Sunday, September 18, 2016
When I was in fourth grade, we read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I had always been a reader but something about this book made me really fall in love with it. I loved it so much that I wrote a letter to Mr. Dahl telling him how much I enjoyed the book and probably other fourth grade things like about what I liked to do, that I loved to read, and all that kid letter writing stuff.
I didn't realize that Roald Dahl had passed away just a year before and I'm not sure my teacher did either. She sent my letter along to the publisher. Several weeks later I received a package at school that was full of Roald Dahl goodies-bookmarks, posters, a mobile (I think for James and the Giant Peach but I don't remember!) and other book swag. The publisher wrote me back and said they were sorry to let me know that Roald Dahl had recently passed away but they were so happy that I loved his books and they wanted to share some special things with me since I was a reader and a fan.
I was always an incredibly shy kid. I felt more comfortable with books and didn't like to talk much at school. I didn't have a lot of friends and never really felt like I fit in in elementary school.
Yet when that package of book swag arrived, I was suddenly the most popular girl in my class. Reading was cool. Everyone wanted to share in the excitement in hearing back from the publisher. We had read the book as a class and everyone was excited to see what I got. Since I took the initiative to write the letter to the author and share my love of the book, I was the hero of the class.
My popularity didn't last forever and I was OK with that. I didn't want it to. But I always remember the feeling that Roald Dahl and his US publisher gave shy fourth grader me. I felt like my love of books mattered. That I wasn't odd for loving to read and visiting the library every day I could. That it was cool to be a fan of an author and to write to the author and tell them how much you liked their books. The day I opened that box of swag all about Roald Dahl, I felt like being a reader was my super power.
I think that moment may have been one to put me on the path to librarianship, even if I didn't realize it at the time. Now I get to share the wonderfulness of Roald Dahl's books with numerous readers and help them discover their own reading super powers. His books are some of my forever go-to choices for reading aloud. There have been many fantastic audiobooks produced of his titles as well that I suggest for family listening. His books are classics and reach across generations and I believe they will continue to do so. He never spoke down to children and I think that's something children of any year and time period want-to be respected and to be heard. I know when I received that package in fourth grade, I felt as though I had been heard.
Thank you Roald Dahl for all of your wonderful contributions to children's literature and for making me feel
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Alcatraz Series by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Adventure
Release Date: 9/6/2016
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About the Book: (from publisher) The Dark Talent is the fifth action-packed fantasy adventure in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. This never-before-published, fast-paced, and funny novel is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition, illustrated by Hayley Lazo.
Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom
of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even
worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and
his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the
Highbrary—known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders—the seat of Evil
Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way
to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?
“Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I am so, so, very excited about this book release everyone! About nine years ago, not long after I first started working in the library, I came across a new book called Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians. I was looking for books for tween readers, especially books to suggest after Harry Potter, and this one just sounded so fun-a boy who has a talent of breaking things, a grandfather who shows up late to everything, and librarians who have an evil plot to take over the world? I couldn't resist.
I read the first Alcatraz book and I loved it. In fact, you can read my original review of Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians I posted not long after I started this blog! Since then, this series has been one of my go-to suggestions for tween and adult readers looking for a great series. I suggest it when they're looking for humor, fantasy, or just a good book. It's especially great as a family read aloud-there's something for everyone and I can really pull in adult readers with the fact that many are familiar with Brandon Sanderson's adult fantasy titles.
My patrons and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the fifth book in the series-book one starts with an epic opening preview that we haven't gotten to see yet. I am so glad Tor Books was able to release all five of the Alcatraz series in beautiful new hardcover editions that are illustrated. I can't keep these books on my library shelf and I love having these new editions to hand to patrons.
If you haven't discovered the Alcatraz Smedry series, you must do so! I know you won't be disappointed. Of course, I can't tell them if I'm really an evil librarian or not, but if I was, I wouldn't be telling you to read this ridiculous fiction (or would I?)
Monday, September 5, 2016
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: 8/30/2016
About the Book: Alice was born in the magical world of Ferenwood but doesn't have any magic herself. In a land where color is magic, Alice is the lightest of all and doesn't fit in. The only person who ever made her feel special was Father-but he disappeared three years ago leaving Alice with her uncaring Mother and her three brothers. When Oliver Newbanks, an old nemesis, tells Alice that he needs help completing his task (the magical undertaking all children of Ferenwood must complete) and that he knows where Father is and can bring him home, Alice is faced with a tough choice. Oliver's magic lies in deciet and Alice is never sure if she can trust him but she wants Father home more than anything. The journey will be dangerous and take her into the odd land of Futhermore where nothing is as it seems and time must not be wasted. In a world filled with strange creatures and rules. Alice must find herself and her magic to bring Father home.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: There's been a trend lately in middle grade fantasy with more books appearing for this age group that are quirky, magical, Alice in Wonderland-types. Futhermore firmly fits into that category. With a magical land that never quite makes sense, things are measured in time, twisting rules that you, numerous villages with various quirks and citizens who want to eat up visitors for their magic, Furthermore is quite a twisty read.
Alice's story is a fine one for readers who enjoy this type of twisting and somewhat confusing and creative fantasy. But I can also see more sophisticated readers getting frustrated as well. The author can easily get characters out of various escapades by adding some new revelation. There are multiple asides from the author/narrator as well, but these don't always work and instead some of the humor that is supposed to be there falls a bit flat. The narrator interjections are inconsistent. It also takes a long time for more explanations of the world building, but once you get there I thought it was well done if a bit convenient at times.
Alice's story takes awhile to get going and once we get to her adventures in Furthermore, the story is fun and there are lots of unique adventures that Alice and Oliver have. But I was very let down by the ending which felt too quickly wrapped up. It felt like we went through a lot of meandering and adventure only to have it solved in an instant. It was as though someone said "hey, this book is getting too long-wrap it up now and stop writing!" It felt too abrupt and too clean an ending and answer for such an epic adventure. After multiple chapters and pages of a journey, everything was wrapped up in about twenty pages, so I was left with little closure and this was a bit of a let down.
I do think Futhermore would be a good choice for readers who enjoy Wonderland-esque tales and I think some readers will very much get into Alice's adventures and the wondrous world of Furthermore. It's an engaging enough read and I think young readers will enjoy it and I think it may have some limited reader appeal-at least from my experience with the fantasy readers at my library. I just wish there had been some tighter writing and more depth to the novel. I had higher hopes for this one and while I enjoyed it, I can't say it will be memorable for long after I read it but I had fun while reading.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from purchased ebook from personal library