Friday, November 30, 2012

Guy Friday-- Alien Invasions

The Assault (Recon Team Angel #1)
Falkner, Brian. The Assault.
25 September 2012, Random House
Copy from YA Books Central and reviewed there.

In the future (shortly before I can retire in 2038), the Earth has been taken over by aliens from Bzadia. It started with a plea from a small group to be allowed to take refuge in uninhabited areas of Australia, but before long they were attacking that area of the world and moving slowly and inexorably through Europe. Only the US has remained free, and the military there assembled a small team of teenagers who were modified to look like Bzadians and trained in their customs and language, as well as military tactics. They are parachuted into the Australian outback with a mission-- to find the base at Uluru and blow it to pieces. To do so, they have to confront actual Bzadians and also deal with a traitor in their midst. Only the leader, Ryan Chisnall, has figured this out and is trying to keep his team safe and the mission on track. When the group finally gets to Uluru, they find out a horrendous plan of the Bzadians, but do their best to save civilians involved and get their team out safely.
Strengths: Wow. I liked the premise of the alien invasion, the description of the Bzadians and some of their gestures and phrases, and the twist when the group infiltrates Uluru. Boys will love the military action, weapons, and fighting. Great cover. Should probably have two copies!
Weaknesses: About half way through the book, I realized I had no idea what the team was doing in the Outback; it was explained shortly thereafter, but there was so much going on at the beginning of the book that I didn't even think about it. Good or bad? Hard to tell.

Sadly, this was not nominated for the Cybils. Drat.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Unfortunate Son

The Unfortunate SonLeeds, Constance. The Unfortunate Son.
14 June 2012, Viking Juvenile
Nominated for the Cybils by lwad

Luc was born with only one ear in 16th century France, and his father is very displeased with him. Instead of working in the family olive groves, he decides to help out Pons and Mattie, an older brother and sister team who are raising a young noblelady, Beatrice, after the violent death of her father at the hands of a lord. The little make shift family does well for a time, until Pons and Luc are attacked by pirates while out fishing. While Pons survives, the news of Luc's disappearance is taken hard by the women in the family, although Luc's real family seem to be resigned to it. Luc is sold to a very educated man in North Africa, Salah, and while Salah's other servant, Bes, is very cruel to Luc, Salah himself works to educate Luc in the ways of healing. Luc wants to be home, but does learn much. Meanwhile, a secret surrounded Luc's birth, and more information about Beatrice's family surfaces. This information drastically changes everyone's lives, and just might make it possible to get Luc back from slavery.
Strengths: Even though the description and cover made me loathe to pick this up, I was very quickly sucked into the story. All the characters were interesting, the glimpse into life in North Africa was fascinating, and the plot moved everyone quickly. This reminded me a little of Jacques' The Angel's Command for some reason, or maybe Jinks' Pagan's Crusade. I enjoyed it.
Weaknesses: This will be a hard sell, since it is an unusual time period.

I was very sad to hear that the author, Constance Leeds, passed away in February of 2012. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001

I Survived #6: I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001Tarshis, Lauren. I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001.
1 July 2012, Scholastic

Lucas loves spending time with his firefighter dad, but after his father is injured in the line of duty, he starts to spend a lot of time with a coworker of his father who helps out, Uncle Benny. Uncle Benny gets Lucas interested in football, but too many concussions make football something that Lucas can no longer be permitted to do. Angry at this diagnosis, Lucas goes into New York City to visit Benny-- just in time to see the World Trade Center bombed. Uncle Benny responds to the call for help, and Lucas's father also arrives, pulling Lucas to safety inside a building when one of the towers collapses. While things, obviously, did not turn out well for many people that day, the ending is not as sad as it could be for Lucas and his family.
Strengths: This is a very short book told from a point of view that middle school students can understand. I liked that included additional information about football and concussions!
Weaknesses: The pictures didn't add a lot to this. Also disappointed that most of the titles in this series are not available in hard back. I will order the Pearl Harbor and Gettysburg one for the library, but the others don't look as interesting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Library Blather

Well, having mentioned Surly Teen Boy with crocodile, how could I not include a picture? It really is too bad that more students don't know about the Rotary Exchange Program. They have to start applying in August of their sophomore year in high school. My son is possibly the only student abroad from his (rather large) high school.

So, what's going on in the library? Planning my Scholastic Warehouse trip for December requires a bit of paperwork and planning, not to mention work for my lovely volunteers (I have one every day!) when I get books that need mylar, cards and pockets, etc.

Weeding of books and cleaning out of defunct equipment is fairly well done for now, so when March rolls around and I feel a need to clean, I can concentrate on emptying a cabinet that locks so that Mimios can be stored safely for the summer. Note to new librarians-- if you are straightening up and find equipment that you can't quite get rid of, label the box you put it in with a DATE. I found a sealed envelope marked "Keys to things we can't figure out, 6/03", and I figured that we could safely discard said envelope.

Last book order of the year with district money. This takes a HUGE amount of time, as I go back and forth between Baker and Taylor and Follett, trying to get the best price but knowing the fill rate at Baker and Taylor will mean many books don't come. I've been looking at lexile levels, coordinating nonfiction with curriculum, completing series-- this is what I spend most of my time doing at home, and I STILL do work in odd moments when I can at work.

Monitoring study hall and making sure the students in it and keeping up with all their homework. Have to love (or hate) PowerSchool for this reason.E Mailing parents about students who seem to need extra help.

Having about 35 language arts classes per week come to the library for brief (3-5 minutes) instruction and checking out books. Making sure study hall students have something to read. Checked out 237 books yesterday, but it was a slow day. Walked six and a half miles during the school day. No joke.

There are other things, but since the custodian just turned on the cafeteria lights, I need to get hopping and check to see what students have grossly overdue books and need my help to find them, usually under their beds or in the top shelves of their lockers.
Template: Blog Designs by Sheila | Artwork: 123RF Stock Photos