Pearl's Picks for Youth and Teens

Librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl joined us at the Downtown library on Sunday for a talk about books, reading, and writing. She suggested several great books for young people, from picture books like Knuffle Bunny and Skippyjon Jones to chapter books like Three Terrible Trins, Whales on Stilts, and Ragweed. For teens, she especially liked Feed, by the same author as Whales on Stilts, Lisa Yee's Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Richard Peck's Teacher's Funeral, and the difficult but moving story in Looking for Normal by Betty Monthei. Already read these? Ask any librarian for more suggestions.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (5/14/06)

Even though a couple of colleagues are huge fans, I had never caught the Harlan Coben bug, until he published his first standalone (Tell No One). Then I was hooked and read every subsequent novel. But I still initially passed on his latest book because it marked the return of Myron Bolitar. Through sheer luck I picked up a copy and had a terrific time.

At #2 is Promise Me by Harlan Coben: in the eighth release of this series Myron Bolitar investigates the disappearance and possible kidnapping of two teenage girls who attended his old New Jersey high school.

At #6 is Susannah's Garden by Debbie Macomber: a return to her hometown propels a young woman to think about the direction of her life and the choices she has made.

At #10 is Everyman by Philip Roth: after leaving the funeral of his good friend Saul Bellow, Roth went home and immediately started writing this contemplation of aging and death.

At #14 is Vanished by Karen Robards: a young woman turns to her best friend (who just happens to be a handsome former FBI agent) for help in finding her missing daughter.

At #15 is Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein: before she died earlier this year, this award-winning playwright penned her own 9/11 novel.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #21 (Happy Mother's Day)

It is not for everyone but it will richly reward the patient reader.

The stream-of-consciousness narrative in Love Burns, the debut novel by noted Israeli playwright Edna Mazya, and the experimental writing style might feel like sand between the toes, but this "surprisingly fresh, deeply sardonic" (Publishers Weekly) tale of obsessive-love-turns-homicidal would keep you turning pages, and the provocative blend of sly humor and suspense might just win you over.

Ilan, a middle-aged astrophysics professor at a Haifa university is obsessed with his beautiful young wife while life is spiraling out of control. A fateful encounter with his wife’s sexy Russian lover proves to be his undoing. Thank heavens there is mother to take charge.

Already a bestseller in Europe.

What's With all the Gossip?

So the first book in the Gossip Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar was published 4 years ago and the 9th book in the series Only in your dreams just came out, but after Naomi Wolf wrote a scathing editorial in the New York Times about this series and their read-alikes Clique and The A-List everyone has been talking about it. Yes, they are basically Sex and The City for teens filled with consumerism and fun without consequences. Are they any worse than anything as popular that came before them? No. Are they flashier and better marketed? Definitely. Any teen who is reading these books - as opposed to watching the rampant fun without consquences on TV or online - is a teen I wouldn't worry about. Because *reading* is what separates the teens you worry about from the ones you don't.

Unusual Adoption

Remember the fascinating story of the baby hippo who was rescued from the sea after the tsunami? He was taken to a sanctuary where he discovered a new mother, a 130-year-old giant tortoise. Two new children's books present this story in unique and heart warming ways. Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff is filled with fabulous photos of Owen as he wins over his unlikely companion. Jeanette Winter's picture book adaption Mama:a true story shows the harrowing journey through rich illustrations and a one word mantra that says it all - "Mama!"

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (5/7/06)

There were only two new titles this week. You can choose to spend time with the rich and idle of New York City or the humble and hardworking of South Africa.

At #2 is Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith: "The seventh novel in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, featuring Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, Grace Makutsi."

At #15 is The Debutante Divorcee by Plum Sykes: "Life among New York's rich, young, thin and newly ummarried, from the author of 'Bergdorf Blondes'."

Living in a Virtual Panopticon?

With the recent revelation that three major telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA to collect the phone records of millions of average Americans, the discussion of how to balance civil liberties and national security seems more important now than ever before. Is it safe to say that we are now all living in a virtual panopticon? A surveillance society?

The library has a number of books on this topic for those interested in learning more. Here are some recent titles:
No Place to Hide
Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping
Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints
The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality
The Naked Employee: How Technology is Compromising Workplace Privacy
The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror
Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson’s 2006 Newbery honor book Show Way traces her maternal family history from slavery, to the Civil Rights movement to the present day in eloquent poetic rhythm. Show Way is the quilt sown by slave women with an encrypted map that showed the way to freedom. The illustrations reveal both the fear and hope of African Americans throughout history.

Calling All Donutheads!

"My name, if you must know, is Franklin Delano Donuthead. Try saying that in a room full of fifth graders if you think names will never hurt you."

So starts the story of Donuthead by Sue Stauffacher. In the opinion of this youth services librarian, it is one of the best children's books currently in publication. Other titles by this author are Harry Sue and Bessie Smith and the Night Riders.

Sue Stauffacher will be in town for the Ann Arbor Book Festival this weekend. Her first appearance will be Friday, May 12, 2006 at the Malletts Creek Branch at 4:00 p.m. She will read from her works and talk about her life and her books.
Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to meet a popular writer.

A Good Book for Graduating Teens

With graduation season upon us, here's a good book to read or recommend: Character is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember, by Sen. John McCain, with Mark Salter. We have this book in the library or you can receive five-minute excerpts in your e-mail through DearReader.com where this book is the current teen pick. The book offers 34 stories about diverse inspirational characters including Thomas More, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, and Dwight Eisenhower.

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