March 24, 2010

Lawless Philadelphia

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Reviewed by Bronte

The year is 1793 and yellow fever hits the city of Philadelphia, ruining what little order they have managed since the Revolutionary War. Through the eyes of 14 year old Matilda Cook we see how the fever devastated the city, and how people struggled to live in a fever panicked city when all laws seem to fail. My friend read this for a book report and years later I saw the book in a library and decided to read it. Based on true events, Matilda's story is heart wrenching as we watch her life fall apart before her eyes. Matilda's innocence is ruined through the atrocities she witnesses and the loss she goes through. This book was very fast paced and her loss of innocence during this chaotic time was very powerful. I cried and laughed reading this book. This is by the same author as Speak. I like both stories, but I like the writing in this one better. I would recommend this for young girls (10-12).

Posted by at 02:21 PM


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Reviewed by Saleiha

The novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is sure to educate and shock the reader with information about the lives of women in Afghanistan. In the novel two women become married to an abusive husband after horrible accidents change their lives. Although they are often abused by the husband, and their lives are constantly threatened by the missiles and bullets that are fired into their city, they learn to overcome their fears and make plans to escape from their husband and their life in Kabul. This story makes your heart ache as you read this stunning story of women who grasp onto the smallest ray of hope as they struggle to survive through warfare and abuse. Although this story will make your stomach clench, it is a story worth reading due to Hosseini's gift of story telling and novel's wonderful plot.

Posted by at 02:18 PM

Breakup Badness

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
Reviewed by Ruya

A breakup, in any situation, is a stressful affair. Especially if the person you broke up with writes a song about it. And then that song becomes an instant hit. And quickly ascends the top 10 list of most popular songs to play on the radio. And just to add oil to the flames, because of that song you become a celebrity. Fortunately for most of us, this chain of events is unlikely to just about impossible. But it's what happens to Audrey, the heroine of Audrey, Wait!, and that one song pretty much messes up her entire life. One minute all she's worrying about is what to wear to the concert she's going to with her best friend, and hoping that the cute guy at the ice cream shop she works at will actually talk to her, and the next, she has her own fan site and her face is plastered across the pages of popular teen magazines. Add on the reporters trying to make her out to be the new Paris Hilton, and Audrey's soon wishing she had never broken up with her ex in the first place.

This book comes highly recommended by well-known YA writers such as Meg Cabot and Rachel Cohn, not to mention many ecstatic readers. Despite that, I found it to be cute and entertaining at best, mediocre and clichéd at worst. 'The downside of fame' as a theme is way too overdone to be interesting anymore. The characters are well done, though none but Audrey (whose hobbies include listening to deafeningly loud music in the middle of the night while adding to the collage that takes up half of her wall) are really memorable. The writing is good, but nothing to write home about. The two high points were the song quotes that began each chapter and the quick dialog between Audrey and her best friend, Victoria. To all you readers out there aged 12 and up, I say read this book if you want, because it really is a fun book, but don't expect too much from it.

Posted by at 02:14 PM

Move Over, Lassie.

Lad, A Dog. by Albert Payson Terhune
Reviewed by Joie

Lad is not any dog. Thoroughbred in mind and body, Lad is the champion of the collies, a dog with no peer. His tales are famous for their collie ingenuity and wit. But most of all, his soul shines through unmistakably. His deeds are golden, with chivalrous heart. And when the call arises, Lad obeys. Lad is famous for his adventures with his master, "The Master", and with his mistress, "The Mistress". All of these are true stories, told to demonstrate the magical abilities of dogs and especially that of the dog that has a soul, Lad. But there is more. We also have the tale of his son Wolf, the thoroughbred collie who doesn't look like one and has the intelligent brain of a watchdog lying within him.

In Sunnybank, there lives a collie named Lad. He is blessed with extraordinary wisdom and wit, as well as a soul. During his life, he fends off sly suitors that attempt to steal his mate, endures the torture of the old multi-day dog shows, and defends the Place, his kingdom and home. At the Place, Lad has his deities, the "Master" and "Mistress", and his beloved mate and son, Lady and Wolf. However, Lad must endure a plethora of challenges to protect his Place and to preserve his good name, from trekking across thirty miles to get back home to catching sheep robbers. The most beloved collie next to Lassie, Lad has come to capture hearts. Written for dog lovers and children alike, Lad's adventures will cause bated breaths and laughter at his exploits.

Posted by at 02:07 PM

Twin Tricks

Lost And Found by Andrew Clemens
Reviewed by Leila

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements is a great book. It's about identical twin brothers named Jay and Ray. The only way you can tell them apart just by looking at them is that Ray has a freckle on his right ankle. On the first day of school in a new town, Ray stays home sick and Jay goes to school alone. Jay finds out that their files have been combined into one and they find this an opportunity to live their school lives on their own and not get confused with each other so each boy goes to school every other day and then they..... READ THE BOOK!!!

