Friday, December 23, 2016

A People's Best Children's Book of 2016

Looking for a good read?

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald has been named a People Best Children's
Book of 2016! Read below for some reviews!

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Irish 14-year-olds Oscar and Meg are not just next-door neighbors, they are best friends who share all their dreams and struggles and draw strength from each other. When Meg's father needs to leave Ireland for a six-month research sabbatical in New Zealand, it's Oscar who encourages Meg to embrace the opportunity. But her absence leaves Oscar in a dark place where he is bullied and pushed to the breaking point. Oscar's decision to bike off the local pier into icy waters brings Meg home under circumstances she never could have foreseen. This beautifully constructed story begins with the Day of Prayer for Oscar, who is missing and presumed dead. Told in alternating chapters by Oscar and Meg, their friendship, and subsequently deeper feelings, are slowly revealed to the reader, climaxing in a wonderful revelation of truth. Fully developed secondary characters—such as Oscar's disabled younger brother and Paloma, who tries to take Meg's place—add richness and depth to this lyrically written tale, which explores themes of manipulation, self-discovery, hope, and love. Middle-school readers taken with Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish (2015) will be drawn to Oscar and Meg's story. This touching novel is one to savor. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews
When fourteen-year-old Oscar disappears and his bike is found in the ocean, almost everyone assumes he committed suicide. His best friend Meg, refusing to believe it, struggles to discover what happened to her sweet, optimistic friend after she moved away from Ireland to New Zealand. Melodic prose and well-defined characters keep the pages turning through the satisfying plot's many turns. Copyright 2016 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews
When Meg's family travels to New Zealand for six months, her best friend, Oscar, suffers a series of humiliations that lead him to try and take his own life. After receiving the news of Oscar's disappearance, Meg's family returns to Ireland to find everyone searching. But after weeks without luck, only Meg and Oscar's brother, Stevie, refuse to give up the hope that Oscar is still alive. Meg begins to piece together the events that led to Oscar's desperate plummet off the town's pier. Chapters told from Oscar's point of view show that he is alive but in hiding. The two interlocking stories reveal the terrible plan designed to break Oscar's spirit as well as the person responsible at its heart. While this is a sweet story of friendship and first love, it is also a road map for keeping hope alive. And while Oscar temporarily loses his way, he is quick to point out that others should never stop searching. Clueless adults, an over-the-top mean girl, and a picturesque small-town atmosphere all come together to make this a quiet story that may be the tiny push that someone thinking of giving up needs to keep going. Meg, a prototypical pale, Irish redhead, and Stevie, who uses a wheelchair and is absolutely indomitable, make a formidable team. Sweetly satisfying. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 6–8—The story begins with the disappearance of Oscar, whose bicycle was found at the edge of a pier. He is presumed drowned. His best friend, Meg, knows he can't be dead, but only Oscar's younger brother shares that belief. Meg begins to investigate, trying to uncover the boy's whereabouts. The work is told in two voices, Meg's and Oscar's, and teens will slowly piece together the events that led up to the disappearance. In flashbacks, readers learn about the relationship of these close friends and next-door neighbors. Oscar is gentle and perceptive, a boy whose ability to create happiness and contentment with his special apple tarts make him a well-liked person. When Meg's parents relocate the family to New Zealand for a year, she is devastated and doesn't want to leave. Meanwhile, things begin to fall apart for Oscar when a new girl, Paloma, moves in next door. When she is gently rejected by Oscar, she manipulates his feelings, and the kids at school make Oscar pay for his rejection. On one hand, this is a very sweet story about first love. Readers will delight in watching Meg and Oscar transition from friendship to love while they become enraged at Paloma's bullying behavior. In addition to the romance, there is also plenty of intrigue and mystery to engage readers not typically drawn to love stories. VERDICT Sweet romance encased in a compelling mystery.—Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A good read!

I just finished reading a realistic fiction book called  This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills  (YA FIC Mills). I thoroughly enjoyed it- here's my review!

Summary: Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens. Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Elena’s Review:
Sloane is sarcastic and hilarious which made me immediately like her a lot. We meet her, along with Vera and Gabe, while they are attending a house party. Somehow Sloane ends up stepping in to help Gabe when he is getting bullied. Of course, Gabe is not so thrilled.

Sloane's family just moved from New York to Florida, so she still hasn’t allowed herself to get comfortable in her surroundings besides at home. I loved the importance of family throughout this book. Her relationship with her father was one of my favorites of the book, especially when it came to their sarcastic banter.

Sloane finds herself slowly becoming friends with the twins and a few other people. Vera is one of the twins and she is the complete opposite of Sloane. Vera is confident and isn’t afraid to show how much she cares for the people in her life. There’s also Remy, Frank, and Aubrey who are all very interesting characters. Frank is a hoot!

