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Monthly Archives: September 2006

“Poison Ivy” by Amy Goldman Koss

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

"Poison Ivy" is a short novel about a high school American government class that puts a trio of bullies ("the Anns") on trial for making Ivy's life miserable with their teasing. The story is told from the point of view of six different characters, including "Poison" Ivy, the object of ridicule who is so withdrawn that her classmates think she has no feelings; Daria, aka "Einstein," a shy, soft-spoken, intelligent classmate who is picked as Ivy's attorney, and who must suffer what is for her the unbearable torment of public speaking; Marco, a handsome, intelligent juror who comes to understand that the trial has no chance of succeeding; Cam, a sweet, sleepy, slightly spacey newcomer who is willing to take a stand against the Anns; and, of course, Ann herself, the chief bully and queen of the school.

While a bullying trial is a great premise, Koss' novel never fully delivers on its potential. The story feels unfinished, as if the reader has only an outline. For example, some characters, including Cam, are woefully underdeveloped, leaving the reader to try to guess at their motivations. Storylines involving Ivy's and Marco's parents are raised and then abruptly dropped. And, because Ivy is such a detached character — and since we never learn the details of the bullying — the story lacks an emotional punch. This book is okay, but readers may be disappointed in how the story is told and, without giving anything away, how it resolves itself.

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Posted by on September 29, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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“Keeping the Moon” by Sarah Dessen

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

In "Keeping the Moon," Nicole "Colie" Sparks is the formerly fat teen daughter of a national fitness star. Losing 45 and a half pounds hasn’t done much to help Colie’s self-image, though, and a nasty rumor about her at school only makes matters worse. When Colie’s mom goes on an international promotional tour for the summer, she leaves Colie with her eccentric Aunt Mira, a greeting card illustrator who lives in sleepy Colby, North Carolina. Colie soon lands a job waitressing at the Last Chance Bar and Grill, where she meets best friends Isabel and Morgan and a shy, sweet cook named Norman. Over one summer, and with the help of her new friends, Colie discovers that the kind of person she’d always like to be is already living right inside her.

This is a funny, touching story of the transforming power of friendship and the strength that all girls possess inside, even if they don’t always realize it. Definitely recommended for upper middle school and high school girls.

Check out Dessen's latest novel, "Just Listen," available now.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Moms & Daughters Sunday Book Club will be discussing "Keeping the Moon" on Sunday, December 10th, at 3pm.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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“When It Happens” by Susane Colasanti

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

"When It Happens" is a classic coming-of-age, falling-in-love story, told here in alternating chapters by two seniors, brainy Sara and slacker musician Tobey. The characters are exquisitely real, from the way they talk to their friends and teachers to their private insecurities and fears. The first half of the novel is a powerhouse, as Sara falls for "Greek god" jock Dave, while kind, observant outsider Tobey keeps a close eye on the relationship. As Sara starts to realize that she never feels comfortable with Dave and his popular friends, she also begins to develop an amazing bond with Tobey. Sara's friend Laila describes the growing connection between the two as "something real," and that's exactly what it is.

The story loses some steam in the second half, after Tobey and Sara inevitably get together. What should have been the climax of the book occurs at about the midway point, after which there are some contrived obstacles placed in the path of Tobey and Sara's relationship. Still, because the characters seem so incredibly genuine, most readers will be caught up in this story and hate to see it end. Definitely recommended for older teens, particularly girls, although Tobey's narration might draw some boys in, too.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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“Devilish” by Maureen Johnson

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

If you read Johnson's "13 Little Blue Envelopes," you'll find this book to be a bit different. Instead of clues, art, and a trip through Europe, this one has demons!

