Monday, November 26, 2012

Letters about Lit

Seriously? Over a month has gone by since I last posted. I suck. Anyway...Hi! I missed you, invisible people -of-the-Internets who may or may not be reading this blog. And I have something very important to report: The 2013 Letters About Literature contest has begun! Follow the link for entry rules and instructions. Contest participants write letters to the authors of books that have been meaningful to them. These letters are judges by authors and librarians, and the State winners are sent to the national contest. This is a wonderful way to thank your favorite author, with, yes, a chance for a cash prize.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Future 50 Contest Results

Alas, another Teen Read Week has come and gone, but fret not, 'tis time to declare the winner and runners-up of the Future 50 Writing Contest!

For this contest, I asked you to submit stories depicting your vision of the future in 50 words or less (including the title.) I got lots of incredible submissions, and though the competition was tough, the ones below really stood out:

Winner: Lynn Tran


You wake up in the morning and open the door for your dog. You stare at the cute android neighbor, who always awkwardly smiles every time he catches you staring at him. You are in the year 3000, where you can stare at hot androids. This is the life.

(Yes, I know these are both really 51 words. The authors intended them to be 50, and because of typos their word processing programs read them as such. So, I'm including the typos.)

Emily Tran


"Let's party!" Miranda yells, like she does everyday. She catches me staring and says "Lighten up!"

But I can't. She doesn't know that tonight. alongside everybody else, her memories of tonight will be erased, her brain preprogrammed to the same schedule as today's. A new day does not exist.

Kimberly Vreugdenhil

Zada spotted a clump of grass and sprinted towards it across the nuclear wasteland that she called home. She fought off the others who wanted to claim it for their families, but the blades were hers. The war had killed off all other living things-except her alien race, the Siviv.

Friday, October 19, 2012

All Hallows Read

Neil Gaiman, he of the shaggy hair, dark clothing, prolific authorial genius, and spectacular wife, has invented a new literary holiday. Why? Because he's Neil Gaiman, he does what he wants!

Celebrating All Hallows Read is simple: just give someone a scary book on October 31st. That's all. You can even recommend a library book. Check out the video below of Gaiman explaining the whole thing in a zombie-ridden graveyard that looks remarkably like the cemetery where I used to eat lunch in high school. And here are some recommendations of scary reads:

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie is one of the children left behind to replace a stolen baby. But he is the only one who has ever survived into his teenaged years. And he's not quite human.

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
John Wayne Cleaver has fought his whole life to keep his darkness under control. When brutally slain bodies begin turning up in the neighborhood, he feels he is uniquely suited to investigate the crime, only to find out that the killer is unlike anything he has encountered before.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Helen has been haunting people for over 100 years, and for the first time even she has found someone who can see her. But will this teenage boy help her solve the mystery of her death?

Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Rory witnesses a murder by a Jack-the-Ripper copycat killer and becomes involved in a very unusual investigation.

Rot & Ruin  by Jonathon Maberry
In a post-apocalyptic world, there are zombies and there are people. Mostly zombies.

Friday, September 28, 2012


You've heard of fractured fairy tales, right, adaptations of the stories we all grew up with? To put it in a classic SAT way, Beauty and the Beast is to Alex Flinn's Beastly as The Twelve Dancing Princesses is to Heather Dixon's Entwined. Some of these books are imaginative and innovative retellings, with authors inventing new and surprising ways to approach the classics. Well, Alethea Kontis has boldly gone where no-one has gone before; She hasn't re-told just one fairy tale, she has included all the fairy tales, from familiar to obscure, in her new book Enchanted.

Let me give this a shot: Sunday is the seventh daughter of a woodcutter. She meets an enchanted frog that may also be a prince. Her brother trades a cow for magic beans. Her fairy godmother bestows gifts on all the Woodcutter children. There's a giant, an enchanted mirror, animal companions, fairies everywhere and, yes, someone looses a shoe. And there's more, much, much more. Somehow Kontis weaves these complicated threads into a coherent and charmed story of kids growing up in a magical kingdom, falling in love, and learning the secrets of their past. It's a magical achievement!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy One Hit Wonder Day!

I don't know how he feels about it, but Vanilla Ice appears to be the poster boy for National One-Hit Wonder Day, which is today! Look at that guy. Look at him! I lived through the 90's, people. Respect.  (I'll not ask you to watch the video for his "Ice Ice Baby," but you may enjoy Jim Carey's classic "White White Baby.")

So what qualifies as a one-hit wonder? Huffington Post has compiled some arguments, but I would say a one-hit wonder is that song that, for a time, is always on on every radio station at playing at every shop, every restaurant (Gotye, anybody?) and then just sort of keeps hanging around years after the name of the artist has become a trivia question that nobody can answer. (You can bet one-hit wonders will be a category on Jeopardy tonight.) From Aha's "Take on Me" (the best karaoke song there is) to Los Del Rio's "Macarena" (the reason I don't go to weddings), there's a vast spectrum of songs whose artists now occasionally appear on episodes of Where Are They Now.

Anyway, my personal favorite (though it may not qualify as there was a sort of popular single right after and the band might have gone on to create even more hits had Shannon Hoon, the lead singer, not died when he was far, far too young) is Blind Melon's "No Rain."

Share your favorite in the comments? Pretty please?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Future 50

Do you have something to say about the future? Can you say it briefly yet artfully? Then you simply must (darling) enter the Future 50 Writing Contest. I'm accepting submissions now until October 10. Stop by the library for a submission form, or find one here.

