Saturday, April 20, 2013

Teens Only | Whoa!

I know last week I told you how hugely affected I was after reading Neal Shusterman's Unwind. You're going to start thinking I have a bit of a problem with the way books affect me. But first, give me a chance to explain.

So it's April, and for those of you who don't spend 5 out of 7 days a week in a library, that means it's National Poetry Month! I thought I should check out some novels in verse (or stories written in poetic form) so I could share them here with you, dear readers.

I went to the library catalog and did a quick search with the term "novels in verse." On that first page of hits was a title that grabbed me. I'm not sure why. But I went to the shelf and picked it up and read it.

And then I heard about another collection of poetry from a couple of my colleagues, so I thought I'd pick that up too.


You kind of want me to go on, don't you? You're wondering what happened. Did something jump out of one of the books? 

I almost don't want to ruin the enjoyment of either of these books for you, gentle readers. I don't want to alter the experience that each of you have when you read one of them (or hopefully both of them). 

I promise if you read them, you will be moved.

Number 1. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Norman. For those of you who might not remember, Matthew Shepard was the 21-year-old gay college student who was lured out of a Wyoming bar, savagely beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. That was in 1998. 

October Mourning is a collection of 68 beautiful, riveting, and sometimes heartbreaking poems -- in various forms -- that tells the story of Matthew's murder from the imagined perspectives of Matthew, the murderers, other people, and even the fence to which Matthew was tied.

In fact, if you read no other poem in this very moving collection, read "The Fence." 

Number 2. The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur. This is a book of poems written by the famous rapper when he was only 19 years old, before he became famous. I'll admit that I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my pile to read this weekend. But seriously, I feel the tears well up inside me when I remember my colleague Bill reading the poem "The Power of a Smile."

I'm starting to remember why I loved, loved, loved poetry so much when I was younger. I remember the attraction; I remember the pull. And it doesn't matter where you stand on the "issues" these books might raise. (Although yes, you'll probably think a lot after reading both.) 

This is poetry. 

Read them and be moved. 


Books On Film | The Social Network

The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, written in a narrative style, details the founding and evolution of Facebook. In particular, it focuses on the relationships between the founding members of the company.

The book is based on conversations Mezrich hadwith Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and information he gained from reading the court documents of the, then on-going, lawsuit between the two. Mark Zuckerberg refused to be interviewed for the book.

The award winning film The Social Network (2010) was based on this book, but the film should not be considered a biopic. While it follows a lot of the story laid out by Mezrich some parts of the story are heavily fictionalized for the sake of drama and storytelling. Nevertheless, the film is a very good film and if you enjoyed it you may want to take a peak at the book for the less fictionalized, but no less dramatic, version of the story.

Covers Courtesy of LibraryThing

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Bucket List | The Joy Luck Club

My mother really has a talent in driving me crazy, and I'm sure most daughters feel the same way about their mothers. (My own mother is really, really, really good at it though.)  This past weekend, my mother informed me that she, a terrible driver, had signed up for a CAR RACING CLASS.  Her husband thought that this would be a good way to build up confidence behind the wheel. I think that she has too much confidence behind the wheel.  So this discussion got me thinking about evolving mother/daughter relationships, and this week, I am featuring one of my favorite books, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

When four women meet at San Francisco's First Chinese Baptist Church after immigrating to America, they decide to start playing mah jong together.  They name their group the Joy Luck Club, and soon become close friends.  The book is composed of a series of vignettes told from the perspective of these women and their daughters.  The women use the club as a place to tell their stories, come to terms with their pasts, and grow into independence.  The book also focuses on the difficulties of mother/daughter relationships and the difficulty of communication.  The American-born daughters have difficulty understanding the reasoning and motivations of their mothers, and vice versa.  A lot of this has to do with the fact that this is a universal issue, but also due to the language differences between the separate generations.

In 1993, the book was made into a movie.  Watch the clip of it here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

4 Kids | 3,218

3,218 is the number of nights -- in a row -- that Alice Ozma and her Dad read together starting when she was 9 years old. That's three thousand, two hundred and eighteen nights in a row. Wow! (For you adults lurking who might be interested in Alice, check out her website or her book The Reading Promise.)

Can you imagine making -- and keeping -- a promise to read every single night? Alice and her Dad called it their reading streak. And if memory serves, they always read at least 10 minutes together. Every night!
Reading is such a wonderful way to share time with someone you love. And it's fun to go back to the books we read when we were know, like all those great Dr. Seuss books!
I read Alice's book in one day and just loved it. I especially loved her mention of so many wonderful kids' books. So today I thought I'd share just a small portion of Alice's reading list. All of these are available at SSJCPL branch libraries; if you don't see the book you want at your local library branch, place a request on it!

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: The story of 10-year-old Mary who comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and mysteries of a locked garden. 

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko: A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.The story has a great twist at the end!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg:
Having run away with her younger brother to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 12-year-old Claudia strives to keep things in order in their new home and to become a changed person and a heroine to herself.

Read with someone you love!

And don't forget the Children's Book Week Writing Contest. Contest information and deadlines here

Monday, April 15, 2013

Just Life | Ungrateful Me !

At the ripe age of 40, I still needed my dad to give me a life lesson.

A while back, after years of battling with my family to not have a television set in our living room, I was outnumbered and it was decided to have an entertainment center in that room. To be honest, I wasn't trilled about it and I wasn't happy about its cost either. Anyway...

My husband was very excited about it so I went with the flow. One day, when I came home from work, my husband announced that we are the proud owner of a fancy nancy "Home Theatre".

I wasn't excited about it and I couldn't fake it either.  A few minutes later in the kitchen, my dad casually mentioned my faux pas. He said that I should have been a bit more enthusiastic about it for my husband's sake. Then to my surprise he mentioned that years ago, when he bought me a yellow mountain bike, I wasn't that excited either.

I felt so bad. I must have hurt my dad's feeling pretty badly that he could remember that event so vividly 34 years later.

I really liked my yellow bike. I kept it for many many years and  I rode all over our Air Force Base with that yellow bike.

My father is absolutely right. I have a major character flaw. I am sometimes  ungrateful.

The opposite of me is my Japanese friend Reiko who just showers you with gratefulness every time she receives even the tiniest present.
I don't think I am going to forget this life lesson anytime soon.

Thanks dad.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha