2008 Thumbs Up! Award
A blog for the members of the 2008 MLA Thumbs Up! Award Committee to discuss the books we are considering.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
The Professor's Daughter by Joann Sfar & Emmanuel Guibert
The Baptism by Shelia P. Moses
Twin brothers Leon and Luke are about to be baptized. While this is fine for Luke, it is not so good for our narrator Leon. Leon knows that once he is baptized and saved he must stop sinning and that is something he likes to do a lot of. Can Leon hold off on causing trouble, arguing with the step-father and fighting the other kids in town long enough to get baptized? Underlying this plot line is a town of former sharecroppers who struggles with their own history. This is a poignant story and I give it a YAY.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
This book centers around Stephanie, a smart 12-year old who just inherited her uncle’s mansion, and Skulduggery, an otherworldly detective who is a living skeleton. The day after her uncle’s funeral, Stephanie gets caught up in a battle of good and evil and learns about her family’s secret past. This is an exciting book with tons of action, snarky humor and strong characters. This is a good read for boys or girls, though it is quite violent so it probably skews towards older teens. I thought it was incredibly funny and exciting and so it is a big YAY for me.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
When the Mirror Lies by Tamra Orr
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Red Moon at Sharpsburg by Rosemary Wells
Monday, July 23, 2007
Freak Show by James St. James
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox
This book is the second book in the Dreamhunter duet; sequel to Dreamhunter. I have not read the first book and did not feel that this one stood securely on it's own. The general premise of this fantasy is... a world in which some people capture dreams to share with others. I thought it was unique and interesting but I had a bit of a hard time keeping characters straight without the background that I hope book 1 offers. I only read half way through this one
- it's a NAY for me.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Strays by Ron Koertge
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
I listened to this book on CD and thought it was really good. It is an action packed story that takes place in modern day California. Twins Josh and Sophie get caught up helping Josh's bookstore boss, Nick Fleming who turns out to be the immortal Nicholas Flamel. Flamel has been protecting the book of Abraham the Mage, also called the Codex, which has the recipe for keeping him immortal, along with lots of other prophecies and information. It is stolen (except for 2 pages that Josh has torn out) by another immortal, John Dee. One of the prophecies involves twins, so Josh and Sophie are pulled along for a wild ride as Flamel tries to retrieve the Codex. They meet all manner of creature, god and goddess from legend and myth. It doesn't really end...there will definitely be sequels. I'll give it a YAY because it's exciting, makes you want to know more about the mythical creatures, and is great good vs. evil plot.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies / Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies by Brent Hartinger
So this book is a "flip this book" which contains two stories in the one book. After reading one story (I read Min's first), I flipped the book around to read the other story (Russel's). After the first chapter or so of the second story, I had that sinking feeling that I was not going to enjoy reading the story as I realized that the second story was the same as the first, but from another perspective. The story did get better as it went on. I was glad that the 2 characters didn't know everything that was going on in each other's lives so the stories weren't complete duplicates.
I do think that teens enjoy re-reading books and might enjoy the repetetive nature of this "flip this book" more than I did. I enjoyed that some of the characters were gay, bisexual and lesbians and at the same time, it wasn't an "issue" book. But I didn't particulary love the storylines or the way the story was told. And I wonder if it would have been more effective to have alternated each chapter between Min's and Russel's stories instead of the "flip the book" approach. I'm giving it a NAY but a hesitatingly one because I think it is important for more books like this to become readily available for teenagers.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Peterson
This is a cute, well-drawn graphic novel, but seems a bit young for teens. Think Redwall with pictures. NAY for Thumbs Up!, though I would highly recommend it for graphic novel collections geared toward a younger set. Plus, did you know this guy's local and that this series is getting all sorts of positive attention in the comics world? Might be a great program to get him into your libraries!