Remember, your story must be no more than 50 words, including the title. Like so:

Emissary from the Last Frontier
Without fuel, space is not an option. The oceans are too toxic. The mountains have all been mapped, inside and out. Only one place left for explorers, the pit in my backyard. Now accepting applications. Must have experience in geographic triangulation. No boys need apply.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Librarian Cameo

Our own Miss Holly has contributed this review of a fabulous book that I'm enjoying reading right now. Thanks Holly!

"Until now, I had never read a gothic romance, and actually probably wouldn't even have been able to tell you what a gothic romance was. But as I was reading Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, I thought to myself, "This must be a gothic romance," and indeed it is. In 15th century Brittany, thirteen-year-old Ismae Rienne narrowly escapes being sold for marriage to an old boar of a man and instead ends up at a convent. But this is not your typical convent. The nuns here serve the god of death, Mortain. Three years later, Ismae is a trained assassin prepared to carry out Mortain's wishes. Her first two assignments end successfully in her eyes and the eyes of the convent, but not so much in the eyes of the darkly handsome and very angry Gavriel Duval. She has stumbled upon a plot against Brittany and the duchess Anne and has interfered with Duval's investigation of the traitors. Who is this Duval? Ismae does not know, but in order to discover more about his allegiances, the convent assigns her to pose as his mistress, something about which neither Ismae nor Duval is pleased. This tale of intrigue and romance will keep you guessing about what is going to happen next."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mermaid Mash Day

Guess what? Tomorrow is the last day you can sign up for the teen Summer Reading Program. Stop by the YA or Children's room to sign up, if you haven't already. And if you're looking for something to read, you might want to try out one of the newest trends in Young Adult literature: mermaids. They're everywhere, people, some of them lovely, others vicious and bloodthirsty. Wet your appetite (Get it? Wet!) with one of these new reads:

 Between the Sea and the Sky: Rebellious mermaid elopements with human beings and the winged people who try to find them.

Fins are Forever:Throne renouncing princesses seeking love wonder if they've made the right decision.

Lost Voices: From Alaskan fishing villages and abusive uncles to the sea and fins, life is hard no matter where you are.

Mermaid: A Twist on a Classic Tale: A Princess-Mermaid-Prince love triangle with political intrigue.

The Mermaid's Mirror: A girl risks life and limb in the dangerous ocean. Why? Because mermaids are cool.

Real Mermaid's Don't Wear Toe Rings: The title says it all, right?

Tempest Rising: "I'm seventeen; Do I want fins or legs for my birthday?"

Vicious Deep: Something happened in the water, something that involves underwater people with razor-sharp teeth...

Wrecked: Typical. Girl meets boy. Boy saves girl's life. Witch tells boy to kill girl.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pop Media Mash Day

Hi there! It's been a while. The Summer reading Program has kept us all extraordinarily busy. Some highlights so far: The Voldemort band-aid mural and the ice cream coup at the Harry Potter Double Feature, surpassing last year's registration numbers, and watching as y'all play that game in the YA room, the one with the bad animations of people getting horribly slaughtered while trying to reach their goals. That game is awesome.

Anyway, if the summer of 2012 was to have a soundtrack, tracks 1-3 would be various celebrities ironically reading sections of Fifty Shades of Grey and tracks 4-12 would be that Gotye song. You know the one. You hear it everywhere, but in spite of that saturation it's still catchy, even though you kind of want to strangle someone whenever it comes on. Linda Holmes over at NPR's Monkey See blog has written a brilliant and entertaining piece of cultural criticism about that song and its parodies, and the whole phenomenon of secretly digging something you're ashamed to like. I'll admit that, like the fine fellows in the video below, when The Song comes on I roll my eyes, my finger hoovers over the radio dial (yes, I still listen to the radio) for a full minute, and then I belt out the one lyric I know ("You didn't have to cut me off.") and follow it up with random sounds that approximate the rest of the lyrics. I find repeating "numa, numa" works fairly well.

There's a giant taboo attached to being into something that the whole world is also into. We're all supposed to expressed our individualism by knowing everything about stuff nobody else knows and caring little for whatever the masses are drawn too. However, we all unfailingly flock to the same trends, whether musical, couture or literary. So, this summer I challenge us all to like whatever you like, be it cool or otherwise, and to share in the comments something you're into in spite of yourself. I'll start: I really like that Seal song, Kissed by a Rose. That song was everywhere in the mid-90s. And still, every time I heard it, I wanted to get on my knees in my flannels and combat boots and belt it out while dramatically reaching for the heavens. Unfortunately I was almost always on the bus when it popped up on the radio. So, don't be ashamed. Sing along no matter where you are, loudly declare that you still love Twilight and proudly wear your Uggs with shorts in 80 degree heat. We'll all admire your honesty!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Be Our Guest MASH Day

Youth librarian Holly has written us a recommendation for a historical fiction book. Check out her review below. This is a great crossover for folks who enjoyed Peg Kehret's wonderful autobiography Small Steps. If you love reading about the real lives of fascinating people or the fictionalized lives of people who were or could have been real, stop by the library for more biographical and historical reads!

