Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Keeper, by Kathi Appelt

Ten-year-old Keeper is part mermaid. At least, that's what she's always believed. After all, wasn't her mother, who swam away when Keeper was only three, a mermaid? How else could Keeper hear the cries of the gumbo-bound crabs, pleading for someone to rescue them before they became dinner? 

Of course, listening to those crabs is what turned the best day ever into a total and complete nightmare! Now Signe, Keeper's guardian, won't be able to have everyone over for the traditional Blue Moon dinner. Now Dogie won't be able to ask Signe the special question he's waited ten years to ask. Now Old Mr. Buchamp won't ever find the one thing he's been searching for since he was a boy. Everything, everything is ruined. And it's all because Keeper listened to those crabs.

Keeper needs her mother more than ever. So she sneaks out of her house in the dark of night, "borrows" the neighbor's row boat, and sets off to the open sea to find the place she last saw her mother all those years earlier. Her mother will know what to do. Her mother will help make everything right again. Won't she?

But what if Keeper's mother isn't there as expected? What if everything Keeper has believed about her life isn't true?

Keeper, by Kathi Appelt, is a delightful story about family, love, friendship, and self-discovery...all with bits of magic and mythology woven throughout. As well as a few surprises. Characters are believable, and Appelt's uniquely poetic writing style gives the story color, life, and depth. Keeper is definitely one of my favorites, and is one of those stories that can be enjoyed by people of all ages (guys and girls too). There's truly something here for everyone. Just read it! You'll be happy you did!

Keeper can currently be found in our Tween section. --AJB

Monday, April 13, 2015

None of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio

What makes someone male or female? Biological characteristics? Psychological characteristics? How one feels about themself vs. how they appear outwardly to the world? Whether they prefer same or opposite gender?

Think carefully before you answer.

I.W. Gregorio, a practicing MD and Stanford graduate, explores this delicate territory in her debut novel, None of the Above.

Kristin is pretty and popular and smart. She's got the dream boyfriend. She's just been elected Homecoming Queen. She's got a bright and shining future after graduation. She's got a charmed life. But everything crumbles after homecoming when she attempts to have sex with her boyfriend. There's pain. Too much pain. A visit to the GYN to investigate the cause of this pain reveals that Kristin not only has no uterus, but also two small, internal lumps that appear to be male testicles. A specialist confirms that Kristin is intersex, meaning neither male or female, but both. But what does this mean? Kristin looks and feels like a girl, and all her life she thought she was a girl. But... Is she really a girl? Is she a boy? Or something freakish and in-between. Over the next several chapters, Kristin deals with the repercussions of this world-shattering revelation: Not only personally, psychologically, but also with her family. And finally with how her peers and teachers react when her secret is leaked to the school. Can Kristin's life ever be normal again?

I picked up None of the Above after reading several glowing reviews, and it is fantastic! Characters are fully fleshed out and realistic, the story itself is interesting, and I.W. Gregorio handles the ultra-sensitive plot aspects with great care and tact. This one definitely lives up to the hype (if you've heard any hype), you guys. I highly recommend it. --AJB

p.s. Parents: Please keep in mind that, due to mature topics and situations, this one is recommended for older teens only.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Laureth Peak's father is a writer. After years of writing "funny" books he is convinced to write a book about coincidences (coinky-dink's as Laureth's younger brother calls them). After years of research, failing, and near financial ruin his wife thinks he's obsessed and Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown. Mr. Peak is suppose to be doing research in Austria but after receiving an email saying that his notebook has turned up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse (after sending hundreds of texts messages and making many calls all with no response from her father) Laureth books her and her seven year old brother a one way ticket to New York. International travel and a missing father would be almost more than any sixteen year old could handle, but to Laureth these are minor things because she has to do them all without her eyesight.

She is Not Invisible has many great traits and a couple that may make it a tough for some readers. I loved Laureth's determination and drive throughout the book. She never gives up even when dead ends and worry continues to flood her way. I also love how the author makes you feel from Laureth's perspective. Multiple times I would set the book down and picture myself in the middle of New York city and then I would do it without being able to see. Mr. Sedgwick does a fantastic job at making you feel like Laureth's character and placing you in her shoes. The largest drawback to this book is the topic her father is researching, coincidences. There are some pages that look like the inside of his notebook that he has lost. They ramble on about different theorists and other research that he has conducted on the topic. They are essential to the plot of the story and yes you will begin to look at coincidences (or at least think about them) in your everyday life however, this research-likeness was not for me and made me second guess my reading choice several times.