One of the best parts of the story is there is so much confusion going on in and out of school. For example, each twin has a girl they are crushing on but they're different girls so..... READ THE BOOK!!!! Also, Ray knows girls while Jay knows math and so Jay has to get better at talking to girls and Ray has to get better at math in order to keep their secret and......... READ THE BOOK!!!!! Another thing I liked is their names. Jay's full name is Jay Ray Grayson and Ray's full name is Ray Jay Grayson. I think this is funny because they basically have the same name if you just change the places of one of the twin's first and middle name.

Andrew Clements is a tremendous writer and has written many different books. Some are The School Story, Room One, A Mystery or Two, The Last Holiday, Lunch Money, and many more. Hope you READ his books because you'll never regret it.

Posted by at 02:00 PM

Nate's Choice

Brother Hood by Janet McDonald
Reviewed by Mimi

Brother Hood was a book that inspired me and moved me deeply enough that at points I could feel Nate's anxieties, his sadness and his disappointment. The story tells life through the eyes of Nathaniel, a boy born into the poverty of New York's infamous Harlem streets, who comes through it all and is accepted to a top notch private school. There, almost everyone is rich and barely anyone is of color. Nate lives life as two different people, Schoolie, the semi-gangster, relaxed street boy and Nathaniel, the smart, good-looking jock. When pressures from the street call Nate back to his old life will he succumb to his hood family or will the days of academics keep him on the fast track? What I enjoyed most about this book were the dimensions of Nate as well as the other supporting characters. Each and every person has a personality far deeper that what can be seen solely by reading the text. What I also liked is that the author did not promote racial stereotypes and had people of different races coming from all types of economic backgrounds. I would recommend this book to anyone. It has a bit of cursing, but is an overall great story will have you reading it over and over again.

Posted by at 01:53 PM


Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Reviewed by Segan

Someone Like You is a book that that shows you how good your life is compared to others. This book leaves you speechless and wanting more, no matter how many times you read it.

Halley and Scarlett are two best friends. Scarlett is the more independent and outgoing one while Halley is the shy, quiet one. Halley has always gone to Scarlett when something went wrong and Scarlett always knew what to do to make Halley smile again. But in their Junior year of high school, everything changes. Scarlett's boyfriend is killed in an accident and now she is pregnant with his baby. Wow. The roles switch and Scarlett needs Halley's help this time. Will Halley help her friend when she needs help the most, or will she let Scarlett down and ruin their friendship?

Someone Like You is the perfect book that shows what friendship really means and whether or not friends can stay strong in the toughest of times. I recommend this book for all young-adult readers that like to read books that are easy, simple and have a meaning.

Posted by at 01:47 PM

March 20, 2010

Graphic Novel List


Prepared by Dave Burbank and Karen MacPherson, Takoma Park Maryland Library, Last updated October 2009.
(This is a list of favorites, not a comprehensive list.)


Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner (Poorhouse Press, 1985)
The 101 Best Graphic Novels by Stephen Weiner (NBM)
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art  (HarperPerennial, 1994) and Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels HarperCollins, 2006) by Scott McCloud

Comic Books For Young Adults. Created by librarian Michael Lavin, this website provides lots of basic facts about graphic novels well as a list of recommended books.
Comics inThe Classroom . Created by a teacher, this website offers lots of great ideas for using comics and graphic novels inThe classroom.
Diamond Comics Bookshelf. Diamond offers public and school librarians an annotated catalog of graphic novels, cataloging information and lesson plans.
Good Comics for Kids. This School Library Journal blog is a great place for information and publishing news about graphic novels and comics for kids and teens.
The Graphic Classroom. Created by Chris Wilson, a former journalist who now is a graduate student writing hisThesis on comics in education, this website is full of great suggestions aboutThe best comics for classroom use as well as tips for storingThem.
Graphic Novels In Libraries. This website is chock-full of information about graphic novels, and also offers a list-serv where subscribers talk about graphic novels.
The Librarian’s Guide to Anime and Manga . This is a wonderful introduction toThese genres.
No Flying, No Tights. This website, created by library technician and graphic novel fan Robin Brenner, is a great place to read reviews of graphic novels for kids, teens and adults.
Sequential Tart . This website offers lots of reviews.
Also… Reviews of graphic novels also run regularly in School Library Journal, Library Journal, Booklist and VOYA.

Hokusai: First Manga Master by Jocelyn Bouquillard and Christophe Marquet (Abrams, 2007)
Winsor McCay: His Life and Art by John Canemaker (Abrams, 2005)             
Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman by Patrick McDonnell, et al (Abrams, 1986)

Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels, edited by James Bucky Carter (National Council of Teachers of English, 2007)
Developing and Promoting Graphic Novel Collections by Steve Miller (Neal-Schuman, 2005)
Getting Graphic: Comics For Kids by Michele Gorman (Linworth Publishing, 2007)
Getting Graphic: Using Graphic Novels to Promote Literacy With Preteens and Teens by Michele Gorman (Linworth Publishing, 2003)
Graphic Novels Now: Building, Managing, and Marketing a Dynamic Collection by Francisca Goldsmith (American Library Association, 2005)
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center: A Definitive Guide by Allyson Lyga and Barry Lyga (Libraries Unlimited, 2004)
The Librarian’s Guide to Graphic Novels for Children and Tweens by David S. Serchay (Neal-Schuman, 2008) (Note: Serchay offers a list of his 25 favorites, as well as an extensive annotated list of graphic novels.)
The Baby Blues books by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott (Andrews and McMeel)
The Calvin and Hobbes books by Bill Watterson (Andrews and McMeel)
The Garfield books by Jim Davis (Ballantine)
The For Better Or For Worse series by Lynn Johnston (Andrews and McMeel)
The Foxtrot books by Bill Amend (Andrews and McMeel)
The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics , edited by Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly (Abrams, 2009)