"As a children's librarian, I have noticed that about the most-often-asked-for juvenile biography is Small Steps, by Peg Kehret. Now I just finished a book that reminded me a lot of that one, so if you liked Small Steps when you were younger, you're sure to like Breathing Room, by Marsha Hayles. This is a story that happens during WWII but with a very different subject than most historical fiction taking place during that time.

Thirteen-year-old Evvy is sent away to Loon Lake Sanatorium to recover from tuberculosis. She shares a room with grouchy Dena, princessy Pearl, always cheerful Beverly, and kindred soul Sarah. The rules of the room are simple. Don't talk. Don't move. That's about it. If you want to get better, you must follow those rules. Of course, that is not so easy for 5 teenage girls, and so of course sometimes those rules are broken.

This powerful story is one of heavy loss but also of strong friendship and hope."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Medieval MASH Day

You should all know that the two metallic gentlemen pictured above will soon be visiting the library. On Thursday, June 28 from 4-5 in the Community Room the Knights of Veritas will give a sword fighting demonstration for folks aged five and up, and a chain mail workshop just for teens will follow from 5:30-7.

This extraordinary turn of events is putting me in a medieval kind of mood, so here's some book recommendations of a fantastical or historical nature:

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi: Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.  

Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant (Not to be confused with Blood Red Road by Moira Young, which also involves horses.): A special horse named Hosanna changes the lives of two English brothers and those around them as they fight with King Richard I against Saladin's armies during the Third Crusades. 

Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman: In medieval England, a nameless, homeless girl is taken in by a sharp-tempered midwife, and in spite of obstacles and hardship, eventually gains the three things she most wants: a full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.

Hush by Donna Jo Napoli: Fifteen-year-old Melkorka, an Irish princess, is kidnapped by Russian slave traders and not only learns how to survive but to challenge some of the brutality of her captors, who are fascinated by her apparent muteness and the possibility that she is enchanted.   

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Brittany, seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts--and a violent destiny. 

The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde:  As the peaceful King Arthur reigns, the five-year-old daughter of Lady Alayna, newly widowed of the village-wizard Toland, is abducted by knights who leave their barn burning and their only servant dead. 

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce: Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, a learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.

The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail by Michael Spradlin: In 1191, fifteen-year-old Tristan, a youth of unknown origin raised in an English abbey, becomes a Templar Knight's squire during the Third Crusade and soon finds himself on a mission to bring the Holy Grail to safety.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mash Day- Summer Lovin'

The days are getting warmer- time for the dating drama to heat up.
Here are several beachy summer reads that indulge many aspects of the ups and downs of romance.

The Big Crunch- June never stays in one town long enough to make real friends. Wes just broke up with his long time girlfriend. But no matter how much they both attempt to avoid it, they both find themselves drawn to each other. Over the course of a year, Wes and June explore the spectrum of their relationship, with an ever-uncertain future as the only sure thing.

Why We Broke Up- There's a box on Ed's doorstep, and inside is a collection of items from Ed and Min's failed relationship. In case you are wondering what the meaning of any of those items are: egg cubers, for instance, or a wrinkled dish towel, Min's going to tell you. Well, she's going to tell Ed. In an epically long letter, Min describes the meaning of each item, following each turn in the course of their unlikely relationship. Ed's the star basketball player, and Min, well, she's "different." Definitely not sporty, not exactly arty, just different. The charm of this book lies in the pairing of the writing with gorgeous full color paintings by Maira Kalman, who can really make an egg cuber stand out in a crowd. What's an egg cuber, you ask? There's only one way to find out.

The Difference Between You and Me- Jesse wears fisherman's boots to school every day, and cuts her hair with a swiss Army knife. She believes in Full Human Rights for all Weirdos, Freaks, and Queers, and she's posting manifestos all over campus that say so. Emily doesn't believe in labels. She is also very busy getting corporate sponsorship for the fall formal, being the vice president of student council, and going out with her boyfriend Michael. But somehow Emily finds the time to passionately make out with Jesse every week in a locked room at the local library. As you can imagine, something's going to have to give. What will it be?

The Disenchantments- Colby's got it bad for his best friend Beth, and when he finds out that she's broken their post-graduation plans to travel in Europe together, he's got a lot of re-thinking to do. Unfortunately, Colby's got to do all his introspection in the confines of a VW bus while he tours with Beth and her mediocre-but-cute girl band up the West Coast.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney- Sadie's really got to get over her best friend Garrett, and she's very, very determined. She's got a busy summer job at a coffee shop to distract her, and some new friends with plenty of advice on the topic. It's just so hard to let go of such a monumental crush, but slowly and surely, Sadie begins to remember who she is on her own.

Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight- Hadley and Oliver have a classic falling-in-love-on-an-airplane thing, then lose each other at the airport after they de-plane. How romantic! I haven't read it yet, but if you read it, will you tell me if you like it?

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Top row, left to right: Becky, Pooja, Michelle, Elizabeth, Shamsa, Jayteonna, Eliana
Bottom row, left to right: Mimi, Grace M., Grace N., Sarah, Mercy, Sean

A couple of weeks ago, Teen Library Council celebrated the conclusion of another great year, and the imminent graduation of six members. All of those graduates have been essential to the council and to the library, and some of them have been members since they were itty bitty 6th graders.

We reminisced for a couple of hours, looked at pictures both old and knew, watched a couple of premier videos (like the one below), and ate toxic amounts of sugar.

