KDL Blog ‘Books & More’ Category

The Next “Big Thing” in Teen Books

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Everyone always wants to know what the “next big thing” is in books, including me.  We are way over the paranormal books, with vampires and werewolves and now dystopian books are old hat, despite The Hunger Games and Divergent movies still to come. So what is next?

I think Realistic Fiction is gaining ground, partly thanks to John Green’s books and movies.  (Not that it ever truly went away.) I recently read two illgiveyouthesungreat teen realistic fiction books.  And yes, the covers are quite similar but that is just a coincidence!

The first book, which was the Printz Award winner, is by Jandy Nelson, “I’ll Give You The Sun.” This book is told through two voices, twins Jude and Noah. The interesting part is that Noah’s portion is told from when they were 13 years old and Jude’s voice is from when they are 16.  This gives the reader the perspective of what is to come but not how it came about. I really enjoyed the zacandmiacharacters of both twins and how the story came together in the end.

The other book is “Zac and Mia” by A.J. Betts. At first this book might seem to be an “A Fault In Our Stars” ripoff, but the story evolves beyond that. Zac and Mia have their own unique story to tell. Zac “meets” Mia because they are sharing a hospital wall while he is in isolation for his leukemia treatment. Mia is a popular girl, but is hiding her sickness from all her friends and is unable to come to terms with her illness. The friendship develops after the hospital but each are not always honest and upfront with each other. But in the end, they each need something for the other person and the ending leaves the fate of the characters up to the reader.


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Early Lit Bits: Play-Grow-READ!

Sunday, March 8th, 2015
Talking, singing, reciting rhymes, playing games, sharing books and listening to music are fun and meaningful ways to spend time with your child.
Visit our Play-Grow- Read website for some fun Activities to Do Around the House that support early literacy.


This article originally appeared in our Early Lit Bits eNewsletter. Read the most recent issue online or sign up to receive this monthly update highlighting early literacy tips and resources for parents and caregivers.


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A Few Charming Graphic Novels

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Ever since I was captivated by the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson, I read a few graphic novels every once in a while to shuffle up my reading list. Here are a few titles that you may have overlooked, but I think you might enjoy!

Here by Richard McGuireMinimal reading required in Here by Richard McGuire. Flipping through these pages is much like observing works of art. A living room corner remains a constant image throughout the entire book, while additional images are spliced in and overlapped to show different points in time in the living room. There are subtle hints of cultural commentary, a history lesson, and a narrative that mainly relies on the reader’s interpretation of the imagery.

The Property by Rutu Modan follows Regina Segal and her granddaughter Mica to Warsaw where they hope to reclaim family property. There are some fierce characters in this book! There are also many upsets on this trip with family drama and backstabbing, but as stubborn as Grandma Regina is, there is no way she’ll end up losing out.

What do we hold onto? What do we let go? In Bad Houses by Sara Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeilRyan and Carla Speed McNeil, a mixture of stories intertwine to reveal multiple perspectives on what is valuable in life. In this coming-of-age tale, there is family troubles, hoarding, and materialistic significance. Amusing at times, painful at others, this graphic novel provides readers with a compelling story and complex characters.


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Author Mal Peet Dies at Age 67

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

malpeetAward-winning British author Mal Peet died Monday at the age of 67. Peet won the Guardian children’s fiction prize for his 2009 book Exposure. He also won the Carnegie medal in 2005 for his second book, Tamar, which is a fabulous fiction story set between modern day and World War II-occupied Netherlands.

 


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Early Lit Bits: KDLville Spotlight

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

There’s always something new in KDLville!

Changing activities often keeps our early literacy play areas fresh and interesting for our regular visitors, but some favorite activities are available year round. This beloved Thomas the Tank Engine train table is a regular fixture at the Walker Branch.


 

This article originally appeared in our Early Lit Bits eNewsletter. Read the most recent issue online or sign up to receive this monthly update highlighting early literacy tips and resources for parents and caregivers.

 


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Survival Adventures

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in the Special Forces? Do you think you would like to chase storms? Try reading the Can You Survive interactive adventures books. This junior level series, written by various authors, offers readers the chance to choose what happens next in the story. Take care when making your choices as they could lead you to safety or doom! With titles like Can You Survive the Desert?, Can You Survive Being Lost at Sea? and Can You Survive Antarctica?, there is sure to be a storyline that will pique your interest. Place a hold or stop in and check one out today!

  


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Teen Mysteries

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

allfalldownSometimes it can be harder to find teen mysteries, so I was pleased when Ally Carter released the start of a new mystery series, All Fall Down.  Her Gallagher Girls series kept on getting better with each book and All Fall Down was a great start.

Grace is an army brat and also the granddaughter of a very powerful ambassador, where she spent summers running around the embassy. But now that Grace’s mother has died, her father sends her to live with her grandfather, and Grace isn’t willing to let the mystery of her mother’s death be classified as a tragic accident.

ghostflowerMichele Jaffe has written a number of mysteries as well, but I recently read Ghost Flower and really enjoyed it!

Runaway Eve likes to keep a low profile, but she gets drawn into a scheme to impersonate an heiress that had gone missing so the cousins can split the inheritance.  But not everything is as it seems at first, and Eve is starting to to question everything about herself and the family she is drawn into.

 

 


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Rediscover Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

February 7, 2015 marked the 148th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder. For adults longing to rediscover the Laura Ingalls Wilder they fell in love with as a child, a couple of recently published books might be just the key!

Ppioneerioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Wilder was recently released in November and is already into it’s third printing. This wildly popular book, written for an adult audience, presents Wilder’s unedited and unpublished draft of her autobiography, which eventually served as the foundation for her popular Little House on the Prairie series.

The book explores the history of the frontier that the Ingalls family traveled and the culture and life of the communities they lived in. The book features over 100 images, eight fully researched maps and hundreds of annotations based on census data and records, newspapers of the period and other primary documents.

 

Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen is a fun, fictional read. pioneergirlPhD graduate Lee Lien explores the tenuous connection between her ancestors and the famous pioneer author after she discovers a family heirloom that her mother may have received from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her discoveries send her on a trail of clues that lead to fateful encounters along the way.

 

If reading a book doesn’t really fit into your schedule right now, HarperCollins has recently released a great list of 10 Life Lessons from Laura Ingalls Wilder.


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“The Trip” Goes On…

Friday, February 20th, 2015

The Trip to Italy,” like its predecessor “The Trip,” is a hilarious, meandering, essentially plotless movie that nevertheless captivates simply by the skill of its lead players. Starring two British actors (Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan) who are nowhere near as famous here as they are in the UK, the second movie simply takes the format of the first and transplants it to Italy.

For those who haven’t seen the first movie, here’s the set-up: Steve calls Rob at the last minute to accompany him on a trip to the north of England for a series of restaurant reviews he’s been hired to write. Rob agrees to go along. They are friends, but there is also enough tension in their relationship — Steve is sometimes annoyed by Rob’s endless impersonations of famous people, which seem to be a cover for a superficial personality — to give the story a thin, but substantial enough, basis to develop from.  And so the second movie simply moves our characters (if that’s the right word; they almost seem to be playing themselves) from England to Italy. Again, Steve has been hired to write, and Rob agrees to go along. Who could refuse free Italian cuisine and the most beautiful coastal cities of Italy?

That may sound boring, but the reason it’s great watching is simply that the verbal repartee between the two actors is very funny. Coogan plays (more or less) the straight man to Brydon’s goofball, as the latter veers from one famous person’s voice to another (Hugh Grant, Michael Caine, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen). This is interwoven with discussions of a more personal nature, especially when women are involved, and questions of family and marriage arise. Finally, these are complemented by their continuing obsession with English Romantic poets — Wordsworth when they were in England, Shelley and Lord Byron while in Italy — and those poets’ haunts. A great sequel, well worth the time, especially in the depths of a Michigan winter.

(This film is not rated; it has some strong language and one brief violent scene.)

 


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Oscars Preview Day 4

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Our last day of Oscar previews include two of the three biopics nominated for Best Picture this year, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything (Selma is the third, reviewed here).

The Imitation Game

The Imitation GameImiation Game Cover was a critical and commercial success with nominations in 8 categories of the 87th Academy Awards.

This biopic film portrays a part of the life of Alan Turing, the mathematician who along with a select cryptography team (that eventually became literally thousands of people) were able to decrypt the Nazi Enigma Machine.  The Enigma Machine gave the Nazis a decided advantage over the Allies during the first half of WWII. Although Turing was known to be difficult to work with, the film chooses to look at Turing through a psycho/social lens showing his challenges as though he had challenges like folks who we today have identified as being on the autism spectrum.

In the 1950s, Turing is convicted of indecency (homosexuality); in lieu of a jail sentence, he undergoes chemical castration so he can continue his work. Film female team member during the Enigma years, Clark, visits him in his home and witnesses his physical and mental deterioration. She reminds him that his work saved lives. She uses the phrase Christopher used of Turing and Turing once used of her: “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

I personally enjoyed the film, firstly because I respect Cumberbatch as an actor and also respect folks who have remarkable skills and talents that set them apart from the masses — even though they may have had to struggle against tremendous odds to become “successful.”  I also appreciate when a film attempts to create the context or social norms of a particular era in the life of a particular person, Turing, in this case. Whether “true” in facts of his life or details of his time as his work influenced the war’s ending years, the film is creditable to the WWII perspective of the Allies.  The film was great on the “big screen”; I will definitely watch the DVD too. I hope the DVD includes additional footage of the subject (Turing) as well as impressions of the actors or makers of the film.  I would definitely recommend this movie!

— Laura from KDL’s Plainfield Township Branch

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of EverythingBased on the autobiography of Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane Hawking, The Theory of Everything tells the story of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and Jane — their relationship together and how that changed over time.

Truth be told, it is hard for biopics to work. Occasionally, the movie’s perspective can be too broad or the actresses/actors are not up for playing a part that has physical as well as emotional peaks and valleys. Thankfully, The Theory of Everything falls into neither of those traps. The movie covers Jane and Stephen’s meet-cute and subsequent courtship, which is endearing, and shows Stephen as more than a man of science. As the audience member though, it is hard not to see the relationship evolve and unfold without having part of your mind on the future and the awful reality that awaits Stephen. When the bombshell finally comes, the resolve that is shown by both characters makes the movie come alive.

Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking throughout and not enough can be said about his performance. He gives real emotion and depth to the character despite what seems, at times, an uneven screenplay. His counterpart, Felicity Jones, also gives a fantastic performance as Stephen’s loving wife, gracefully displaying the emotional and physical requirement Stephen’s care requires.

— Aaron from KDL’s Service Center

 


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