Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Depressing high school books

Although my daughter and I loved the title and the cover of David Hernandez's No More Us For You, it is clearly more of a high school book, and depressing to boot. (Two students become friends after the death of someone they know.) It's too dreary and rainy to want depressing books on spring break!

Gayle Forman's If I Stay was also too grim-- girl's entire family is killed in a car crash, she's in a coma and flashing back to scenes from their life and trying to decide whether she should die and join them or live.

Julia Hoban's Willow was riveting, and this one is tempting to purchase, but the language and mentions of sex catapult it out of middle school. Willow was driving the car when she crashed with her parents-- they both died. She is now living with her older brother and his family, trying to adjust to a new school, working at the college library, and dealing with the pain of the tragedy by cutting herself. She meets a boy with whom she shares many interest, and he helps her through a lot. The language is beautiful and the pain palpable. There is a little more hope in this one than in the others, and we do have some students in middle school with cutting disorders.

The one frivolous tome in this lot was Rob Mcleay's Pirate Arrrt: Learn to Draw Fantastic Pirates, Treasure Chests, Ships, Sea Monsters and More. This is a heavy duty art book for people who already have some talent. While I could come up with decent drawings following Lee J. Ames' directions, this book goes beyond the rudimentary with how to draw expressions, etc. Still, if you have a lot of call for how to draw books, this one is fun.

Philosophic Book Epiphany: When I had nothing but the five fat fantasy books with maps I wanted to get through on spring break, I didn't want to read. When I went to the library and got some new books on different topics, I did. Are students the same way? Probably. The more they are in the library, the more books they have at their disposal, the more likely they are to read, especially if we can ask them how they are enjoying their books.


  1. I agree with that philosophy and I think that's why strict reading lists are a bad idea. Whenever someone says, "I'm going to read all of Author X's books" I think they just might, but it's usually better to give yourself a choice each time and then you might actually do it between the other stuff that you want to read. I'd rather have an always growing list and be free to pick anything on it at any time.

  2. Exactly! Which is why I usually keep about 30-50 books on my "library shelf at home. No, working in a library is not enough. I still take half the library home every day...That's one of the (few) things I envy about school librarians - you have a better chance of seeing a kid again and asking "did you like the book? no? well, let's find something else." My patrons are more likely to disappear forever if I don't hit on that magic perfect book the first time!