Wonderful Youth Poetry Books

The summer may be starting to wind down, but there's still plenty of time to read! One often-forgotten genre in the world of kid's books is poetry. There is a ton of great youth poetry out there beyond Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky (beloved as they are) and it's often short, sweet, and funny. Poetry can sometimes seem intimidating to get into, but the books below are anything but! With the summertime left to us, why not try out some of this awesome genre?

Mirror Mirror: A book of reversible verse and Follow Follow: a book of reverso verse, both by Marilyn Singer, are retellings of fairy tales with a twist: they tell one point of view read top to bottom, and another point of view when read bottom to top. Figuring out which fairy tale each story is telling is a lot of fun, plus the illustrations are gorgeous.

Following up the fairy tale theme, Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: false apology poems by Gail Carson Levine is full of fairy tale characters who aren't REALLY sorry for their misbehavior and use poems to falsely apologize a la William Carlo William's poem "This is Just to Say."

Last, but not least, we have This Is Just to Say: poems of apology and forgiveness by Joyce Sidman. This book features a (fictional) class of sixth graders writing poems asking for forgiveness for various infractions, both serious and less so, with a corresponding second half in which the poem recipients write their own poems in response. If you like your poetry to have a little narrative to it, this one is for you.

Go forth and explore poetry!

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell

After reading Rainbow Rowell’s Printz Honor winning teen novel Eleanor & Park and falling in love with it, I was very excited about what was next from her. I then ate up the next teen novel Fangirl, even though it didn’t taste quite the same as Eleanor & Park. While waiting for another teen book by her I went back and grabbed her adult novel, Attachments – and it was a delightful read.

In Attachments it’s 1999 and Lincoln’s job as “internet security officer” is to monitor company email, reading and flagging any inappropriate work emails being sent. He gets caught up in reading email conversations between Beth and Jennifer. They talk about life as best girlfriends should, sharing many intimate details. He knows he should flag the emails and turn them in, but he can’t – he has to continue reading their saga. Lincoln falls for Beth through reading these emails, which are just hilarious. (I want to hang out with Beth and Jennifer and laugh at their quips.) But how will Lincoln ever be able to meet Beth in person and not mention that he’s been reading about her life and that he feels like he knows her?

Oh, does Rowell write some funny dialog! I really enjoyed the alternating format of reading Beth and Jennifer’s email exchanges laced with chapters about Lincoln’s life – living with his mother, playing Dungeons & Dragons, joining a gym, and reconnecting with a college buddy in order to force social interactions on his awkward self. It's a great summer read, even for those not into love stories.

Next up from Rowell is Landline, and she’s also collaborating on writing two graphic novels, according to her wonderfully designed website.

Hogwarts for Fairy Tales

School may be out for the summer, but this summer is the perfect time to discover The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

At this school, students learn how to be fairy-tale heroes and villains, with good students (known as Evers) attending classes like princess etiquette and animal communication and evil students (known as Nevers) tackling subjects like uglification and henchman training. The story focuses on two new students, best friends Sophie and Agatha, who seem to have been mixed up in the wrong schools. As golden-haired Sophie struggles in the School for Evil, trying to convince everyone she really belongs in the School for Good, foul-tempered Agatha just wants to escape the School for Good and return home.

Fans of the Harry Potter series will enjoy this new twist on a magical boarding school, complete with its own annual traditions, mythical creatures and unusual headmaster, while fans of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm will appreciate its exploration of the darker side of fairy tales.

Love Roald Dahl? Try Mr. Gum!

Mr. Gum is a thoroughly rotten old man, but the Mr. Gum series by Andy Stanton is anything but rotten. In fact, it’s downright hilarious.

Reminiscent of Roald Dahl, this series combines plenty of off-the-wall humor with an eccentric villain and a touch of magic to create a thoroughly enjoyable read that is also a fantastic read-aloud. The series begins with You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!, in which our villainous Mr. Gum attempts to get his revenge on the dog who dug up his yard. It continues with Mr. Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire, Mr. Gum and the Goblins, Mr. Gum and the Power Crystals, Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear, What’s for Dinner, Mr. Gum?, Mr. Gum and the Cherry Tree, and Mr. Gum and the Secret Hideout.

So if you’re looking for new adventures after journeying to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and making friends with Matilda, then you should definitely take a look at the Mr. Gum series.

Ann Arbor Civic Theater: Noises Off

Ann Arbor Civic Theater will present Noises Off May 8-11. From the synopsis on the A2ct web page: "Noises Off finds a dysfunctional theater troupe mounting a classic farce entitled Nothing On. This comedy-within-a-comedy offers the audience a glimpse behind the scenes during dress rehearsal, the opening performance, and a performance toward the end of the run." Ticket information is here.

