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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

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What do you consider the greatest moment in sports? When the Red Sox finally won the World Series? When the US Hockey Team defeated the Soviets?

Renowned sportcaster Len Berman offers readers his 50 greatest sports moments in Sourcebooks’ The Greatest Moments in Sports, now in bookstores. I looked forwarded to reading this because I rarely review “boy” books and this is one I know boys would definitely enjoy.

Inside are Berman’s handpicked greatest moments. Keeping in mind that greatest is subjective, Berman’s introduction explains these are “great” because of the drama involved or the historical impact, etc.

…if they can’t even agree on who thought up America’s pastime, then who can really say what the greatest moments in sports history were? Well, for one, I can! I’ve seen a few sports events in my day: lots of World Series, Super Bowls, and Olympics. You may or may not agree with my choices, but for each moment, I’ll tell you why I thought it was one of the greatest. It could be the drama of the moment. Perhaps it was historical or just plain amazing.

What really connects this book to the reader is the enclosed CD. There’s 12 tracks, and listeners get to hear actual broadcasts from the event. Before each broadcast, Berman offers an introduction and puts the event in context for the reader. His enthusiasm for sports is evident, as he eagerly discusses each moment, such as Secretariat winning the Triple Crown.

The layout of this book is really attractively done, with large images and text over them. Various colors and info sidebars with historical info, player stats, and other information throughout. I particularly like the use of arrows, calling your attention to important information quickly.

I learned quite a bit from this book. Prior to reading, I wasn’t really familiar with Jackie Robinson or knew that Secretariat was nicknamed “Big Red.” The historical range of the events was great too, with as early as the 1940s and as recently as 2008 covered. Most of all, I love the nonchalant style Berman has throughout the book, perfect for the sports-crazed fan as well as a casual reader curious about sports history. With a nice flow and stories presented in an entertaining manner, it’s a fun read.

You can view author Len Berman’s website at http://www.thatssports.com/

Copy for review provided by the publisher.

Title: Greatest Moments in Sports
Author: Len Berman
Date: 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks’ Jabberwocky Kids
Pages:136

I drew winners of the latest two little contests I had.. (I say little because I didn’t have many entries, but oh well!)

The winner of RIVAL REVENGE, the latest Canterwood Crest book is..

rsgrandinetti

and

Gina!

I’ll be emailing you shortly.

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and lets bloggers share what books they’ve received, bought, or borrowed this week.  You can find more information here, if you’d like to participate.

…Got a little crazy this week. One picture is much easier.

Continue reading this article ›

“Everyone forgets their manners sometimes.”

Lisa Tharpe and Ali Bahrampour’s P is for Please: A Bestiary of Manners features twenty six lessons on etiquette, with the help of a large menagerie.   Starting from A, with “A is for asking permission,” each page offers a reminder starting with a letter of the alphabet, and a silly alliteration of the importance of manners.

What follows is a  zany breakdown of all the things one should always do, whether it’s using table manners or saying “excuse me.”

“Excuse me!”  whispers Xavier Xolo when he accidentally bumps into an extra large xenopus.”

Ali Bahrampour’s illustrations are simple but effective. The gentle nature of the animals depicted reminded me of Richard Scarry’s early work from his Golden Book titles. A wide range of species, from the common to the exotic, are shown here.  P is for Please is great for kids, because they’re learning lessons on politeness, while being entertained and the illustrations add to the whimsy of the text.

The cover design features a raised illustration.  Such tactile touches are rare these days in picture books, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Copy for review provided by the author.  To purchase your own copy, visit PisforPlease.com!

Title:  P is for Please
Author:  Lisa Tharpe (Illus. by Ali Bahrampour)
Date:  November 2009
Publisher: Blueberry Ink Press
Pages: 32

The Undercover Book Lover

The Undercover Book Lover is having a huge contest to celebrate her birthday! The winner will receive the prizes below. There are some amazing books up for grabs!