The Zits series by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

Blood Song: A Silent Ballad by Eric Drooker (Harvest Books) (Adults)
Flood: A Novel In Pictures by Eric Drooker (Dark Horse) (Adults)
The Owly books by Andy Runton (Top Shelf Productions) (All ages)
The Polo books: The Adventures of Polo and Polo: The Runaway Book by Regis Faller (Roaring Brook) (All ages).

Adventures in Oz by Eric Shanower (IDW)
The Akiko books by Mark Crilley (Sirius Entertainment)
The Amelia Rules books by Jimmy Gownley (Renaissance Press)
The Archie series by Bob Bolling et al (Archie Comic Publications)
The Asterix series by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (Hachette)
The Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
The Baby-Sitter's Club series by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
The Batman series for kids by various authors (DC Comics)
Benny and Penny: Just Pretend by Geoffrey Hayes (TOON Books, 2008)
The Bone series by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books/Graphix/Scholastic)
Castle Waiting: The Lucky Road by Linda Medley (Cartoon Books, 2000)
Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala (First Second, 2009)
Disney-inspired graphic novels, including Lilo and Stitch (Disney)
The Electric Girl series by Michael Brennan (AitPlanetLar)
Flight Explorer, Volume 1 by various authors (Flight Comics/Villard, 2008)
The Groo series by Sergio Aragones (Dark Horse)
The Justice League Adventure series by various authors (DC Comics)
The Kit Feeny series by Michael Townsend (Knopf, 2009 – first two books)
The Little Lulu series by John Stanley and Irving Tripp (Dark Horse)
Luke onThe Loose by Harry Bliss (TOON Books, 2009)
The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf, 2009—first two volumes)
Marvel Adventures (Marvel) (various superhero characters)
Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever by Jay Lynch and Dean Haspiel (TOON Books, 2008)
The Neotopia series by Rod Espinosa
Otto’s Orange Day by Jay Lynch (TOON Books, 2008)
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale (Bloomsbury)
The Sardine series by Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar (FirstSecond/Roaring Brook)
Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso (Jump AtThe Sun/Hyperion, 2007)
The Secret Science Alliance and The Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis (First Second, 2009)
The Simpsons series by Matt Groening (Perennial)
The Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures by various authors (Dark Horse)
Stinky by Eleanor Davis (TOON Books, 2008)
The Superman Adventures series by Mark Millar (DC Comics)
The Teen Titans series by J. Torres and Todd Naugh (DC Comics)
The 3-2-2 Detective Agency: The Disappearance of Dave Warthog by Fiona Roberts (Abrams)
The Tintin series by Herge (Little, Brown)
To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2006)
The Usagi Yojimbo series by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)
The Wall: Growing Up BehindThe Iron Curtain by Peter Sis (FSG, 2007).
The Warriors graphic novels by Dan Jolley and James Barry (Tokyo Pop)
The Wind inThe Willows by Kenneth Grahame, adapted by Michel Plessix (Papercutz, 2007)
Books by Marcia Williams, including: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Candlewick Press, 2006); The Adventures of Robin Hood (Candlewick Press, 1995), Bravo, Mr. William Shakespeare! (Candlewick Press, 2000), Tales From Shakespeare: Seven Plays (Candlewick Press, 1998); Greek Myths for Young Children (Candlewick Press, 1992), Charles Dickens and Friends (2002) and Archie’s War (Candlewick Press, 2007).

Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper and Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix/Scholastic, 2008 and 2009)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion, 2007) 
The Batman series (DC Comics)
Chiggers by Hope Larson (Atheneum, 2008)
The Fantastic Four Marvel Adventures series (Marvel)
Great Expectations  by Charles Dickens (Classical Comics, 2009)
Houdini:The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes (Center for Cartoon Studies/Hyperion, 2007)
The Immortal Iron Fist series by Ed Brubaker (Marvel, various copyright dates)
Mouse Guard Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard Winter 1152 by David Petersen (Archaia Studios Press, 2007 and 2009)
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castelllucci (Minx, 2007)
The Spider-Man series (Marvel)
The Star Wars Knights ofThe Old Republic series by John Jackson Miller,  Brian Ching and Travel Foreman (Dark Horse)
Stormbreaker: The Graphic Novel (Philomel, 2006) and Point Blank: The Graphic Novel (Philomel, 2008). (These are adaptations of The "Alex Rider" series by Anthony Horowitz.)
Thor by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel (Marvel, 2008)
The X-Men series (Marvel)

