Saturday, September 11, 2010

on and on and on

Hero Dogs: Courageous Canines in Action, by Donna M. Jackson.    One of our frequent patrons is a the leader of a Girl Scout Troop.  Their first meeting of the year will be here and I'll be giving then a library tour.  She's also asked me to prepare a book list for them on September 11th, certainly one of the harder tasks I've been handed as a librarian.
The girls are a mix of 6th through 8th graders, so it's been a tough thing to pick out books from the three collections that they can relate to.  I requested this book from one of our branches, and when it came, I didn't think I could use it: it is the size and shape of a typical picture book.  But it is deceptive-- it's nearly 50 pages long.  And although there is at least one photo, sometimes more, on every page, there is quite alot of text, in print small enough that it'd take a real reader to get all the way through this book.
I think this is a must-have for any J/YA collection.  It's very different from the other books on my book list, but it makes a valuable contribution.  Somehow, the dogs add a human element.  Their stories will make it much easier for young readers to relate to an event few of them remember.

14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy; illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez.  The illustrations in this book are spectacular.  Any library with a decent picture book collection must consider this book.
It is a beautiful story, but it is poorly told.  The language doesn't flow.  This book would not work to read aloud, either.  It's choppy and uneven.  It would be better to look at the pictures alone and then read the note from Kimeli Naiyomah, the man the story is about, in the back.  It offers much more sentence variation and information.
This book will not work for my book list, but would be a good one for younger grades.

The library tour and book list presentation went well.  Hurrah!  The girls were great and asked intelligent questions, the library was quiet and not too busy, I had budget perfectly for the amount of time I was supposed to fill, and the girls checked out some of the books from the list as they were leaving.  I love it when things work out.

Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?, by Louise Rennison.  Maybe I'm less annoyed because I didn't try to read multiples of this series in a row, but this book was pretty good.  There's definitely some character development going on, some tough questions being asked.
I'm a little bit glad it's the last one in the series.

Technically, It's Not My Fault: Concrete Poems, by John Grandits.   So it's time again for me to get ready for book talks.  Picking nonfiction is the hardest part for me.  I'm not sure, but I think I'll include this.  I liked a few of the poems (I thought a few were nothing to write home about), but it's a skinny little book, it's worth 1 AR point (yes, the middle school I'll be visiting does the AR thing and I'm so not going into it), it's reviewed as being just right for the age I'll be speaking to, and I think I can do a good book talk about it.  It looks like it has circulated once or twice a year for a few years.  I'm not sure if/when they cover concrete poems at this school, but I know we covered it in my freshman year, so, if it's something they do cover, it'd be nice for them to make the connection (or maybe for the teacher to check it out and use it).
My library has it in the YA fiction section, with a graphic novel sticker on the side.  I'm going to have it moved to the YA nonfiction 800s (for poetry).

A Kiss at Midnight and Your Wicked Ways, by Eloisa James.    I read A Kiss at Midnight and was thinking about what to post on my blog.  The halves of my brain had a conversation something like this:
Side 1: "I know it's a romance, and I always knock those, but I do really like this author."
Side 2: "It's a *romance*.  You can't admit to thinking it was good."
S1: "But I liked it."
S2: "Doesn't matter.  It's the principle of the thing."
S1: "I really like her characters."
S2: "'She advocates dirty books!'"
S1: "There isn't too much sex."
S2: "Admitting to enjoying this author either makes you a hypocrite or just weird."
S1: "I disagree."
S2: "You can't like Eloisa James and Douglas Coupland equally well.  It's against the rules of everything normal and decent."
S1: "I'm not saying it was perfect; there were flaws."
S2: "Well...I guess I can live with that."
So, to sum up, I like the author, and her writing style.  She does use a few odd turns of phrase, little sayings or phrases that don't jive with the time period and the feel she's going for, and that throws the reading off a bit.  I do really love her female leads, and most of the other women in the story.  The dudes are a little over simplified, I often feel.  In the second book listed here, which is actually the earlier of these two, the ending was too easy, the problems too easily corrected.  It felt in general like an earlier work; the author has polished her style a bit since then.

The Beast in the Bathtub, by Kathleen Stevens; illustrated by Ray Bowler.  This is one of the few picture books I remember from my childhood (but I don't think it belonged to me; it probably belong to one of my brothers).  We don't have it, so I asked for it via ILL.  It's a nice little story, but doesn't really offer anything super special.
I do still like the illustrations.

Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, by Mark Pendergrast.    I ordered this book, and read this book, based completely on the cover.  Anything so colorful must be exciting.  And I am justified: this was a good choice. 
One of the things that I really liked about this book is that it focused on disease.  People were not the point of the story.  Of course there were tons of names, the scientists, researchers, and leaders involved in the governments and agencies, but the author didn't expect you to remember them.  Except for the founder of the EIS, just about everyone else was a one-page or maybe one-chapter character.  If they reappeared later, in another section, there was a parenthetical reminder or a footnote to refer back to the original story.  It didn't go into detail on who went to which school, personal relationships, and the like.  It was all about disease. 
It's hard to walk the science-amount line: not so much advanced science that readers can't follow, feel lost, or are put to sleep, but enough science to satisfy their curiosity and keep them interested.  There could have been a tad more science, but I was pretty pleased. 

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