Monday, March 31, 2008

R.L. Stine-- The Beginning

The good news is that reading Stine was nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be. Anyone that prolific and popular, as well as in the horror genre, must be awful, right? I'd read The Burning and The Babysitter a few years ago, and they were okay, but since I am approaching the "S" authors, I thought I would get a jump on some Stine.

Verdict: Like many authors, some good, some bad. Certainly, kids read these. I started with Fear Street titles, and immediately gave up on any order. It doesn't seem to matter.

The Sleepwalker-- My favorite. Girl goes to work for older woman who hates the girl's mother, girl starts to sleep walk and suspects the woman is using the occult to make her do this. Don't want to reveal the surprise ending, but it worked.

The Secret Bedroom-- A ghost story with a little gore at the end. Girl moves into older home with boarded up attic room, opens room and is possessed by evil ghost who kills a girl before really terrorizing the first girl.

The Stepsister-- Girl must put up with stepsister who alternates between being nice and possibly stabbing the girl's dog to death. Again, a twist at the end made this work for me.

Broken Date-- Have four copies of this tale about a girl whose boyfriend breaks a date-- because he is robbing a jewelry store and killing the clerk. What went wrong, and how can she save herself?

The Snowman-- White haired boy befriends girl but then causes fear and complications in her life. This one didn't work as well for me.

The Beach House-- Sorry to ruin the ending, but really, killer finds time portal in old house and goes back to 1956 to kill people? This went back and forth between the past and the present, many people died, and I just didn't like it as well.

Since most of my collection is falling apart, I will try to reorder titles that I thought were pretty good. Unfortunately, many of the Fear Street titles are unavailable, and Stine's new work is more in the Goosebumps vein, which appeals more to 3rd and 4th graders.

Various reads over break.

William Steig's The Real Thief was a rather brief, fairy tale type book about a goose who guards a castle and is falsely accused of stealing a diamond from the royal treasury. It will circulate because it is worth two Accelerated Readers points and is at a 5.0 level. Call it the Stinker from Space phenomenon.

I'm conflicted about Meg Cabot's Jinx, because it treats drug and alcohol use among teens so lightly. In general, a good mystery with supernatural/occult overtones that will be something that fans of The Princess Diaries will be glad to pick up when forced to read a mystery.

Joyce Sweeney's The Dream Collector was good fun. A girl gives her family books for Christmas that detail how you can makes wishes come true. Each member wishes for something different, and work toward their goals, with sometime surprising results. This title is from 1989, but if there is a copy hanging around in your library, dust it off.

Tomorrow: More dust. We think hard about Rosemary Sutcliffe (whose books have not been off the shelf in some cases since 1980), and Todd Strasser, whose books should be read more.

Musings on the Classics

Spring Break is over, so it's back to work!

Reading Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath had me questioning again why such books are in my library. Really? The Last of the Mohicans? Vanity Fair? 99% of the time, the motivation for a student picking up these titles is the fact that they are 50 Accelerated Reader points or more, and while I recently had a student make it through Stevenson's Kidnapped, he did not enjoy it. I can see these books being worthwhile in a high school library, but then again, might they be the reason that high schoolers stop reading quite as much?

Really thought I would love The Grapes of Wrath, because I enjoy historical fiction, and the Depression is especially interesting to me, but the entire third chapter was about a turtle. This is an inordinately descriptive book, and very little happens. Okay, unfair. Stuff happens very slowly. Is this a great work of fiction for adults, indicative of a particular time in American history. Yes. Should middle school readers pick it up? Doubtful. I'll keep this one, but Vanity Fair (which an English teacher and I couldn't manage to read aloud while car pooling) and Last of the Mohicans (with its two page long paragraphs) are going away.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vampirates by Justin Somper

This was one of those nice surprises. Had to read it-- vampire books are huge in middle school, and how did the world go for so long without putting vampires and pirates together? It's just fun to say!

When their lighthouse keeper father passes away, Grace and Connor don't like the plans being made for their care, so they take a boat and set out to sea. When a storm hits, Connor is rescued by pirates, and Grace by the vampire ship that their father had sung about in a sea shanty. This stretched my credulity a bit, especially when Grace finds out that she is going to be a "donor" for her ship (you work out the details!), but I was greatly interested in how the siblings would manage to reunite. I was concerned that this title would seem too young for the fans of Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak, but I was wrong. There is enough action, adventure and mystery to keep students engrossed and begging for the next installment. Great covers help, although it would have been nice to have the main title in little bigger letters! This appeals to fantasy fans and vampire fiction lovers alike. My students do not want to have to wait for next year to read Blood Captain.