I've been a teen librarian here for four and a half years, and I've seen a lot of teens cycle through the library. I've seen elementary students finally graduate into 6th grade and fulfill their wish to do teen stuff. I've seen folks who are really active for a while vanish when they achieve the impossible and somehow find something more fun to do. I've seen lots of you grow many inches, get jobs, start college and/or move away. I'm excited for summer reading events to begin, so that I can see those of you who only have time to hang out at the library during the summer months. And then there are those of you who have been around since before my time, and are now going off to start your adult lives. You know who you are. We'll miss you. We're proud of you. Keep in touch, and don't forget to be awesome.

Teen Library Council and the Chubby Bunny from Tigard Library on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mash Day: What was that book again?

If you go to Middle School in Tigard, you will probably be seeing me or Lisa in the next week. Perhaps you've already seen us. We'll be talking up Summer Reading. (Sign-ups are happening now!) We will also be talking about books. It's not always easy to remember every single book we mentioned, so I am going to post some of those books again, here, to jog your memory.
Consider this the lightning round:

Wonder- Auggie's got a strange looking face. According to Auggie, whatever you're imagining his face looks like, it's probably worse. Besides his face, Auggie's a pretty ordinary kid, extraordinary, in fact. But you'd have to get to know him to find out.

Dead End in Norvelt- Jack's been grounded for shooting off an antique rifle, and also for plowing up his mom's corn patch. Now he's an obituary writer-in-training for an old lady who cooks her hands in pots of molten wax. Throw in some girl scout cookies, rat poision, and a meddlesome old guy who rides around town on a gigantic tricycle, and you've got a winner. Seriously.

Cold Cereal- GoodCo says their cereal's got a little bit of magic in every box. But what kind of magic, exactly? Scott Doe, the new kid, saw a man with a rabbit head on he way to his first day at school. Now he's got a leprechaun riding around in his backpack. A leprechaun who's being hunted. His super-smart classmates Erno and Emily Utz were ambushed on their birthday by people in white coats, ready to take them back to the GoodCo lab. It's up to this team of kids to escape the villainous cereal employees and stop GoodCo from taking over the world.

Okay for Now- Things are not so terrific for Doug Sweiteck. He's living in a dump. His older brother is a thug. And his dad is most definitely a chump. But maybe things will be okay- He's got a job delivering groceries, a girl who is almost kind-of his friend, and a newfound drawing talent. Things could be good if his family would stop ruining everything. Need lessons in how to drink a really cold coke? Read and find out.

Cinder- I know I just wrote about this book a few weeks ago. Here's the much abbreviated version: Cinder's a cyborg, Prince Kai is handsome, there's a deadly plague ravaging the Earth, and the Lunar Queen is about the attack unless she gets what she wants. Cinderella, the re-mix.

Scorpio Races- Yes, I have also written about this INCREDIBLE book in the past. to refresh your memory: Every fall huge, strong, bloodthirsty horses emerge from the sea around the misty isle of Thisby. Those crafty enough, like Sean Kendrick, capture and train the horses for the annual Scorpio Races. Those less fortunately get eaten, or dragged under the waves. Puck's putting everything she's got left on the line- This year she's going to race- on her own horse, who is little more than a pony.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mash Day- OWN the Night

As you can tell, the blog has gotten a bit of a makeover. Unless you are looking at this post right after I publish it, in which case I haven't redecorated it yet and thank you for being such a devoted reader/robot: You get a gold star!
Everybody else, ignore the gold star. You don't deserve it.

Anywho...Summer Reading sign ups start Friday, June 1st. This year our theme is Own the Night, and we'll be bringing lots of night-timish funness, as well as some fabulous prizes you can earn for the reading you do this summer. Look below for some recommendations to get you started, stop by the children's or YA reference desks to sign up, and check out this hilarious take on William Golding's Lord of the Flies, brought to you by Teen Library Council:

And now for the actual Mash Day part of this Mash Day post. In mere days you will be off school, and you will have ample time to goof off. Well, you know, when you're not working, or mowing the lawn or whatever. Spend the summer catching up on your reading. We recommend these breezy books. They're quick, addictive reads through which wafts the gentle breath of evening summer. Well, that was poetic.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn: Y'all now I have to mention this book in every other blog post. It's not legally required or anything, I just really want you to read it. I swear neither Mr. Levithan or Ms. Cohn are compensating me in any way. So, Nick and Norah meet, kiss, argue, separate, re-unite, hook-up and stalk their favorite band throughout one eventful night in NYC. Sometimes, when you're just about to graduate and you meet someone who loves music almost as much as you do, you just have to fall in love, whether your exes will let you or not.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl: Ethan's dreams provide the only modicum of excitement in his boring Southern town, but when the beautiful girl that haunts his dreams appears IRL, things begin to spice up.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: A plane load of Miss Teen Dream USA contestants crash-lands on a deserted island. Some of them survive. Together they must figure out how to stay alive using the sequins, high heels and random parts that they can scavenge from the shattered airplane. They must also contend with giant snakes, evil corporations, volatile exploding make-up powder, and really hot pirates with very poor navigation skills. Sound like fun? 

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff: What if God was a teenage guy who's mother won Earth in a poker game? What if he was completely unprepared to make and lead a planet, resulting in tragic mistakes, like famine, and happy accidents, like whales. What if teenage God keeps falling in love with human girls, leading to some of the planet's most cataclysmic events? Well, the weather may go nuts, sea life may raise from the ocean, and someone just may need to stage a coup in order to save humanity and prevent a perfectly lovely girl from getting her heart broken by a hapless deity.

The Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court edited by Marc Aronson: Various authors collaborated on this collection of stories chronicling a hot day of street ball in New York. Different characters weave in and out of these vivid stories that make you feel the vibrations of the ball pounding through the net and hear the drops of sweat plinking on the asphalt. 

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos: What did Jack do on his summer vacation? Well, he got his nostrils cauterized, cooked an old lady's arthritic hands in hot wax, investigated the suspicious deaths of a bunch of other old ladies, learned how to drive, and built a runway. And you thought you were busy.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey: It's summer in the southern hemisphere, and when Charlie finds a body hanging from a eucalyptus one sultry evening, he has no idea what to do about it. The main suspect convinces him to team up so they can solve the crime, but Charlie's not sure he's made a wise alliance.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mash Day: Literary Events (Don't forget your towel!)

So, this Friday is May 25, and May 25 is entirely froody because it is Towel Day, and Towel Day is made of awesome because it is the day we celebrate the life of Douglas Adams and his hilarious literary creation The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog. (And that is what we call a run-on sentence.)  Now, we carry our towels on Towel Day because Douglas Adams taught us that, as the creative folk at illustrate in the infographic above, a towel is the most useful object in the universe.

Towel Day may be the most delightfully silly of literary holidays, but it is certainly not the only one. We readers have conjured lots of opportunities to celebrate our favorite authors and revel in their books. If you're a Tolkien fan, you may want to celebrate Hobbit Day this September or the Fall of Sauron next March. If you find yourself feeling folksy this July, and you want to trick your friends into helping with a home improvement project, throw a National Tom Sawyer Days party and get your fence painted for free. get your rhyme on and celebrate Limerick Day on May 12, the birthday of the strange and nonsensical poet Edward Lear.

This is just a sampling, and if these holidays don't satisfy you, how about St. George's Day in Catalonia, Spain? In honor of the story of St. George and the Dragon, men give women roses and women give men books. I have it on good authority from a sweet Spanish friend that the street of Barcelona are filled with vendors selling roses and books, and it's quite the party. I want to go to there, don't you?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mash Day: Cinderella Two New Ways

Cinderella is one of those stories that has been told and retold a million ways throughout time. Many different cultures and storytellers have put their unique spin on the tale. From the bloody (in the version the Grimm brothers wrote down, the stepsisters mangle their own feet in order to fit into Cinderella's slipper) to the saccharine-sweet (Disney's fluttering bluebirds and singing mice, for instance) Cinderella's story has been told almost every way there is to tell.
Yeah, yeah, you think...Cinderella is kid stuff. Not so!
Here are two recent retellings of the Cinderella story that were written just for you.
Ash works as an indentured servant for her stepfamily, sneaking off when possible to roam the wild woods where an enchanted world still exists, regardless of the changing beliefs of the townspeople. There, Ash meets the enigmatic fairy Sidhean. Also while in the woods, Ash grows close to the King's Huntress, who captures Ash's heart. Magical and girl-love romantic, in a time long ago.

In a future world, Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing, which does not change the fact that she is a cyborg (with a few high tech components). Therefore, Cinder is under her stepmother's command, and is not catching any breaks. In fact, when Cinder's sister Peony comes down with the deadly plague that is sweeping the Earth, Cinder's stepmother reacts by volunteering Cinder as a test subject for antidote research (sure death, there.). Meanwhile, the loathed Lunar queen is antsy to either go to war with the Earth, or marry the handsome Prince Kai. Oh! And did I mention that Prince Kai and Cinder have met, and appear to be flirting? That's all fine and good, except that if Prince Kai finds out Cinder's a cyborg, it will be more than all over. Poor Cinder! How will it all end?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mash Day: Fare-thee-well, Maurice.

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind...and another...

Sound familiar? That's the beginning of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, arguably the strangest yet most tender children's book ever written. Sendak wrote dozens of books, and all those stories share a common thread- They respect their audience. Sendak insisted that he didn't write children's books, he just wrote books that children happened to adore. He didn't talk down to his audience, and he insisted that kids can handle the gritty topics, in fact they do every day, and adults need to stop underestimating a child's resiliency. Just as important, adults need to start paying attention. Kids are constantly confronted by situations that they take on alone, because they feel they must or because they have no other option. If adults would just take the time to notice, they can help kids through traumatic situations, just by conveying their love, admiration, and support for these smart, incisive, courageous, honest and somewhat short people. Sendak didn't believe in the myth of childhood innocence. To him, kids know it all, can handle anything and tell it like it is, to use a few trite cliches.

Sendak's books were astronomically popular, but they were also controversial. In the Night Kitchen, for instance, has been repeatedly banned or challenged. Those who have challenged it have sited several reasons why they don't believe it is appropriate, including, most often, nudity. My favorite justification for its banning is that, according to some, it's just too weird. Nothing can recommend a book to me more than hearing that it's too weird. Thus, I love Mickey.The milk is in me too!

Adults seem to find Sendak's books alarming, and I understand that. His stories distress me because they inevitably involve children on their own dealing with dangerous and impossible situations. The thing is, Sendak is holding up a mirror, and that is what is making us uncomfortable. The fact is, kids do deal with impossible and dangerous situations every day without the guidance of adults. Either out of neglect or necessity, grown-ups may not even notice while kids triumph over or struggle with challenges that seem way beyond their developmental skills. Sendak's books remind us to pay attention, be impressed, and help when we can.