Then there’s Gabe.  Gabe is more hesitant when it comes to befriending Sloane, which makes all of their encounters awkward and adorable in the beginning.Their relationship is developed in a natural way fitting to both of these characters.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a good “making friends”/friendship story. All the characters are real, funny, sympathetic and honest.



2017 Teen Choice Book of the Year: Nominate Your Favorites Now!

The five titles that get the most votes will become the finalists for the Teen Choice Book of the Year.
Just fill out the form on the Teenreads website by 11:59 PM (EST) on February 1, 2017. You can vote for titles that are on the provided list or write in your favorites if they aren’t listed. Just make sure your book was released in 2016! 


Click on the words "fill out the form" above  and the link will take you to where you can vote.

May the best book win!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Trivia & Superstitions

Halloween Trivia
The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips.

The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven, who broke the world record in 1993 with a 836 lb. pumpkin

Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

The word "witch" comes from the Old English wicce, meaning "wise woman." In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

Halloween Candy Trivia
Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween.

Consumers spend an average of $2.1 billion on Halloween candy each year, or about $47 per American.

One of the most famous Halloween candies, candy corn was invented in late 1880s by George Renninger. His employer, Wunderlee Candy Company, began mass-producing the sweet in the early 1900s, originally calling it Chicken Feed.

The candy manufacturer Mars started distributing mini candy bars in 1961, specifically targeting trick-or-treaters, and coined the phrase “fun size” in 1968.

Often used as symbols of bad luck, black cats grace many Halloween decorations. The black cat's bad reputation dates back to the Dark Ages, when witch hunts were commonplace.

The witch's broomstick is a superstition that has its roots in medieval myths. The elderly, introverted women that were accused of witchcraft were often poor and could not afford horses, so they navigated through the woods on foot with the help of walking sticks, which were sometimes substituted by brooms. English folklore tells that during night-time ceremonies, witches rubbed a "flying" potion on their bodies, closed their eyes and felt as though they were flying. The hallucinogenic ointment, which caused numbness, rapid heartbeat and confusion, gave them the illusion that they were soaring through the sky.

In olden times, it was believed that during Samhain, the veil between our world and the spirit world was thinnest, and that the ghosts of the deceased could mingle with the living. The superstition was that the visiting ghosts could disguise themselves in human form, such as a beggar, and knock on your door during Samhain asking for money or food. If you turned them away empty-handed, you risked receiving the wrath of the spirit and being cursed or haunted. Another Celtic myth was that dressing up as a ghoul would fool the evil spirits into thinking that you were one of them so that they would not try to take your soul. In the U.S., trick-or-treating became a customary Halloween tradition around the late 1950s, after it was brought over by Irish immigrants in the early 1900s.

The fusion of Celtic and Roman traditions is behind Halloween's candy-apple staple. Samhain was around the time of the Roman festival honoring Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees. The goddess is often symbolized by an apple, so the fruit became synonymous with Samhain celebrations of the harvest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Teens Top 10 Announced

The voting has ended and the teens have spoken. These are the winners of the Teens Top 10 of 2016.

1. Baker, Chandler. Alive.
Stella Cross has received a heart transplant, but it has not stopped her emotional suffering.
Then a mysterious boy named Levi Zin comes into her life. Stella’s pain goes away whenever she’s
around Levi. However, Stella finds out a terrible secret about Levi. Can it be true?

2. Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places.
Death plays a big role in the lives of high schoolers Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. He is
constantly on the verge of suicide, and she is battling grief after her sister’s death. The Indiana
teens come together to work on a project and soon develop a bond, showing each other what it’s
like to live.                                                   

3. Brockenbrough, Martha. The Game of Love and Death.
Set in Seattle in the 1920s, a romance develops between Flora, who is African American, and Henry,
who is white. Despite some differences, the pair has much in common, including a shared love of
jazz music. However, it turns out that Flora and Henry actually are pawns in a game played by two
other characters – Love and Death. This book is full of intrigue and is, at times, heartbreaking, and
will have the reader racing to the final pages.

4. Bardugo, Leigh. Six of Crows.
Young criminal genius Kaz Brekker is offered the chance to pull off a dangerous theft that can make
him rich. He recruits a gang of six dangerous misfits to help him with the heist. The book follows the
crew’s crazy adventure and features plot twists, betrayals, and schemes aplenty.

5. Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything.
Maddy is a teenager with a serious autoimmune disease that prevents her from leaving the house.
Yet, she seems content to stay home and read books. That is until a boy named Olly moves in next
door. The two meet, and their quirky relationship is chronicled through emails, journal entries, IMs
and old notes.