Teen Fiction Picks: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood

Have you ever dreamed of being related to a celebrity? Riding in limos and mingling with the glitterati? Abby Spencer never has, until now. But it’s not a dream -- it’s reality. In Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj, thirteen-year-old Abby bugs her mom to contact her father, who she’s never even met, to track down her medical history after nearly dying from a surprise allergy. When she finds him, she discovers that her dad is a Bollywood film star in Mumbai, India! It isn’t until he asks her to come visit him in Mumbai that Abby’s life starts getting flipped upside down. Join Abby, a hilariously witty character, for a crazy adventurous summer dodging paparazzi and experiencing Indian culture in ways she had never dreamed of.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #452

Delicious! * is absolutely irresistible if you are a Ruth Reichl fan. The former New York Times restaurant critic, Gourmet magazine editor-in-chief, and bestselling author of culinary memoirs is turning to fiction (some would say rather semi-autobiographical?) for the first time, and the result is "a magical novel... that draws brilliantly on her wisdom and humor about life, her perceptiveness about family, her understanding of character, her belief in romance, and ... her description of food, so vivid you can taste every bite".

My advice: Do not attempt on an empty stomach!

College drop-out Billie Breslin lands the dream job at Delicious!, New York's most iconic food magazine. She has no culinary skills to recommend her but a "superhuman palate" (she can taste any dish and list its ingredients and suggest the flavors it needs) which endears her to the colorful staff at the magazine, as well as customers at the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends.

When Delicious! is abruptly shut down, Billie stays on in the empty office to maintaining the hotline for reader complaints, one of which leads her to a cache of letters hidden in the magazine's library, written during WWII by a Lulu Swan to the legendary chef James Beard.

This discovery leads to more clues (in the card catalog!!), a road trip, a forged connection, a glamor-makeover; and gives her the courage to face her fears, and be open to romantic possibilities.

"Reichl's... insider's look at life at a food magazine is fascinating. Her satisfying coming-of-age novel of love and loss vividly demonstrates the power of food to connect people across cultures and generations."

Also included are: A Conversation Between Ann Patchett and Ruth Reichl, and Billie's Gingerbread recipe.

* = starred review

Avatar, the Last Airbender

If your looking for a fun TV show that appeals to both kids and adults, check out Avatar, the Last Airbender. This cartoon has a great plot that will keep you interested until the very end.

The wold is divided into four nations (Earth, Water, Fire, and Air). Each nation’s people are able to manipulate their specific element. This manipulation is called “bending” and each nation’s bending is based off of a specific martial art (for example, water bending is based on tai chi, and fire bending is based on Northern Shaolin). There is one person who is born with the ability to bend all of the elements called the “Avatar,” this person is also in charge of keeping peace between the nations. However, when the Fire Nation decides to attack, the Avatar disappears.

A hundred years later, the Fire nation is now on the verge of dominating the entire world. But two siblings from the water tribe, Katara and Sokka, have just found the missing Avatar, a twelve-year-old boy named Aang, and his flying bison frozen in an iceberg. But can Aang learn to master all four elements and restore peace in time?

While this cartoon is not technically considered anime, it is heavily influenced by anime in it’s character designs. The fighting sequences are incredibly entertaining to watch and there are plenty of humorous moments which makes this cartoon a hit with the young and not-so-young.

If you enjoy the TV show, you should also check out the books, graphic novels, or even The Last Airbender movie that was directed by M. Night Shyamalan (disclaimer, if you are a big fan of the cartoon, this movie may miss the mark).

U-M North Campus Bookstore is Hosting Monthly Story Hour

The University of Michigan North Campus Bookstore is hosting monthly story hours, having recently attracted 28 children for stories, crafts and coloring. The next one is coming up Friday May 9 at 2:30 pm with classics, treats and crafts relating to the books of Dr. Seuss. Summertime story hours are scheduled for June 6, July 11, and August 8, all at 2:30 pm. The bookstore is located in Pierpont Commons.

Welcome to 'Night Vale' Listening Party

Monday June 16, 2014: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 7 and up.

Night Vale is a podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring mysterious lights in the night sky, figures with unknowable powers, the “weather report,” and announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police. Hear three podcast episodes back-to-back and—while you enjoy Cecil’s dulcet descriptions of the town’s five-headed dragons and portals to other worlds—make an Eternal Scout badge or Night Vale eye.

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