So, now that our Maurice is gone, the memories are flooding the Internet and the daily discourse of us library types. I don't think any kid who's grown up in the past 50 years had escaped his influence, and I don't know why they would want to. Here's a collection of some of these lovely thoughts and a few of Sendak's intense and honest contributions:

Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak for the Colbert Report, and yes it is genius:

A collection of artistic tributes to Where the Wild Things Are
(Via, along with the next link, Bookshelves of Doom)

A PG-13 conversation between Sendak and Art Spiegelman, illustrated by the latter:

A heart-felt tribute from Carson Ellis

And what about you? Please share your memories of Maurice in the comments.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mash Day: Die Laughing.

Back in December Lisa put up a display in the YA room that was all about Perfect Pairs: books that go well together.
I have recently discovered the ultimate perfect pair. These books are so well matched, they could go and get married, or whatever. Here's why:
They are both drop dead hilarious.
In Croak, Lex's wildly antisocial behavior gets her sent to live for the summer with her uncle, who lives in a tiny town at the edge of nowhere. Upon arrival, Lex discovers that instead of milking cows, she will be part of a team that releases and culls the souls of dead people. Yes, she is a grim reaper in training. While her new line of work is a bit much to stomach, Lex realizes that, for the first time in her life, she is making friends and having fun. But all is not well in Death-land. Almost as soon as Lex arrives on the scene, a string of unexplainable deaths begin to occur. Can Lex and her band of snarky teenage reapers solve this mystery...?

Sam's another deadbeat youth who suddenly discovers he has hidden talents. After some rough-em-up action (and some conversations with the head of his previously alive, now beheaded perky co-worker) Sam has no choice but to accept the fact that his true career path lies in Necromancy. Throw in some werewolves, fighting lawn statues, and lots of witty references to classic rock songs, and you've got a winner! Hold Me Closer Necromancer.
Perhaps you, too, can see the eeriness in the similarity of these books. Perhaps you may be interested in reading them. So happy reaping, I mean, reading! And watch your back.

Friday, April 27, 2012


This just in via Carson Ellis and the Wildwood Blog: Fans of Wildwood are invited to submit map drawings of an imaginary place of their creation, and if their work is selected, they will be rewarded with amazing prizes! Head here to find out more: The deadline is just a week away!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mash Day: Those Clever Boys

You know that kind of person who always has the instant comeback? Or that person who appears to know absolutely everything about mainstream culture, and can reference it in a quippy heartbeat? I'm not totally convinced that there truly are people like that, (or at least people who are like that all the time) but they sure make good characters, don't they?
If you think so, read these two books:
The Edumacation of Jay Baker: Every single character in this book has the gift of a snappy, instantaneous comeback. I kid you not. In addition, everyone knows everything about pop culture, and can reference it in a heartbeat. If that sounds fun to you, rather than slightly exhausting, then read, read, read. Here's what's going on in Jay's world: His parents might be getting a divorce, he's love with his perky, cute best friend, and he is constantly getting in verbal insult matches with one of his classmates. Homophobic, weight phobic, mother insulting kind of fights. Real mature stuff. In any case, Jay builds a mentor-type friendship with one of his teachers, starts going out with the new tennis girl, and learns more about his mom's seedy past. Like tennis? Enjoy Your Mama jokes? Have scorn for student government or homecoming games? Give this book a try!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Greg is a human joke machine. When he's on auto-pilot, he can riff up a storm. The catch is, he spends most of his time working hard at just floating by, not getting too committed to any friendships, in case that puts him at odds with any other group of classmates. Greg's other secret? He and his best friend Earl have been making movies for years, but nobody has ever seen them. Greg just really isn't willing to go out on a limb and face potential rejection.
Now Greg's mom has decided that he should go hang out with Rachel, a family friend's daughter who just found out that she has leukemia. Greg begins to spend a lot of time with Rachel, cracking jokes to pass the time, and eventually showing her his movies. As Rachel gets sicker, Greg continues to try to convince us, his audience, that he doesn't care, and hasn't learned anything or changed at all from his experience. Somehow, through the constant irreverent humor, we can see that not all is as Greg would like us to believe.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mash Day- Study Away

A few nights ago I reread the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. What can I say, it's a comfort book. It has always impressed me how casual Hogwarts students are about spending most of their years far from home in a secret, magical location. There's a plethora of great YA books featuring characters who go to boarding schools, and the antics that result from that freedom from parents are as amusing as the abuses of strict schools can be tragic. Here's some books to put your school life into perspective. Happy Mash Day!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: When this classic story begins, Jane is a young student at a boarding school/orphanage. She has some family, but no-one who wanted to keep her, so she lands in a harsh institution that is often racked by epidemics and where girls can be punished for having naturally curly hair. Jane's only way out is through education.

Spud by John van de Ruit: 13-year-old Spud is relieved to get away from his dysfunctional and embarrassing parents, but the shenanigans at his South African boarding school, while hilarious, may just kill him.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: Frankie's boarding school is coed, but all is not equal among boys and girls. Her boyfriend is the leader of a "secret," guy-only club of pranksters, and she wants in by any means necessary.