Mr. Somper has a very nice web site at if you would like to learn more.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

Ah, torn. So torn. London, which I love, balanced out by quirky/dysfunctional, which I don't. Ted's cousin Salim and his aunt come to visit before they are to move to New York. They plan to go up in the London Eye, but the line is long. When someone offers Salim a ticket, he gladly goes ahead... but doesn't come down when the ride is over. Where has he gone? Ted, who has Asperger's Syndrome, uses his "differently wired" mind to figure out the mystery by looking logically at a number of clues. While it is clear through Ted's descriptions of events and people that he does interact with the world in a different way, it is not overly quirky. Considering the number of students we have had with Asperger's, I think this is a welcome addition to yound adult fiction.

I always need mysteries, and any British fiction does well in my library. I was very saddened to find that Siobhan (pronounced shuh-VAWN) Dowd passed away in August of 2007.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I just pulled about 200 fiction books off the shelf. I've read every last one of them and they are not great. No one has checked them out in years. Rule of thumb: if the book hasn't been off the shelf since before the 8th graders were born, chances are good it will never be checked out. These books are taking up space. They are books that get in the way of students getting literature that they will like. I don't want to hand them to anyone; when a student picks one up, I feel that they should be dissuaded from checking the book out. Why were these books here? I couldn't give a good answer, so now the books aren't.

What motivated me? Jenny Kimura. 1964. Great book. I love Cavanna, and this is a particularly interesting title, because it is about a Japanese American high school student who is being discriminated against because of the anti-Japanese sentiment prevalent after WWII.

This book had not been off the shelf since 1978. I was in middle school then!

I checked it out to a student. I loved it, so she was willing to read it. I've been able to move Bennet's Junior Miss, too, and it's from 1937!

Do books have expiration dates? No. Are there some books that need to move along. Yes. I feel horrible and relieved all at the same time. The so-so titles from "s" on have been given a reprieve until I can actually read them.

Budge Wilson's Before Green Gables (et. al.)

I didn't want to start this book, because I didn't want it to end. Anne of Green Gables must be my all-time favorite YA book, even though it is not something I want to reread at this point in my life.

Before seems meant to be read after all of the original titles, which makes sense, since it was commissioned to mark the centenary of the first Anne. Having a writer from Nova Scotia work on it was a good move-- the local flavor and nuances are clearly evident throughout.

The premise is this: how did Anne, who suffered through a horrific childhood in foster homes and an orphanage, become the imaginative and spunky child that she was. This is certainly made clear, and the short answer to this question is that she met kind and caring people who encouraged her interests, even if she spent very little time with them. This was very touching to read as an educator. We can only hope that it is true.

In style, presentation and theme, this is a worthy addition to the Anne canon. I sighed deeply when I turned the last page. I know the rest of the story. This was the final bit left untold. Brava.

I am tempted to hand this book to my students who like the novels about child abuse. While Anne is not exactly abused, she is certainly neglected, and the stories of her taking care of three sets of twins under the age of 4, dealing with an alcholic foster father, and walking two miles to get eggs would appeal to these students. Would they then go on to read the series? Hard to tell.

Other reading: Jenny Downham's Before I Die, which was on the ALA Best Books 2008 list, was an equisitely sad story of a girls final battle with cancer. I wept through the last few chapters, which I don't normally do. However, this is not for middle school students. Tessa has made a list of everything that she would like to do before she dies, and it consists largely of having sex, doing drugs, shoplifting, and a number of other behaviors that are not appropriate.

Another book more suited for older teens, more because of its style, is Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine. Again, very good, but centered more around a mystery than my fantasy fans generally want.

One I did like-- the second Muchamore CHERUB book-- The Dealer. Very dense and chock full of action and fun adventure. The CHERUBs infiltrate a drug cartel that uses children to make deliveries. My favorite bit: '"Really sensible, James," She shouted. "Two kids in a stolen car carrying drugs and guns. I tell you what: Why don't we attract lots of attention by slaughtering the spped limit?"' Sure to keep the fans of spy fiction reading.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sweeney's Headlock

This was a fun and intriguing book about a boy who decides to train to become a World Wrestling Entertainment sort of wrestler. Kyle is being raised by his elderly grandmother, so has some issues at home, but most of the book centers around the athletic and dramatic training needed for this type of sport. This is NOT a book for middle schoolers, and it still leaves me short on books about traditional wrestling, but it was very fun. The relationship with his older girlfriend, as well as some language, would put this more as a high school book, but I'm sure it would appeal to a lot of readers.

Napoli's Hush didn't work for me. Most of her work I adore (Sirena, Spinners, Zel, The Great God Pan, Stones in Water, The King of Mulberry Street, Bound, Daughter of Venice), but sometimes it just doesn't click. I'll still look forward to her next work.

Elizabeth George Speare

For a writer from the 1950s, Speare has some staying power. Four of her books are still on the shelves and circulating. Write historical fiction; win awards. That's the moral of the day. Reported earlier on The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The Sign of the Beaver was also good-- boy is separated from his family in 18th century Maine and survives when he is taken in by a Native American father and son. He learns their ways and comes to appreciate them. The Bronze Bow, about an unhappy Jewish boy who hates Romans until he meets Jesus didn't do much for me, although I usually like books with Romans. Calico Captive was a little different from the other Indian Captive books, because a little way in the girls who were abducted along with some family members are sold and spend most of the book with French families in Montreal. Not what I expected. Good, solid, historical fiction. Dust it off and keep it moving. 

 Reading a variety of things right now. Was disappointed in Bradley's Hot Lunch. This author's first book really, REALLY (as in I bought three copies and none of them are ever in) good, and this has whiny characters and was a bit repetitive. The second Muchamore book is keeping me reading a bit at a time-- and looking forward to reading it, which is not always the case in a lengthy series. Also purchased (for myself!) a copy of Before Green Gables and am savoring it slowly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Finnish Line

The Students Across The Seven Seas series is such a good one that even after my Chick Lit overdose I was able to pick up Linda Gerber's newest installment-- The Finnish Line. Some of these titles verge on the whiny, but this one was great throughout. Maureen Clark goes to Finland to train in ski jumping, as well as to get away from the shadow of her famous father. She's a little disappointed that the daughter of her host family doesn't like her, but she enjoys school, training, Finnish culture, and the attention of several boys. There's a great afterward about women's ski jumping in the Olympics-- there isn't any, even though women have been jumping competitively for 80 years! The difference in cultures is well-portrayed and very enjoyable. Gerber also wrote Now and Zen, another installment that was enjoyable. I hope that she goes to lots of different countries to write more of these! More on this author at:

A Curse As Dark As Gold

Charlotte Miller's life is hard and is about to get worse. Her father has passed away, leaving only her and her younger sister to maintain the running of the local mill, which employs most of their small town. The mill has been plagued by problems for years-- machinery breaks, repairs don't hold, and the families who run it experience hardship and death. A long-lost uncle moves in to "help" the girls, but he thinks they should sell the mill and marry well. It doesn't seem like a bad idea-- loans come due, competitors try to buy them out and then ruin them, catastrophic failures occur in the machinery, and the mill is the target of malicious vandals many times. Each time matters look impossible, an itinerant work by the name of Jack Spinner happens by to save them. He spins gold thread for them to sell, repairs cloth that is damaged and saves the mill from utter ruin-- but at what price?

Elizabeth C. Bunche's retelling of the Rumplestiltskin tale works on many levels. The writing is descriptive and highly readable, the plot moves quickly from one disaster to another, and the motivations of the characters make sense. This tale has been reworked several times, from Vande Velde's The Rumplestiltskin Problem to Napoli's Spinners, but this version gives some new insight into Rumplestiltskin's motivations and a great back story to all of the characters.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet ( and others)

I was a little leery of a book that takes place all in one somewhat ill-fated afternoon, but this turned out to be a very humorous story of a multicultural family event.

Ana Shen's father is Chinese-American, and her mother is African-American. For her 8th grade graduation, both sets of grandparents show up, and circumstances find them all in the kitchen working to put together a meal. The personalities and cultural differences are explored in an amusing and yet thought-provoking way. I will look for more from this author.

Feel ambivalent about Norma Fox Mazer's The Missing Girl, because it is a creepy story about a child molester who targets a family of girls and abducts one of them. Good, but uncomforable. I suppose that is the point.

