30 September 2009

Permanence : Tattoo Portraits by Kip Fulbeck

Permanence is a pictorial compilation of tattoos on real-life people paired with explanations, stories, and justifications written in the individual’s own words and handwriting. Some people get tattoos for a reason, others “just because”; some people have tattoos that mark a specific time, person, or circumstance, others are random. None are forgettable. Kip Fulbeck, an artist with a love for ink, has put together the images and stories of many people – from college student to celebrity – showing how tattoos represent our culture. Rather than giving the reader a full history of how and when people began putting and accepting ink into their bodies, or discussing how tattoos went from underground to mainstream, or questioning (or defending) tattooing as an art form, Fulbeck instead simply allows individuals to express what their tattoos mean – or don’t mean – to them, including interviews with individuals like tattoo artist Kat Von D. The purpose of this book is not to encourage or discourage tattooing, and the adults interviewed do not necessarily censor their words. Permanence is an open forum that allows readers – those with tattoos and without, those thinking about getting one, and those who never will – a glimpse into a cross-section of the tattoo culture.

Recommended to high school readers and adults with an interest in tattoos and art and the cultural relevance of both.
Call number: YA 391.65 FUL (with adult nonfiction)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Eminem : The Way I Am by Eminem (AKA Marshall B. Mathers III)

Rap star and pop culture icon, Eminem, tells a candid tale of his life in the music industry in the 1990s and 2000s. Most readers can’t help but know some of the background of Eminem’s young life, or his infamous song lyrics, or his outspoken attitude toward other musicians and society in general. Marshall Mathers spent much of his early and teenage years in a trailer park in Detroit and entered into the rap scene in high school with the guidance of good friend and mentor Proof. As a poor white guy, Eminem had to fight for his rightful place in the spotlight, and Proof – the black guy that knew everyone – helped him claim just that. Eminem talks about it all, including the times in his life when the fame, the money, and the rap scene became overwhelming. He talks about his daughters, his relationship with Kim, and his passion for his music. As is typical of the rap artist, Eminem doesn’t hold back, but neither is he blatantly crass, gratuitous, or obnoxious. In fact, he comes across as funny, passionate, and sincere in this authentic autobiography of an intriguing life.

Recommended to high school readers and adults interested in the life and music career of this infamous artist.
Call number: BIOG EMINEM

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman

Returning from The Schwa Was Here, this is another account of the hilarious adventures of Anthony “Antsy” Bonano. Antsy has yet another grand idea to occupy his time, but this time it’s for a really good cause. He discovers that Gunnar Umlaut only has six months to live because of some rare illness, so Antsy decides to give his classmate one month of his life. As a result, many other students are inspired to do the same, and soon many in the community are on board! Antsy is thrilled that so many are willing to give up a month of their life to extend Gunnar’s, and it’s a pretty decent bonus that Gunnar’s gorgeous older sister seems to have taken a special interest in Antsy, too.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, but in Antsy’s case every twist and turn is thrilling for the reader. The humor is over-the-top, and the characters are fascinating. This book is recommended to all readers, especially those who enjoyed the companion The Schwa Was Here.
Call number: YA SHUSTERMAN (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Ellie thought that Josh would be different. She thought that Josh really liked her. Josh just wanted to get the guys off his back about being a virgin. Caleb, who has been in love with Ellie for, well, forever, can’t believe that Josh would ever be “one of those guys.” And Corinne is disgusted by all of them and doesn’t understand why Ellie keeps putting herself in situations where she knows she’s going to get hurt. But this time IS different; this time Ellie got pregnant.

Told in alternate viewpoints, the perspectives of Ellie, Corinne, Josh, and Caleb intertwine to tell all sides of the story. Caleb’s mother is an especially strong and welcoming character and is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to protecting those important to her, as well as providing comfort and humor at the right moments. The romance that blossoms between Corrine and Caleb will be unsurprising, but welcomed by most readers. Ellie’s story will appeal to readers with an interest in novels about teen pregnancy and other teen issues. Rather than being a depressing story, this novel tries simply to be honest.