Folly by Marthe Jocelyn: Read this parallel tale of a teenaged, Victorian servant, a seven-year-old ward at a school for orphans, and a teacher at the same school and you will be breathless as you grow to understand what the three have in common.

The Miles Between by Mary Pearson: Four classmates at an elite boarding school take off on an unauthorized road trip, a quest for one fair day.

Looking for Alaska by John Green: Miles finds more chaos than he expected when he transfers to a southern boarding school. In his first week he gets lost, concussed, makes friends and enemies, and discovers the culinary delights of the school chef's one palatable dish: the Bufriedo.

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser: Garrett is dating his teacher, and he just won't quit, so his parents send him away to a military school. Garrett decides he can't live with the schools intensely unorthodox methods, so he begins to search for a way to escape the brutality.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mash Day: Rich Kid, Poor Kid, Rumble, Kiss.

I just finished reading The Outsiders, in preparation for next week's BookTRON meeting, and it gave me a lot to think about. The kids with money against the kids from the other side of the tracks. So much tension. So much fodder for good stories.

Here are some books, and movies too, about people from different social groups fighting or kissing, fighting then kissing, or kissing then fighting, etc.

Fighting, kissing, more fighting: West Side Story. Talk about a rumble. This classic movie is a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. The Sharks and the Jets are sworn enemies. Meanwhile, Tony (Jet) and Maria (sister of a Shark) manage to fall in love. Lots of fighting and tragedy ensue. Because the movie is a musical, there is also lots of singing, dancing, and really good outfits.

Again, fighting, kissing, fighting: The original. Romeo and Juliet. What was up with those Montegues and the Capulets, anyway?

Fighting, kissing, fighting, kissing, fighting, poor kid loves rich kid, kissing, fighting, and so on. Life: An Exploded Diagram. Love story, meanwhile, the world is at war. I can only begin to tell you how much attention this book has gotten among the librarian set. It is much loved. However, it is a pretty epic (read: long and dense) story, so if you like tales that span multiple generations and world events, this is your moment!

Poor kid plays rich kid: Also Known as Rowan Pohi. As a joke, Bobby and his friends invent a person (Rowan Pohi) and apply to a fancy prep school under his name. When Rowan gets accepted, Bobby decides to live the life of the upper crust for a change. Balancing his double life gets a tricky, as you can imagine it might.

(Perhaps not really) Rich kid redistributes wealth to poor kids: Pretty Crooked. Willa, who moves an awful lot, finds herself in an exclusive prep school, where the rich kids bully the scholarship students. Willa takes revenge by stealing from the "glitterati," and passing it on to the poor kids. Very Robin Hood.

And there we have it. Happy Mash Day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mash Day- Movie Mash

I saw the Hunger Games movie a couple of days ago and, excuse me for being jaded, but with all the hype I'd been prepping myself for disappointment and this movie did not deliver. It didn't deliver disappointment, I mean. Actually, it rocked. Yes there were things missing, and yes the book was deeper and richer (as books will always be) but the film felt like the book, and Jennifer Lawrence was Katniss. Anyway...This surprisingly satisfying cinematic experience has inspired me to share some other awesome movies based on YA books. There's been some bad ones, but there's also been some great ones:

Now, I have not seen every movie based on a teen book, and some of the films I've listed below come from books that can be found in the YA collection, but were not necessarily written for teens. Teens have good taste, however, so they've found them and made them their own. Also, I may have left out a movie that you love. If I have, I either haven't seen it, forgot about it, or I think it sucks. Come visit me on the reference desk or comment below if you want to recommend it or convince me somehow that it doesn't suck. So without further ado, and in no particular order, I present to you my definitive list of great movies based on great teen books:

Coraline: This stop-motion animation adaptation of Neil Gaiman's twisted tale of evil parallel worlds really captures the dark spunkiness of the book's characters. Join me in the Community Room on Thursday, March 29 from 4-6 for a screening of the movie.

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist: I know I mention this book and/or movie in just about every other blog post, but I can't help it; I love them. Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are spot-on as Nick and Nora, and the script makes some fun and appropriate divergences from the book. Though I would have much preferred that some things stayed the same. Like Nick should've been the one to kiss Nora, and Tris lost several dimensions in translation to become an uninteresting, jealous, superficial girl-character that, I'm pretty sure, doesn't actually exist in real life. Just saying.

The Last Unicorn: Not everyone would put this 1982 adaptation of Peter S. Beagle's book on this list, but I will because I grew up with it and I love it. From Mia Farrow's a-tonal singing to Jeff Goldblum's bumbling magician to the boozing skeleton and the -ahem- femininely endowed talking vulture, this is a classic I can't wait to use to creep out my children.

The Princess Bride: "As you wish"..."Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya"..."I'm not a wench, I'm you're wife"..."Anybody want a peanut?" Really, need I go on? "Inconceivable!"

Howl's Moving Castle: The walking castle and all its inhabitants (Calcifer the fire daemon, Howl the Wizard, the scarecrow, the Witch of the Waste, and the cursed girl) come to life in this Studio Ghibli rendition of Dianna Wynne Jones' marvelous book.

Neverending Story: FAAAALCOOOOOORRR! Okay, so maybe the second half of the book didn't make it into the movie, but that's why you read the book. Also, don't bother with the movie sequels. Really. Just don't.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch...As Lynn Tran would say: Hubba, hubba.

