31 December 2010

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

It's Christmastime in the City!

Lily loves it, but Dash not so much.  Lily and Dash don't know each other.  Not yet anyway.

Dash was minding his own business browsing the shelves of at the Strand, a used bookstore, avoiding all of the people that seemed to come out of nowhere in New York City in the days and weeks pre-Christmas.  As far as Dash is concerned, all things Christmas-y could disappear forever and he wouldn't miss them.  Just like he doesn't miss that Mom is away with her boyfriend and Dad is spending time with his girlfriend and Dash is on his own for the holidays.  Anyway, he's minding his own business when he finds a red Moleskine journal with the words "Do You Dare?" black-sharpied on the cover and a note on the first page challenging him to a scavenger hunt of clues.

Lily can't get enough of Christmas!  The crowds, the caroling, the good cheer and goodwill and all of that.  Unfortunately, she can't get enough of her family, either - literally.  Her mom and dad decided to take a romantic vacation in Fiji for the holidays, leaving Lily alone for the holidays with her brother (and, unbeknownst to them, his boyfriend).  It was Langston and Benny's idea, actually, for the notebook.

A crazy adventure packed with light-hearted humor, this is most definitively a less saccharine and less irritating holiday story than the typical adult (or children's) fare.  Riddled with f-bombs and innuendos, lovers of David Levithan, Rachel Cohn, Nick, Norah, and a bit of Will Grayson, won't be able to resist Dash and Lily, before, after, or during the holidays! 
Call number: YA COHN (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

The Marvelous Land of Oz adapted by Eric Shanower, illustrated by Skottie Young

If all you know of the Wizard of Oz are the adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion as they travel along the yellow brick road, then you are in for a world of wonder in Eric Shanower's adaptation of the second Oz book written by L. Frank Baum.

Tip has all sorts of boyish adventures in his head and he's sick of being controlled by Old Mombi, a witch who isn't allowed to practice magic in their area of the land.  When Tip creates a man with a pumpkin for a head to scare Mombi, she is not fooled and instead tries out a new potion on the figure and brings Jack Pumpkinhead to life!  Following the threat of punishment for trying to frighten the old witch, Tip takes his lively creation and runs away.  Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead decide they might as well go to see the Scarecrow, ruler of the Emerald Ciy.

When an army of girls takes over the Emerald City and the ruling crown is taken from the Scarecrow, the adventures of Tip, Jack Pumpkinhead, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and H. M. Woggle-Bug really begin!  With a few magic wishing pills and some really solid thinking (plus a wooden sawhorse and a couple of sofas), they must escape the ruling army and restore the crown to its rightful successor.  Filled with humor, vibrant illustration, and a great big dose of charm, this is certainly marvelous rendition of the further adventures in Oz.  Recommended to all readers for a quick change of pace.
Call number: YA GRAPHIC SHANOWER (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

18 December 2010

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

Part mystery, part love story, Broken Soup is not the average "my brother died and now my family is falling apart" novel.  Sure, Jack died unexpectedly, and now Rowan is left as the primary caregiver to younger sister Stroma because their mom just lies in bed all day and their dad has moved out of the house.  But the two girls are hanging on alright for now.

What makes this story so intriguing is how it all begins: a strange teenage boy - a cute, interesting, strange teenage boy - hands Rowan a negative of a picture telling her that she had dropped it.  Rowan's never seen it before, but her new friend Bee encourages her to see what's on it.  When she develops the picture she sees her brother smiling back at her.  Through the hardships of grief, Rowan learns how the good is intertwined with the bad, how coincidences don't always mean anything but sometimes they can mean everything, and how you sometimes have to open up your heart in order to be able to receive gifts in the most unexpected ways.

The twists and turns, especially toward the end of the novel, may not necessarily agree with the most discerning or realistic reader, but the emotional connections of the characters help to take readers' minds off the need focus too much on the details.  Recommended to readers looking for a touch of mystery with their angst, plus a dose of a really awesome crush.
Call number: YA VALENTINE

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

GSTBA 2011

I have to apologize for the lack of frequency of book reviews in the past few months.  It seems as though I've been doing less reading altogether, and have stumbled on quite a few books that just haven't sat well with me.  I don't like writing reviews of books that I really couldn't stand, couldn't understand, or that I just think would never appeal to a teen audience.  But I've had to get back into the swing of things as I'm once again reading for the Garden State Teen Book Awards.

The GSTBA is chosen specifically by NJ teens, but the list of nomincations is created by librarians throughout the state.  We draw from the best of the best of a few years back to come up with a large list of books, then we read those books (we don't ALL read ALL the titles, but we divide it up so that we're each reading 15-20 books across the three categories), and then we meet together to fight . . . ahem, I mean to discuss! . . . what belongs on the full nominated list of 60 titles.  Once the list is created, it's up to the teen readers to choose a winner.  You can participate in choosing the 2011 winner by voting HERE, today!  Voting ends in mid-January 2011.