Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dear Toni is quick read by Canadian author, Cyndi Sand-Eveland. The diary-style writing of our main character is highlighted with “doodles” and ink illustrations to engage the reader in the life of 6th grader Gene Tucks. Gene, (named after an Uncle, despite being a girl) is a nomadic middle schooler whose only goals are making the field hockey team and having a best friend at her new school. Both goals are accomplished, but new best friend, Winnifred, (Winn) soon leaves the area to live with her Uncle and ailing mother. Gene finds solace in the landlord’s St. Bernard puppies she and Winn took care of daily.
The book never gives the reader a true climax, but rather a rolling internal dialogue from Gene’s point of view. Toni is actually the diary Gene writes in every day, giving the audience a sense that “Toni” is really Gene’s best friend. The characters could have been more fully developed, but overall the tone and style are perfect for reluctant readers who are dealing with middle school angst and concerns.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lennie Walker is grieving. Her older sister, Bailey, died suddenly of a heart condition and Lennie is suffering in isolation. She's shut out everyone important in her life; her grandma, her uncle and her best friend, Sarah. Her only outlet is the poems that she writes on scraps of paper and scatters around town. Not even her formerly beloved clarinet playing produces relief. Then she connects with Thoby, Bailey's boyfriend. Though she finds strange comfort in him she can't deny her feelings for the new boy in school. Joe Fontaine is French, gorgeous and a musician, like her. She doesn't want to abandon Thoby, but how can she resist Joe?

The Sky is Everywhere is written in an endearing contemporary style, yet it is disjointed and I didn't enjoy it. The author tosses almost every cliche of young adult fiction into the pot, mixes it up and produces a tedious and frustrating plot. Her 17-year-old characters sound like 40-year-olds and her adult characters are juvenile. Her dialogue is similar to that of TV shows like Glee and Gossip Girl. It is undeniably clever, but it gets old. This works well for a teen audience, but from an adult perspective it's too forced. I also didn't care for the foul language and frank crudity of some scenes. I read this novel for the Printz challenge. I don't think it will win.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Picture Books Obsolete?

The New York Times recently published an article called "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children". What is your opinion?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can You Pick the Printz?

Since we're holding a Mock Newbery challenge, why not hold a Mock Printz challenge as well? Again we'll read the books on the following list and pick our individual winner a week before the Midwinter conference. Join us!

printz award
You by Charles Benoit

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Under a Red Sky by Haya Molnar

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Nothing by Janne Teller

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me By Nan Marino

This is a terrific historical/realistic fiction from the early 1970’s before we had the computer/information explosion thrust upon us, and another great story written by a librarian! Set in the summer of 1969, when Jack Lalane, TV, letter writing, and Vietnam were on America’s radar. Readers get to experience the Apollo moonwalk as well as learn some hard facts of life along with 12 year old, Tammy Simpson. Tammy “lost” her best friend, exactly 45 days ago, to be with her biological mother. Muscle Man is the new foster kid that moves in next door, and just can’t seem to tell the truth. It's Tammy's job to expose this kid and all of his lies, she thinks.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz 117 pages

Third person fantasy about, “Flory,” a night fairy who must adapt to her new “day fairy” status when a bat accidentally nips her wings, and causes her to live in a new garden. Great example of living within changing circumstances, empathy, and helping others. High-level vocabulary discussed (such as suet, torpor) as well as habits and environments of various garden animals. Gorgeous color illustrations, rich with detail to bring this new world to life for the reader.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Can You Pick the Newbery?

Here at Sunset a few of us are going to participate in a Mock Newbery contest. The Newbery winner will be announced in January 2011 (I couldn't find the exact date). Here is the list of ten books that we plan to read and choose our winner from. I gleaned these titles from looking at other libraries Mock Newbery programs. These were the most mentioned titles. We plan to read them all (there are only 10) and then make our individual choices for the winner the week before the announcement. Feel free to join us or let us know of other books you think should be considered.

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

The Water Seeker by Kimberly Holt

The Night Fairy by Laura Schlitz

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Friday, September 17, 2010

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Woods Runner is a short, yet powerful tale of one boy's race to rescue his parents, who are prisoners of the British during the Revolutionary War. Samuel lives with his parents in the forests of Pennsylvania where they live a peaceful life with several other villagers. Samuel is relied upon by the village to provide meat for them and has become an expert woods runner and hunter. One day while he is out hunting, tragedy strikes; his village is burned down and his parents are taken captive by British soldiers. Hot on their trail, Samuel is determined to save them. Along the way he encounters injury and savagery and unexpectedly becomes the guardian of a little girl named Annie. The tale follows Samuel all the way to New York City, where thousands of prisoners are living in dismal conditions. Interspersed with facts about the Revolutionary War and how people lived during this time period, I found Woods Runner to be fascinating and suspenseful. I would recommend this for fifth grade and up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mockingjay is Here!

