Category Archives: Young adult book review

Audition results

Heard from the publication with which I “auditioned” recently, and the news is great!  I’ve been selected as a temporary reviewer for this publication, which reviews children’s books, with the potential to become a permanent reviewer once they’ve detemined how well I fit in with their standards.  Needless to say, I’m pretty thrilled!  (Though one of my coworkers laughed when I told her the news, and said: “And just HOW are you going to fit this into your crazy schedule?”).

Assignment complete

It was tough, but I finished.  The assignment that was due on the 19th is complete, and the finished product has been emailed to the person in charge of making the decision.  Though I put a lot of time and thought into this assignment, it was a challenge to complete, mostly because of the doubting voices that nagged me:  “Maybe this isn’t your strength…”  “Perhaps you’re just not any good at this…”  “This is probably your one chance at this opportunity – don’t blow it by turning in inferior product…”  “No pressure, but if you fail, then your chances in this line are null and void for the rest of your life…”

Years ago on Northern Exposure, Ed envisioned these self-doubts as the “little green men” in his mind.  My little green men had a field day this weekend.  Hopefully they wore themselves out with the exertion and activity, and will take a loooong nap and leave me alone for a while.

Sand Dollar Summer

I’ve had to put Larklight aside in favor of the teen book club book, Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly K. Jones.  There are two sessions of the teen book group that will be meeting simultaneously on Tuesday, one for ninth through twelth graders (facilitated by Lisa), and the other for sixth through eighth graders (facilitated by me).  I chose this book, a bit quickly, and based mostly on its cover, which is really cute.  After this meeting, the group will be choosing their own books (with guidance, of course, so that all books chosen are age-appropriate), which is the way it should be.

So what about Sand Dollar Summer?  Initially, it didn’t impress me.  Rather self-consciously written at the start, with the twelve-year-old protagonist frequently commenting on how she hates when adults do _________ (fill in the blank, she uses that phrase a lot, too much).  But it gets better, and by the half-way point the book has grown on me.  The voice of Lise, the protagonist, grows more authentic as the plot progresses, and her mother is beautifully flawed, as many mothers are.  Suffering, introspective, yet loving, Lise’s mom experiences a life-changing automobile accident that is, in turn, changing Lise’s life and outlook on life.

Had I read this book as a middle school student, I would have loved it.  Especially if I had read this summery, ocean-based tale in the middle of winter: Jones’s descriptions of sand ingrained in your hair and sand crunching in your toothpaste are vivid and evocative.  Hopefully the girls in the book group will also like this book…I’ll post an update on their reactions to the book later in the week.

A new resource

I’ve discovered a great resource for locating new and fabulous children’s books.  While on Nantucket, I picked up a copy of the BookSense Autumn newsletter, children’s edition.  BookSense is an affiliation of independent book stores, and the newsletter contains reviews written by booksellers all over the country.  I took some time today and went through the newsletter book by book, looking up published reviews of each book in our library catalog.  Almost all of the books featured in the newsletter had received acclaim from journals such as Booklist, The Horn Book, VOYA, and School Library Journal.  And most of the featured books are so fresh to the market that almost no other libraries yet have them.

After considering all the reviews, gaps in our collection, and what consistently does well in our library, I ended up ordering about half of the books featured in the newsletter.  And I feel really great about what I ordered: some authors who are already favorites, some first-time authors who sound incredible, and, most importantly, I got a jump on these new books by following the advice of independent booksellers.  Definitely a powerful tool to learn about the best recent books.

The best day of the year

Recently, my brother wrote about the worst day of the year: (link no longer available, my apologies).  Today, though, was the best day of the year: the first day of vacation.  I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but even so there’s something about the first day of vacation that just can’t be beat.

So, on this first vacation in a year, there was absolutely no way that I was going to clean the house, no matter how badly it needs it.  Instead, I cashed in two of my tutoring checks and went shopping.  Yup, I actually had cash in my pocket, and I fully intended to use it.  Jewelry seemed like a good bet, but I was open to other options.  I ambled through some of my favorite stores in Concord center – Perceptions, Artful Image, Lacoste Gallery, Concord Hand Designs, the Concord Shop, the American Indian gift store, and the store that sells cool furniture and odds and ends for your home (next to Salone Arte).  I saw so many pretty things, and was almost tempted many times.  But I kept thinking to myself, “I’ve already got a beautiful glass pitcher.  I don’t need another,” or, “I could live without that pair of earrings,” or, “the house is just too small for another set of candlesticks.”  I was trying hard, but nothing could prompt me to pull that cash out of my pocket.

I couldn’t have imagined this a year ago, when I was miserable in my job and life seemed a tad difficult, but I’m happy.  I don’t need to buy things.  Not even that great Steiff bear in the Toy Shop window.

My husband had left me off in Concord center while he dropped off his amps and equipment for a gig tomorrow, and we set our meeting place as the Concord Bookshop.  So I gave up on shopping and went to the book store to wait for my ride.  Jim was late, and I wandered the aisles looking at books.  Jodi Picoult, my friend Judy told me she’s really great, maybe I should buy that.  Hmmm, no, I can borrow that from the library.  Kira-Kira?  Judy recommended that, too.  Nah, there’s a fresh new copy at the library.  A blank book?  Got plenty.

And then I was in the young adult section.  The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  The dollars practically leaped out of my pocket.  I’ve been wanting to read this book for SO long, but haven’t wanted to take our library’s copy out of commission (and it just doesn’t seem fair to borrow another library’s copy).  This book has gotten phenomenal reviews, and its premise is totally unique: Death narrates the story of Liesel, a girl in Nazi Germany who steals books.
The Book Thief now lives on my coffee table, and so far I absolutely love it.  I also picked up a paperback copy of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, for the same reasons that I bought Zusak’s book.  I may have lost my ability to spend money on frivolous things, but certain books can still make my heart beat a little faster.  And no, I have no idea what the meaning is behind the thievery theme in these two books.  I just know that, because of them, the rest of my vacation is going to be as good as today was.