I was sure I would not like Leslie Connor's Waiting For Normal, given its quirky trailer park setting, but I ended up liking it a good deal. This will appeal greatly to fans of Cassidy's Scarlett or Wilson's The Illustrated Mum, since Addie's mother cannot function well enough to take proper care of her. Addie tries her best to raise herself, and is lucky enough to find some help along the way.

Fahrenheit 451

Overdosed on mediocre teen chick lit this weekend, so had to cleanse my palette with some decent literature.

I read this book as a high school freshman, and it has been the most influential book I have ever read. To this day, I can't leave the t.v. on for noise. The idea of rooms full of screens, no books, and people completely out of touch with their own lives affected me deeply. Reading it again, I was struck by Montag's deep unhappiness with his life. How many people turn to books (at a much lower price) when they are sad?

The writing in this book is so beautiful, but it is short and moves quickly, so the detailed descriptions are just right. Every avid reader should pick this up at one point or another, and decide what book to memorize. (The Phantom Tollbooth.)

Please note: This is not my favorite book, although it comes close. It is too pretentious a choice to be my favorite. There is a presidential hopeful who claims Moby Dick as a favorite book. I can't vote for this person. Either that title is a lie, or the person doesn't read very much and is misguided. Sounds impressive, though.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sean Ashby and the ALA Best Books Lists

Sean Ashby, fabulous illustrator and nascent author (his drawing, at left, from asked in a comment if I had read all the ALA Best Books for 2008.

Er, no. My excuse of the day will be that Young Adult books skew slightly old for middle school, as well as boring. No, no. That's rude. Not a good fit. That's the phrase. Here's the list:

Of the top ten, I've read Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (too old), Skulduggery Pleasant (Could not buy it after this sentence: Page 168: "The gap was gaping. It was a gaping gap."), and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I have warmed to a bit. Very clever. Did request The Arrival, Tamar, and Before I Die from the library from the top ten, as well as others from the list of 63 so I can read them. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, Sean!

I also read and liked
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Notes from the Midnight Driver, The New Policeman, One Good Punch, Unwind, Peak , My Mother the Cheerleader,and Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesicac .

Books that were not a good fit for my library were:Thirteen Reasons Why, Firestorm, Boy Toy, The Wednesday Wars, Freak Show, and Story of a Girl.

The Klipfish Code

Mary Casanova's novel of World War II breaks new ground-- I knew nothing about Norway's occupation during this time. Told from the point of view of a young girl sent to live at her grandfather's home in a remote location while her parents are fighting with the Resistance, it is full of little-known facts, the privations of wartime, and a good deal of action and suspense. The details were fabulous-- Norwegians were strongly against the Nazis, and rebelled in small ways, such as wearing paper clips on their pockets to show that Norwegians would stick together, combs in their pockets, or red hats. The Nazis would then have to issue edicts against these things, which would sound silly.

The Norwegian teachers, in particular, were strong in their beliefs. Every teacher in the country refused to teach the Nazi doctrine, and ten percent of the teachers were sent to concentration camps because of this. (Power in numbers-- what if US teachers all refused to teach to tests for No Child Left Behind?) There were punishments for every infraction, which is why when Marit finds an injured Resistance fighter and takes him home to try to save him, things are very tense.

At first, I thought that I wouldn't have a readership for this, since it falls under the category of a quirky part of history, but it was very interesting and informative. This author's Moose Tracks is wildly popular, so I will buy this one.

Also read Halpin's How Ya Like Me Now, which was interesting but a bit old for middle school. (Boy is sent to live with aunt in inner city after mother must enter rehab. Attends school where he is a minority, but learns to fit in and repairs his life.) Also Caroline Goode's Cupidity, part of the Simon Pulse order that came in. My girls will like this fluffy tale of a girl who invokes the ancient Greek gods to help her get a boyfriend-- and they come to her rescue in the form of Cupid in the guise of a hot teenage girl. A surprising amount of mythology, which goes over wonderfully in my school.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Midnight Library

This Scholastic series consists of books that contain three stories each and have listed as an author "Damian Graves". I just wish the spine labels reflected this, instead of the various real authors. They should be shelved together because once students reads one, they will be back for more!

