June 24, 2016
A Game For Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return
by Zeina Abirached
A Game For Swallows is a simple and beautiful story about life during wartime in 1980s Beirut – a civil war between Lebanese Muslims and Christians split the city into East and West. Zeina Abirached (the author) and her brother are waiting at home for their parents to return from visiting their grandparents. The house is not far, but to avoid snipers and bombs her parents have to be careful. That day the bombings are particularly close and loud. Neighbors take refuge in the Abirached’s foyer, the safest spot in the building, and comfort the children as they wait for their parents to come home. They share their stories about life before war and how the fighting has affected their lives.
Oh! This was such a great story. The stylized illustrations were divine and reminded me of Marjane Satrapi‘s work. I recommend this book for readers interested in non-fiction graphic novels, the Middle East, history, memoirs, and stories that focus on communities. If this sounds interesting, also check out:
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Nathan Hale’s Hazardouz Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale
War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay
Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
Saints by Gene Luen Yang
June 22, 2016
The Forbidden Orchid
By Sharon Biggs Waller
Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls barely know their father, a plant hunter usually off adventuring through China. Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan reneges on his contract to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid. He will be thrown into debtors’ prison while his daughters are sent to the orphanage and the workhouse.
Elodie can’t stand by and see her family destroyed, so she persuades her father to return to China once more to try to hunt down the flower—only this time, despite everything she knows about her place in society, Elodie goes with him. She has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China. But now, even if she can find the orchid, how can she ever go back to being the staid, responsible Elodie that everybody needs? (Summary taken from the cover flap.)
Why I picked it up:
I read the author’s other book A Mad, Wicked, Folly and loved it!
Why I finished it:
Who knew the life of a plant hunter could be so dangerous and exciting? Elodie had been so sheltered for so long that I wanted to see her bloom right along with her gorgeous orchids. Adventure, romance and a brave and intelligent heroine all add up to a novel that is good to the very last page!
I’d give it to:
Fans of well-researched historical fiction set in the Victorian Age with a feisty and independent heroine. If you liked A Mad Wicked Folly you’ll definitely like The Forbidden Orchid.
I’d give it: 4 Stars
Reviewed by: Connie (Parr Library)
June 20, 2016
Title: A Separate Peace
Author/Artist: John Knowles
Why I picked it up: It was a book that was reminiscent of World War II and it showed the importance of family and relationships during hard times (the war).
Why I finished it: I finished it because during the book it highlighted the importance of brotherhood and also because of the problems encountered in the book. It was definitely worth my time.
Who I would give it to: I would give it to adults and anyone who is interested in learning about relationships in World War II.
Star rating: 4 stars
Reviewer: Sriram (Plano teen)
June 17, 2016
Author/Artist: George Orwell
Why I picked it up: I had wanted to read the book for a while. References, such as Big Brother and 2+2=5, are made to this novel. I knew I would never understand those references, so I decided to pick it up at the local library.
Why I finished it: I found the whole plot and storyline compelling and riveting. The story is set in the year of 1984, hence the title. The main protagonist, Winston Smith, is in a dystopia, where Big Brother, the head of the government, is always watching to ensure the obedience of the people. The country is currently at war, but that is further explained. Winston’s job is at the ministry of Truth, where he changes and destroys newspapers, documents, and even quotes to make sure everything that the Party announces is the truth. It is said that, “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
I’d give it to: Id’ give it to teens and adults. The book is truly a mind-changer, and everyone should read it.
Star rating: 5 stars
Reviewer: Derex (Plano teen)
June 13, 2016
Highly Illogical Behavior
by John Corey Whaley
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.
LOVED this book! It’s predictable in a way…when a book starts out with a girl attempting to “fix” someone for a college admission essay, you know things are eventually going to backfire. But it still surprised me a number of times with its direction, with the depth of the characters’ friendships, with the dialogue, and with the ending. It’s sad, and funny, and beautiful, and I wanted to read more of John Corey Whaley immediately!
Perfect for fans of John Green, Jandy Nelson, and David Levithan.
Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)
June 10, 2016
Title: A Moment Comes
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
A Moment Comes focuses on the period of time when the British were convinced to relinquish control of the jewel of the empire. A haunting tale told from three older teens points of view, a Muslim boy, a Sikh girl, and the daughter of the British cartographer in charge of determining the exact divisions of land. The two months leading up to and immediately after partitioning the land, known as the Radcliffe Line (which reduced India to what it is today, as well as created what is now known as Pakistan), created a massive population exchange all while tensions continued to rise. Fear and hope co-mingled, and tragically, violence and unrest resulted. Estimates have the loss of life figures ranging from 200,000 to more than a million people, as Bradbury explains at the end of her fictionalized account of the Radcliffe Line. The human face to each of the teen’s perspectives made this historical fiction novel highly readable, enlightening, and heart-wrenching.
