Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Multicultural Children's Book Day 1/27/15

Just a short post ... Good Reads with Ronna is helping celebrate this event, read about it at her blog. You can help celebrate this event by reading (or having your child read) a multicultural book. Some new ones at our library include:

Wild Berries by Julie FlettBilingual Cree and English. 
Simply Read Books (PreS-3). 

Clarence and his grandmother spend the day picking berries and meet ant, spider, and fox in the beautiful ancestral woodlands of this Metis and Cree author and illustrator.

Bobby vs. the Girls (Accidently) by Lisa Yee 
Scholastic (Grades 3-6).

Robert Carver Ellis-Chan, a perfectly normal fourth-grader, gets into perfectly crazy situations! Like when he was running for class president and discovered his big sister's panties clinging to the back of his sweater. An hilarious early chapter book reader.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Penguin (Grades 5-8).  

In free verse poems, Woodson reflects on what it was like growing up as an African American during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and how she found her voice with writing

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds 
Simon and Schuster (YA). 

Soon after his mother's death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A visit with YA author Amy Talkington

Award-winning screenwriter, director, YA author, and parent Amy Talkington met with the Junior High class in the library on Friday, January 9, to discuss her debut book, Liv, Forever (click here to see my review of the book).

Amy began by briefly her background and career as a screenwriter. She told the students that in high school she was "obsessed" with painting, writing, and music, elements we see in her main character, Liv. Amazingly, Amy actually worked up the idea of Liv, Forever as a movie first but  decided to write this story as a  novel first in order to:

Amy reads from Liv, Forever
“... explore Liv’s voice in a way that I couldn’t in a screenplay. Also, I wanted to create a deep mythology and history for the setting.”

Soho Press, the publisher, liked the idea and gave her 4 months to write the novel. The  new medium was "scary" for her but also "exhilarating.”Amy then shared the book trailer she wrote and directed. After summarizing the book, Amy read from the book to give the students insight into two of the major characters. 

Amy's discussion inspired many good questions from the students. Here’s how her responses to a few of the questions:

Where did the idea for the story came from?
Amy related that she had a long standing interest in writing a ghost story. She conceived of Liv as a young woman, “closed off and  afraid of opening up” and asked herself “ ...what if that person had to die to experience love?” While writing the novel, Amy noted that the Occupy Movement was active, which gave her the idea of the very wealthy and powerful willing to sacrifice anything to get what they want, which informs the mythology of the very elite school Liv attends.

Who inspired the characters?
Amy told the students that she was a lot like Liv as a teenager: closed off emotionally and focused on painting. Like Liv, she attended an East Coast boarding school. Liv’s friend Gabe (who can hear the ghosts at the school) is drawn from a beloved family member, who seems kind of crazy to those who don’t know him.

What is she working on now?
In addition to writing screenplays and other projects, Amy has a sequel to Liv, Forever in the works and there’s discussions of a movie based on the novel.

Amy concluded her visit with a series of slide referencing art works referred to in the book to demonstrate how Liv uses art to reference her feelings.  A reference list of art and a play list  of songs referred to in the book, as well as the book trailer can be found at her web site.

And finally, she offered a bit of advice to aspiring writers: “ Write every day. Give yourself deadlines. And read, of course, read everything.”

Excellent advise, and , of course, as a librarian, I love that last sentence!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Animalium: a unique way to visit the museum!

Animalium by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Katie Scott. Big Picture Press an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2014. Recommended for ages 7-12 (but will be enjoyed by all ages). 

Turn off the TV, power down the devices, and take the children to the museum ... simply by picking up this book.

With its oversize format, a bronze-colored admittance ticket, and a cover crawling with a display of colorful, intricately drawn animal life forms, this visually impressive book will instantly grab children's attention. Who wouldn't want to pour over this remarkable book designed to capture an awe-inspiring visit to a museum? 

