Saturday, December 13, 2008

WAR IS...soldiers, survivors, and storytellers talk about war--Marc Aronson & Patty Cambell, Editors

The editors of this important book for teens and young adults came at their topic from quite different directions. Aronson, the author of many award-winning nonfiction books for teens, says: "I believe that it is criminal to ask soldiers to fight for us without then listening to them. They overcome their fear and pay the physical price in injuries, the psychic price of seeing friends killed, and the soul price in having to kill others. We cannot asking others to do this for us without hearing them, healing them and caring for them."

Patty Campbell, a young-adult librarian, critic, editor and author says: " The plain and simple truth is that war is insane--but not inevitable. I have faith that young people can be freed of the delusions of glory that have made war so attractive to them if we make it our priority to show them the ugly reality of participating in a war."

The result of this collaboration is a collection of more than twenty commissioned and edited pieces of fiction and nonfiction, dedicated to trusting readers with the truth.


Addie's mom creates a life for herself and Addie which resembles a roller coaster. Either the frig is full or there is only toast for supper. Either Mommers is home giving Addie pointers on upping her vocabulary--or she is out "job interviewing" and doesn't return before midnight.

Addie longs for a life like her sixth grade contemporaries, with clothes that match and freedom from heckling by the other kids. Instead, she faces daily challenges and must hone a hopeful spirit. She gets help from unlikely people including neighbors across the vacant lot. Her stepdad, Dwight, who is parenting Addie's half sisters, comes by when he can. He's always on her side but must work outside the community, leaving Adddie to fend mostly on her own.

Sometimes courage and a hopeful spirit need a boost. Readers will want to find out how Addie's life changes in ways that cause both sadness and relief.

Ten Little FINGERS and Ten Little TOES by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

This delightful large format picture book celebrates babies all over the world. Fox and Oxenbury present heartwarming images of babies born in different places on the globe and in different circumstances. Each has ten little FINGERS and ten little TOES.
"There was one little baby who was born on the ice, and another in a tent, who was just as nice. And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes." With simple rhymes likes these, and happy images of babies from many cultures, the author and illustrator encourage readers and toddler listeners to engage in the joy of knowing and loving babies from many cultures.

WILD BOARS COOK by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall

Boris, Morris, Horace, and Doris appear again. Readers of MEET WILD BOARS will recognize this rollicking foursome with their bad manners and hefty appetites. In this sequel, each hungry boar craves a special treat. However, Doris finds a good recipe for the "biggest, messiest, stickiest, gooiest, chewiest, most delicious pudding in the whole wide world." They proceed to make it.
Adults and small children alike will want to read and re-read this tale while chortling over each hilarious picture of boars cooking...and eating.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts struggling to survive. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen lives with her mother and younger sister. She steps up to take her sister's place when her sister is designated for the fight. But Katniss is a survivor. The story revolves around her use of her skills, values, and courage to bring a new shape to the role of contender. Her choices and her attempts to develop alliances instead of enemies are a fascinating web of tensions and satisfactions.
The author, who dedicates herself to writing about the effects of war and violence on young people, has created a disturbing but realistic metaphor for the world our young people inhabit.