Rat Life by Tedd Arnold
Monday, July 9, 2007
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Friday, July 6, 2007
Re-Gifters by Mike Carey
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Broken Moon by Kim Antieau
Nadira lives in either Pakistan or India where the reality for young, poor people is very harsh. She has been scarred as revenge for something her brother was accused of but didn't do. She believes no one will ever love her because of the scar on her face. Her brother is kidnapped (or sold) to become a camel jockey in another land. Nadira dresses as a boy to find him and bring him home. Life for the camel jockeys is very hard and dangerous, but through her telling of the stories of Shahrazad, she is able to survive and find her brother and bring him home.
The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater
An Unlikely Friendship by Ann Rinaldi
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb
The sequence in which I read this book (following my Nay votes) inclined my vote toward Yay, but now that I've read 101 Ways to Dance and Does My Head Look Big I This?, I don't know if Cures for Heartbreak can compete. Looking for other input before I go back and read this again.
I will rely on Booklist's review published on Amazon to do this justice (and a bit lazy/behind on my postings)
*Starred Review* "I was ashamed of my family for having such bad luck." In the same year, teenage Mia's mother dies of cancer and her father has a heart attack. In stand-alone chapters (versions of some have been published in magazines), Raab gives Mia a distinctive voice, leavening her heartbreak with surprising humor and dark absurdity. Rabb is an exceptionally gifted writer who draws subtle connections between abstract history and intimate lives, particularly in scenes contrasting the dry school coverage of the Holocaust with Mia's Jewish family's personal history--"the kind of history that seeps in slowly and colors everything, like a quiet, daily kind of war." In Mia, Rabb creates a remarkable character whose ordinary teen experiences--crushes, friendships, sexual fumblings, mortification over her family's behavior--seem all the more authentic set within the larger tragedies. With almost unbearable poignancy, Mia talks about how to grow up, survive loss and family history, and heal her heart: "If grief had a permanence, then didn't also love?" Readers will cherish this powerful debut. Gillian Engberg
Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Amal's experiences as a new girl in a snobby prep school (and relatively homogeneously white) in Australia apply to most anyone who has felt like an outsider. She is Australian-Palestinian-Muslim and decides to go "full time" with a hijab (head covering). Already on the social fringes at her school, her parents are concerned, but supportive of her decision. Amal misses her Muslim friends who are at another school, but fortunately she has two great pals at the prep school who share their own issues. Subjects include body-image, boys, zits, bullying, cliques, a grumpy neighbor and racist bus driver.
I think many teens will relate to Amal (although her spending money is probably the envy of many readers), and may also appreciate learning about differences and similarities among different religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Abdel-Fattah has done a good job distributing the factual tidbits among the characters so they don't read like infomercials or preaching passages.
Amal is wonderfully outspoken, balanced with her inner turmoil, so her voice rings true. She loves her mother, but Amal can't let her think that she isn't ruining her life - and her mom gives it right back.
For those who remember the bombing of the nightclub in Bali in 2002, the post 9/11 time frame is significant. Amal's responses to her friends, and classmates asking her to be a spokesperson for the Islamic world feel authentic -- and can be applied to any situation where someone is asked to play spokesperson for "all" feminists, blacks, lesbians, nerds, etc.
Definitely a good choice for any library - great for discussion. YAY
101 Ways to Dance by Kathy Stinson
Awesome book! Definitely a YAY.
Having said that, maybe not a must purchase for every library depending on your community (self-censorship rearing its head here). Sexual anticipation, results, hopes, experiments, and fantasies. I got teary during two of the short stories, laughed with some, and turned on by others. Some are wistful, some plain horny, but all seem honest forays into teen sexual identity, fears, expectations, explorations, and curiosity.
25 Jan - In light of other reads, I'll change my vote to NAY. Still think it is a good book.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman
So I thought this was a decent story. At first it seemed like there were too many characters (as more and more are introduced in each chapter) but then you begin to see how they all intertwine. The story kept me interested - I wanted to know how it ended but I don't know if teens would "love" it and I feel like that is more of what we're looking for. So I'm leaning towards NAY.