Turn the pages and step into the "museum."  At the "Entrance," the "curators," Jenny Broom and Katie Scott, welcome children and invite them to "See for yourself how the tree of life evolved from the simple sea sponge into the diverse array of animals found on Earth today (p.1)." 

A breath-taking two page spread of the "Tree of Animal Life" follows. The curators explain that this unusual tree illustrates " ... how organisms that appear to be very different have ... evolved from one another over millions of years ... Children (and adults) will find it fascinating to follow the branches up from the stem (Invertabrates) to see the development of and interelationships between animal life forms.  For example, a lungfish and a cockatoo once shared the Vertabrate branch. The curators note that the further away from the stem a species is, the more the species has evolved in order to survive.

As children continue turning pages, they enter individual "galleries" (or book chapters) which are " ... arranged by shared characteristics and in evolutionary order to show how the animal kingdom... (p.1) " developed over eons of time into invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Read my complete review-and see some fabulous images from the book- at Good Reads with Ronna. Thanks to Ronna Mandel for donating a copy of this book to our library.

Introducing Olinguito ... a new mammal species

Olinguito Speaks Up/Olinguito alzo la voz written by Cecilia Velástegui and illustrated by Jade Fang.
Libros Publishing, 2013. $19.99. Recommended for ages 4-8.                      

Shy Olinguito helps forgetful Tómas, an ancient Galapagos tortoise,  recall how he ended far from his native island and in Ecuador cloud forest. Due to Tómas’ memory loss and confusion, the other animals think his stories are “tall tales” and tease him. Olinguito finds the other animals treatment of Tómas disrespectful and sets out to help Tómas prove the truthfulness of his stories. With Olinguito’s support, Tómas reveals the twists and turns that  took him from his island home to the cloud forest.  

Read my complete review at Good Reads with Ronna and thanks to Ronna Mandel for donating a copy of this book to the library.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Liv, Forever

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington. Soho Teen, 2014.

Liv Bloom, a self described "art dork," is accepted at an elite private school  as scholarship student. She spent her early years in and out of foster homes, well cared for, but not emotionally connected to her foster families or adoptive parents. She's excited about a new life far from her LasVegas home. Little does she know that the remotely located Wickham Hall, which boasts it's own cemetery and "catacombs," is attended by students from wealthy and powerful families.  An even more elite secret society, the Victors, exists at the school. Although she's still an outsider, bullied or ignored, Liv is befriended by Gabe, another scholarship student who claims to hear ghosts, and popular legacy student, Malcolm Astor. Despite warnings from Gabe, Liv's relationship with Malcolm heats up. One night, on her way back from a secret rendezvous with Malcolm, Liz is murdered, but the school and local officials rule her death a suicide.

Partnering up with Gabe and a wary Malcolm, Liv investigates her own death, discovering the school's long history of hushed up student disappearances and deaths. Who's behind all these deaths? And why has Liv become the latest victim?

Amy has done a marvelous job of balancing a novel with multiple genres (paranomal, mystery, and romance). Liv and Gabe show good character development over the course of the novel and their voices feel authentic. While Liv is the narrator (and having a dead narrator is an interesting twist), there are other strong voices in the novel, notably Gabe's. His anger and fear are palpable.

Throughout the narrative, Liv refers to works by other artists to explain situations in her life, which gives a visual feel to the narrative.

Here's some imagery from a nightmare:

"But then images started to emerge from the darkness around us. At first they were pleasant: a Titian cheruba Chagall angel. But then one of Bosch's devils appeared." 

Amy's web site provides a list of art references from the book.

Additionally there's many references to contemporary music (see Amy's web site for a playlist) and Romance poets, especially William Blake. Liv is a big fan of Blake's whom she likes for his ability to combine art and poetry. Selections from his works are woven into the novel and shared between Liv and Malcolm.

Give this to fans who like paranormal romances like Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series. However, teens who aren't big fans of romance don't need to worry-the loving's light and there's a great mystery a chilling conspiracy, and a finale with edge-of-your-seat action.