Pleasingly creepy, these titles should satisfy students who have moved on from Goosebumps but who don't want to read something as long as the regular R.L. Stine books. I've read reviews of these that are scarier than the books themselves, though-- I'm not a fan of horror fiction, and I didn't find them that frightening. Most of the stories have nice twists to them, and have enough suspense and ick-factor to make them highly readable. I only bought four titles, but will purchase the others next year. The big surprise: my son sat down and zipped through one, and this is not at all the sort of thing that he normally reads. The titles are as follows; there really is no order.
Blood and sand, The Cat Lady, Deadly Catch, End Game, I Can See You, Liar, Shut Your Mouth, Voices

Has some disappointments last night. Could not wade through Snyder's Gib Rides Home or And Condors Danced (they've been in my pile to read literally since September), so they are on their ways to better homes. Keaney's The Hollow People started out to be a promising, dystopian fantasy, but just didn't go anywhere. Enjoyed Ostow's 30 Guys in 30 Days because of the college setting, but there was some alcohol drinking and a very, very fleeting mention of other inappropriate activities. Elizabeth Speare's The Bronze Bow slid right through my brain, so I will have to look at it again later, since I enjoyed her The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Arthurian Legend

Nancy Springer's I Am Mordred and I Am Morgan Le Fay have been popular for years with my fans of darker literature. Since I loved her Enola Holmes and Rowan Hood series, I figured I would not be disappointed, and I was right. It is always interesting to hear a well-known story told from another point of view.

A similar title, if you can find one languishing on the shelf, is Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Road to Camlann(1982), but Mordred is not portrayed as sympathetically. Her The Sword and the Circle is a more standard version.

There has been a lot of interest in Arthurian legend this year. Probably the most popular series has been Gerald Morris' The Squire's Tale (8 books), which has a Monty Pythonesque flavor to it.

Crossley-Holland's At the Crossing Places has additional layer of fantasy, involving time travel between two historical periods that is appealing.

McCaffrey's Black Horses Before the King has a lot of adventure and war.

To follow Merline, Barron's The Lost Years of Merlin series and Yolen's Hobby, Passager, and Merlin are good.

Seems like there should be more of these titles. Maybe I read them at other libraries.

Best overall-- Yolen's Sword of the Rightful King. No longer remember details, but the ending surprised me and I loved it.

A Novel Idea

Aimee Friedman's Simon Pulse paperback, available in prebind, is a serviceable story about a girl who, in need of an activity for her college applications, starts a book discussion group. A variety of quirky people gather, various crushes are had, and there is a nice story line involving a reclusive teenage author that they try to lure to a reading. The list of books that are considered was interesting, and the characters were interestingly drawn. I especially liked the gorgeous, well-dressed girl who turned out to have been geeky previously. Not seen that one done. Norah gets slightly annoying with her obsession with clothes and her apparent cluelessness about college applications, but in general, this is a pleasing high school romance story that will make readers of Chick Lit very happy.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

After Tupac and D Foster

Jacqueline Woodson usually writes insightful, introspective novels, and this one is no exception. It is a historical novel, set in the 1990s. The rapper Tupac Shakur is used as a cultural reference point, which was hard for me to get at first, until I thought about how John Lennon's life and death affected the people in my high school. Set against this background, three friends try to seek their identity. D is a foster child, and is trying very hard to get ahead. The other two girls have loving, supportive families, although there are problems as well. One brother, who is gay, is in jail for being in the wrong place in the wrong time. Another brother is trying to get into college. This is a short book, rather lyrical in quality (there is some dialect, but it didn't make me crazy, which is saying a lot!), and the introspection works. It does in very few books. I don't know how many students will still know who the titular singer is, but I do think it will be a popular book, especially for fans of this author's If You Come Softly, which the girls love.

Shooting the Moon

Frances O'Roark Dowell is the author of the very fine The Secret Language of Girls. For her newest, she follows the experiences of Jamie, whose father is very important in the army and whose brother has just been sent as a medic to Vietnam. Jamie and her brother have always admired the military, and Jamie is a bit jealous that her brother gets to go fight for the country. She volunteers at the hospital, and when her brother starts sending film home from the war, she enlists the help of a returned soldier to help her develop them. She starts to see that the war is not as glamorous or as morally clear as she had thought. There are many fine and touching moments, and a sharp sense of what the atmosphere would have been like on a military base emerges strongly. I liked this, but I don't know that I have a readership for it, and if I do there are many, many books about the homefront, even though the books the students ask for are more about the war itself.

