Thursday, October 27, 2011

Couches, Controversies and The Boy Who Lived

For the last week or so, each night, I have been drawn to the couch to continue turning the pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. About two years ago, I read this entire series from beginning to end in the short time of September to Christmas.

For a recent school assignment, I was asked to pick a book off of the "Banned Book List". This list is full of titles that were challenged by people and/or organzations because they felt the content was not appropriate for teenage readers.

I was very surprised to find that the entire Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling is on that list. The series was challenged because it was thought to promote Witchcraft. I disagree with this of course (since I am one othe thousands of Harry Potter Lovers), but many people do believe these books should be taken off library shelves.

The following is a list of The Top 10 Banned Books:

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, Mark Twain
2. The Catcher and the Rye, J.D Salinger
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
4. Bridge to Teribithia, Katherine Paterson
5. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
6. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
7. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
8. Harry Potter Series, J.K Rowling
9. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
10. The Bluest Eye, Tony Morrison

credit to: http://712educators.about.com/od/bannedbooks/tp/banned_books.htm

As you can see, many of these books are classics that have already been read by thousands of people. These books are ongoing controversies that never rest.

I would like to know your opinion! Post a comment, and have your say on the Banned Book List. For more information go to: ala.org (The American Library Association).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Historical Fiction at it's Best

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley
324 pages

I am a big fan of historical fiction; especially books that center around the Colonial Era. Ann Rinaldi is known for her historical fiction novels including; The Fifth of March, Taking Liberty, and Or Give Me Death.

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons is the unknown story of Phillis Wheatley and her life as the first women African-American poet.

Phillis was one of several slaves at the Wheatley House in Boston, MA. When the Wheatley's discover her talent for writing poetry, they begin to mold her future by having her "perform" for important guests. Eventually, Phillis is sent to England to have her first book of poetry published. Although Phillis is adorned with fame, she is still troubled with her way of life. Nothing can change the fact that she is still a slave.

This book is written through Phillis's voice, and dates help form a vivid timeline of her life. Ann Rinaldi perfectly illustrates her triumphs, as well as struggles throughout her poetry career. Several flashbacks take place throughout the story taking the reader back years before the setting of the book. Through Ann Rinaldi's careful research the reader will meet Phillis's friends and family, as well as her enemies.

This tragic yet inspiring tale will surely leave you breathless.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Teashop Girls

The Teashop Girls
Laura Schaefer
240 pages

The Official Rules of the Teashop Girls
1. Teashop Girls are best friends forever.
2. Tea is held every week no matter what.
3. All tea and scones must be split equally at all times.

In Laura Schaefer's debut novel, Annie, Genna and Zoe are the best of friends, or used to be. As Annie gets a job as a barista at her grandmother's teashop, Genna is always at theater, and Zoe is busy with tennis, the girls begin to wonder how much longer they can stay together.

Suddenly, The Steeping Leaf receives an eviction notice, and the shop might have to close for good if the girls can't help make the place "hopping" with customers again. While working at the shop, Annie quickly develops a crush on her co-worker, and as eighth grade comes to a close, new adventures arise.

This book is honest and sweet; perfect for the young teenager.  The characters are so real and relateable, I would want to have friends just like them. If I knew there was a shop like The Steeping Leaf in Wisconsin, I would head there for a cup of English Breakfast right away!

The following is a recipe from the book:

Annie's Tea Pops:

INGREDIENTS
2 cups (approximately one small pot), herbal tea, brewed double strength
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar

Brew hot tea using double the amount of leaves you usually would. Let steep for 4 minutes, them allow time to cool. Stir the orange juice and sugar into the cooled tea, then pour the mixture into ice pop molds or ice cube trays, leaving some room at the top. Place in freezer and wait 3 hours or until solid.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ways to Live Forever

Ways to Live Forever
Sally Nicholls
224 pages

1. My name is Sam.
2. I am eleven years old.
3. I collect stories and fantastic facts.
4. I have leukemia
5. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

Told through journal entries, Sam tells the story of his life as he lives through the last stages of leukemia. He collects lists, stories, questions and pictures that create a vivid picture of a boy who knows his days are coming to an end.

Some questions of Sam's include: "Why does God make kids get ill?" and "Does it hurt to die?" he tries to find the answers to the questions with his fellow leukemia sufferer, Felix. The two are home schooled, due to their illness, and their teacher challenges them to write about themselves. While Felix writes one entry and forgets about it, Sam keeps writing, using this journal as a way of expressing his concerns and triumphs. In his journal, Sam also explains how his illness affects the rest of his family.

Although the ending is inevitable, Sally Nicholls handles the topic with such a gentle voice and clarity.

Be prepared to laugh, as well as cry, as you read Sam's touching story in Ways to Live Forever.