In "Devilish," Johnson tells the story of St. Teresa's senior Jane Jarvis, a smart, sarcastic girl with blonde spiky hair and a best friend (Allison Concord) who always seems to end up as the school laughingstock. Ally's senior year gets off to a horrible start when she throws up on a freshman during St. Teresa's "Big-Little" day, a ceremony where each freshman and transfer student selects a senior to be her mentor. Despite this incident, a beautiful, rich sophomore transfer named Lanalee Tremone seeks Ally out as her Big. Quickly, shy, mousy Ally is transformed — new hair, new clothes, new confident attitude, and a new relationship with Jane's ex-boyfriend, Elton. But something about Ally seems off to Jane. Do the changes in Ally have anything to do with a mysterious freshman at St. Sebastian's, the neighboring boys school, who helps Jane during a freak hail storm and then doesn't seem to want to leave her alone? And is Lanalee just a teenage girl who likes red cupcakes … or could she actually be evil?

A quick, fun read that has it all — friendship, romance, high school cliques, and even demon fighting!

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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“Freshman” by Michael Gerber

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

Gerber's first teen novel follows Hart Fox's freshman year at prestigious if quirky New England-area Stutts University. Readers should realize that this book is an absurdist comedy aimed at older teens. Think of something along the lines of the Fox show "The Family Guy," but with more profanity. In other words, don't expect realism. You can, instead, expect to find all sorts of outlandish plots, many of which will make you laugh. Don't believe me? Well, for starters, Hart's entry into Stutts only occurs after he strikes a deal with the father of the rich and boorish Trip Darling. Hart will take all of Trip's classes, plus his own. Even better, when Mr. Darling tires of the deal, he offers the members of Trip's fraternity (Comma Comma Apostrophe) entry into an exclusive society if they take care of one small task — killing Trip! Luckily for Trip, the CCA brothers are as stupid as they are lazy (their schemes include death by butter knife as well as an attempt to raise a mummy to do the dirty work).

Need more proof that this book is a farce? Hart gets a job at the school library, working in a secret sub-basement opening up alumni donations and tossing the contents into one of four pneumatic tubes. Hart's major is the "Study of Things." All the streets around the university in Great Littleton are named for insects. Hart's girlfriend is a vampire who likes being in college so much that she hasn't left in a hundred years. And Hart's friends at the campus humor magazine, The Cuckoo, reconfigure a hearse and sail it in the school regatta.

There is some truth in this humorous take on first-year college life, and Hart is an appealing character to follow. If you're looking for something silly and somewhat serious about college, "Freshman" might be for you. And, if you really like it, keep your eyes open for a sequel on Hart's sophomore year.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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“New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer

FROM A KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWER:

This book is the exciting sequel to "Twilight," the wonderfully romantic and adventure-filled vampire story. The adventures continue in "New Moon" as Bella discovers that some things in life — such as love — aren’t always things that are easy to deal with. Edward himself has other problems. Bella needs to save him before he gets himself killed and her life squashed for no reason at all, other than a misunderstanding by the lovely but unkind-to-Bella Rosalie. Can Bella survive the tragedies that strike her? Can she continue her friendship with Jake, or is he too in love with her to be anything but her boyfriend? This book is one of the "Leave-Me-Alone-I’m-Reading" types, where you just can’t put it down for anything … until you’ve finished it, that is.

Rating: BEST BOOK EVER! 5 stars.

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S NOTE: In this case, one of our (very lucky) teen reviewers read an advanced copy of "New Moon." Rest assured, our Library copy is being processed and will be out shortly. Until then, you might want to tide yourself over by visiting author Stephenie Meyer's "New Moon" page. She's even got the first chapter posted there. Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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“Shug” by Jenny Han

FROM A KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWER:

Annemarie Wilcox, or "Shug" as her family calls her, is beginning middle school. She feels all out of place, and the last word she would use to describe herself is pretty. However, her perfect sister Celia is gorgeous, and Annemarie would do anything to be her. All of the boys chase Celia and she’s got a great group of friends. Annemarie was happy with her life and her two best friends, Mark and Elaine, but not when she turns twelve. Suddenly everybody has to be boyfriend and girlfriend and life is a popularity contest. Annemarie secretly might like Mark, she’s jealous of all of the other girls with boyfriends, and Elaine is suddenly popular. The seventh grade dance is coming up, and, oh boy, no way is Shug going. Nope. Never.

"Shug" is an awesome read and definitely worthwhile. It’s like Meg Cabot says, "Shug shines!"

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2006 in Uncategorized

 

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