Because of the nature of the content, this title is recommended to older teen readers.
Call number: YA KNOWLES (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

15 September 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary has always and forever wondered what is past the fence, beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Does the ocean exist, like in her mother's stories from before the Return? Are there really buildings that touch the sky? Or has everything been destroyed in the wake of the Return?

The fence protects the village by holding the Unconsecrated at bay, confining them to the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Guardians and the Sisters protect the village by maintaining the fence, keeping watch over the Unconsecrated, and ensuring that families survive and new generations are created. Mary feels responsible for protecting her mother, who has not been the same since Mary's father fell to the Unconsecrated. When it comes time for Mary to decide whether to kill her mother or allow her to Return, she gives her the freedom to return to her love and live in the Forest. When the fence is breached and the Unconsecrated are uncontrollable, who will protect Mary?

This is more than a story about zombies; this is a story of the unbelievable strength of one teenage girl's dreams -- her dream of the ocean, of love, and of the future. She grows emotionally and spiritually in the time it takes her to journey from the village to the end of the Forest, and she gains a great love, and suffers more loss than she could have ever imagined. Recommended for readers who like traveling adventures, love stories, or rampant zombies murder scenes. There's nothing too graphic here, but pretty horrific all the same. This is an emotionally powerful story that creeps up on the reader without notice.
Call number: YA RYAN (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

North of Beautiful is a book about love, adventure, family, pain, and strength. There is so much packed into one whole story that it's difficult to write a synopsis that does it justice.

Terra Cooper has long blond hair and a killer body, but all too often people can't see beyond the port-wine stain covering her left cheek. No matter what she and her mother have tried in order to cover, lighten, or get rid of the birthmark, it looks like it's there to stay. Her dad is adamant that the family is no longer allowed to waste any more money on Terra's face; her mom, always well-meaning, thinks Terra "will be so beautiful" if only one of the treatments will work; her boyfriend Erik just wonders "why not fix your face?"; and her best friend Karin seems to be secure in the fact that she's the prettier one. It is only when Terra meets Jacob, with the cleft lip and the complicated childhood, that she begins to learn to feel comfortable in her own skin.

This is a beautiful story that follows not only Terra and Jacob as they persevere to find where their paths in the world are, but also their families, as they all struggle to recognize the relationships that matter the most and the things that are truly important in life. With interesting conversations about maps, travel, and history, this story has broad appeal, especially those who loved John Green's Paper Towns.

Recommended to all readers.
Call number: YA HEADLEY (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem by Laurie Rosenwald

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of books (movies, music, people) that try to tell you "You're not alone!" and "Be yourself! You're wonderful!"? Well, this book truly shows you that if you feel alone in your thoughts, appearance, or emotions, you really aren't alone. How could you be alone if the person that wrote this book also exists?!

The tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, over-the-top humor won't be lost on most teens who are looking for a quick escapist-type read. And the truths attached to the emotion beneath the words will resonate with and empower most teens who (1) feel like they're not good enough, (2) wonder if they're the only ones who think most of what other people think is dumb, or (3) think that they're really that much better than everyone else. This book is a cut-and-paste collage of images, colors, and words. It is eye-catching and exciting. But best of all, it speaks to the heart of the teenage mind, and doesn't apologize for being seen or heard.

Don't ignore a book with this title: All the Wrong People Halve Self-Esteem : An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* (*Or, Frankly, Anybody Else). Recommended to everyone (although older adult readers might just not get it).
For more about the author and her art, visit www.rosenworld.com.
Call number: YA 305.235 ROS (Nonfiction)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

03 September 2009

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

As we in the library world gear up for Banned Books Week (September 27 - October 3, 2009), take a look at why some of your favorite titles have been banned across the states. Leave a comment to everyone what you think about it!

