Monday, November 11, 2013

Veronica Roth and Allegiant (Part 3 of Divergent)

I had the pleasure to meet author Veronica Roth at The Book Stall in Winnetka a few weeks ago. I wanted to share with you some of the interesting things that came up during this great opportunity.
For instance the Divergent series has been translated into 42 languages.
Veronica Roth uses more technology now than ever to help her be consistent with timelines and events in her stories.
She was really happy with the script that was written for the film (OPENS IN MARCH 2014) and thought the casting was perfect.
The film shot for 90 days of location shooting here in Chicago so there will lots to enjoy in the movie for all of us here in the area.
She says the whole book-into-a-movie experience has really changed so much of her life.
When Allegiant came out she had to sign 1000's of copies.

Part III of this terrific dystopia trilogy is full of all the action, twists and turns, surprises and disclosures that you have come to expect from this author.  If you have not read Allegiant don't read any social media or blogs about it, if you do not want the story spoiled for you. If you have read it then please do not spoil it for anyone else. It really deserves to be read with all the surprises intact. Enjoy the author at her blog (she puts in Spoiler Alerts!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dualed by Elsie Chapman - Another twist on the Dystopia genre.

For all the Hunger Games, Matched and Divergent fans out there, try Dualed!

Join West Grayer (15 year old orphan) as she tries to survive her city-kingdom of Kersh's harsh rules of survival. Since the world fell into constant warfare, Kersh has survived as a walled kingdom on the west coast of the US.  Everyone there has a genetically identical twin born of completely different parents. At an appointed time each twin or "alt" has a month to find and eliminate the other. Who ever remains alive is deemed worthy of becoming a member of the protective Kersh army as an adult. It's the ultimate survival-of-the-fittest story set in a tough city, short on resources and heavy on danger. 
Clearly, number one in a series, I found myself wanting to know what happened to get the world to this point; how did Kersh get started and who are the mysterious Board that run everything behind the scenes. Hints at all these things are present and you know there has to be a rebellion coming at some point.  I really liked the pace and atmosphere of this dark action story.  I hope some of my questions will be satisfied in the next installments when they arrive.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Two Caudill nominees about boys: Bamboo People and Boys Without Names

Chiko and Tu Reh are both Burmese teenage boys caught in the middle of modern day Burma and civil war. Told in the first person, the reader will live the ordeal of being kidnapped into the army and forced to become a soldier. Chiko is well educated and longs to become a teacher. He uses his education and intelligence to survive and cope, never forgetting his family. He gets to know Tu Reh, a Karenni rebel soldier, when he is severely wounded in a battlefield.  What happens next decides the rest of Chiko's life.  Themes of war, friendship, family, compassion and resilience weave a fast paced story about the lives of young people in Burma today.  Be sure to read the endnotes by the author about the current situation in Burma.
11 year old Gopal moves to present day Mumbai, India with his family. The family has lost their farm and rural way of life. In hopes of finding work through a family member in the big city they head out. Nothing is as expected in the city.  Money quickly runs out leaving the family homeless and hungry. Baba, Gopal's father, goes in search of the family member only to disappear. Desperate to help his family survive, Gopal tries to find any work he can. His trust in the wrong person gets him kidnapped into child labor.  Locked away in dark, airless loft Gopal and five other boys are held captive. All day with little food or water, the boys are forced to glue beads onto frames.  They call their cruel and dangerous boss, Scar. Gopal is determined to escape. Slowly, even in the face of hopelessness, he manages to befriend his fellow captives.  His resourcefulness and resilience ultimately changes the course of life for all the boys. This is a serious story about child labor and children's' rights and the power of friendship.

Two Caudill Nominees about modern girls: The Running Dream and I, Emma Freke

 Jessica is a star high school runner who loses her leg in a school bus crash. Her journey from complete despair to new dream realized is a believable story of determination, family and true friendship. I personally learned so much about what amputees go through that I never knew before. The story gave me a new appreciation for our veterans and bombing victims who overcome these sorts of injuries. It is an inspirational story on many levels.

