Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
James Whitman (no relation to Walt) lives with his parents, the Brute and the Banshee, who have recently kicked out his sister recently expelled from school for fighting. Now he enjoys all of the parental attention by himself. To use his phrase, "Yawp!" Now he suspects that he is suffering from depression and is toying with the idea of killing himself. He realizes he needs help.

His best friend is dating a 21-year old woman and is not a reliable source of empathy. He gains the attention of Beth, a girl at school who is trying to get him to look in his sister's room for some poetry she had written. He offers his own photography along with his own poetry and helps them develop an online publication. He tries to persuade the school to readmit his sister and allow her to walk the stage with the hope his parents would allow her to return home. He finds out that there was much more to the story than he realized.

Unlike most other young males who may turn to violence or drugs to deal with their issues, James turns inward with his problems.  His favorite way to cool off is to literally hug trees and he has an imaginary therapist, Dr. Bird, who talks out his problems with him.

I would recommend this book to readers who are dealing with 'stuff' like depression, thoughts of suicide, cutting, abusive parents, or leaving home.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing
When their friend, Tariq, is the victim of a hate crime, Craig and Harry (who used to be a couple) plan to set a new world record for longest kiss. They obtain permission to hold the event in front of their high school and Tariq sets up equipment to live stream. We also meet Peter and Neil who are in a relationship, Avery (a transsexual) and Ryan who are starting a relationship, and Cooper who is lost and feels totally alone. Watching over all of these young people is a host of dead AIDS victims who cheer and encourage them and are frustrated when their advice is not heard.

Of course these young men are not alone. We also meet their family and community members who have their own reactions and concerns for them. Luckily the ones with the bad reactions are in the minority and we see how the event does bring people together and  celebrate love. We also see how Harry supports Craig and helps in reach their goal. We should all be so lucky to have someone like him.

I highly recommend this book to YA readers.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
What could possibly go wrong when a group of nerdy robotic club members enlist help of the cheerleaders to bring their robot to a competition? 

This graphic novel follows Charlie who is dealing with an absentee father and a mother who lives in another state. His friend, Nate, who is the president of the robotics club, is trying to raise money for a field trip to a robot fair. Unfortunately the cheerleaders think they should have the money for new uniforms. The administration will leave the decision to the student council. Naturally that means Nate should run for president of the council. In retaliation the cheerleaders nominate Charlie as a candidate. Things escalate until the obvious solution was that they should pool their resources so they both win.

The first prize of a robot battle competition would be more than enough to meet both groups' needs. The cheerleaders are needed to front the money for the entry fee and gas and the club has the robot. Charlie has his dad's SUV with room for everyone as well as the robot.

Lots of fun for everyone.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 YALSA Reading Challenge

Last year I participated in this challenge and read lots of books I probably would not otherwise have read. The rules of the challenge are that you can't include a book you have already read unless you reread it for the challenge. This means that some books I have read and really liked I can't include. The list of books is made up of the winners and honor books from the Printz, Shneider Family, Stonewall, Alex, Margaret A. Edwards, Odyssey, and William C. Morris awards as well as the ALA's 2013 Best Audiobooks, Fiction, Quickpicks, and Nonfiction lists. The challenge is to read or listen to 25 books before June 22, not really too difficult to accomplish. So far I have read the following books (highlighted books available at NHS Library - the rest were borrowed from the Napa County Library):

  • Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi - funny and scary
  • Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle - impossibly crazy book about chasing a dream
  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner - bizarre alternate history about a hoax moon landing
  • Scowler by Daniel Kraus - cruelty and violence that would challenge Stephen King
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick - marvelous fantasy tracing soul mates backwards through 7 different time periods
  • Winger by Andrew Smith - rugby, bullies, private school - not a favorite
  • Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America's First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone - lots of pictures bring this nonfiction to life
  • The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson - another nonfiction made interesting with pictures and diagrams
  • Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool - reminded me of Holes in some ways
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - sequel to Code Name Verity and just as amazing
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters - excellent historical fiction/paranormal
The following are the books that I had already read. Even though they are excellent books, I have too many new ones to read to reread them. Know what I mean?
  • The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb - another interesting nonfiction book
  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - screamingly funny retelling of Lord of the Flies
  • Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger - steampunk and girl spies adventure
  • Ash by Malinda Lo - retelling of Cinderella story
  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride- OK - chapter titles most fun part of the book
  • Out of the Easy and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - both are fantastic historical fiction with great female protagonists
  • Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang - two graphic novels depicting different sides of the Boxer Rebellion in China
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - do I really have to say how amazing this book is?