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.



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