The Castle inThe Sky series by Hayao Miyazaki (Viz).
The Medabots series by Horumarin (Viz)
The My Neighbor Totoro series by Hayao Miyazaki (Viz)
The Pokemon Adventures series by Hidenori Kusaka (Viz)
The Spirited Away series by Hayao Miyazaki (Viz)
The Yotsuba&! series by Azumanga Daioh (Adv Manga)

The Beet series by Riku Sanjo
The Bleach series by Tite Kubo
The Deathnote series by Tsugumi Ohba
The Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z series by Akira Toriyama
The Fruits Basket series by Natsuki Takaya (Tokyopop)
The Fullmetal Alchemist series by Hiromu Arakawa (Viz)
The Inubakia series by Yukiya Sakuragi (Viz)
The Naruto series by Masashi Kishimoto (Viz)
Nausicaa ofThe Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki (Viz)
Project X: Cup Noodle by Tadashi Katoh (DMP)
The Shaman King series by Hiroyki Takei (Viz)
The Tokyo Mew Mew series by Mia Kiumi & Reiko Yoshida (Tokyopop)
The What’s Michael? series by Makoto Kabayashi (Dark Horse Comics)
The Yu-Gi-Oh series by Kazuki Takahashi

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon, 2009)
Aya and Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet (Drawn & Quarterly, 2007 and 2008)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (DC Comics, 1996)
Blankets by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf, 2003)
Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson (Top Shelf, 2001)
The B.P. R.D. series  by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse, 2004)
Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical Productions, 2003)
Cartoon History ofThe Universe by Larry Gonnick (Doubleday)
The Complete Concrete by Paul Chadwick (Dark Horse, 1994)
Disappearance Diary by Hideo Azuma (Fanfare, 2008)
DMZ by Brian Wood et al (DC Comics, 2006)
The Dungeon series by Joann Sfar and Lewis Tronheim (NBM, 1998/2003)
The Ex Machina series by Brian K. Vaughan et al. (DC Comics, 2005)
Fables: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham, et al. (DC Comics. 2005)
Flight Explorer, Volume 1 by various authors (Flight Comics/Villard, 2008)
French Milk by Lucy Knisley (Simon & Schuster, 2007)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
H.G. Wells' The War ofThe Worlds by Ian Edington and D'Israeli (Dark Horse, 2005/2006)
Kampung Boy by Lat (First Second, 2008)
Lone Wolf 2100: Shadows On Saplings by Mike Kennedy and Francisco R. Velasco (Dark Horse, 2002/2003)
Maus and Maus II  by Art Spiegelman
Mom's Cancer by Brian Fies (Image/Abrams, 2006)
Palestine by Joe Sacco (Fantagraphics, 2001)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, 2003)
The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan With Doctors Without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefebre and Frederic Lemercier. (First Second,2009)
The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar (Pantheon/Random House, 2005)
Scarlet Traces by Ian Edington and D'Israeli (Dark Horse, 2003)
Stitches by David Small (Norton, 2009)
The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz (Hill & Wang, 2009)
300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley (Dark Horse, 1998/1999)
The True Story: Swear to God series by Tom Beland (AiT/PlanetLar, 2003)
The Wake series by Jean David Morvan and Philippe Buchet (Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine, 2000)
Watchman by Alan Moore et al (DC Comics, 1986/2005)
Yosel by Joe Kubert (ibooks/Simon & Schuster, 2003)

The Amelia books by Marissa Moss (Simon & Schuster) (Ages 8-12)
The Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic) (ages 4-8)
The Diary Of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney (Amulet) (Ages 9 up)
The Ellie McDoodle books by Ruth Barshaw (Bloomsbury) (Ages 8-12)
The Julian Rodriguez books by Alexander Stadler (Scholastic, 2008 and 2009)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic) (Ages 8 up)
The Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen (Scholastic, various copyright dates)
Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer Holm (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster) (Ages 10-14)
The Little Wolf books by Tony Whybrow

Posted by library at 11:40 AM

March 19, 2010

Retelling in the Hood

Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden
Reviewed by Joie

A tale coming from centuries past. In the land of England, impoverished by cruel churchmen and power hungry sheriffs, only a man with the ability to wield the bow like a god can stand up to the forces of law, a man whose legend was created in the dark Middle Ages and is still retold today. The leader of the Merry Men, Robin Hood, comes back in a splendid retelling of his adventures from his birth to death.

Born to nobility, his father was stripped of power by a Crusader. By a series of unfortunate accidents, Robin becomes an outlaw with the sheriff's price on his head. He does daring acts for love and recruits unusual members to be part of his band. All the while, he tricks the filthy rich and the fat exploiting men and takes their purses from them and sends it all to the poor who are impoverished in the beautiful land of England.

This version of Robin Hood, by J. Walker McSpadden is wonderfully faithful to the original ballads and poems, without the original's language confusion. It is a charming and old legend retold with all the original charm. I recommend it to anyone who liked Robin Hood back in their childhood days. Age doesn't matter when you are reading this timeless classic. Both girls and boys might enjoy the tale. I definitely enjoyed Robin Hood when I was a child, and this book brought it back to the bull's eye.

