Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My Top 10 books of 2017


It's been a great year of reading for me! I can't believe it's already time to wrap it up, but here we go. 

My top 10 in no particular order...

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds


Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer


Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. 
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman


A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.


Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld


This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman


Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman and the Butterfly Girl. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney


Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan


Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same. 

After the Parade by Lori Ostend


Sensitive, bighearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the confinements of his Midwestern hometown, but he still feels like an outcast. After twenty years under the Pygmalion-like care of his older partner, Walter, Aaron at last decides it is time to take control of his own fate. But soon after establishing himself in San Francisco, Aaron sees that real freedom will not come until he has made peace with his memories of Mortonville, Minnesota: a cramped town whose four hundred souls form a constellation of Aaron’s childhood heartbreaks and hopes.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (ok, I cheated with 11-but I can't leave this one off!!!)


Three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What they're (really) reading: October 2017



By keeping a pulse on what our students are checking out at our middle school library and keeping a close eye on which books are circulating heavily, I feel that I can spend the small budget I have more wisely by choosing books I know will have a greater likelihood of circulating widely.

Each month I'll feature some books that are on the "heavy rotation" list in our library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.
 




Ripley's Believe It Or Not 2018
Nonfiction

A collection of bizarre facts, stories, and photographs featuring unusual creatures, people, places, and adventures from around the world. Can't go wrong with Ripley's...


Fullmetal Alchemist

by Hiromu Arakawa
Manga/Anime

Manga and anime are white hot in our library! I'm building a collection as quickly as possible. 

Edward Elric, having lost his arm and leg in a botched alchemical ritual that left his brother Alphonse a soul in a suit of armor, continues his quest for the Philosopher's Stone which will restore their bodies, but the mission is jeopardized when Elric and Prince Lin of Xing are swallowed by the homunculus Gluttony.

Star Wars: Incredible Cross Sections

by David West Reynolds
Nonfiction

Uses cross-section illustrations to reveal the interior layouts of fourteen vehicles and spacecraft featured in the "Star Wars" series of movies. We've seen a slight increase in Star Wars interest due to the upcoming movie release.


The Gathering 

by Dan Poblocki
Horror Fiction

Poppy Caldwell is an orphan who keeps seeing a figure standing behind her in the mirror at the group home where she lives, but she does not associate this ghost with the letter that mysteriously appears in her file, claiming to be from a long-lost aunt, and inviting her to Larkspur House--and she is just one of five children who find themselves gathered in this strange house with a deadly past, and apparently no intention of letting the children escape.


Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson
Graphic Novel

When Astrid, about to begin junior high, heads to summer roller derby camp while best friend Nicole opts for ballet camp, their relationship is jeopardized by opposing interests.

Monday, October 16, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: All's Faire in Middle School

All's Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson
Dial Books (2017)
Graphic Novel

What It's All About:


Homeschooled by Renaissance Fair enthusiasts, eleven-year-old Imogene has a hard time fitting in when her wish to enroll in public school is granted.


Why You'll Love It:


  • Jamieson masterfully taps into the voice and concerns of middle-schoolers, and the offbeat setting of the Renaissance faire adds some lively texture.
  • Jamieson’s appealing, naturalistic artwork, full of warm tones, realistic-looking characters, and saturated colors, playfully incorporates medieval imagery along with Imogene’s more mundane homelife, particularly when Imogene fears that her misbehavior at home, thanks to frustrations at school, makes her more of a dragon than a knight.
  • Jamieson portrays a diverse cast of expressive, naturally posed figures occupying two equally immersive worlds.

Who Should Read It:

Perfect for 4th-8th graders...and here's the book trailer!




What Else You Should Read:

  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  • Chiggers by Hope Larson
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet
by David Barclay Moore
Knopf (2017)
Realistic Fiction

What It's About:

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier.

Why You'll Love It:

  • These characters are vibrantly alive, reconstituting the realness that is needed to bring diverse, complicated stories to the forefront of our shelves.
  • Moore delivers a realistic and at times brutal portrait of life for young people of color who are living on the edge of poverty, while at the same time infuses the story with hope and aspiration, giving Lolly the chance to find salvation through creativity.
  • The cover art. Seriously.

Who Should Read It:

Great for 6th-8th graders. Also, here's an interview with author Moore.

What Else You Should Read:

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Into the Dangerous World by Julie Chibbaro
  • Finding Mighty by Sheela Chari


Saturday, September 30, 2017

What they're (really) reading: September 2017




By keeping a pulse on what our students are checking out at our middle school library and keeping a close eye on which books are circulating heavily, I feel that I can spend the small budget I have more wisely by choosing books I know will have a greater likelihood of circulating widely.

Each month I'll feature some books that are on the "heavy rotation" list in our library. They're not necessarily new, shiny, or covered with awards -- they're just what the kids want.
 



Secret Coders 
by Gene Luen Yang
Graphic Novel

Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes.

A Bad Case of Stripes
by David Shannon
Picture Book

In order to ensure her popularity, Camilla Cream always does what is expected, until the day arrives when she no longer recognizes herself. (We recently visited an elementary school and our middle school students read a picture book to an elementary classroom. This was one of their picks!)

Kristy's Great Idea
by Ann M. Martin/Raina Telegemeier
Graphic Novel

Follows the adventures of Kristy and the other members of the Baby-sitters Club as they deal with crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who do not always tell the truth.

Homework Machine
by Dan Gutman
Humor Fiction

Four fifth-grade students--a geek, a class clown, a teacher's pet, and a slacker--as well as their teacher and mothers, each relate events surrounding a computer programmed to complethomework assignments

There's a Fungus Among Us: True Stories of Killer Molds
by John DiConsiglio
Nonfiction

Explains how fungi can help and harm people; discusses cases of deadly fungi found in Utah, Ohio, and British Columbia; and includes an interview with a mycologist.

Wake
by Lisa McMann
Mystery/Fantasy Fiction

Ever since she was eight years old, high school student Janie Hannagan has been uncontrollably drawn into other people's dreams, but it is not until she befriends an elderly nursing home patient and becomes involved with an enigmatic fellow-student that she discovers her true power.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Posted by John David Anderson

Posted
by John David Anderson
Walden Pond, 2017
Realistic Fiction

What It's All About:

In middle school, words aren't just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends, or make you enemies. 


Why You'll Love It:
  • Acute observations about social media and school life and a smart, engaging narrator make this a journey well worth taking.
  •  Anderson reminds us that bullying takes place in many forms: when cellphones are banned from Branton Middle School, the student population is thrown into a frenzy, which only increases when kids find a new way of communicating throughout the day—Post-it notes.
  • The characters, both adult and teen, are vivid, flawed, and approachable. Anderson dives into the world of middle school with a clear sense of how it works and what it needs.
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 5-8...and here's the teaching guide!

What Else You Should Read:
  • Mr. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
  • The Best Man by Richard Peck
  • Restart by Gordon Korman


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