Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Liesl & Po

Liesl & Poby Lauren Oliver
From the publisher:
"Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places."

I wanted to love this book, and as a child I'm pretty sure I would have loved this book, but as a cynical adult I only liked it. I liked the fairy tale, magical feeling of the book. I liked the writing. I disliked that the adults in the story were all so evil, with the exception of Mo who was really just an adult child. Couldn't we have had SOME adults that were not pure evil? I found it distracting to have Po always referred to as "it". I understand the reason behind it, but it kind of threw me every time. I loved the illustrations in the book, they were beautiful and mystical and magical. However, I think my favorite thing about Liesl & Po was the author's note at the end. Particularly this paragraph:

"... Liesl & Po is the embodiment of what writing has always been for me at its purest and most basic - not a paycheck, certainly; not an idea, even; and not an escape. Actually, it is the opposite of an escape; it is a way back in , a way to enter and make sense of a world that occasionally seems harsh and terrible and mystifying."

I'm glad I have this book in our library and I hope many of our students read it. I'm sure they will love it

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 8-12
School Library Journal - Grades 5-8

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Etiquette and Espionage

Etiquette & Espionageby Gail Carriger
From the publisher:
"Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school."

I'm not a fan of the steampunk genre, but with a tag line from author Marie Lu saying it was "absolutely charming, comical and full of whimsy... It is the perfect steampunk version of Harry Potter.", I thought it had possibilities. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't really up my alley. To me it was mildly enjoyable. And the end really seemed like it was building up to go somewhere exciting and then it just kind of fell flat. And the ridiculous names of the characters kind of threw me, as well. However, it is a fun world to read about, it seems age appropriate for the intended audience (the main character is 14), and the characters, despite their weird names, were engaging. I hope my middle schoolers will give it a chance.

Areas of concern:
There might have been a handful of mild cuss words, but I don't really remember any. Hallelujah there was no love-triangle, in fact not really any romance at all. A very clean read.