Tag Archives: review

It’s the End of the World as We Know it, and I feel fine!

While dystopian novels are all the rage, I’ve always preferred apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels. There is something about seeing ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances that draws me into the book. I recently read a post that offers a definition of post-apocalyptic versus dystopian novels, that clarifies to some extent the two. Their definition is correct, dystopian refers to a planned society, where in the attempt to achieve some goal people are deprived of certain liberties, or the dark side of a utopia. Post-apocalyptic stories take place after some destruction has taken place. As they point out there is substantial overlap in genres, Hunger Games is a dystopian society within a post apocalyptic world, as is Ship Breaker. My one criticism is that they leave out a distinct genre, apocalyptic fiction–not after the destruction, but during the cataclysm. I would say that Ashes and Ashfall are both apocalyptic as they take place during a destructive event. Here are three books that represent these three forms:

Apocalyptic: Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) Miranda is an ordinary 16 yr old, dealing with school, boys, and homework–lots of homework about the moon of all things. See it turns out an asteroid is heading to the moon, and all the teachers figure it is a good reason to write more papers! But when the asteroid actually hits the moon, things start to change–the tides are higher, there are unexpected storms, satellites are interrupted and things start to fall apart. Can Miranda and her family stay together, and alive, as everything around them falls apart?

Post-Apocalyptic: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien Z for Zachariah Z for Zachariah After nuclear war has broken out, it appears that humanity has been destroyed, all that is except Ann. She’s left on the farm, seemingly alone in the whole world. Her parents left to find help, and never returned. In order to survive, she has to keep the farm running all by herself. One day, however, she sees a man approaching her valley. What does he want? Can she trust him? Are they alone in the world?

Dystopian: The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle. The Sky Inside Martin lives in a world where it is all about the latest and greatest product, from food to genetically modified children. Each day they watch the TV to find out what’s next, to enjoy the endless gameshows, and to vote nightly on matters important to society, such as the colors of the president’s drapes. Everything seems fine, until Martin discovers there is going to be a recall, but not of the latest toy, rather they are going to recall his sister and her generation. No one will say what a recall means, by Martin is suspicious and sets out to discover where they are taking his sister and what is really outside of their “perfect” suburb. Can he figure out what is going on in time to save his sister?


A Long Walk to Water

This is a book talk for a 6th grade class.

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story Salva is sitting in school one day when an explosion rocks the classroom. Rather then telling the students not to panic, or evacuating quietly, the teacher tells the students to run, run as fast as they can, and be careful who they trust. It is 1985, and the boys do that, they run, and then walk, as fast as they can. Not sure who to trust or where they can find safety, they embark on a quest that takes them across the desert, to refugee camps in two different countries, facing violence and environmental dangers every step. Their quest lasts years, and many never make it. They are called the Lost Boys.

Nya is also 11, and in 2008 she also spends most of the day walking. Only her trips take her to the water hole to get water, four hours one way, four or more hours back. Hauling water for her whole family is her full time job. The same thing every day, except when the water dries up, and then it might be a longer walk. The dangers Nya faces are less dramatic, but if the water dries or is fouled her and her village all could die.

While this is fiction, it is based on a true story. In A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park moves between the experiences of these two kids, a boy and a girl, in two different times in a country far away. The events that happen to the two are things that real kids just like you experienced and continue to experience. The country is Sudan. Does anyone here know anything about Sudan? Where is it? What is it like? If you don’t know, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Like many countries around the world unrest and civil war has led to many people fleeing the country in the past century. As fighting dies down, challenges arise over access to education, food and water. To find out how a few brave people, just your age, struggle through violence, and now struggle to live their lives in a part of the world that is completely different from ours, read A Long Walk to Water. And if you want to learn more about the stories of kids living all around the world, come join our Summer Reading Program, One World, Many Stories.

Book Talk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, head on over to check out the other posts:

What a Team!

#03 What a Team! (Mr. Badger & Mrs. Fox) This week I read What a Team!, by Brigitte Luciani, illustrated by Eve Tharlet, it is #3 in the graphic novel series Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox. Juvenile Graphic novels can be tricky, they have to be simple and age appropriate, while retaining interest. In many ways this series is everything one could want in a graphic novel series, and yet it lacks something important.

In this series, the vocabulary is easy enough for newly independent readers, just beyond early reader level. Certainly the subject matter is above reproach. This installment features new step-siblings struggling to get along, and balance bossiness, with their new relationships. These struggles play out while the badger and fox children, and their friends, decide to build a boat. The illustrations are lovely water colors that nicely evoke the woods and forest animals.