Posted by at 02:25 PM


Farenheight 451 by Ray Bradbury
Reviewed by Leila

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury wasn't one of my favorite books but it was one that was worth reading. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature that paper books burn. This story is set in the future where a fireman's job is to burn books. The hero is a fireman who realizes that books are important and he.......... oops. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens.

The best things about Fahrenheit 451 are the whole concept of the importance of books and the fact that it is set in the future. The worst things are that it was hard to understand and it took a long time for me to read it. People who like stories that are set in different times would like this book.

Ray Bradbury has written about five hundred different types of stories, from plays to novels. He has written for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He has coauthored the screenplay of Moby Dick and adapted stories for his own show. Bradbury is a very talented writer so I hope you read his books.

Posted by at 02:19 PM

Parent Envy

Get Real by Betty Hicks
Reviewed by Mimi

Get Real was semi-interesting novel about what makes a family "real". Dez is an up and coming 9th grader who doesn't fit in with her family at all. Her father smokes and quotes dead poets, her mother is messy and unkempt and her little brother is hyperactive while Dez is a full fledged neat freak.

Her best friend Jil has the perfect life with her clean parents and an organized house. Dez can't understand why Jil would ever want to meet her birth mom when her parents are so great and perfect in every way. Soon Jil begins to spend more and more time with her birth mom leaving Dez confused and wishing she knew what made a parent real and why she and her family are so different. But in the end, is a family the people your born to or the people you grow up with? Dez wants to find out.

This book, to me, was fairly boring. The authors words were bland and nothing struck me as "special" about the book. However the subject matter was understandable for teens and adults alike wondering about your family and who you really are. Even in families with fewer dilemmas, children are bound to ask themselves how they came to be the way they are now. If you're willing to look past the slow pace of the book and the constant additions of unnecessary information then this book might be alright. You might even like it.

Librarian's note:
For the classic take on "what makes a parent real" read Silas Marner.

Posted by at 02:12 PM


The Spell Book of Listen by Jaclyn Moriarty
Reviewed by Ruya

I discovered this book in an airport, desperate to have something to entertain me during the long flight. Even though it was the only book that I hadn't read which looked halfway decent in the small airport bookstore, I was hesitant to read it, because I had read one of the author (Jaclyn Moriarty)'s previous books, The Year of Secret Assignments, and didn't like it all that much. It had a good plot, but I didn't like the author's style. But upon opening the book on the plane (despite the author's warning not to read it in a public place, since "laughing, crying, emphatic nodding, and other forms of public disruption may ensue") I found myself pleasantly surprised. Since then, it has become one of my favorite books.

It's hard to say who the main character is in the book. You could say it was Listen Taylor, a smart but quiet and inexplicably friendless girl, because she's the one who is in the title, and she's the one who effects the major changes. But you could also say it was about Cassie Zing, Listen's friend, and the niece of the woman Listen's dad is dating. Or it could be about Fancy Zing, Cassie's mother, a constantly dreaming writer. It could also be about her sister Marbie, or it could be about Cath Murphy, who seemingly has no relation to the Zing family or Listen, except that she's Cassie's elementary school teacher. I guess they're all main characters, because the book follows all of them through their various struggles and triumphs, romances and break ups, all of which are resolved, or made worse, by the curious spell book which Listen found one day, leading up to a totally unexpected conclusion.

One thing I really like about the book is that it's so cleverly written. Each of the individual spells Listen does, from 'A Spell to Make Someone Decide to Take a Taxi' to 'A Spell to Make Someone Catch a Cold,' seem like silly, trivial things, but they have such huge impacts on the lives of the characters, directly or indirectly. Things that you pass off as puzzling and unimportant, like the phrase "How is your ocean bream, my love?" which often goes through Fancy's head, and the fact that every product and movie that is mentioned just happens to be made by the Valerio company, turn out to have actual significance. The individual stories of the characters are alternately heartwarming and heart breaking, and the constant mystery of the Zing Family Secret, as well as the eccentricity of the lovable characters in the Zing Family, keep you hooked. At the risk of sounding cliché, I will assure you that the warning Jaclyn Moriarty put on the inside cover of the book is very true. Laughing, crying, nodding emphatically (angry words at the characters may also have passed my lips), I did all of those while reading the book.

Posted by at 02:04 PM

Let's Just Be Friends

The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor
Reviewed by Segan

The Breakup Bible is one of the most wonderful books I have ever read. Not only is it realistic, but it's funny too. All girls will LOVE this book.

The Breakup Bible is about a girl named Jen Lewis and her almost perfect life. She's in her Junior Year of High School and she the editor of the school newspaper, And better yet, her boyfriend, Max, is editor in chief! But then, Jen hears the sentence she thought she would never hear when Max says "Maybe it would be better if we were just friends". Heartbroken and crushed, Jen is left in the dirt and doesn't know what to do. But then, Jen seeks help from her Nana, which is when she receives a book called "The Breakup Bible" by Dr. Emory Emerson. But will the book help Jen, or make matters worse?

This book is hilarious and fun. You never get bored with it and it flows really well. Girls from ages 14 and up will love this book and never regret picking it up!

