Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Printz Award Winner

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.The award winner was announced today and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley won!

Witty, sardonic Cullen Witter agonizes over the disappearance of his beloved brother, Gabriel, while everyone else in his stiflingly dull Arkansas town thrills to the apparent return of a long-extinct woodpecker. Kidnapping, arcane religious texts, and ornithology collide in this ground-breaking coming-of-age tale.

“Straightforward, yet increasingly complex, this novel masterfully weaves together themes of brotherhood, friendship, loss and religious obsession,” said Printz Award Committee Chair Erin Helmrich.

I read Where Things Come Back this past summer and it was definitely one of the best YA books I read last year. I recommend it if you enjoy quirky, introspective stories. There are also lots of indie music references. In fact, the book was inspired by the Sufjan Stevens' (who I'm in love with btw) song Lord God Bird.

And here are the Printz 2012 Honor Books:

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
In this beautiful piece of bookmaking, heartbroken movie obsessive Min Green dumps a box of relationship ephemera on ex-love Ed Slaterton’s porch, each item attached to a raging, loving, insecure and regretful letter explaining how each memento contributed to their breakup.

The Returning by Christine Hinwood
A large cast of characters from two fictional kingdoms recover from a drawn-out, brutal war in a portrait both sweeping and specific as it explores the ramifications of the conflict on Cam, the only one who lives to return to his village.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Spurred by the mysterious death of a schoolmate, Charlie confronts racism and his fears as he learns about family, friendship and love in the oppressive heat of small-town 1960s Australia. Silvey weaves themes of freedom and loyalty with moments of humor in this wrenching novel.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
A bloody, intoxicating horse race on the Island of Thisby is the backdrop for this atmospheric novel. The heart-pounding story pits two teens against death – to win is to survive.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II by Ron Koertge

Cover imageConsidering that close to a decade has passed between Ron Koertge’s Stoner & Spaz and its sequel, the recently released NowPlaying: Stoner & Spaz II, I was surprised that the sequel picked up where the first book left off. I thought the novel might find the characters crossing paths again several years later, but instead the novel resumes shortly after Ben, a film junkie with cerebral palsy, shows his documentary at a Hollywood art gallery. Colleen, a different kind of junkie who wants to clean up her act, progresses from acquaintance to the status of almost girlfriend in Stoner & Spaz. However, at the end of the book she ditches Ben at the art gallery in favor of another bad seed type of guy.

While Colleen disappears, Ben meets a girl named A.J., another aspiring filmmaker who seems interested in both Ben and his filmmaking skills. She’s also a driven girl from a wealthy family, two things Ben’s controlling and occasionally judgmental grandmother approves of. Much of Koertge’s new book is taken up with Ben trying to choose between Colleen and A.J. He also struggles to figure out if either of them is interested in dating him or if they think of him as more of a friend.

Other conflicts arise. Part of the way through the book, Colleen finds out where Ben’s mom is living and the two of them take a road trip to see her. Ben also grapples with whether the documentary films he’s making are exploiting the people they are about. He considers making a film about Colleen and later in the book A.J. wants Ben to make a film about seeing his mother for the first time since he was four.

I don’t know if all the story lines come together that neatly in Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II, but since this novel and its predecessor are driven first and foremost by dynamic characters, I was okay with the story meandering at times. I just hope that if Koertge writes a third installment about Ben and Colleen that it doesn’t take as long to come out.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Best Adult Books for Teens

All of the following books you'll find in our Adult Fiction & Sci Fi collections but they're good reads for teens too!

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Jaffy leaves behind his life on the streets of 19th century London for an adventure to the Pacific Islands aboard a whaling ship in search of a mythical - yet far too real - dragon in this enormously satisfying novel of friendship, survival, and redemption.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Imagine if Willie Wonka had been a video-game designer. Now imagine a world in which most people spend their time as avatars in a virtual reality. The founder of this virtual reality leaves his fortune to the first to win a contest, comprised of puzzles and tasks based on 1980s popular culture. Three teens compete to win against an evil conglomerate.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Alternate chapters weave Victoria's past as a foster child and her present as a semi-homeless 18-year-old. Victoria finds her first job in a florist shop, putting to use the language of flowers she first learned from her only real family, the foster mother she lost 10 years earlier.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Fillory is a magical utopia. With little for a monarch to do, Quentin goes on a quest. Alternating chapters relate his old friend Julia's backstory. While the king enjoys life at Brakebills, Julia learns magic on the streets. Her journey is powerful and horrifying in this followup to The Magicians.

Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
Alice's idyllic small-town life is interrupted when her father's army reserve unit is called up for active duty in Iraq. After he is declared missing in action, she turns to her best friend, the boy next door, for support.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Le Cirque des RĂªves appears without warning on the outskirts of cities around the world. Only open at night, it is filled with magic and theater, each tent a sensory experience, manipulated and sustained by two young people locked in a mysterious competition.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Mere months after their mother dies, the Bigtree family's alligator-wrestling theme park and cafe, Swamplandia!, goes out of business, sending the abandoned siblings on individual perilous journeys away from home in this dazzling, affecting, funny novel.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
In this artificial intelligence blockbuster, the heroic actions of a handful of characters are told in the form of briefing reports recovered after the Robot Wars that nearly exterminated humanity. This format with its emphasis on survival in battle and full-throttle action will appeal particularly to those who enjoy science-gone-wrong thrillers.


From School Library Journal

Monday, January 2, 2012

Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge

I recently reread this book after discovering that Ron Koertge had just released a sequel called Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II. Since Stoner & Spaz first came out in 2002, I knew I’d have to reread it before tackling the sequel.

Stoner & Spaz tells the story of sixteen-year-old Ben Bancroft, a loner with cerebral palsy who lives with his grandmother and finds solace losing himself in movies. During one of his frequent trips to a quirky movie theater that specializes in classics like Bride of Frankenstein, he runs into Colleen Minou, a beautiful and charismatic stoner. Her initial interest in Ben seems to stem from her altered state at the time, but the two soon form a friendship that, much to the surprise of everyone at their school, sometimes even seems like something more.

Yes, I know the opposites attract theme has been played to death, but Stoner & Spaz truly is worth checking out. Spurred on by Colleen and an arty neighbor named Marcie, Ben slowly comes out of his shell and progresses from watching movies incessantly to making a documentary about the students at his high school. Colleen’s progress stops and starts as she seems to know that she should ditch Ed, her drug dealer boyfriend, but seems less sure about what to do next. I enjoyed Stoner & Spaz immensely both of the times I read it and hope the sequel will be as good if not better.