Emma thinks it is terribly ironic that her name is pronounced "freak" because she often feels that way about herself.  Living with her free thinking and not very responsible mom, Emma would rather not interact with the world if she can help it.  All this changes when she is invited to attend the Freke family reunion. She knows very little about her dad and accepts the invitation. The reunion is overwhelming at first with hundreds of members in attendance but Emma soon makes several key connections that will change her self-image forever.  Joining Emma on her journey of self-discovery and acceptance is at times frustrating and funny but ultimately joyful.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Scorpio Races by Stiefvater (2011 Printz Honor Medal winner)

Different cover from one
in the LTC

This is one of those stories that suck you in slowly. You might not even be sure you like it but you have to know what is going to happen next. In the end, you are totally caught up in the world of the island of Thisby and the annual Scorpio Races.
Puck Connolly, first female to ever enter the races, has to race to keep her home. Sean Kendrick, four time winner and talented horse trainer, has to race to keep the horse that gives him purpose. So is this some horse/race story set in the north Atlantic? Not exactly since the horses in the races are mythical Capall Uisce (pronounced CAPple ISHka). They come out of the sea looking like huge race horses only they eat flesh and are almost impossible to train. If you can race one they are the finest mounts in the world, just don't get eaten while you try. 
If you let the lyrical, rich prose carry you along, the island, the people and the horses will come vividly to life. The story is about family, bonds, purpose, loyalty and ultimately love. If you are a horse person (such as myself) you will be moved by the land and water equines in the story. You might need a tissue. Also, please be warned that the film rights have been purchased so the movie is in the planning stages.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jordan Sonnenblick visits with our junior high!!

Jordan Sonnenblick, internationally acclaimed young adult author, visited with our junior high students this past week. Many of his books have been reviewed here at lebrisary such as Notes from the Midnight Driver; After Ever After and Curveball. His live visit with our students was as great as his books. He was well worth the wait! For a brief report on his visit go to on our school website. I invite our readers to search his name here at lebrisary for the reviews of some of his excellent work in the modern realism genre.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ally Condie wraps up her series with "Reached"!

Reached is Part III of Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy. Cassia, Xander and Ky have grown up a great deal in the last two books. The final installment brings the three matched friends together again in a race against time. The Society has collapsed, a victim of their own controls and the inside work of the Rebellion. The plague originally engineered to eliminate "Aberrations" and "Anomalies", perceived enemies of the Society's stability, has now out-stripped medical resources and is killing at an alarming rate. The Rebellion led by an appointed "Pilot" as leader is trying to take over by delivering life saving serum to all sectors of the population. Cassia, Ky and Xander are part of the Rebellion trying to save lives and find a true cure. Cassia as a data analyst, Xander as a medic and Ky as a skilled pilot. Friends and family, loyalties and betrayals mark this complex but satisfying end to the series. There are no easy answers for the three young protagonists but their will to live and love drives them forward.  A very strong addition to the popular dystopian novels genre, readers of Matched and Crossed will be entertained by the action and challenged to think about society, community and family.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gordon Korman does it again with "Ungifted"

Donovan Curtis is the likable cut-up of his junior high school. Only problem is that trouble seems to find him wherever he goes. Detention is his home away from home. When a seemingly simple whack on the school statue of Atlas holding up the world ends up destroying the better part of the gym, it looks like the end may be near for Donovan. But instead of the expected expulsion, Donovan's family receives notice that he has been admitted to the district's school for the gifted The Academy of Scholastic Distinction. Pretty much a straight C kind of a guy, Donovan realizes that some sort of bureaucratic mix-up has taken place. He decides to go with this odd turn of events. The ASD may be the just the place to hide out while tempers cool. Donovan may not be gifted in the conventional way but it turns out that he does have some unique talents that his new classmates do not. The story is told from various characters' points of view.   Donovan, his parents, his married older sister, his brother-in-law's dog, the superintendent of the district, his old pals at the junior high, his new gifted classmates and the Robotics Club's competition robot are all changed in this hilarious, non-stop romp. You will never think of "gifted" in quite the same way.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2013 Newbery and Caldecott Winners!!

The Newbery Committee really did a fabulous job this year picking Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan. Told from Ivan's point of view, you will experience a wonderful, thoughtful and intense experience.  Ivan and his animal friends are part of a small circus housed in a mall. Cramped, run down and losing money daily, life has few happy moments. Ivan is a philosopher and tries to make the best of his life including enjoying creating artwork that is sold at the mall. One day a baby elephant, Ruby, arrives and everything changes for Ivan. His love of art drives him make a difference in Ruby's life that effects everyone around him. Katherine Applegate is known for her other titles: Home of the Brave and the Roscoe Riley Rules series.

The Caldecott Committee also did a fabulous job this year picking Jon Klassen's This is Not My Hat. If you are familiar with an earlier title of his I Want My Hat back you know he has a quirky sense of humor and a thing about hats! Told in first person, small fish tells his proud tale of stealing a lovely hat from a very large fish.  Small wonderful details will elicit laughs and plenty of "uh ohs" as the story swims along to the surprise ending.  Jon Klassen also won a Silver Caldecott Medal for his illustrations of  Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett.  Jon Klassen is only the second illustrator to win both medals in the same year since 1946. The Caldecott celebrates it's 75th Anniversary this year!!