Youth Stuff: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me

When You Reach Me is Rebecca Stead’s follow up to the acclaimed First Light, and it’s a good one, worthy of the Newbery Medal Award buzz that surrounds it. Miranda is a 6th grader living in New York City in 1979 with her mother. Her best friend Sal stops talking to her one day, and then she starts receiving mysterious notes predicting the future. So on top of day to day city living, being a latch key kid of a single mom (who is trying out for The $20,000 Pyramid), squabbling with other girls in her class, and having a slight crush on a boy, she has to figure out who is sending these notes and why. She finds it soothing to carry around a beat up copy of A Wrinkle in Time, and eventually has a rather interesting conversation on time travel with the new kid on the block. In the end Miranda figures it all out.

I liked the nostalgia in this book. I liked the setting, a few of the characters, the laughing man, the bit of time travel involved. I do wonder about the idea of having A Wrinkle in Time play such an important role in the book, but at the same time I love how young Miranda finds a book so fantastic she has to read it over and over and carry it around with her.

Teen Stuff: Cool fiction titles by Jenny Valentine

JennyValentineJennyValentine

Me, the missing, and the Dead, which won The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (under the title “Finding Violet Park”), is told from the point of view of 16 year old Lucas Swain. His father went missing five years ago and he now lives in a tension-filled house in London with his mother and two siblings. The book centers around his friendship with a dead lady he finds in a taxi cab office. A dead lady named Violet Park who resides in an urn, to be exact. Everything in this book happens by chance and is fueled by coincidence. Lucas believes he was lead to Violet in order to figure out what happened to his father. He learns a lot about himself, his family, life, and loss through the course of this fantastic book.

Jenny Valentine’s follow up novel, and not to be missed, is Broken Soup, which also has similar themes of grief, family, friendship, and love.

Teen Stuff: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The U.S. as we know it has fallen. Now, 12 North American districts exist in its place, each serving only to support the oppressive Capitol district, which every year requires 2 tributes (aged 12-18) from each district to participate in a televised battle royale called the Hunger Games, a fight to the death that will leave only one teen alive.

Enter Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl from the poorest district, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in choosing to participate in the Games in place of her younger sister. A sharpshooter bow hunter and expert tree climber, Katniss must rely on her hunting skills in order to survive the lethal attacks from the other tributes. Violently bloody from the start, Hunger Games pulls no punches, yet it speaks to the plight of children suffering during wartime, a timely if not innocuous theme. The sequel, Catching Fire, will be released on September 1, 2009.

Solar S'mores: Science at its most delicious!

S'moreS'more

Make a solar s'more oven using a cardboard pizza box, some aluminum foil, and a few other basic materials. If the weather permits, we will go outside, test the oven, then eat some delicious s'mores (no campfire required)! This is science at its most delicious.

Thursday July 2, 2009 | 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm | Pittsfield Branch | Grade 4 thru Adult

Mace Windu's purple lightsaber

If you're turning 13 and love Star Wars, it makes sense that you would want a purple lightsaber for your birthday. My son got one--over my initial objection that he already had way too many lightsabers of other colors. Now I know what's behind Mace Windu's purple light saber, and also that this hue of magic weapon may actually have been a personal request from actor Samuel Jackson, when he agreed to play Mace Windu in the films. (I got that from Wikipedia, which quoted an interview on The Late Show with David Letterman.) Yes, of course: who wants to wage galactic battle, and not have your lightsaber clearly identifiable among other Jedi?

Human biology for kids (and adults who like gross stuff)

Look on our New Books shelf in the Youth department and you might find a copy of what The Seattle Times referred to as a book "For kids who like their science with a dash of grossness". Ouch! : how your body makes it through a very bad day is a graphic introduction to many basic functions of the human body. Inside you'll find detailed images and explanations of things like pimples, sneezing, sleeping, vomiting, pathogens and parasites, and the ever-popular bathroom break. To add to the visual detail of the book, a CD-ROM is included which offers viewers an animated view of a few everyday bodily functions. Science lovers will enjoy the meticulous detail and elaborate glossary (I learned what Epithelial Tissue is!) and parents will appreciate the numerous health facts for kids (like "Feces can consist of up to 50 percent bacteria, hence the need to wash hands after going to the bathroom"). Yuck! Enjoy!

Tweens can Download Savvy--free!

Attention tweens! Savvy is a new novel about a girl whose family members each manifest a special power at age 13.

Of course, it can be hard to get your hands on one of the AADL's copies of popular new titles like this one, but luckily, to promote this debut novel by Ingrid Law, Penguin is teaming up with 35 tween-centric Web sites to give away free e-book copies of the title.

From July 14 to 20, visitors to those sites, including: bered.com, Allykatzz.com, and Girlslife.com, will be able to download a copy of the book via Penguin's minisite for Savvy. The e-books can be read through Web browsers and posted on blogs or social networking sites; the book will only be readable during the weeklong promotion. (If you can't wait until then, chapter one is already available for download here.)

Library Lego League

Second Place Team 7/5/07Second Place Team 7/5/07

Register now for Library Lego League! Visit any public service desk or call 327-4200 to reserve your spot on one of the four Lego building days: 7/24, 7/31, 8/7, or 8/14.

In teams of four, participants will spend all day, from 10-4 PM, building a robot out of Mindstorms NXT kits in the Downtown Library Multipurpose Room. Teams will face a challenge of the day, where they will have to program their robot to complete a certain task. The top three teams will win prizes, while everyone will leave with a participation ribbon. Pizza will be provided.

Join us at the library for a fun-filled day. Be sure to sign up because space is limited. Check out the L3 Blog to find fellow NXT enthusiasts. See you there!

To brush up on Mindstorms, check out these books: The unofficial LEGO Mindstorms NXT inventor's guide, Building robots with Lego Mindstorms : the ultimate tool for Mindstorms maniacs! and Creative projects with LEGO mindstorms.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #108

It's not often that you come across a debut novel as sure-footed and well-crafted as Tom Rob Smith's Child 44*.

In the last winter of Stalin's reign, Leo Demidov, a national hero and a ranking officer of the Moscow MGB (State Security) is aware that his good fortune (nice apartment, beautiful wife, imported foods) is precarious at best – balancing on luck and political gamesmanship. When he refuses to denounce his wife on trumped up charges as a spy, he was demoted and exiled to a remote city and quickly becomes involved hunting down a serial killer preying on young children. What Leo sees as his redemption cast him as the enemy of the state and a fugitive on the run.

Bleak, brooding and chillingly affecting, with a “relentless” pace and a layered plot, this unexpected story of love and family, of hope and resilience is a hypnotic psychological thriller - surely not to be missed. Prepublication film rights already sold to Ridley Scott.

For fans of the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith and Emil Brod series by Olen Steinhauer.

* = Starred Reviews

A Cool Girl and her Stuff

Ginny Davis is having a tough seventh-grade year, but at least she is getting good grades on her English essays. This helps us as readers, as we enjoy the essays, notes, instant messages, lists, and meatloaf haikus of Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer Holm. Pictures by Elicia Castaldi add delight to this clever book written by a two-time Newbery Honor winner.

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