Has anyone read it yet? What did you think?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beastologist: The Flight of the Phoenix by R.L. LaFevers

Nate Fludd is a 10-year-old orphan whose parents perished in an airship accident in the Arctic. Sent to live with his adventurous Aunt Phil, Nate learns that he comes from a line of beastologists. His family has studied supposedly mythical creatues such as basilisks and gremlins for generations. Shortly after arriving he and Aunt Phil embark on a trip to Arabia to witness the birth of a new Phoenix. Featuring strong character development and high adventure this new series would be perfect for third and fourth graders who like fantasy mixed with danger. Book two is The Basilisk's Lair.

Thursday, July 29, 2010



Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper 304 pgs.

Wonderful first person narrative about Melody Brooks, an 11 year old wheelchair-bound girl, who hasn’t spoken or walked due to cerebral palsy, yet tells the reader about her full life in school: best friend Rose, new little sister, Penny, and dear Mrs. Valencia who cares enough to help Melody learn how to communicate with others. Excellent character development, realistic daily care of special needs children and the prejudices society has toward disabled people. I LOVE that you never feel sorry for Melody and readers can “hear” Melody’s smart and confident voice through her own words.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Ratings Website

I just discovered this website that rates adult fiction, non-fiction and young adult novels. The administrator of the site is a book reviewer for a newspaper. There aren't a ton of ratings so far, but there are quite a few young adult novels listed. It might be a good resource to use when a parent (or kid) is looking for clean reads.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Amazon's Best Books of 2010... So Far

Here is the list of Amazon's Best Children's Books.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Intriguing Discussion

Shannon Hale invited several young adult authors to discuss the topic of how sex is portrayed in young adult novels. What do you think?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Free Audiobook Downloads

From the Yalsa Listserv:

Please forgive the cross postings - here's some good news! Each week, from today until September 1st, you can download two totally FREE audiobooks through SYNC http://www.audiobooksync.com/! Anyone may participate, there's no required sign-up or personal info or credit card needed, the titles are in MP3 format compatible with ANY digital player or computer, and the choices are top titles from the best audiobook producers - how much better could it get?!? There's even great printable materials so that you can promote your own library or school audiobook collection! Feel free to add links to your library website, email to your library discussion groups and friends, post on Twitter & Facebook, and build displays & listen-alike lists to entice new listeners to take advantage of your library's audiobook collection. And as the downloads are handled through OverDrive, it's a terrific way to introduce new users to your library's digital resources. There's even an entire social community where SNYC participants may interact with authors, narrators, and audiobook producers! SYNC has been developed to promote audiobook listening to teens ages 13 and up through the unbranded open forum Audiobook Community http://www.audiobookcommunity.com/. But it's not just for teens! Each week, two new titles will be available for download - one a current teen favorite, one a classic with a similar theme. What a great way to experience classics on your summer reading list, discover great YA literature, or download perfect family listening for a wide spectrum of ages. Check out the entire list of titles at the bottom of my email. It's summertime and the listenin' is easy - and FREE - with SYNC!

Happy listening!

Mary Burkey

Liberty Middle School



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SYNC Titles

Audiobook downloads available as MP3s

Summer 2010

Available July 1 - July 7

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Available July 8 - July 14

Over the End Line by Alfred C. Martino

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Available July 15 - July 21

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Available July 22 - July 28

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Available July 29 - August 4

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Available August 5 - August 11

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Available August 12 - August 18

Beastly by Alex Flinn

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Available August 19 - August 25

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Available August 26 - September 1

Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Alien Feast

Alien Feast: Chronicles of the First Invasion by Michael Simmons

First in the series about comical and hungry aliens who invade earth, in this Roald Dahl-styled sci-fi story. Violin-playing orphan, William, fellow classmate Sophie, and Williams’ quirky Uncle Maynard are trying to locate Sophie’s kidnapped “scientist-parents,” figure out the Willoughby Mayor’s connection to the aliens, and save civilization. The next book will most likely have William off on his own searching for his older brother. Fast paced story with themes of friendship and perseverance.

