Tag Archives: Young Adult Librarianship

Book Talk – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Mini Booktalk on The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

I haven’t used this with teens yet, but feel free to use it in a library if you’d like.

Life isn’t easy on greasers, and greasers aren’t easy on life.  These teens throw punches at their friends for fun, and pull out switchblades and guns on their rivals, the rich kids in their town.  Ponyboy, yes that’s his real name, lives with his two older brothers, and the greaser life is all they know.

Late one night, a chance encounter with the rich kids will leave one rival dead, and two greaser friends on the run from the law.  Can Ponyboy handle the tough life, and can his brothers keep him safe?  To find out more about how these boys laugh at danger and live to tell the tale, read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Sharp North – Book Review

Sharp North
by Patrick Cave
First published in Great Britain in 2004 by Simon & Schuster UK.
Published in USA in 2006 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York.

Imagine a future in which the Earth has gone through drastic climate changes, and northern Europe is permanently covered in snow, and Mediterranean Europe is bone dry, save for the rising seas.  Human life becomes more difficult and uncertain, and few European settlements are still inhabitable.  Technological development, though advanced, has come to a standstill, as natural resources have become extremely scarce.

However, artificial genetic and reproductive technologies are still thriving, and serve as the backbone to this controlled modern Britain.  Conceiving a child has become a luxury only available to members of the Great Families or their wannabees, the upper class known as Visions…and natural conception is out of the question, a filthy and irresponsible alternative only undertaken by the low class Scroats.  Responsible families with enough money must first file applications with the Fertility Board, then get to choose the most attractive and advantageous genetic characteristics for their child.  Despite society’s unbridled affair with genetic manipulation, the state has put a ban on cloning, due to physical abnormalities that frequently were present in the experimental clones.  However, the Great Families see no reason to follow this statute, and they create clones to ensure the continuation of their power in the years to come.  These “spare” clones can come in handy as either a temporary replacement (in the case of injury or temporary amnesia a la Dave) or as extra body organs that are a perfect match.

Amid the wails of this disordered society are Mira, a plucky young woman chased from her isolated northern village, and Kay, the distracted and rebellious Scroat son of a powerful Saint family leader.  Mira witnesses a mysterious murder, and can’t ignore what she’s seen.  She vows to make sense not only of the crime itself, but of her friend Gil’s indifference to it.  Why was a woman from the South in her village, and what did she do to deserve such a cold death?  Mira’s insatiable thirst for understanding drives her to drastic measures and to a world she never knew existed.  Kay lives a life of privilege, separated from the gritty life all around him.  Like most teen lit rich kids, he longs to live a normal life, and to blend in with other Scroats like himself.  In Sharp North, Mira and Kay must push themselves further than they ever believed possible in order to answer their purpose that grows more concrete by the day.

Although I haven’t many novels about future dystopias since high school, but I found Sharp North to be a great combination of dramatic tension, fast-paced action, character development, soapboxing on issues, and interpersonal relations.  I enjoyed Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four and Huxley’s Brave New World, but I think that Cave adds an added portion of emotional relatability into his protagonist Mira.  Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that she and I are both female, but I think that Mira’s quiet moments in her isolated, snowy village, endow her with a certain sense of country, if not old-world, charm.  Sharp North, though engaging, was a long read at more than 500 pages.  Some critics have complained that parts of the story move too slowly, but I enjoyed those sections that allowed me to really get to know the changes going on in the characters.  I highly recommend Sharp North for teen readers ages 14 and up and for adults, with warnings about the content (mentioned above) for younger readers.

Sequel AND Prequel – in one volume (yep!):
Blown Away: British title, originally published in 2006
The Selected: Published in 2010
(According to author Patrick Cave’s website, Blown Away is book two in the series and The Selected is book three.  However, according to every other bibliographical resource I’ve looked at (Novelist, WorldCat, etc), they are the same book, although they have different titles and different covers.  If anyone has read them and knows, please do comment below.  I ordered Blown Away from inter-library loan, as I don’t really like the typeface in The SelectedSharp North used “Bembo” font; I liked that quite a bit.)

My Very First Program @ the Library!

Tonight I had my first program at the library!  But really, this one was no big deal.  It was a monthly Wii Game Night for teens, and all I had to do was setup the snacks, put in the Monkey Ball disc, hang around to make sure the kids played nice, and clean up afterward.  The teens that played actually didn’t really care for this game, it turns out.  It seems the motions were too abstract and not straightforward enough to master in the short 1-hour time slot.

However, this program wasn’t really “mine;”  I was merely filling in for the Young Adult Librarian who was on vacation.  Had I been in charge, I’d have probably chosen my favorite Wii game, Rayman: Raving Rabbids.  But all-in-all, the kids had a nice time, I got to meet some new faces, and we all discovered what Wii Game to pass on next time.

I’ve heard some great success stories about Wii Game Nights at libraries.  Do you have one?

A Quiet Night at the Library

Right now, our library seems to be in the very middle of a multi-week lull in the action in the Children’s Room. The Make a Splash summer reading club ended nearly two weeks ago, but there is still a week left before procrastination-happy parents come in for last-minute summer reading books requested by the schools.

I normally work only 1pm-5pm on Fridays, but I volunteered for extra hours (and extra $), so I worked until 9pm.  From 5-9 I was on duty in the Young Adult/teen room.  It was the slowest day I’ve experienced, and the lack of teens was probably compounded by the fact that the weather outside was lovely.  During my four hours in the teen room, I probably helped only 5 teens and one elderly gentleman – much fewer than usual.

Luckily, I’d been given some projects to work on by my superiors and the other librarians.  Tonight was perfect for doing computer-heavy, involved tasks.  Here’s a sample of the few projects I’ve been doing:

1. Princess Book List.  In the Children’s Room, we’ll often get parents of preschool girls asking for princess books.  Inevitably, this happens while all of the librarians are busy with other patrons, so the princess patrons simply get referred to the Disney section.  Well, my superiors (and I) agree that it would be ideal to encourage non-Disney books, and make them easily available for the little girls that like everything to be a combination of pink, purple, and sparkly.  I finished the list today, and it should appear on the SHPL webpage next week.

2. Summer Book Weeding. This is my first assignment of this sort.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with library lingo, “weeding” is the process of assessing the frequency of use of materials in order to give/throw away anything that doesn’t earn its place on the shelf.   Today, I started the first round of weeding of the Summer Story books, just going through ones that have been on the front display shelf.  So far, it seems that less than 1/5 of the books are going into the tentative “weed” pile.

3. Journal Hunting. One of the full-time librarians got handed down an assignment from the boss, and she handed it down to me.  I started going through the School Library Journal, checking to make sure that our library has copies of all the most highly featured materials in the journal.  So far, I’ve found that we already have all but a few of the books that appear in the featured lists (this one happened to be about picture books that reinforce mathematical concepts).

Although these three projects are business-as-usual for seasoned librarians, they are all new tasks for me.  I’m excited to learn new procedures and develop familiarity with all aspects of the profession.  Additionally, I may also soon begin re-cataloging all of the audio CD collection in the Children’s Room.  We shall see….and don’t forget to enjoy the extra “quiet time” at the library in the August slow season.

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