Posted by at 01:49 PM

A Difficult Affection

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reviewed by Saleiha

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, is a wonderful novel that shows how an unlikely friendship can survive even when surrounded by racism. During the novel, Amir, a Pashtun and Hassan, a Hazara develop a close friendship that is met with anger from the community that is fueled by racism towards Hazaras. Due to their relationship the boys are harassed and abused by their community, but even through problems and setbacks their relationship stays strong. But then the peaceful days in Afghanistan ends when the country has a revolution and is invaded by Russia. This leads to a tough childhood choice by Amir that affects his relationship with Hassan.

Although most people have heard of the Afghanistan War, most people do not understand how long Afghanis have struggled to triumph over the violence that is still threatening them until this day. The Kite Runner is a great novel that shows the audience the culture of Afghanistan and how racism still prevails in the world today.

Posted by at 01:32 PM

March 10, 2010

Crazy Painting

Doom Patrol, the Painting That Ate Paris by Grant Morrison
Reviewed by Grady

Doom Patrol is strange and thought provoking. The Doom Patrol are a group of superheroes whose powers have great negative impact on their lives. For example, Crazy Jane is a woman with countless split personalities and each personality has its own power. She can call upon fantastic abilities when the time is right but she's totally unstable and insane. The Painting That Ate Paris is about a group of super villains called the Brotherhood of Dada who conspire to steal a magical painting that will trap Paris in another dimension. Grant Morrison's writing is comical and zany. This story is more of a satire of superheroes than Morrison's first Doom Patrol graphic novel which, with a somewhat dark tone, dealt with the problems of the Doom Patrol's super powers and what it meant for them as people. The directions Morrison takes are interesting and I enjoyed this story the most when it diverted away from the plot. In one subplot Robot Man explores the mind of Crazy Jane and sees a grid made up of her split personalities and rides a train through them. I found the idea of the magical painting quite cool as it's an "infinite recursive structure" with infinite layers and the Brotherhood of Dada uses this to separate the Doom Patrol putting each one on a different layer. This is Grant Morrison nearly at his strangest, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a story that's out of the ordinary

Posted by at 02:47 PM

Tall, With Issues

Shug by Jenny Han
Reviewed by Michelle

In the book Shug there are some ups and some downs. The author paints a realistic picture of a girl who's dealing with a lot of issues, including her parents' divorce and being one of the tallest in her class. The characters seem real to me and the setting also contributes. It seems like a real neighborhood.

This book is, in my opinion, for teens and preteens. The book would also be better for girls than for boys, since most boys don't like reading about drama. In this book you will never get bored at all. There are different topics all at once, including that of Shug trying to find where she fits in. You will want to not put the book down ever, you would want 2 be a part of it!

The best thing of the book is probably how the author puts everything together, how she describes the life, how she makes it true, and the thrills of course. Why you should read Shug is because it gives you tips on why you can do things and on being an individual. It sure helped me. Why some people should not read the book is because some people may not like drama or things like life stories. But I recommended you read it and give it a try. I hope the Jenny Han will come up with a Shug 2, I would totally read it.

Posted by at 02:41 PM

Off with her Head

The Red Queen's Daughter by Jaqueline Koslov
Reviewed by Bronte

If you are a Henry VIII fanatic, like me, then you know that "The Red Queen" was what they called Katherine Parr, last wife of Henry VIII, and if you are a Henry VIII fanatic then that is why you would pick this book up. That time is so interesting, with everyone getting their heads chopped off. Anyway the reference to Katherine Parr was what originally drew me to this book, then upon reading the inside cover I became entranced with the idea.

After Katherine's death her two year old daughter Mary disappeared from history, so naturally most believe she died. In this story Mary was given off to be raised by her mother's friend but then resurfaces years later to help the Virgin Queen with her own brand of magic. I loved the historical background, some of it was altered or people invented, but it was still the essence of that time period with all its intrigue and magic. I liked this book, and it went by very fast. I wouldn't reread it but I enjoyed reading it the first time. I would recommend it to youngish girls (11-12).

Posted by at 02:31 PM

Non-Fictuous Fiction

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Reviewed by Lydia

The Egypt Game is an interesting book. It is about some kids who get interested in Egypt and decide to make a club completely dedicated to it. In the club they find information on Egypt and try to impersonate the people there. With all different kind of mysteries to solve, these kids have quite an adventure.

This book is interesting because it gives non-fictional information while being a fiction book. The best thing about this book is that it is about kids, so it is easy to relate to. The worst thing about is that at times it tends to get a little boring. I would recommend this book to kids of all genders and ages 8 up. The Egypt Game is an interesting book and I hope you get the chance to read it.

Posted by at 02:15 PM

Journey Down

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Reviewed by Kayin

If you are looking for a fun, exciting, and adventurous book then read Journey to the Centre of the Earth. This book is about a professor named Otto Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel who open an ancient book that changes their life forever. The page was very important and would take them on the journey of their lives. You should read this book because it really hooks you, and once you pick up this book you won't want to put it down because of its amazing language. I recommend this book to people who have a big imagination and love to go on adventures! Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a five star rated book in my opinion. Enjoy!

