Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Updates to the Multi-cultural List

Lists have their drawbacks.
You can't always include everything you want, and titles don't always have the broad appeal one hopes for.
With some helpful feedback from parents of in-coming sixth graders, who felt there was a need for more titles that their children could related to, we have added a coupleof award-wining titles to this list:

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, by Loree Griffin Burns
Aided by an army of beachcombers, oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the name of science. From sneakers to hockey gloves, Curt monitors the watery fate of human-made cargo that has spilled into the ocean. The information he collects is much more than casual news; it is important scientific data. And with careful analysis, Curt, along with a community of scientists, friends, and beachcombers alike, is using his data to understand and protect our ocean.

Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick

On November 20, 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry whale.  Within minutes, the twenty-one-man crew, including the fourteen-year-old cabin boy Thomas Nickerson, found themselves stranded in three leaky boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with barely any supplies and little hope.

The Amazing Harry Kellar by Gail Jarrow
Presenting the amazing Harry Kellar! The first magician to receive international fame! The most well-known illusionist at the turn of the twentieth century! The model for the Wizard of Oz! Author Gail Jarrow follows Kellar from a magician’s assistant traveling and performing across the United States during the Civil War to an international superstar with a show of his own, entertaining emperors, kings, and presidents.

Check them out!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What's in a Name? The Namesake

As Gogol Ganguli comes of age in America, the adopted land of his parents, he struggles to come to terms with the Indian family he is born into while becoming a thoroughly American young man.  The weight of an odd, non-Indian, non-American first name adds yet another burden to his journey.  Why did his dad have to make such a rash and odd choice for his name?

As his life flows forward, he rejects then comes to terms with much of his legacy. How he reconciles the naming choice is something I think many young people can identify with.  In this case, the choice of name is not an ethnic, familial, or cultural choice. It was strictly a personal one and Gogol needs to find a way to connect with his father to understand, accept and rejoice in it.

Why do you think the main themes are in The Namesake?  Would you recommend it as a summer reading?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ender's Game: not just for Sci Fi fans

When I read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card for the first time fifteen years ago, I had assumed that I would never enjoy a science fiction novel as much as a realistic book of fiction. I just wasn't that engaged in the whole enterprise of world-building and end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it fantasizing.

Then I read Ender's Game.

Wow. It grabbed me and I rode the ride from first ascent through the twists and turns of a believable premise and then a dramatic and poignant plot following an innocent individual whose destiny was pre-determined with the fate of Earth hanging in the balance.

It opened my mind and left me questioning my assumptions about how we build the future and what priorities we should value. Is it a game? Is it the real thing? How do we know who to trust?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bruiser: is sacrifice a gift or a burden?

Having just finished the first day of book talking to 8 classes of 7th and 8th graders, Bruiser seems to be a book that is catching the eye of many. I'm glad, because it really is a beautiful story. One of the things I loved about the book was how you get such a rich picture of who Brewster is from the various points-of-view in the book. Tennyson, Bronte and Cody each see him is a slightly different way.

Brewster's reality is tough to take but he maintains his humanity throughout.
This book will tear at your heartstrings, for sure!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Fresh Look at an Iconic Time

One of the great things about collaborating over the creation of a summer reading list is that I get to take another look at a book I had originally passed over. Such is the case with The Lions of Little Rock. I had first seen the strong review of this book months ago but felt a sense of morality fatigue that made me think, "Another Civil Rights era book that pits brave, high-minded progressives against racist thuggish segregationists."  Boy, was I wrong.  Seeing it on the 2013 DMS summer reading list meant that I would have to read it quickly so I could book talk it soon. I took it on a road trip last weekend and, after the first few chapters, literally couldn't put it down!

Marlee is a math-loving thirteen-year-old white girl with problem speaking up. She meets a new girl in middle school, Liz, who also seems to be an outsider but who is brash, quick-witted and funny. They form a deep friendship that comes to an abrupt halt with Liz is pulled out of school for being a black girl "passing" as white in segregated Little Rock, Arkansas.
As the plot thickens, the reality of segregation, racial tension, mistrust and parental fears puts a huge burden on their friendship but they will not be divided.

I bit my fingernails down to the quick as the threat of violence and danger slowly built. The book shows beautifully how personal contact across racial and generational barriers can create social change.
I'm so grateful to whoever put this book on the list!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Did you see our challenge in the newspaper?

It's so great when schools and libraries collaborate. It helps bring culture alive and people see reading as more than an academic pursuit - it's a lifetime joy.

Check out our Letter to the Editor submitted to the Duxbury Reporter and printed in May 15th edition.
(Doesn't seem to be up on Wicked Local web site yet.)

Do you agree with us?
Is reading out loud only for little kids or do teens and adults like to be read aloud to?

What is the relative value of reading vs. listening to a book?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Check out this amazing new summer reading list!

Parents and students in Duxbury are in for a treat this summer.
The new English Department summer reading list is out and it's FABULOUS!
No duds on this one.   You can find the list here:
Duxbury Summer Reading List

I just ordered multiple copies of these books and will keep them in a separate area of the Reference Room for easy browsing.  So dig in and see what the teachers and librarians chose. I think you'll be happy.
Over the course of the next weeks and months, we'll use this blog for an open and honest discussion of the books on this list, (though I reserve the right to mediate).