If you stick through the research parts, I think you will enjoy She is Not Invisible. Check it out from our "New" Teen Shelf!


Parental Statement: Do Not steal your mother's credit card, no matter how much determination you have :)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gabi, a girl in pieces by Isabel Quintero

Cover image for Gabi, a girl in piecesI read the whole book in one sitting, laughed out loud in several places and also shed a few tears :) Gabi’s journal, including illustrations and poems she writes for senior poetry class, is funny, wise and poignant as she draws the reader into the sometimes harsh but loving reality in which she lives. But reality it most definitely is - no Hollywood-ized glamorous life for Gabi in her Californian town. The use of Spanish and English phrases is seamlessly done and allows the reader to see how Gabi lives in two cultures at the same time, while not quite fitting into either. Moving and thoughtful, Gabi is a great female character, always working hard to reach her goal of going to college,that is if Mami allows her to leave home... (Recommended for older teens due to mature content.)SM

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Into the Woods--DVD

In need of a movie to watch over the weekend, I picked up Into The Woods, Disney's latest live-action flick to hit DVD. I didn't really know much about the movie. Just that it was a mash-up of fairy tale plots. Maybe with a bit of a fractured twist or two? I've always had a weakness for a good fairy tale story. And the stellar all-star cast was also a pretty big lure. In short, I was intrigued. And's Disney. So my expectations were way, way up there.

Perhaps too much so.

In the back of my mind, I was aware that this movie was a musical. After all, it's Disney...and almost everything Disney puts out is musical to some degree (except for maybe The Watcher in the Woods, the company's early 80s attempt at making a scary movie...but that's another story). I just didn't realize how musical it would be. Practically every sound uttered by the characters was done so in song. And, to be honest, I found that to be a more than little annoying. Music in movies can be great. In fact, it often adds to the story. But in the case of Into the Woods, it was just distracting. Annoying, even. Disney ought to reserve the musical numbers for their animated films. Just look at what "Let it Go" did for the Frozen franchise.

My personal verdict: Into the Woods is not Disney's best effort. The cast was star-studded, the costumes and sets were gorgeous, but the story itself was only passably interesting and seemed nothing more than a contest by the writers to see how many fairy tale bits and pieces could be squeezed into the film's allotted two hours. I'm guessing that this is one of those Disney films that will fade into oblivion once the initial newness of it has passed. Not unlike The Gnome-Mobile (What? Never heard of that one? I rest my case.) --AJB

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Say "Thank You" With a Poppy

Make a paper poppy in the Teen department, as a symbol of your appreciation for the service provided by local Veterans and their families to our country. The poppies will be delivered to the American Legion Post 108, Oxford, in early May, to be used as they see fit, for decorating the hall, distributing to Veterans or in the Memorial Day Service and Parade on Monday May 25. Also, please support the 2015 Buddy Poppy Sale when you see our Veterans out and about in Oxford this month.

One of the ceramic poppies that decorates the Tower of London
Last year in the United Kingdom, 888,246 ceramic poppies were crafted and placed in the dry moat of the Tower of London. Each poppy represents a life lost in World War I, 1914-1918. The great-grandfather of Sian Marshall, Head of Teen Services, was one of those soldiers who lost his life, and she now owns a poppy from the tower in his memory. The poppy will be on display in the Teen Services Department at Oxford Public Library from April 2. Please stop by and see it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kick-Butt Female Characters

Tris wins title of "Most Kick-Butt
Female Character"
In March we asked you to vote for who was more of a Kick-Butt female character, Katniss (from Hunger Games) or Tris (from Divergent). The votes have been counted. And re-counted. Three times.

And we have the answer:

The winner of the Most Kick-Butt Female Character title is: Tris from Divergent!

Are you surprised?

Yeah, us too!

Really surprised, actually...

In all fairness to Katniss, the vote was very close. She only lost by one vote. (So to those of you out there who didn't vote because you didn't think your vote would matter: It might have made all the difference). So everyone's favorite Hunger Games winner didn't do too poorly.

In April, we're putting a Sci-Fi spin on the monthly poll and asking you to vote for your Favorite Time-Traveling Box. The contestants are Doctor Who's TARDIS and Bill & Ted's Phone Booth.

Stop by and let your voice be heard: VOTE!

And who just might win a prize for voting :)