Secret Santa

Sabrina James' decidedly Chick Lit book is a whopping 345 pages, which makes it perfect for my girls who read two books every night! Once I got past the idea that a school would assign students a "secret Santa" project(even with a monetary limit this seemed unlikely, since we have a "generic holiday bush" and Santa is rather holiday-specific) and the coincidence that all of the pairs seemed to be boy-girl, it was okay. There were so many crushes and triangles that I almost wanted to keep a spread sheet to follow who liked whom, but I figured (correctly) that it would all work out in the end. The nice people found each other, the nasty people got their comeuppance, and the holiday dance was a fun culmination of all of the romantic speculation. The cover was the best thing, and this title will circulate very well.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Boy Who Dared

Susan Bartoletti Campbell follows the story of children in Germany during World War II in the nonfiction book, Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow (2005). In her new book, she fleshes out the story of Helmuth Huebner. Much like Friedrich, it starts out with remembrance of happier times while Huebner is in jail awaiting his execution, but quickly becomes very interesting. Unhappy with the political climate in Germany, Huebner must decide if he should do what his mother wants and be safe, even if it means being mean to the Jewish people, or do what he feels is right, even if it costs him personally. Unable to understand the reasons for Hitler's persecution (partly due to his religious background), he decides to spread the news he receives from illegal BBC radio broadcasts by writing pamphlets. He is caught and tried, and even though he is just 16, he is executed.

The research on this is wonderful, and the follow up in the back about Huebner's friends is very touching. The fact that this is based on a real character will make the Holocaust even more immediate to students who are studying it. This is a marvelous addition to fiction about this troubled period in world history and is told from a perspective we don't often see-- someone in the resistance.

On a personal level, I found this very interesting because I had two friends, both gone now, who were about Huebner's age and lived in Germany. They told me many stories of how they disliked the Hitler Youth and tried to sabotage them in small ways.

First Kisses series

First Kisses is a very nice HarperCollins series that doesn't need to be read in order. They are lightly romantic and humorous, and the girls will adore them. About high school students, but appropriate for middle school.

#1 Hawthorne, Rachel. Trust Me. Fun camp story about a girl who spends her counselor-in-training time paired with her "arch nemesis: a boy. Complications ensue.

#2 Davis, Stephanie. The Boyfriend Trick. Musician convinces people that she has two boyfriends, but they are both imaginery. Complications ensue.

#3 Collins, Jenny. Puppy Love. Girl spends summer running doggy day care and pining after new boy in town who is dating her arch nemesis. I liked this one the best. It reminded me of the Tobey Heydon books. Very pleasing and well-paced. This is the only book I can find by this author, but I will look for more!

#4 Jordan, Sabrina. It Had To Be You. Agony Aunt moves to a web based format. Shades of Dear Lovey Hart, I am Desperate (Conford), but this theme always works. And my Lovey Hart looks really sad after 33 years!

Will look forward to:
#5 Davis, Stephie. Playing the Field. Published December 2008
#6 Chandler, Elizabeth. The Real Thing.Published December 2008

Notes: Purpose of this blog; some books

Started out thinking this would be for my students, but since I review a lot of books I don't purchase, I have rethought why I do this, and it is so that other librarians can have a heads up on what new books to take a look at, and what older books may be languishing on their shelves.

I buy about 600 books a year. About 100 are nonfiction, another 100 replacements, so that only leaves about 400. Some of these come from thrift stores, and if I am paying 25 cents, I'm not nearly as picky. Still, I read far more than I can buy. If I can't be enthusiastic about handing it to a student, it will sit on the shelves unless it is something very popular. I do buy things if there are a lot of requests, hence the new R.L. Stine books.

Four books I picked up at the library this weekend didn't thrill me. Perfectly fine stuff (obviously, I checked them out), but just not a good fit. These include:

Wright, Bil. When the Black Girl Sings. Started off with a naked, uncomfortable locker room scene and continued with other uncomfortable scenes not entirely related to the theme of an African American girl adopted by white parents, who discovers gospel. Maybe for high school.

Colfer, Eoin. Airman. Loved The Wish List and The Supernaturalists, and certainly the Artemis Fowl series circulates well, but I couldn't warm to this. It's historical fiction that may have some fantasy, but I couldn't quite tell. It starts off with a lengthy tale of the protagonist's birth.

Luper, Eric. The Big Slick. Looked to be a good book about gambling, but turned out to be too old.

Marks, Graham. Omega Place. An interesting premise-- underground group of teens destroying CCTV cameras all over London because the government is using them for evil. Starts off with a shocker and flashes back. Enough action and adventure-- a little language. I may think about this one again, but something just didn't click.