Posted by at 02:08 PM

Waiting for the King

Ithaka by Adale Geras
Reviewed by Joie

A decade has crawled by as Penelope sits by her loom, waiting for her husband. The seas have brought no news to her of his survival in the war, so she sits there patiently. A classic tale of the home front, of the poor wife that was left behind, Ithaka is a masterpiece of a story. By Adele Geras, this story is told from Odysseus's wife's point of view as she waits for her husband.

The protagonist is a girl with a twin brother and a best friend. As handmaiden to Lady Penelope herself, she is best friends with the crown prince, Telemachus and twin sister to Ikarios. She is Klymene. They are waiting for their lord, Odysseus to return from the Trojan War. However, as time passes and Ithaka is without a ruler, suitors of the filthiest kind come for Penelope's hand and disaster commences as Aphrodite, Pallas Athene, and Poseidon start a game for the gods.

I believe this is a marvelous, interesting story as it can be related to so many wars waged today. What happens to the women who are left with their children? This story illustrates the hardships of a wife when all she wants to be is faithful to her beloved husband and yet all around her, people are attempting to waver her will. This book can be given to teenagers from about 13 and above, due to the nature of warfare and perverted suitors. This is not a fast paced action book, so some may get bored, but it is a wonderful book to enjoy when you are yearning for a wave of encounters, agonies, and a jolly good lot of secrets. Open the book to experience what happens when all you can cling onto is your faith even if everyone is trying to tell you otherwise.

Posted by at 02:00 PM

Read Silently

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Reviewed by Shanta

Inkheart is one of the best books I have ever read. One night, Meggie's father reads aloud the book Inkheart, and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes out of the book. Meggie and her father soon discover that they both have power to read people and various objects out of stories and into the real world. Will they be able to conquer the evil Capricorn? I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy novels, as long as they don't read it out loud! I can't wait to read more books by Cornelia Funke!

Posted by at 01:45 PM

March 05, 2010


Alicia Afterimage by Lulu Decacre
reviewed by Leila

Alicia Afterimage is a true story about a teenager, named Alicia, who was killed in a car accident by a friend who was speeding and hit a pole. Lulu Delacre interviewed everyone who was touched by Alicia, and they had their own parts in the book to explain their feelings and emotions after the crash.

One thing I liked about Alicia Afterimage is that Delacre used the characters' real names because it's very rare that that ever happens. Something that I didn't like was that it was short and there weren't enough details. People who have lost a friend would like this book.

Lulu Delacre wrote this book after her daughter died in a car accident, and she herself is the character Mamì. Alicia Afterimage is a very touching story and you have to have some sad books in your life, don't you? This book is best for teens because of how sad it is.

Posted by at 02:56 PM

The Oedipal Descent

Oedipus the King
Oedipus at Colonus

by Sophocles, translated by Paul Roche
reviewed by Joie

There once was a man named Oedipus Rex.
You may have heard about his odd complex.
His name appeared in Freud's index.
'Cause he loved his mother.
~Tom Lehrer "Oedipus Rex"

So is the fate-doomed man's life a tragedy. A man went from everything, kingship, a loving wife, a beautiful city, to shame, disgust, and divine punishment. Oedipus Rex (it rhymes with platypus) was doomed from the day of his birth to a fate locked with suicide, murder, incest, and death. The gods string him along through explosive denial and realization of the scale of horror his acts included. Written by Sophocles in ancient Greece and still enjoyed and wept over today in every language, the tragedy of the House of Oedipus is a timeless classic. (It helped that Freud named a certain psychological problem the "Oedipal complex")

Oedipus the King begins with a short overview of Oedipus' life until the current play. Oedipus is born with a frightening prophecy dangling over his head. The prophets of the Greek gods said he would do away with his father and in fear, his father, King Laius of Thebes, bound his feet and left him on the mountainside to die as a baby. He is rescued and lives in the city of Corinth, raised up by the king and queen there. When he learned from a prophet he is fated to kill his father and wed his mother, he flees in order to spare the man who raised him up, the man he called father.

But soon it becomes all too apparent that men cannot outwit the gods or deceive fate. He ends up near his real city of birth and kills an old man after the man nearly runs him down on a pilgrimage. That man was actually Laius, Oedipus' real father that left him to die. He ends up in Thebes where he rescues the city from a bewitching Sphinx and is crowned king. Oedipus, unaware of Fate's plan, marries the queen there, Jocasta, who is, in fact, his mother. The thread of fate is spun and the tragedy of Oedipus and his road of atonement and self-disfiguration begins.

Oedipus at Colonus speaks of the time after Oedipus has begun his path of atonement and redemption, when he rests near Athens in hopes of staying out of the bickering of the two brothers as they try to seize control in Thebes. The gracious Theseus, hero and valiant leader of Athens, offers him rest there. Soon, both sides come to try to sway Oedipus to join one or another with the blessings of gods. Old and bitter, now enlightened as well, he gives them his curses for arrogance and foolish human pride in their greatness. The play is a continuation of Oedipus the King, when Oedipus, having endured much tragedy, pain, and grief, maintains his dignity in such a way he is given the final blessing of the gods as he dies. So Sophocles presents human greatness. Tis only the dignity and humility you bear with life's sorrows.