Why I picked it up: The description intrigued me and the beginning drew me in right away.
Why I finished it: I enjoyed learning about true history in a fictional account and fascinated by similar challenges posed by similar current day challenges around the world.
I’d give it to: Anyone who likes historical fiction or who might be interested in seeing historical issues through the eyes of another.
Star Rating: Four stars
June 2, 2016
Teen Street Team: Teen Advisory Board
Calling all teens! Let your voice be heard—help create the teen experiences you would like to see at the Plano Libraries by joining the Plano Public Library System Teen Street Team (TST). TST is made up of teen volunteers from across Plano who actively promote teen library services to their peers, and participate in creating and implementing teen library programming.
You will develop leadership skills, learn to work as a team, and earn community service hours. Opportunities for service hours will include attending TST meetings, completing special projects using the libraries’ media labs, as well as planning, promoting, and presenting teen library programs.
What is Teen Street Team?
- A group of teens whose goal is to create, plan, promote, and present teen library programming
- Perks include volunteer hours and opportunities for free advance copies of books
- TST members in good standing may request a personalized letter of recommendation
Requirements to Join:
- Ages 13-18
- Attend ALL monthly meetings
- Be friendly and enjoy meeting new people
- Be willing to participate in discussions and voice your opinions
- Be willing to respect the opinions, tastes, privacy, and choices of others
- Be willing to promote library programming through word of mouth as well as on social media
- TST meets the 3rd Tuesday of every month during the academic school year
- Attendance is mandatory
- Beginning June 1, 2016, download a 2016-2017 TST Application, or pick up one in person at any Plano Library. Applications are due Thursday, June 30.
- Read all of the information about TST and fill out the entire application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
- Submit your application via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop your completed application at any Plano Library. Deadline for applications is Thursday, June 30, 2016.
- TST librarian advisers will review all applications and contact qualified applicants via email with further instructions by Friday, July 8, 2016. Keep an eye on your email, or you could miss out!
If you have any questions regarding Teen Street Team, email Trish Clark, Youth Services Librarian, at email@example.com or call 972-769-4200 and ask for Trish.
Click on this link to get to the TST application form: http://www.planoteensconnect.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-2017-TST-Application.docx
June 1, 2016
Author: Deborah Kerbel
“When I was three years old, Mom plucked a curly white feather out of my neck. If I get scared or the loneliness comes over me, I run my fingertips over the tiny scar and dream about the day the rest of my feathers will grow in. That’s the day I’ll fly away from here.”
Finch’s life is a mess. Her father died of cancer and her mother seems to have forgotten how to live. Finch’s mother smokes all day and refuses to leave the house. Her brother’s friend, Matt, bullies her every time he comes over to visit. The first bright spot in Finch’s life is when a new family from India moves next door and Finch befriends their daughter, Pinky. As Finch becomes increasingly unhappy, she notices that Pinky’s life is also very difficult for other reasons.
The story, which is set in 1980, during Terry Fox’s marathon, builds to a satisfying climax.
Why I picked it up: I am drawn to realistic fiction and I especially enjoy family dramas.
Why I finished it: I cared about Finch and wanted to know what would happen to her. I was hoping that her mother would snap out of her depression and be there for Finch.
I’d give it to: Anyone who is not afraid to read a novel that deals with difficult issues.
Star Rating: Four stars
Reviewer: Renee (Parr library)
May 25, 2016
Title: The Old Man and the Sea
Author/Artist: Ernest Hemingway
Why I picked it up: A book by Ernest Hemingway is one that you will never want to miss. Hemingway has a very unique style of writing, where he uses less long sentences, and splits them into shorter smaller sentences. This book was also recommended by a few of my friends, so I decided that I should give it a read. Plus, it is a pretty short book, which you can finish in one session.
Why I finished it: This book definitely was worth my time. It had a lot of meaning behind each character, which you have to put into consideration in order to understand the book. It was very weird at first, as I didn’t understand the story, but as I kept on reading I realized the similarities between some of the characters and objects in the book.
I’d give it to: I would give this book to anyone who would like to read an interesting book.
Star rating: 5 stars
Reviewer: Justin (Plano teen)
May 23, 2016
by Riley Redgate
“Seven Ways We Lie isn’t an in-depth study on why we lie, it’s a study on how our secrets make us human. Riley Redgate’s deft prose twines and twists between graceful and gritty, weaving seven unique characters into a story with threads so universal yet variegated, it could belong to any one of us. Don’t expect a fairy tale. This is reality at its most raw, most poignant, and most relatable. Art imitating life… fiction perfected.” -A. G. Howard, author of New York Times – bestselling Splintered series (back of book)
I couldn’t have said it better than A. G. Howard. Reality at its finest! A book that gives you such a realistic portrayal of high school and how lives can so easily be shaped by lies. Lies we tell ourselves as well as others which can often define the person we become. A must read for high school students.
I’d give it 5 stars