I had never heard of “the Talk” until a recent radio interview shared the agonizing conversation that many African-American parents have with their sons. The mother had a son who ran track, but, as a precaution, wasn’t allowed to run in his own neighborhood. I was instantly reminded of Jacqueline Woodson’s book “If You Come Softly” and my own skepticism at a plot development I naively mistook as contrived.
“If You Come Softly” is a love story, effectively told in alternating viewpoints that provide insight into what it’s like to be a teen, interracial couple. The boy, Jeremiah, “was black. HE could feel it. The way the sun pressed down hard and hot on his skin...He felt warm inside his skin, protected.” Inside his neighborhood, he felt good, “but one step outside. Just one step and somehow the weight of his skin seemed to change. It got heavier.” He had just started attending a fancy Manhattan prep school and collided with Ellie the first day. Corny as it sounds, it was love at first sight. Despite the challenges their race differences brought, they persevered, but there’s one thing neither Ellie nor I could completely comprehend: what it’s like to be a young African-American man. Jeremiah’s parents weren’t against the relationship, but they were concerned. In their discussions they said one thing that surprised me--never run in a white neighborhood. In a moment of sheer joy, that advice is tragically forgotten. As simply an ill-starred love story, the reader will weep, but knowing about “the Talk,” readers will be heartbroken at circumstances necessitating such a conversation in the first place.
Did you know that the Cinderella story is one of the world’s oldest fairy tales? The first version can be traced back to ninth-century China and was written about a heroine named Yeh-shen. Today, more than 1500 versions of the tale exist, many with a unique twist. I recently enjoyed what I consider to be the most singular version of Cinderella that I have ever come upon in Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
Cinder Linh is a cyborg – part human, part robot – who knows nothing of her birth parents or history. She is a ward of her evil stepmother, Adri, who relies on Cinder’s extraordinary talent as a mechanic to support the family all the while vilifying Cinder at every opportunity. Together with two stepsisters, Pearl and Peony, they live in technologically advanced, post-World War IV “New Beijing.” Unfortunately, New Beijing is threatened by an airborn plague called letumosis, which strikes at random and has an almost 100% fatality rate.
During Chancellor Middle School Cafe Book Get Together Day at Salem Church Library Brianne reviews Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. In Ruby Red Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth discovers that she, rather than her well-prepared cousin, carries a time-travel gene, and soon she is journeying with Gideon, who shares the gift, through historical London trying to discover whom they can trust.
In the spirit of our Cultivating Community effort for this year, I thought I would share with you some of the computing resources that the library and the community both have to offer. There’s more help available to you than you think!
First off let me start by telling you about the Fredericksburg PC Users Group. Their website is http://fpcug.org/. They can also be found on Facebook and Meetup.com. The FPCUG provides a variety of meetings and speakers for beginners and veterans alike. If you want to learn more about your new PC or are having difficulties with it, there’s a good chance somebody at the FPCUG can help!
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
This is the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny -- and find his father -- in a strange world beneath New York City. When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.
This is the first book in the Underland Chronicles, followed by Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of the Secret, Gregor and the Code of the Claw:
If you like Collins' Gregor books, you may have heard of her other series ... The Hunger Games.
If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, be sure to check it out!
You might also like one of these books - they are all the first in a series:
Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.
City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions.
These are good too!:
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
As they get older, several sisters decide that they must kidnap children and bring them to their secluded island home to help with the work of caring for an assortment of unusual sea creatures.
Magyk by Angie Sage
After learning that she is the Princess, Jenna is whisked from her home and carried toward safety by the Extraordinary Wizard, those she always believed were her father and brother, and a young guard known only as Boy 412--pursued by agents of those who killed her mother ten years earlier.
Cole's on the wrong track. He's been skipping school and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Mom has had it with him. So she packs his things in the car and takes him from Detroit to Philadelphia where his dad lives.
Ghetto Cowboy, by G. Neri, is based on a true story of horse raising that does actually occur in North Philadelphia. Cole has never met his dad and his mom isn't thrilled with bringing him back into their lives, but it's her last option.
"He's different is all, but maybe different is what you need."
During Freedom Middle School Cafe Book Get Together Day at Salem Church Library Alia, Emily, Madison & Hope review Unwind by Neal Shusterman: In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.
See more teen book reviews on our YouTube channel.
Congratulations to the 9th Annual Teen Poetry Contest Winners!
Each year we celebrate National Poetry Month in April with our Teen Poetry Contest.
Teens in grades 7-12 from Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Westmoreland, are invited to submit up to three originial poems. Out-of-region library cardholders may also enter.
This year's winners were chosen (anonymously) by Allison Seay, Arrington Poet-in-Residence at University of Mary Washington.
Entries were accepted online between April 1 - 14, 2012, and winners were selected from participants in grades 7-9 and grades 10-12.
Winners are awarded prizes and invited to read work at Teen Poetry Night at Headquarters Library: Monday, April 30, 2012, 7:30-8:30.
We had nearly 200 entries this year! Here are the winners ...
1st place, Grades 10-12
A Thousand Notions
Grade 11, Chancellor High School
I have this notion that stars can be crushed,
Blown from the palm like dandelion seeds
A thousand times I’ve tried it,
But the glass pieces of wishes still wait, shivering,
For winter to be over.
And a thousand times I’ve tried forgiveness,
And a thousand times I’ve tried to stay.
All the words I try to speak get stuck in my throat,
I give it to the stars,
Hoping that somewhere, somehow,
You’re getting the notion too.
What would you do if you discovered that you could read other people’s thoughts?
It’s not bad enough that Callie Anderson has to get glasses just before the start of middle school, but they are the ugliest glasses she has ever seen. Yet those huge, geeky lenses and fat black frames hide a secret. These glasses show Callie what other people are thinking. Maybe they will actually help her. And she can use all of the help she can get. She’s lost in math and Spanish classes. Her best friend seems to be drifting away. And her parents’ marriage is falling apart. But can Callie follow the eye doctor’s instructions and learn to use the glasses wisely?
These days it’s not uncommon for history to be brought vividly to life in a novelized comic book format called graphic novels. Recently Sid Jacobson, the author of one such title with teen appeal, spoke as part of the Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series at the University of Mary Washington.
His book, “Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography,” co-written with Ernie Colon, provides insight into Anne’s life before and after her famous diary. When Hitler came to power, her father moved his family from Germany to the Netherlands hoping for safety. After the Nazi’s invade and begin restricting Jewish activity, Anne and Margot wonder how they will stay cool with the local swimming pool now forbidden. At the same time, their father desperately attempts to get his family out of the country and when that fails, finds a hiding place in the now famous secret annex. The most difficult and compelling parts of this tale occur after their betrayal. We follow the family to the concentration camp, where they are first separated by gender and then the mother from her daughters. Thanks to information from camp survivors, we learn that Margot perished first, shortly followed by Anne. Fans of Anne Frank’s diary will enjoy these new details in this heroic young woman’s life.