This said, the tale was extremely confusing, because I couldn’t tell the characters apart. Now, I know that starting with the third book in a series might lead to some confusion, but a reader should be able to distinguish which character is talking, what the character’s names are, and what the relationships are. Admittedly, I’m not a huge graphic novel person, but I was a big series reader in my day. I remember the first chapter of every Babysitter’s Club was going over the back story and introducing the characters. While children like to read series with continuing characters, it is important that they be able to pick up who the characters are and to have this reiterated in each book.

Someday I’d like to read the first two to put them in context, but based on this on volume, I am hesitant to add it to the library’s collection.

Review copy received from Netgalley.


Hoot (Newbery Honor Book) Riding the bus to his new school in Florida, Roy Eberhardt notices a barefoot boy running flat out away from the bus. Is this some special Florida thing? No one else seems to notice or care about this boy. Roy is new in town, and misses his home and friends in Wyoming, so with few other things to distract him, he is not willing to let this hint of a mystery go. Even when his questions bring the attention of bully Beatrice the Bear down on his head, Roy pushes on to find out who this boy is and why he is running from the bus.

Some investigating leads Roy to discover the mysterious boy, who goes by Mullet Fingers for his ability to catch fish without a hook or line. But this only leads to more questions, who is this kid, why doesn’t he have to go to school, or live in a house, and what does he have to do with the mysterious things happening at the future site of Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House?

Read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen to find out what happens to Roy in his new school and to figure out the mystery of Mullet Fingers and the vacant lot.

This book talk will go with the book talk from last week, this week’s non fiction Monday and several more for my earth day presentation.
Book Talk Tuesday is hosted by Lemme Library, hop on over and enjoy the other great books.

Book Talk versus Review

In my mind a book talk is vastly different from a review, both in purpose and in execution. When I’m trying to sell a book to someone I want to hook them in, entice them into finding out more, whet their appetite so they can try it and see if they like the book. A review, on the other hand, should tell me more about the book, enough so that I know pretty much what I’m getting and if I’m going to like the book. I use reviews to add books to the library collection, and I appreciate honesty and thoroughness. I don’t mind spoilers or critical reviews, in fact I LOVE critical reviews, and I prefer publications like The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books that will tell me if a book is middle of the road or even not worth my money.

With a booktalk, however, I assume that the person telling me about the book thinks that it is worth reading, otherwise why are they trying to get me to read it? I follow the rule of only booktalking books I like, mostly because it is hard to do otherwise.

I bring this up because another blogger has started up a Book Talk Tuesday and I want to join in (yay a meme!), but needed to first clear the air about what I will be writing. Book talks are the description that sells the book, that hooks the reader, that drags that kid into the library to ask what was in the kitchen. I may only need to read one review of a book to know if I’ll like it or need to buy it, but I can read more than one book talk to see more ways to sell a book to different people.

Invisible Inkling, by Emily Jenkins

Invisible Inkling

“A thing about me is, I have an overbusy imagination. Everyone says so.
And it’s true. I’m not saying I don’t.
I imagine airplanes that argue with their pilots, drinks that change the color of your skin, and aliens who study human beings in science labs–all when I’m supposed to be doing something else.
Like cleaning my room.
Or listening.
Yeah.                                                                                                                                                              But here’s the thing about the invisible bandapat who’s been living in my laundry basket. He is not imaginary. Inkling is as real as you, or me. Or the Great Wall of China.”

Sometimes I think that “Overbusy imagination” is a perfect description of myself, though if I just limited my wonderings to such exciting things as aliens, talking planes and such it would be better. In Emily Jenkin’s upcoming book our hero Hank, who goes by his last name Wolowitz, deals with many of the challenges of a typical childhood, when his friend moves out before the start of school. His family has money trouble, and he is plagued by a bully. When he discovers a mysterious, furry, yet invisible creature in his family’s ice cream parlor it helps distract him from his worries.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read, perfect for those 2-3 graders who are worried about school, friends, and bullies. Release is scheduled for 4/26/2011.

As a librarian, I can wonder if the treatment of bullies in this book is realistic or appropriate, but I think kids will relish the thought that they could defeat a bully. While I hope that kids don’t take away the idea that every single person they talk to about being bothered by a bully will either deny that it is happening, blame them for being bullied, or offer excuses for the bully, the book doesn’t seem to support these as what should happen, just what does happen.