originality is even scarcer. The lovely novel, Dark Lord of Derkholm, manages to do this in a never before seen feat of writing.

Life isn't easy with foreigners barging into your country and attempting to slay you. It isn't easy when you are trying to lead ignorant Pilgrims older than you through the supposed wilderness of the world. It doesn't get much worse, though, when you are assigned to become the Dark Lord, organizer of all evil, redesigned of house to an evil fortress, and carrying the entire burden of so many lives. Wizard Derk of Derkholm is the normal wizard with a giant responsibility. He lived most of his life peacefully, if not strangely. Yet the post of Dark Lord is suddenly thrust upon him as he must don the guise to please the ruler of this world, Mr. Chesny, and his Pilgrim Parties.

This book has to be one of the most delightful books I have ever read. The plot has a mind of its own, twisting into greater understandings. There is not black or white, rather a gray of the mindset of characters. It is a fantasy book with no peer in plot and its author, Diana Wynne Jones, has surpassed herself again in this marvelous book. Read it, you shall enjoy it so much, you might start wondering whether you should try the post for Dark Lord next year.

Posted by library at 12:14 PM

June 12, 2008

Summer Reading

Our own Summer Quest, Inside The Reality Works, started today at 3 PM. Come to the library to sign up.

The following elementary schools are using our library's summer program:
Takoma Park, Piney Branch and East Silver Spring.

Rolling Terrace and Sligo Creek students are welcome to join us as well, but there is no official connection.

Here are the school reading lists for older students:.
Blair
Eastern Middle School (links temporarily not working)
Takoma Park Middle School
Silver Spring International Middle School

Posted by library at 04:54 PM

June 03, 2008

Eggs in a Nest

Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and her family?

A group of our readers differed in their reviews (and few finished it). Some, even those who make an effort to buy local, found it preacherly and eventually tedious. Others relished every last bit.

Web site for the recipes (Eggs in a Nest? Eggs poached in nests of chard. )
Calculate your carbon footprint

For people dedicated to buying local foods in order to reduce the amount of fuel used for transport of foodstuffs (and because they may well taste better):

  • Crossroads Farmers Market Holton Lane (Langley Park), seasonal, Wednesdays from 3-7 PM. A micro-loan program assists new and immigrant vendors. Reopens tomorrow, June 4th
    Crossroads Mercado de verduras y otros productos en Holton Lane ( en Langley Park). Es un mercado temporal, los Miércoles de 3 a 7 de la tarde. Se ha creado un programa de micro-préstamos para ayudar a nuevos vendedores immigrantes. Este mercado se reabre mañana día 4 de Junio.
  • Takoma Park Farmers Market Laurel Avenue near the clock, open Sundays 10-2, year round.
    Mercado agrícola y otros productos de Takoma Park en Laurel Avenue, cerca del reloj, está abierto todos los Domingos de 10 de la mañana a 2 de la tarde, todo el año.
Credit cards, food stamps, WIC and Senior coupons accepted. Weekly bags available for $300/year.

Posted by library at 03:59 PM