Antigone, the final play of the trilogy, focuses on the final fall of the House of Oedipus as the arrogant Creon has seized control of Thebes after both of Oedipus' brother-sons die. Antigone, Oedipus' daughter-sister, risks her life for justice and dignity, the true forms of human greatness, to bury her dead brother. Creon conceitedly condemns her to death, falling to the same sin Oedipus fell to years earlier. Pride. When the last of the House of Oedipus falls, including Creon's own son, so begins the same realization, suffering, and redemption that Oedipus went through and Creon now faces, as Sophocles unveils his ultimate message of pride and men without God.

Students often come and go in high school, dreading the little books assigned in English that are full of cryptic symbolism, long winded details, and old English phrases of “Thou drankest my wine.” Often, there is little to no action and a bunch of confusing messages. The Oedipus plays are something else. They are to be read out loud, brimming with the intensity and emotion of the human race. The fall of the House of Oedipus is no little reading assignment. It is the tale of ages.

Posted by at 02:42 PM

Crazy Guy.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinnelli
reviewed by Lydia

The book Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli is an amazing book about a boy who, as a very little kid, lost his parents in a trolley accident. He then is forced to live with his uncle and aunt who happen to hate each other. Then after several years, when he was preforming in a school play, all of a sudden he ran right out and never came back. The legend is, after a long while, he arrived in a different city on the west side of town.

This would have been fine except that the West End was for "black" people and Maniac was, unfortunately, not black. After he arrived he started living in the Beale's house thanks to Amanda, the daughter of the Beale family that Maniac was so lucky to meet, and stayed there for some time.

He went through many things after that like winning every challenge that came his way, or learning to love reading. However there were also bad things like having Amanda's book ripped, finding out he was allergic to pizza, and later having to leave the perfect home and ending up having to live in the same house as his worst enemy.

In the end, Maniac learns how to bring the East End and West End together once and for all and he does it in the most unexpected way possible! I liked this book because it has a lot of unexpected turns in it that keep it very interesting. I would think that this book could be enjoyed by girls and boys anywhere between ages 8-20 or even older. So don't forget to read Maniac Magee!

Posted by at 02:33 PM


Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell
reviewed by Mimi

If you're looking for a book about adventure and a new outlook at life, Carpe Diem is the book for you. The account is told by perfectionist, Vassar Spore, named after the prestigious women's college with hopes that she would go there herself. Both Vassar and her parents plan everything in their lives and never have time to just "live in the moment". But what they didn't factor into thier lives was Vassar's long lost Grandma popping into the picture and blackmailing her parents into sending Vassar away to South East Asia. There she is sent on the trek of her lifetime where nothing is planned and everything is unexpected. Will Vassar learn to live in the now or will she forever be planning for the future? What I liked most about this book was the life lessons learned by Vassar that you could apply to your own life. As Vassar grew as a person and went through new experiences, I found myself growing with her too. I was really impressed with how real every character seemed and I liked the mix of both humor and sadness that the author incorporated into the book. All of this put together made for a book I will remember always and would recommend to anyone ready for journeys and messages sure to keep you flipping the pages.

Posted by at 02:23 PM

Behind Enemy Lines

Under a War-Torn Sky by L M Elliott
reviewed by Bronte

I originally read this book for school. I went to a small Montessori school and we read books having to do with the time period we were studying, so while we learned about WWII in history class we read this book in English. This was one school book that year that I flew through. Henry Forester is in the Air Force, but when he gets gunned down deep in enemy territory he must rely on the help of others to get him home alive. This book is so sad and the story it tells so true for many of our boys caught under a war-torn sky. The writing is fast-paced and the story just flies by, you rush through it to see if he lives or dies. Since this has a guy as the main character and is a war book I would recommend this for young kids in general (10-12).

Posted by at 02:09 PM

Robotic Mayor

Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughn
reviewed by Grady

Ex Machina takes the classic superhero story in an inventive new direction. The series' protagonist, Mitchell Hundred, is a former superhero turned Mayor of New York City. In the first book of the series, he is faced with a blizzard as well as a murderer killing snow plowmen, shutting down the city's school system and a controversial painting stirring political opinions of him. The story moves between past and present, revealing Hundred's power to control machinery and his conflict with his police commissioner. Hundred is shown as a flawed, complex person, as any superhero should be portrayed as. As a mayor he is plagued with problems that are too big for a superhero and the contrast of this is made in the alternation between past and present. I thought that it was an interesting comparison drawn between the rolls of superhero and mayor as both are responsible for entire cities and both are held to the criticism of the public. The story shows that an absence of snow plowmen could do as much damage to a city as any super villain. Ex Machina also criticizes American youth, showing the evolution of a young artist through her works as she degenerates and a young boy who kills people to get back at bullies who picked on him. Vaughn paints an honest picture of New York that pulls the reader in. I recommend Ex Machina as a nice alternative to the usual crime fighting superhero comic.

Posted by at 01:59 PM
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