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.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Videown the Night

Oregon teens submitted three fabulous videos to the annual Teen Summer Reading Video Challenge. The winning video will be featured on the national Summer Reading Program webpage, and the creators of the video will get money! And fame! Check out the videos below or follow this link to watch them and vote for your favorites on YouTube by "Liking" them. The judges will select a final winner by March 31.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mash Day: Who Am I?

Yesterday I read an exceptionally satisfying graphic novel that was the inspiration for this week's mash-up. In Tina's Mouth, Southern California teenager Tina M. is assigned a journal project for her existentialism class. The journal she creates is a dialog with the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. (Sartre, who said: Life has no meaning except the goals man sets for himself.) In order to find the answer to the very important question "who am I?", Tina discusses very important details and life questions with Jean: Her crush on a cute skater boy, her recent fight with her now ex-best friend, and the dating lives of her older brother and sister. Tina comes vividly to life, as a member of her family (I am an alien. But my parents are from India) and while negotiating her social trials and tribulations. This is a totally comic read, but it is not without substance.

If you are looking a much more thoroughly depressing book about existentialism, you could try Nothing, in which a boy drops out of middle school and spends his mornings in a tree, taunting his classmates that nothing matters. Bothered by this jeer, the classmates go to greater and greater extremes to prove him wrong. Let me tell you now that it does not end well. This book is not for the faint of heart. It's one of those reads that you can never undo. Seriously.

To mash it up a bit more literally, here are a couple of books about people trying to make sense of themselves in very concrete ways.

In Forgotten, London take copious amounts of notes each day to prepare for the fact that her memory will reset at 4:33 AM. Every night, it is the same. In addition, London has flash visions of the future, even while she can't remember the past.

In contrast, Baxter Green has a photographic memory of everything that has ever happened in his life. He still has feelings for a girl he hasn't seen since kindergarten. So, while Baxter and his mother are on the run from his mom's criminal ex-boyfriend, Baxter choses to go to the town where his kindergarten crush now lives.Unforgettable.

And in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, cool art kid Karou has a lingering feeling that there are aspects of herself that she doesn't know. Raised by chimaera (part animal, part human), Karou can't remember who her parents were. Perhaps the radiant, gorgeous, but eerily warrior-like winged angel that appears in her life can shed some light on her past. It's an addictive, enchanting read if you love fantastic worlds. But don't expect the story to end on the last page. This book is for people who appreciate a good series.



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