1 Finished copy of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
1 Finished copy of The Sight by Judy Blundell
1 Finished copy of Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
1 Finished copy of Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
1 Finished copy of The Line by Teri Hall
1 Finished copy of The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
1 Finished copy of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
1 Finished copy of Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
1 Finished copy of Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
1 Finished copy of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

You can enter here!

The Frenetic Reader

The Frenetic Reader is giving away a copy of A Match Made in High School plus some swag!  It’s a US/Canada only contest.  Enter here!

Steph Su Reads

Steph Su is having a HUGE blogoversary giveaway! There’s a lot up for grabs, including several amazing ARCs: Will Grayson, Will Grayson,  Sisters Red, Linger, plus more!

Go check out all the details and enter!

In no particular order..

The Summer Before by Ann Martin. Have I not rhapsodized about my love for the BSC enough? Maybe a little more is needed! I am so excited for this new book and am dying for an ARC of it.  This new Publisher’s Weekly article got me a bit more excited.  It could be five pages worth of Claudia’s outfits and I’d buy it. (April, Scholastic)

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.   Underground student justice league. Said league  inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird. Boarding school scandal. Need I say more? Plus Daisy liked my mockup cover! (Fall 2010, Little Brown)

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell.  I just love superheroes. Just love them. And to see them in YA fiction makes me really happy.  Judging from the excerpt the author posted on her website, this superhero is snarky, which I always enjoy.  (May, EgmontUSA)

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I’m a huge fan of Riordan, and have been lucky enough to correspond with him via email once or twice. I started reading the series when it was first released and haven’t looked back.  I love his writing for children (even though adults appreciate it too!), it’s layered with such humor, and depth, with relatable situations.  A new series is bound to be just as good as Percy Jackson.  (March, Disney Hyperion)

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride.  With a plotline that sounds like a good Law and Order: SVU episode, The Tension of Opposites looks like it feeds into my recently-kindled need for some good thrilling YA. A kidnapped teen turning up after two years missing might sound like it’s “ripped from the headlines” as the blurb on Goodread states, but what headlines can’t tell you is the emotional toll and grip such an event has on those left behind. And that’s what I want to see in this novel. (May, EgmontUSA)

Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams.  A mysterious journal hidden in an attic. 1918’s flu epidemic, and a parallel to the present-day characters? Sounds like a book I would’ve loved to have existed when I was eleven, and reading Castle in the Attic. (April, Putnam Juvenile)

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer.  A girl who believes her sister is a murderer? That’s enough of a tagline for me. (May, Scholastic)

A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis.  First, the cover art is adorable. And the title! Second, it’s about a young witch in Jane Austen’s England!  Who wouldn’t want to read? It’s also the first of a series. (April, Atheneum)

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. A new twist on the old tale of changlings, The Replacement looks excellent because it’s from the viewpoint of the replacement.  (September, Razorbill)

This is not a review post, but rather an assessment on a title I feel is worthwhile, but that I was unable to finish.

I Learned a New Word Today….Genocide by Elizabeth Hankins is about Javier, a Mexican immigrant child. His class is learning of genocide’s mark on history, from Sudan to Canada to Germany. Javier, understandably, is very upset at what he’s learned. The entirety of the book is written as Javier’s journal, as he chronicles his feelings about genocide.

The summary of the book states “Then he overhears a conversation that triggers a mysterious chain of events at his school. Now Javier is faced with the reality that no one is immune to the consequences of genocide. And perhaps everyone has a responsibility to help end it, even himself.”

I was unable to get to this part.  For I Learned a New Word Today, while well written, reads like a textbook mixed with a narrative. Pages devoted to historical accounts of genocides are intermixed with Javier’s journal.  In these parts, I felt like I was reading an adult trying to capture a child’s voice for some very intense things.  And this is where I had to stop reading. Even at an easy 150 pages, this book proved to be too much of a challenge for me.  In the classroom environment, I can see it being an excellent teaching tool on genocide, the Holocaust, and other atrocities.  It’s obviously a title meant for discussion, and not read on one’s own.

