When this book won the 2013 Newbery Award, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read it. It just sounded too depressing. Luckily, a friend read it and said it was actually funnier than it sounded, albeit sad at times, and that she thought my son would also enjoy it. I decided to get the audiobook because my son and I share 60-90 minutes of audiobook time per day in the summer driving together to my library and his day camp. (We share a parking lot with the Y!) This was our first audiobook of the summer, and it was a *HUGE* hit. So much so that my son was pretty much devastated any time that his sister was in the car and requested that we “waste” any of our time listening to music.
Although Ivan and the other animals were being held captive in less than desirable conditions, their actions and stories they told one another were often funny. The humor sprinkled throughout the story definitely helped to keep it light. My son’s favorite new vocabulary word, and the discussion of which he often used to try to convince his sister to listen to the story with us, was me-ball. You may be asking yourself, “What’s a me-ball?” Why, it’s a rolled up, dried out ball of poop that gorillas like to throw, of course! ;-) He thought that was hilarious, and he loved the loving friendships between the animals. The best part of the story, in my opinion, was at the end when the author’s note explained that this story was based on the true story of a gorilla named Ivan. I think it will do a lot to help readers understand that, though the thoughts and specific stories told by the animals in this story were fictional, animals surely want (and deserve) companionship and appropriate living conditions.
Today’s I Read YA Week activity doesn’t really lend itself to a book review, and I have been crazy busy today anyway, so I am going to just post the results of the quiz I took. I decided to take the “Which Children’s Book Character Are You?” quiz as Hermione Granger [from the Harry Potter series]. To be honest, I chose Hermione because I identified with her quite a bit and felt that I could probably just choose my own answers more often than not. Since there ended up being a few questions where I thought our answers might differ, though, I decided to take the quiz twice and compare the results.
When I took the quiz completely as myself, I got Stellaluna:
When I tried to be more mindful of Hermione’s quirks, though, it nudged me over to Mike Mulligan:
This was one of the most messed up books I have ever read. (I don’t mean that as an insult, by the way. I am referring to the content, not the writing.) It was like driving by a terrible car accident — you know you shouldn’t look, but you just *have* to see for yourself what’s going on. And although I did think it was a bit hyperbolic, it wasn’t completely outside the realm of possibility either. I mean, the Catholic Church is pretty well known for brushing things under the rug and covering things up to save their reputation, so why wouldn’t it be possible for a Catholic school to have insane hazing issues and major problems with student discipline in general? Let alone the fact that there have been so many darn hazing stories in recent years — many of which involved high school students and adults who looked the other way. Part of me wanted to reach into the story to slap the snot out of the so-called adults who let the insanity continue, and part of my wanted to stop reading in case something truly horrific happened because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle it. I think this story is like a more modern version of Lord of the Flies – only with adults who just stood by and watched everything unfold.
As you might recall, my son and I absolutely LOVE to check out all the incredible pictures and stories in these books! When I brought this latest edition home, he was actually disappointed that we had to sit down to eat dinner instead of going straight to the couch to check it out. :-)
Some of our favorite wacky and creepy items in this edition were:
- “Fake Family” [p. 26] — Alice Winstone has spent nearly $20,000 creating a nursery for 50 lifelike baby dolls that she “feeds,” bathes, and even sleeps with.
- “Corpse Bride” [p. 48] — though the owner of the bridal shop says it is only a mannequin in the front window, many people believe that she is really the preserved corpse of the previous owner’s daughter.
- “Speared Skull” [p.110] — a 3D scan of construction worker Eduardo Leite’s skull after a 6 foot long metal bar fell and pierced through his hard hat and his skull. Amazingly, Eduardo lived and was not even paralyzed!
- “Triathalon Juggler” [pp. 170-1] — Joe Salter of Pensacola, FL, completed a triathalon… while juggling the entire way!
- “Candy Magic” [p. 204] — an artist named Jason Mecier created a portrait of Harry Potter using only red and black licorice.
- “Lickable Wallpaper” [p. 215] — inspired by Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, this wallpaper featured cake-flavored stickers — each of which was replaced by an attendant after someone licked it to avoid the spread of germs.
- “Webbed Wonders” [p. 237] — workers from Clearwater’s High Rise Window Cleaners dressed in Spider-Man costumes to clean windows at the All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. Talk about a great way to raise morale!
I could go on and on… but, really, you just need to get your hands on a copy and check it out for yourself!
So, it appears that people who follow my blog via RSS feed readers got quite the surprise earlier today. I heard from a reader that my work of editing old posts [to consolidate the categories "award winners" and "book awards"] put a whole bunch of posts back through her feed reader even though some of the original posts were years old… Sorry about that! In the future, I will do my best to avoid updating old posts unless absolutely necessary so that y’all don’t have to deal with that again.
And that means a few things:
- The Teens’ Top Ten list has been announced.
- I will be posting a book review a day, today through Saturday.
- Our library will be hosting it’s 5th Annual TRW Lock-In — with a Hunger Games theme!
Happy Teen Read Week!
“Torch every book.
Burn every page.
Char every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.” – Ellen Hopkins
I like to celebrate Banned Books Week every year to help raise awareness and remind people that censorship is still a problem, even in our “free” country. The saddest thing, in my opinion, is that some would-be censors don’t even realize that their actions constitute censorship — which is why it is so important to remind people about the basic principles of intellectual freedom and how important that freedom is.
“The number of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries is growing. This is not a thing of the past, sadly. It is a thing of today. What do you say to people who believe that one parent can dictate curriculum? How can we talk to people who view books that reflect the realities of society as dangerous objects that need to hidden away?” – Laurie Halse Anderson
The most important thing to remember is that censorship is not an appropriate response to the fear that our children will have negative experiences or be exposed to dark or scary things. Instead of trying to ban books you wouldn’t want your children to read, just take a more active role in helping your own children to select appropriate reading materials.
“The wish for kinder, gentler literature for adolescents is really a wish for a kinder, gentler adolescent experience. But that just doesn’t exist anymore.” – Patricia McCormick
To celebrate Banned Books Week, I will post a review a day [for the next four days] of books that have been or likely will be challenged.
Happy Banned Books Week!
Hey everybody! Sorry I basically disappeared for a while there. I had to have my tonsils removed. [It's not fun when you're an adult, by the way!] I had kinda assumed that I would be OK enough to read a lot and post from home, so I never thought I needed to say anything. As it turns out, I managed to read two books in two weeks (not exactly stellar) and didn’t post a single review. As a holiday present to my readers, though, I have decided to post a review every day for the rest of this week. Let’s just hope that catching up on two weeks worth of stuff at the library doesn’t prevent me from sticking to this goal!
Sorry if it seems like I have fallen off the face of the planet… I am busy training VolunTeens and getting geared up for the Summer Reading Club (SRC)! If you would like to be a VolunTeen, you should check out the information on our website. You can also go on our website to find out all about the Teen SRC.
In the meantime, here’s a video of me singing the karaoke raffle song at the Teen SRC Mini-Lock In on Friday night:
If you’re anything like me, you LOVED the Susan Beth Pfeffer Moon Crash trilogy (Life As We Knew It, the dead & the gone, and this world we live in). Well, it seems that she not only has a new book coming out this fall — and you can read the first two chapters of Blood Wounds online! — but that she is in negotiations with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt about a FOURTH Moon Crash book, The Shade of the Moon! Read all about it on her blog: http://susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com/2011/06/501-is-good-number-for-announcement.html