Archive for December 30, 2010

Memorable Books of 2010 (Part 2)

Here I continue with my list of books that struck me in some way this past year.
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Wicked girls : a novel of the Salem witch trials by Stephanie Hemphill.
“A fictionalized account, told in verse, of the Salem witch trials, told from the perspective of three young women living in Salem in 1692–Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam, Jr.”
The Salem witch trials are such a disturbing and dark part of our history. This tale told in first person verse, gets you into the petty and jealous heads of the girls involved in faking their ability as seers. I didn’t find any of the girls to be sympathetic at ALL, but it was a fascinating look.
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Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick.
“Finland, 1910: Fifteen-year-old Sig is shocked to see a hole in the frozen lake outside his family’s cabin and to find his father’s corpse nearby. Why did Einar steer his dog sled across the lake instead of taking the safer land route? Sig’s sister and stepmother go for help, leaving Sig alone with Einar’s body in the cabin. Soon after, an armed stranger barges in, demanding a share of Einar’s stolen gold.”
A creepy-page turner with just enough detail to keep you hooked. The setting was bone-chilling, and that’s before the plot even kicks in. A neatly wrapped-up tale of suspense.
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Dirty little secrets by C.J. Omololu.
“When her unstable mother dies unexpectedly, sixteen-year-old Lucy must take control and find a way to keep the long-held secret of her mother’s compulsive hoarding from being revealed to friends, neighbors, and especially the media.”
I’ll admit that I am slightly obsessed with the details of the psychological condition of compulsive hoarding syndrome, so that is what attracted me to this story. But it really did hold up on its own and the ending left me stunned.
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Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl.
“After getting a job at a vintage clothing shop and quickly bonding with two older girls, fifteen-year-old Veronica finds herself making bad decisions in order to keep their friendship.”
A nice tale about learning to trust your own judgement about people and not being swayed by fake friends or “frenemies.” Veronica comes into her own in a realistic setting. Great fashion descriptions here.
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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
“Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and it is up to Katniss to accept responsibility for countless lives and to change the course of the future of Panem.”
The big Hunger Games trilogy finale is an obvious one for the list, but it was a solid conclusion to a great series. Katniss continues to be one of my favorite strong female literary characters and she proves her worth time and time again. One negative comment I had was just how sad and tragic all of the characters were. I felt that they needed more joy and hope in their lives after surviving so much pain and torture. But I guess the fact that I cared so much about their well-being is telling enough.
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Smile by Raina Telgemeier; with color by Stephanie Yue.
“From sixth grade through tenth, Raina copes with a variety of dental problems that affect her appearance and how she feels about herself.”
This graphic novel was cute for younger teens dealing with fitting in and the “awkward stage”. Raina eventually figures out her true friends and gains confidence after a long road of dental mishaps.
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Yummy : the last days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri; illustrated by Randy DuBurke.
“A graphic novel based on the true story of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, an eleven-year old African American gang member from Chicago who shot a young girl and was then shot by his own gang members”–Provided by publisher.
This short graphic novel was a true life tale about falling in with the wrong crowd to gain respect and a family unit. The contradiction that a child named “Yummy” with a love of candy and his teddy bear could shoot another classmate was stark. The story translated well as a graphic novel, and even though it was a quick read, it’s a memorable one.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year with lots of great books to read!
– Sharon Long
Teen Services Librarian

Memorable Books of 2010 (Part 1)

I wanted to compile a list of some of the books I’ve read over the course of the year that I found to be remarkable in some way. Maybe they were written really well, or scared me, or made me think about things in a new way. Whatever it was, there was something memorable about each of the books on this list that I felt made them worth sharing. Enjoy part 1…
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Nothing by Janne Teller ; translated by Martin Aitken.
“When thirteen-year-old Pierre Anthon leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing, his seventh grade classmates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life.”
Hands-down the most chilling and thought-provoking book I’ve read this year about teens turning on each other. The items they collectively sacrifice to prove meaning to Pierre Anthon start off sweet and end up brutal. This has been compared to the Lord of the Flies by critics, and would be a good companion novel for discussion.
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By the time you read this, I’ll be dead by Julie Anne Peters.
“High school student Daelyn Rice, who has been bullied throughout her school career and has more than once attempted suicide, again makes plans to kill herself, in spite of the persistent attempts of an unusual boy to draw her out.”
A good read-alike for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, although I didn’t love that it relied heavily on the concept of internet chat rooms for people who are pro-suicide. Seemed too contrived a device.
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The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz.
“Allie, a sixteen-year-old who is obsessed with LPs, works at the used record store on Telegraph Ave. and deals with crushes–her own and her mother’s–her increasingly popular blog and zine, and generally grows up over the course of one summer in her hometown of Berkeley, California.”
A sweet, musical story about a girl and growing up while remaining true to herself. Great iPod playlist potential here.
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Boys, girls, and other hazardous materials by Rosalind Wiseman.
“Transferring to a new high school, freshman Charlotte “Charlie” Healey faces tough choices as she tries to shed her “mean girl” image.”
Rosalind Wiseman wrote the book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. As you might expect for this book, the catty dialogue was funny and sharp and all-too familiar.
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Ashes by Kathryn Lasky.
“In 1932 Berlin, thirteen-year-old Gaby Schramm witnesses the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power, as soldiers become ubiquitous, her beloved literature teacher starts wearing a jewelled swastika pin, and the family’s dear friend, Albert Einstein, leaves the country while Gaby’s parents secretly bury his books and papers in their small yard.”
I liked the way real characters from history were interwoven. The story was told from a non-Jewish viewpoint and was sympathetic to how hard it was to do the right thing in a corrupt government state.
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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan.
“When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet accidentally and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.”
Fast-paced and fun, this book left me smiling and hopeful for GLB&T teens looking for love and meaningful connections.
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The DUFF : designated ugly fat friend : a novel by Kody Keplinger.
“Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper starts sleeping with Wesley Rush, a notorious womanizer who disgusts her, in order to distract her from her personal problems, and to her surprise, the two of them find they have a lot in common and are able to help each other find more productive ways to deal with their difficulties.”
I read this after it was recommended to me by a colleague and really enjoyed Bianca as a character. The frank discussions were realistic and funny (but definitely more appropriate for older teens.)
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Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.
“In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter.”
Maberry is the zombie fiction master and proves it here. Creepy and believable post-apocalyptic world-building. Not for the faint of heart.
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You by Charles Benoit.
“Fifteen-year-old Kyle discovers the shattering ramifications of the decisions he makes, and does not make, about school, the girl he likes, and his future.”
An emotional and vicious cautionary tale about the choices we make.
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Ship breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.
“In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.”
Takes you to a bleak future world loaded with detail where the kids struggle to survive and retain their humanity.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
– Sharon Long
Teen Services Librarian

Our 4th Open Mic Night!

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So you think you can dance? Could you be the next American Idol? Are you better than the performers on Glee? We are still accepting Teen performers and audience members for our Open Mic Night, which will be held on Friday night, December 10, at 7 PM in the Syosset Public Library Theater.
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acoustic guitar • dance • poetry • piano • singing •
whatever your talent, we need you!

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Register in person at TeenSpace or the Reference Desk, by phone (921-7161 ext 242), or e-mail at splteens@syossetlibrary.org.
Our first 3 Open Mic Nights were huge successes – and we are very excited to showcase our talented Syosset teens once again! I hope to see you all performing (or in the audience) at Open Mic Night.
Sharon Long,
Teen Services Librarian