Most Challenged Books of 2008 (from VOYA 08/09)

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
*Anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
*Political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence

Internet Girls (ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r) by Lauren Myracle
*Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz
*Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
*Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
*Drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group

Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar
*Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Bannen
*Homosexuality, unsuited to age group

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
*Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper
*Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

For lots more information, check out the
American Library Association and this list of classics!

01 September 2009

BOOK CLUB - OCT - Sold by Patricia McCormick

Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives in a small mountain village in Nepal with her mother and stepfather, struggling daily with a small farm just to feed their family. When the opportunity comes along for Lakshmi's family to sell her as a servant to a wealthy family, they feel they have no other choice. Lakshmi is scared to go into the city, but is proud to do what she has to do to support her family and provide for her baby brother. After much travel and being handed over to different "aunts" and "uncles," Lakshmi ends up at "Happiness House" with Auntie Mumtaz. It is here that she eventually learns that she has been sold into the sex trade industry and is forced to grow up long before she is ready. Based on truth, the author traveled from Nepal to Calcutta and saw firsthand the impact of sexual slavery on young girls and their families. Lakshmi's story is sad, but powerful and inspirational.

Recommended for high school readers and mature younger readers, especially those interested in humanitarian and cultural issues.
Call number: YA MCCORMICK (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

The first in a trilogy, this Korean manga begins to tell the story of Ehwa, a beautiful young girl becoming a woman. The story begins when Ehwa is only a child, after her father's death. The story revolves around the mother-daughter relationship, and through the delicate illustrations and the interaction between Ehwa and her mother, readers can clearly see the intimacy that exists between the two women as they establish themselves as friends and confidants. Readers also experience the ecstasy and pain of the women through their separate romantic interests and experiences. Ehwa's mother falls in love with a traveling salesman who often comes by unexpectedly, with long bouts of absence in between visits. Ehwa develops crushes on two young men, both of which are doomed to fail. It is the strength and vulnerability of the two women that makes them such believable and wonderful characters, and which makes readers crave the full story of their lives.

Recommended to high school and adult readers. Some mature content is depicted graphically.
Call number: YA MANGA HWA (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

BOOK CLUB - SEPT - Oldies, but Goodies by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Susan Beth Pfeffer has written lots and lots of books, including Life as We Knew It (the 2009 One Book NJ selection) and companion the dead & the gone. As a teen, I grew up reading Susan Beth Pfeffer too, but instead of meteors and shopping center scenes, I just remember crying a lot. Recently I reread two of Pfeffer's acclaimed novels, hoping to use one for our Book Club discussion meeting during Banned Books Week. There may have been less tears this time around, but my heart and my head both struggled to find a place of comfort long after the stories' conclusions. There is little comfort to be found in those pages.

If there is one theme throughout most of Susan Beth Pfeffer's writing, it is about perspective. These are books that make you think, even if you don't want to.

The Year Without Michael tells of everyone's story but Michael's. When Michael disappears shortly before he begins his first year of high school, his family doesn't know how to cope. Sixteen-year-old Jody was the last to see him -- he was leaving the house to play with a friend, promising to be home by dinnertime -- and he seemed just fine, normal. With little to go on, the police don't know if Michael ran away or was kidnapped, if he's still out there somewhere or dead. Now Jody needs to comfort and support her little sister, Kay, try to be the backbone of the family while her parents fight, and listen to her grandparents blaming her parents and her parents blaming the police. Jody just blames Michael.

About David is the heart-wrenching story of David as seen through the eyes of his best friend Lynn. When evidence is clear that the seventeen-year-old was responsible for the shooting of both his parents before turning the gun on himself, Lynn is shocked. But she isn't surprised. David is Lynn's oldest friend, and she knows him pretty well, but she also knows that he had secrets and that he was severely unhappy. He never came to terms with the fact that he was adopted, and he struggled with his adoptive parents' extremely high expectations of him. But what could possibly lead him to believing that this was his only way out, his only way of relieving his own pain?

Request these books through the BCCLS catalog or ask a librarian!

Reviewed by kate the librarian