Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Inkheart

Just finished one of those books that I probably should have read a few years ago, but just now got around to - Cornelia Funke's Inkheart. I was surprised that it was on the shelf when I picked it up a week or so ago, what with the movie coming out soon, but I'm glad it was. I'm frequently sceptical of books that have been translated, as this one has been. In case you never noticed the fine print, it was originally written in German. I had read Funke's The Thief Lord a few years ago and was kind of disappointed. This one was much better. It's the story of young Meggie and her father, Mo, a repairer of books. Meggie has been told that her mother "went away" when she was very young but had never been given a real explanation. She also thought it was a little strange that her father, who made his living working with books, and told wonderful, off the cuff stories, never reads aloud to her. A mysterious man named Dustfinger appears one night, they leave abruptly to visit an "aunt." After some bizarre and frightening things begin to happen, Mo finally tells Meggie that when he reads aloud, he sometimes brings characters and objects to life in this world, and things or people disappear from this world into the book. Can you guess what happened to mom? Mo has been trying desperately to bring her back. An evil tyrant who was brought out of a book, wants Mo to read something even more evil out of the book for him, and Dustfinger, who was read out of the same book, blames Mo for his situation, and desperately wants to go back. I thought it was very well written, with enough plot twists to hold your interest. I liked the characters. I'm looking forward to the movie version. I just may pick up the sequel. (And if you know me, you know how unusual that is!) Highly recommended, and appropriate for both middle school and high school (for a nice light reading break) students.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AND Magazine is Back!

Good news! AND, the art and literary magazine published by Jump Street, and written and produced entirely by area teens, is back after a one year hiatus. I haven't had a chance to read this one yet (wanted to get the word out asap!) but it has always been really excellent, and I expect no less from this issue. This one is fosused on music, with articles about local bands, etc. They're free for the taking, and stashed on the display unit in the center aisle of the library, down by the Teen section. Pick yours up next time you're in the library.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Middle School Video Game Tournament Update

Just wrapped up the first middle school VGT of the new year and it was a good one! Real nice group of guys! The group voted for Smash Bros Brawl over Mario Kart for the tournament. Congrats to Patrick Y who was today's champ, and Jared M who came in a close second, despite this being his first time playing that game! Kinda reinforces my belief that I could just go in and bang on the controller and do respectably at that game. Anyway, thanks to EBGames for supplying some giveaways and Moo to run to the tournament, and the Friends of Fredricksen, who supplied drinks, snacks, and the prizes for Patrick and Jared. Watch this space for info on upcoming tournaments. We're going to change the format a bit, and instead of separating by age, we'll open it to 6th - 12th grades and do it game specific. We have a Mario Kart tournament and a Call of Duty tournament lined up. Thanks also to Chris for his clean-up help!
If you missed it, pics are below. As usual, Nerf ping pong and Risk were about as popular as the video games.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

VGT Update

Just wrapped up the high school video game tournament. Attendance has been off this school year for the high school group - not sure why. We're going to go back to offering 6th-12th grade together, but offering different games as the tournament games. Watch this space for dates and games. Today we decided instead of actually doing an actual tournament, to just set up the three systems and swapped out what was on the big screen halfway through. That let both the Call of Duty fans and the Mario Kart fans, have a shot at the big screen. A nice relaxing day for everyone. I was catching up on some paperwork off on the side and didn't remember to get pics till it was over. Hopefully I'll get some next week with the middle school group. See you then!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Video Game Tournament Reminder

Yes, it's that time once again! We'll be holding a video game tournament for grades 9-12 this Sunday, 2-4pm, and grades 6-8 next Sunday. Be there a little early (just 5-10 minutes) and help choose the tournament game!
See you then!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and It's Kind of a Funny Story

Over the holidays, I was reading, but took some time off work to spend with my own kids while they were home on break, so I'm once again a little behind on posting (among other things!) Here's the update on what read, both of which I enjoyed...

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga, is the story of 15-year-old geek, and budding comic book author, Donnie, who lives with his mother and stepfather (aka the step-fascist). Donnie gets picked on relentlessly, and has spent years trying to just ignore it. Suddenly another loner, Kyra, a goth girl, kind of steamrolls her way into his life and gets him to take a real look at how he handles life and other people. The book deals with some mature subject matter so it's not recommended for middle school kids. It's not graphic, though. Early on, I was afraid that this book was going to stoop to having Donnie become a school shooter, since he was compiling a list of people who had done particularly nasty things to him, and fantasizes about terrorists taking over his school. Having worked in a middle school, I've seen the bullying, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of kids have, at one time or another, made at least a mental hit list and fantasized about getting revenge. Does that mean we should lock them all up? I don't think so. In this case, Donnie at least starts to get beyond some of what's been happening to him. There isn't a sit-com, everything's-wrapped-up-in-a-nice-neat-pretty-bow, kind of ending. But there is progress and there is hope, and I think that kids, and everyone who deals with them, need to see that.

I also just finished Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story. This is the story of high school freshman Craig Gilner, who spent a year cramming for an entrance exam to get into a prestigious New York City high school, but once he gets in he realizes that once you're in a prestigious place, you're likely to be just average in that group. He starts smoking pot with a friend, and slips downhill, until he is clinically depressed. When he reaches the point where he plans to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, he checks himself into the psych ward at the local hospital instead. Vizzini wrote the book right after he actually spent 5 days in the psych ward of a Brooklyn hospital, so I'm assuming that it's pretty authentic in it's depiction of the ward and patients. This book has a lot to say about the pressure put on a lot of teens to excel at a young age, and what happens to the ones who don't. This could be an incredibly depressing book, but it is actually very hopeful, and many times rather funny. Again, some mature content, handled pretty well, but not recommended for middle school kids.

For high school students, I'd highly recommend both books, as well as Vizzini's Be More Chill, which I read a few years ago.