Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature announced

The 2011 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature was announced earlier this week , and it’s Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker. The Printz award is given annually by the American Library Association (ALA) and is selected by a committee of librarians. You may have read our review of it this past summer; if not, check it out, and check out the book! I feel it’s worthy of the honor. In case you’re wondering who Michael Printz was, read here.

And if you haven’t read the 2010 winner, Libba Bray’s Going Bovine, I suggest you grab that as well. You would think a book about a 16-year old boy, named Cameron, with mad cow disease would be all drama and sadness, but when you read the first line—“The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World”—you know you’re in for a treat. I’m a sucker for sarcasm, and a fair amount of moments on Cameron’s Don Quixote-like quest to be healed—with his Mexican-American dwarf classmate who’s a hypochondriac, later on adding a Viking god trapped inside a garden gnome—are (IMHO) laugh-out loud funny. Enjoy!

-Debra B.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Book Recommendation: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Readers who enjoy Rachel Cohn and David Levithan will surely enjoy this holiday story: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.

Scrooge-like Dash has gotten out of Christmas by telling his mother he’s at his father’s house, and telling his father he’s spending Christmas at his mother’s. Perusing the shelves of used books at his favorite bookstore, the Strand, he finds a red Moleskine notebook, with “DO YOU DARE?” on the cover, and with a note on the front page:

“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

Intrigued, Dash turns the page.

Christmas-loving Lily has been abandoned this season—by her parents, on a never-taken honeymoon in Fiji; by her grandfather, heading to Florida to propose to his girlfriend; and by her brother, Langston, looking to spend his every waking hour with his new boyfriend, instead of babysitting her. The clues in the book were Langston’s idea for how Lily could meet a guy; Lily doesn’t expect anyone to pick it up, or, as requested, answer in kind. What begins is a series of riddles and challenges that takes Dash and Lily back and forth across New York City, as they reveal more of themselves to each other through the notebook. The two can’t help but start falling for each other, but is it for the person on the page, or the ideal in their heads? Will they act on the ultimate dare: to meet in person? And if so, will they connect, or will it turn out to be the ultimate disaster?

I loved the wit and banter Dash and Lily have between each other, and with their family and friends, even if it doesn’t sound like a lot of the teens you might know. I felt the characters were shown to be complex and layered, with clear foibles as well as admirable strengths. Despite Dash being nicknamed “Snarly” by those he comes across, he’s never unlikeable. Lily’s sweet, but not annoying.

And some of the scenes made me laugh out loud. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book starts a trend of red notebooks on shelves in bookstores across the country.

-Debra B.

Readers who enjoyed this story might enjoy other books co-written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan including: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Book Recommendation: Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill

I thought I was going to take a break from reviews for the holiday season, but then I came across Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill, set on a future terraformed Mars. First chapter: cannibals on the hunt. Second chapter: a teenage mercenary doing a ten kilometer space elevator jump down into a hostage situation.

Forget the ribbons and the wrapping paper—it was rollercoaster time.

Durango’s a Dalit (outcast) Regulator—think Jedi without the mind tricks, although he does have an AI implant named Mimi—looking for redemption, but mostly coin and food for himself and his davos (crew) of other regulators. When three miners from a remote outpost come looking for someone to teach them how to fend off the cannibalistic Dræu that keep attacking their children, Durango knows they don’t stand a chance. With his female second-in-command, Vienne, along with lugheads Fuse and Jenkins, and over-the-hill Ockham, they head out to Hell’s Cross on what could be a suicide mission. Along with all the butt-kicking and name-taking, we learn how Durango became an outcast, the reason for the AI in his head, what the miners really want, and who the Dræu—and their queen—really are.

There are some borderline-squeamish parts, but they’re few and brief. I felt for Durango as he constantly grappled with the dilemma of how to be the proper leader to his crew, all the while struggling with his feelings towards Vienne, his father, and his predicament. To anyone who’s not big on reading, get this book into their hands; they won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough.

-Debra B.