6. Stone, Tamara Ireland. Every Last Word. Samantha McAllister seems to have it all: she is beautiful, bright and part of the popular crowd in
high school. But looks can be deceiving, and she is hiding the fact she has Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder (OCD). Samantha’s life changes after she visits a place at school called Poet’s Corner and
she begins hanging out with new friends like Caroline and AJ.

7. Matharu, Taran. The Novice: Summoner: Book One.
A blacksmith’s apprentice named Fletcher discovers he can summon demons from another world.
He soon gets chased out of his village for a crime he did not commit, ending up at an academy for
adepts, where he is trained to serve as a Battlemage in the Empire’s war against the savage Orcs.
Eventually, Fletcher discovers the fate of the Empire is in his hands.

8. Kaufman Amie, and Jay Kristoff. Illuminae.
Kady and Ezra have just broken up, and then their planet is bombed by a megacorporation. The pair
escapes to a government ship, but must put their differences aside in order to survive and stop a
plague that has resulted from the use of a bioweapon.

9. Laurie, Victoria. When.
High school junior Maddie Fynn has special powers that allow her to see numbers above a person’s
forehead, which she soon discovers are death dates. She identifies the death date of a young boy,
but is unable to prevent his disappearance. Then, Maddie becomes a suspect in a homicide

10. Weingarten, Lynn. Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls.
June and Delia were best friends who grew apart. Then, Delia commits suicide. Or, at least that’s
what others have been told. June believes her former best friend has been murdered, and she goes

on a quest to find the truth . . . which, it turns out, is very complicated.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fairy Tale & Folk Tale Retellings

I've recently been reading a lot of fairy tale & folk tale retellings, so I thought I'd create a short list of others and the tale they are based on.

Ahdieh, Renee                        The Wrath & the Dawn          Arabian Nights
                                                The Rose & the Dagger

Meyer, Marissa            Cinder                                     Cinderella
                                     Scarlet                                     Red Riding Hood
                                     Cress                                       Rapunzel
                                     Winter                                     Snow White

Flinn, Alex                  Beastly                                    Beauty & the Beast
                                    Cloaked                                   Various           
                                    Towering                                 Rapunzel        
                                    A Kiss in Time                        Sleeping Beauty
                                    Mirrored                                  Snow Witch

Levine, Gail Carson    Fairest                                     Snow White

Napoli, Donna Jo        Bound                                     Cinderella

George, Jessica Day    Princes of the Midnight Ball   Twelve Princesses
                                    Princess of Glass

Gaughen, A.C.            Scarlet                                       Red Riding Hood

Kontis, Alethea           Enchanted                               Various

Cornwell, Betsy          Mechanica                               Cinderella

Dokey, Cameron         Belle                                        Beauty & the Beast
                                    Wild Orchid                             Mulan
                                    Before Midnight                      Cinderella       
                                    Golden                                     Rapunzel
                                    Beauty Sleep                           Sleeping Beauty

Lo, Malinda                Ash                                          Cinderella

Shusterman, Neal        Red Rider’s Hood                  Red Riding Hood
                                    Duckling Ugly                        Ugly Duckling

Sheehan, Anna            A Long, Long Sleep                Sleeping Beauty
Jay, Stacey                  Princess of Thorns                   Sleeping Beauty

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October is National Prevent Bullying Month

October is National Prevent Bullying Month. Below is a list of some of the fiction books we have on bullying.

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Twisted. YA FIC Anderson

Asher, Jay. 13 Reasons Why. YA FIC Asher

Butler, Dori Hillstead. The Truth about Truman School. YA FIC Butler; 6-8

Cohen, Joshua. Leverage. YA FIC Cohen

Crutcher, Chris. Period 8. YA FIC Crutcher

Deuker, Carl. Gutless. YA FIC Deuker

Falkoff, Michelle. Playlist for the Dead. YA FIC Falkoff

Fifty Cent. Playground. YA FIC Fifty Cent

Goldblatt, Mark. Twerp. YA FIC Goldblatt

Hensley, Joy. Rites of Passage. YA FIC Hensley

Howe, James. The Misfits. YA FIC Howe; 6-8

King, A.S. Everybody Sees the Ants. YA FIC King

Lo, Catherine. How it Ends. YA FIC Lo

Peters, Julie Ann. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead. YA FIC Peters

Sher, Emil. Young Man with Camera. YA FIC Sher

Shulman, Mark. Scrawl. YA FIC Shulman

Summers, Courtney. Some Girls Are. YA FIC Summers

Walton, K.M. Empty. YA FIC Walton