Sense and Sensibility: A viewing of Ang Lee's screen adaptation of Jane Austen's classic story of love, class, melodramatic teenagers and annoying in-laws will always make me all warm and fuzzy, no matter what mood I was in when I first stuck in the VHS. That's right, V. H. S.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two: Can't type. Too weepy.

Finally, cross your fingers, because there are a few movies we've been eagerly awaiting for far too long. Like Ender's Game. After years of false starts, this movie adaptation of Orson Scott Card's book is finally in production. Almost. And it stars Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame, another fabulous YA book-to-film I forgot to mention. Like The Black Stallion. And Secret of Nimh. AAHHH! There's too many.

I'm looking forward to the adaptations of Lois Lowry's The Giver and John Green's Looking For Alaska, which the Internet Movie Database claims are coming out next year, but I doubt that since they're still in the imaginary casting stage.

And last but absolutely not least is the upcoming release of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit movie. Now, the Lord of the Rings movies were good, but this will be better. Why? Well, The Hobbit is a much more interesting story for those of us who don't feel the need to watch or read descriptions of every single shadow, mushroom and emotion along the path to Mordor. Also, Martin Freeman is playing Bilbo, and I love me some Martin Freeman.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tiny Stories from Hit Record

This shouldn't surprise you at all, but librarians are pretty good at categorizing things. To us, it's not only science but an art, and some of us (not me) are better artists than others. But sometimes, an item comes in that sneezes in the face of convention and challenges us to figure out exactly where it belongs. Like people, books can be difficult to label. Sometimes, also like people, they seem to willfully (and belligerently) defy labeling. But we are mighty, and not likely to back down from a challenge. We already determined way back in library school that an antelope is a document (that's right, an antelope), and if an antelope is a document then it can be cataloged, and if an antelope can be cataloged then anything can, even The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories.

This unique tome is a truly nifty little read. It's the result of a collaborative project by contributors to, a website spawned by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt where folks contribute music/art/writing and work with other contributors to create awesomeness. Any profits are split amongst the creators.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories features mini tales with accompanying illustrations. These stories are about things like love, turtles who don't want to be eaten, death, and King Midas. As I'm writing this, our copy of the book is still in process, because, as I've mentioned, we like to put things in their proper place and we found a more proper place for it. However, I'm so in love with this little red book that I'd say it belongs pretty much anywhere. On a boat, in a tree, on a train, in a dream...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mash Day: Spring Break? Time for a Road Trip!

Spring break's right around the corner, if I'm not mistaken. And what's the time-tested best thing to do on spring break? Go on a road trip, of course. Well, if you're heading out on a long trip to, say, Mexico, or somewhere. you're going to need some serious reading material. And if you're stuck here at home, what could be a better escape than a good book, right? So here are some suggestions for you; books about road trips, with all their adventure and all their drama.

School's out for summer. Everyone else in Colby and Bev's art school's graduating class is going to college, but Colby and Bev are going to kick around Europe instead. They've been talking about it forever. But first, their band, The Disenchantments, is going on a West Coast tour in Colby's uncle's VW bus (named Melinda, of course). Things are cruising along fine until Bev spills the unsavory news. Her plans have changed. What will Colby do now? Guess you'll have to read and find out.

As you drive, a few one-sentence billboards fly by for books that have gotten plenty of attention (but are still about road trips):

After getting dumped by 19 Katherines, prodigy Colin Singleton and his best friend Hassan head out on a road trip and end up in Gutshot, Tennessee (An Abundance of Katherines).

Cameron's not going to let Mad Cow disease stop him from going on the road trip of a lifetime (Going Bovine).

And, I would be remiss if I did not mention the grandfather of road trip books, On The Road by Jack Kerouac. This Beat generation classsic recounts the listless cross country travels of Sal Paradise, who is a thinly veiled version of Kerouac himself. The original hipster-slacker. If you want to get the whole experience, dress in black, go to a coffeehouse, and read until they kick you out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mash Day: Your Rights and Their History

Lately I've noticed a lot of new books in a mish-mash of formats about the fight for civil rights in the U.S., like We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March. This book discusses the important role of youth during the civil rights movement.

I'm excited about The Silence of Our Friends, a graphic novel based on the author's memories from growing up in Houston in the '60s. The illustrations and powerful text depict the risk of crossing color lines, and the importance of doing so to fight for equality.

Miles to Go for Freedom collects photographs and primary source accounts of life during the Jim Crow years, the long period of segregation and early civil rights efforts in the U.S. The fascinating first-hand accounts in this book provide an overview of the 1890s to 1954 through the perspective of real people who were there.

In To the Mountaintop, activist Charlayne Hunter-Gault tells her story. She was one of the first two African American students to attend the University of Georgia. Her tenure there began in 1961, and, in spite of often violent institutional and community resistance, the oldest public university in the U.S, finally became desegregated. Hunter-Gault places her story within the contest of  the civil rights movement in general, leading right up to the election of President Barack Obama.

In the new novel Crow, Barbara Wright tells the fictionalized story of a real historic event. Moses Thomas is the son of a journalist who writes for the Daily Record, the only black newspaper in the south. When white supremacists burn the newspaper building and arrest Moses' father, he discovers how sheltered his life has been and how racism runs rampant.

There you have it! A non-fiction book, a graphic novel, a collection of primary sources, a memoir and a novel- all fascinating accounts of a frightening though ultimately empowering era of American history, featuring characters whose influence is still felt profoundly today.




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