A Nest for Celeste

A Nest for Celeste: by Henry Cole is a sweet story centered around an industrious mouse, Celeste, who resides in Colonial 1821 New Orleans, and inspires John Audubon’s early work on aviary exploration and documentation. A terrific historical fiction novel, which embodies the values of true friendship, determination, and ingenuity. Cole uses pencil drawings to enhance the drama and create great setting and character development throughout the book. While the novel is 352 pages in length, it truly is a story for younger readers since there are many beautiful illustrations and the format consists of larger font on smaller sized pages.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird

Is anyone going to do anything to commemorate the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Popularity of Dystopian Novels

This recent article in the New Yorker dissects the current craze for dystopian novels, such as The Hunger Games and Uglies, among teens.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Never having read any Ruiz Zafon novels I was unaware of his style. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to discover his very gothic nature, here translated into a YA novel. The Prince of Mist was first published in Spain 15 or so years ago and has only recently been published in the US.

The novel opens with the Carver family moving to a small seaside town to escape the war (we don't know which one). Max Carver and his sisters Alicia and Irina find various amusements to entertain themselves, but when Max meets Roland he and Alicia become instant friends with the young and handsome native and he leads them on various adventures around their new town.

The first half of the novel was very eerie with strange discoveries and happenings occurring in their home, including the appearance of an evil cat . The second half of the novel is action packed with life-threatening situations plaguing the Carvers' and Roland. The cause of all of the disturbance in their lives is revealed by Roland's grandfather, the lightkeeper on their coast. He relates the story of an unbelievably strange man who has haunted him since he was a boy and is now intent on destroying Roland. But why? You'll stay up much too late to discover the secret of The Prince of Mist.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some Youth Booklists Updated

Hi Youthers.

Trish here. Just wanted to let you all know that some of the Youth booklists on the F Drive have just been updated (by me!). The updated lists are Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. Just in time for SRP!

Also, I updated the "special interest" kids booklists: "Kids Love Dinosaurs, Priates and Dragons;" "Princess Books" and "Transportation Books for Young Ones." These are not on the F drive. Let me know if you want me to send you samples.

I especially wanted to include outstanding new books. I also made many adjustments to be sure there were 4 copies of each book and to correct for our new cataloging system for Readers.

I am happy for you to use these booklists, but please DO NOT change them. I am however, VERY happy to have your input and I will consider it for future changes. (Okay, I am a little possessive.) We are printing them here at Sunset in tiny batches, so it will be easy to incorporate suggested changes.

More soon.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

This highly touted British fantasy novel is an inventive and engrossing adventure. Set in a future world where "Protocol" is in effect (nothing can be automated, no machines allowed), the tale centers on two characters who live in drastically different environments. Claudia is betrothed to the prince of the land, Caspar, yet she is feisty, rebellious and intelligent and has no interest in marrying the doltish prince. Her tutor, Jared, is a Sapient, a group of intelligent inventors. Jared has taught her about science and machines and she is closer to him than she is to her father, the Warden, whom she is always trying to subvert. When she breaks into her father's office and discovers a crystal key, she makes contact with Finn, a young man who lives in Incarceron, the prison her father oversees. Finn has lived in Incarceron since he can remember and is on the run from his former gang with another Sapient, Gildas, his oathbrother, Keiro, and Attia, a former slave. Finn has also discovered a crystal key and through this can communicate with Claudia. The bulk of the novel details the efforts of Finn and his friends to escape from Incarceron and of Claudia's desperate attempts to evade her impending marriage and help Finn. A true page-turner, the reader is compelled to learn if Finn and Claudia escape from their respective imprisonments. Despite a few episodes of sloppy writing and confusing plotting, this novel is a gem. The sequel is only available in the UK at the moment and I can't wait for it's US release.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mockingjay is On Order!

The third book in the Hunger Games trilogy won't be published until August 24, but it is already in Workflows. I've put up signs in our youth area urging people to get on the holds list now. There are currently only 10 holds on it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just finished this book by Neil Gaiman, and we have it in JF. Older readers might enjoy it as well, for the mystical qualities and ties to Norse mythology.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gone Series by Michael Grant

This YA series has just popped up on my radar. Has anyone read it? It is immensely popular at Sunset.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This is a forum for CPL youth staff to share book reviews, observed trends and reading inquiries. I hope that by sharing our combined knowledge and experience we can help each other improve our readers' advisory capabilities.