Legend by Marie Lu is a fast-paced teen novel about a future dystopian Los Angeles where deadly plagues terrorize anyone who can’t afford medicines, and a single test score determines whether you join the wealthy ruling class or end up in the slums. Against this bleak and violent backdrop June, a test-whiz prodigy and young agent of the ruling Republic, sets out to track down Day, the Republic’s most notorious young criminal.
She finds him, but Day is not the monster she expected him to be, and June begins to question every assumption she ever made about her homeland.
It’s a good set up, and a quick read. I do appreciate the skill it takes to write a page-turner, and this would make a decent airplane book.
I don’t dislike ALL dystopian fiction, and some new teen books are terrific. But I am impatient with the use of a violent wasteland simply as backdrop, like something employed in an old Hollywood studio. “Hawaiian beach sunset is a wrap. Roll in the smouldering remains of Los Angeles!”
I try not to get wrapped up in predicting award winners, but I have to admit that when I have TOTALLY MISSED the book that won this year’s Newbery award, well, it smarts a little. Makes me feel a tad anxious about falling down on the job.
If I were 12-year-old Jack Gantos, my nose would probably spontaneously start spewing bright red blood all over my freshly laundered shirt.
This is how the protagonist in Dead End in Norvelt responds to any sort of stress, whether he is being reprimanded by his parents, driving a car without a license, or seeing a dead body for the first time.
Only a very skilled writer could pull off this messy mix of memoir, history, mystery, blood, heartwarming intergenerational friendship, and HUMOR. Jack Gantos does it with style.
I don’t like who I am. I wish I could be like THAT person over there.
This is a common picture book theme, for good reason. When kids reach pre-school age, they start looking around, trying to figure out who is who, and how everyone fits in. What they notice first, of course, is who has a cooler lunchbox, or a canopy bed, or a bigger train set. And by that reckoning there is always SOMEONE with SOMETHING shinier, fluffier, pinker, or faster. What can parents do? Well, you could start with this book.
Spoon lives in a spoon drawer with his family. But he wishes he were sharp like Knife, or multi-talented like Fork, or exotic like Chopsticks.
Turtle in Paradise is sweet, gentle historical fiction about the Florida Keys in 1935, when you had to take a boat to get there. I love the sand-in-your-shoes, pick-fruit-off-the-trees, pirate-treasure-around-the-corner feeling of this book.
Turtle is a tough girl who knows life isn’t like the movies, even though her Pollyanna single mother always sees the sunny side. When her mother sends Turtle to stay in Key West with family while she works as a housekeeper in New Jersey, Turtle resents being sent away and is prepared to hate her mother’s hometown and everyone in it. So her growing fondness for her aunt, her neighbors, and even her smart-mouthed cousin Beans takes Turtle by surprise. By the time her mother comes to Key West to fetch her, Turtle has found a home she isn’t sure she wants to leave.
I run three story hours a week at a public library, and the only thing I love more than tractor books are books with animal noises.
In this book written to my precise librarian specifications, a bunch of farm animals make terrific noises in order to sound like a tractor chugging down the road, and just barely avoid getting caught by the strict farmer who doesn’t like anyone else to run his tractor. Talk about your pitch-perfect book for the toddler set!
I like to keep this book in reserve in case I am having a tough morning at story hour. If things get a little out of hand I just whip this one out, start gobbling and mooing, and presto! Those rowdy toddlers transform into the most polite audience you ever saw.
It’s like a miracle.