Sunday, February 28, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Some of you know that I've been serving on the Alex committee for the last three years and this past year I've been the committee chair. What a rewarding experience! Why? First of all, there are some freakin' awesome librarians on the committee. Such a great mix of public librarians, school librarians, system librarians and consultants, all focused on finding the top ten adult books for young adults. What can be better than that? Secondly, as chair I was the Oz-like voice that started the Youth Media Awards. You can't know how exciting it was to speak in front of hundreds of librarians about great books. I'm honored to have served on the committee and give a huge shout-out to the librarians, authors and publishers who make this award possible. And, of course, to the American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association. I still can't believe "someone" trusted me to run a nation-wide committee. ;)
The 2010 Alex Award winners are:
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (9780061730320)
- The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff, published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (9780670020997)
- Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr., published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (9780670020928)
- The Good Soldiers by David Finkel, published by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux (9780374165734)
- The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir by Diana Welch and Liz Welch with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch, published by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House (9780307396044)
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman, published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (9780670020553)
- My Abandonment by Peter Rock, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (9780151014149)
- Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel, by Gail Carriger, published by Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group (9780316056632)
- Stitches: A Memoir by David Small, published by W.W. Norton & Company (978039306857)
- Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson, published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins (9780061579028)
Members of the 2010 Alex Awards Committee are: Chair Sarah Hill, Paris (Ill.) Cooperative High School ; Lana Adlawan, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library; Hope Baugh, Carmel Clay (Ind.) Public Library, Carmel, Ind.; Beth Gallaway, Information Goddess Consulting, Hampton, N.H.; Liza Gilbert, Community Library, Salem, Wis.; Jennifer Hubert, Little Red School House & Elizabeth Irwin High School, New York; Karen Keys, Queens Library, New York , N.Y.; Betsy Levine, San Francisco Public Library; Ann Perrigo, Allegan (Mich.) District Library; Meghan Cirrito, administrative assistant, Queens Library, New York , N.Y.; and Ian Chipman, Booklist consultant, Chicago.
In addition to selecting titles for the Alex Awards, the Alex Committee presents a program at the ALA Annual Conference. The 2010 program will take place in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, June 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, with authors discussing the impact the award has had on their careers.
I loved Graceling and so I couldn't wait to read this "companion" novel. Some students had complained that the book wasn't about Katsa, the strong, KA female character in her first book, but I don't think author Cashore disappointed.
Fire, a teenage monster, can read minds, control people, and has great power. But she also has to hide in fear of other monsters and constantly keep men at bay because of her drastic beauty. Her father was a monster who used his powers for destruction and Fire must decide to use her powers for good or just run and hide. Similar to Graceling, the battle scenes and strong female character make the book, and the love story is pretty good, too. I'm still waiting for a sequel to Graceling though....
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
This audiobook won the Odyssey Honor Award back in 2008 so I figured I'd give it a listen! The sound effects and voices were pretty darn cool. Stephanie is a snarky twelve-year-old who surprisingly is left a house and money from her recently deceased uncle. Next thing you know, a stranger at the reading of his uncle's will saves her life after some mysterious occurrences. Doors explode and strange creatures try to take her life. There's magic everywhere and Skulduggery Pleasant, her new friend, is, um, a skeleton. But a darn cool one. Stephanie makes the book (think a young Stephanie Plum) and the sequels ought to be just as good!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Bonus points for an awesome cover on this finalist for the Morris Award! Makes you want to read it, doesn't it? I'm a fan of retold fairy tales, so I was looking forward to another version of the Cinderella story.
Ash's parents die and she has to live with her stepmother and two stepsisters. Of course, she eventually is forced to work for her room and board. A male fairy creature helps fulfill her wishes instead of a fairy godmother. And there is a quiet romance between Ash and the King's huntress, Kaisa, who takes a special interest in the displaced lady.
Overall, I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this title, so that usually means it will grow on me. I liked the plot and love the twists from the usual Cinderella tale. But the pace was slow for me.
I'm working my way through the 2010 Award winners and this young adult novel was shortlisted for the Morris Award for debut authors. I must say though that it isn't my cup of tea. Like The Lovely Bones, the main character is looking back at her life after her death. Madison isn't sure where she is (dead? hovering somewhere? Is? Everywhere?) but she does know that objects keep appearing that have lost. So perhaps her job is to figure out what objects were lost in her life and how to find them again? And so she relives moments in her past where things were lost and then found. In doing so, her present/future changes, as does those around her. The stories are a bit convoluted to me and I found myself rolling my eyes at the Emily Dickinson references and philosophizing. Maybe I'm not emotional enough to read this one? I did want to figure out how she died though, so I was glad the author wrapped up the story at the end.
Friday, February 5, 2010
While I wasn't thrilled to see *another* young adult title with a main character who likes photography, I was anxious to read the Morris Award winner for this year. The voice of Blake is funny and refreshing and I giggled throughout the book, even as he has to deal with typical teenage stuff. His girlfriend Shannon is beautiful, tempting, and emotional. Another girl, Marissa, is interesting, easy to get along with, but suffering from all sorts of family drama. Blake is sucked into Marissa's world, and Shannon doesn't appreciate it. Mistakes happen and couples break up, but there's always hope. And I love the "Mad-sad playlist" and "Sad-sad playlist" of songs at the back of the book. Gotta go listen!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I was a huge fan of The Glass Castle so I was looking forward to this new book by Jeannette Walls. I heard the author speak at the Alex Award program a few years ago and enjoyed listening to her. In this "true life novel", Walls tells the story of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, from stories she heard from her own mother. Most of the book is based on fact, but, of course, she claims it's based on storytelling, so some is embellished. Lily had a fascinating life. She was breaking horses on the ranch at a young age and at age 15 rode for a month on a horse to get to her first teaching job. She learned to fly airplanes, teach unruly kids, and hold a pistol up to anyone who confronted her. She was suckered into a bad first marriage and found a real man to love her with her second marriage. All in all, Half Broke Horses is a satisfying frontier tale about a strong woman who makes it, yet somehow fails in raising her daughter, who ends up being the author's mother in The Glass Castle.