Copy provided by the publisher.

Title: I Learned a New Word Today..Genocide
Author:  Elizabeth Hankins
Date: 2009
Publisher:  Key Publishing House
Pages: 150
Format:  Paperback

This past summer, for my Media and Society class, we collected data from our days. That is, conversations – we wrote down conversations we observed, and ones we participated in.  The information was then mined for similarities, categorized, and put in collections.  It was then these observations became media.
We live in a constantly connected society. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other sites, we can know with a click of a button where our friends are, what our favorite celebrities are doing, up-to-the-minute news as it breaks, and more.
It’s these thoughts went through my thread as I sat down to write this review for The Knife of  Never Letting Go first of the Chaos Walking series.  That class proved the claim that information is everywhere.  But it took me a long time to review this. I actually read it when I received it in 2008. Then I read it again. I just couldn’t form words that could capture what it does to you.

What would it be like to live in a world where others could hear your every thought?

Such a society exists in The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. The first in the “Chaos Walking” series introduces us to a world in which there are no women left, and every thought by a man or child is audible to all those around, due to an infection known as “Noise.”  Todd Hewlitt is the last boy in the strange settlement of Prentisstown.  His birthday is around the corner, and he’s about to become a man.   With only his dog,  the ever-faithful Manchee, for companionship, Todd ventures to pick apples in a clearing. Only it’s silent and devoid of noise.  More importantly, a girl, Viola Eade, whose spaceship has crashed, and she is its only survivor.    Todd soon learns Viola’s existence poses a threat and the two flee, pursued by the townspeople.

There’s a lot going on in this book, but unlike some dystopian novels I’ve read, The Knife of Never Letting Go appears to have a very clear direction. There’s a great deal of mystery and intrigue in this society, but as Todd uncovers more, the readers learn the real history of Prentisstown along width him. The varying fonts throughout Knife really illustrate  the overwhelming cacophony of thoughts that surround the members of Prentisstown, and let us feel like we’re on the run with Todd as well.   The writing is quick paced, and I flew through the novel, each chapter becoming more taut with suspense as Todd discovers the dark secrets of those he trusted.    The voice of Todd, however, was my favorite.  The improper grammar, the introspective moments , the running stream of consciousness, in other books it would grate on a reader’s nerves perhaps, here, it fuses together perfectly.   His growing loss of innocence is amplified in lines such as the following:

“Men lie, and they lie to theirselves most of all.”

“And there’s so much sorrow in his noise, so much worry and edginess, I know he’s speaking true, I know he can’t help what’s happening and I hate it…  We don’t say anything more. What else is there to say? Everything and nothing. You can’t say everything, so you don’t say nothing.”

This is a heavy read and will stick with you for quite some time.   The novel approaches so many topics from information to the role of women, to colonization, I could easily see it used in a classroom. On Twitter, I suggested it might make an interesting read next to Fahrenheit 451, with the constrasting themes of the ending of the dissemination of information and the overwhelming power of information.

Two things worth noting:  One issue I had with the storyline: Todd’s abuse of Manchee.  However, I did consider that within this society such treatment of animals isn’t vilified.     Also the foster guardians of Todd, Ben and Cillian, their relationship wasn’t explicitly stated, but it seemed that the two men were a couple who displayed nothing but devotion and care for Todd.  I found this refreshing in a YA novel, and liked that it just existed in the backdrop.

I’d recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go to fans of dystopian fiction, Fahrenheit 451, Candor, Margaret Atwood.

The second book in this series, The Ask and the Answer, has been released in hardcover as well. I warn you, The Knife ends on very unsettling cliffhanger. You’ll want to get The Ask and the Answer immediately.

Copy for review provided by the publisher.

Title:  The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Date: 2008
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Pages: 496
Format: Hardback



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