Category Archives: YA novel

The Library of Ever

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

As soon as I spotted this novel for young readers in my local bookstore, I knew I had to own it. And it was a wise choice. As I read, I met Lenora and traveled along on her wild adventures through the ages and around the globe, all entered through a library.

Lenora is ‘hired’ as Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian and climbs her way up the library ladder, through solving problems and risking her life for knowledge. ‘Knowledge is a Light’ is the library’s slogan, chiseled in stone, and Lenore knows it’s true, especially when she encounters dark forces who want to get rid of books and ban others from gathering knowledge through reading.

I’ve read many other books with a library theme: Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library for instance. But those books are merely fun entertainment. The Library of Ever actually has a whole layer beyond its entertainment value that, almost imperceptibly, demonstrates the importance of books, research and the freedom to read.

I soon loved how this unique book blends fantasy with true questions, asked at the Help Desk and whose answers can be found only be doing research. The book is very cleverly written because we all have asked some of the questions and often have made the mistake of not enough fact checking. Reading, I learned some very interesting facts – from the highest point on earth (not what you think!) to Minoan Literature, from leap years to hieroglyphs. Readers’ minds can truly grow on this book.

Underlying all of Lenora’s adventures is the threat of Dark Forces. As the Chief Librarian states at one point: ‘the value of a Library cannot be counted in money.’ Same with the book – it was well worth the 10.- purchase price and both my grandson and I gained much more from the reading experience than just fun hours spent reading together. We kept sharing what we learned by saying “Did you know this? And listen to this!”…

Fantasy is not normally a genre I enjoy but now I can’t wait to read the next title: Rebel in the Library of Ever.

@ZAlexanderBooks

ISBN 978-1-250-23370-7

Special Books About Special Kids – novels about learning difficulties




I’ve read some powerful books about children who are different; kids who face more challenges than most people.


Wonder by R.J. Palacio is one of the most recent ones and received a lot of attention, also thanks to the movie with Julia Roberts.

I liked A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass a lot.

And Rules by Cynthia Lord is one of my favourites.

But Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper wins the prize.
Wow.
What a powerful story.
Written so perfectly.


Out of My Mind is written in the first person, which is a brave and bold move by this award winning author. Because Melody, the main character, has cerebral palsy. She cannot speak, her limbs move involuntarily, she drools and makes funny sounds. What no one realizes is that Melody’s brain works perfectly. She remembers facts, she gets match, she can spell like the best of them but she cannot let anyone know. Imagine the words and thoughts all stuck inside your brain and no way to let them out… Thanks to Draper’s skillful writing, we are inside Melody’s head and feel her frustration.
Melody is mad and frustrated to no end. She ends up in a special class of kids who cannot learn.
Eventually, however, classroom integration allows her to be in a class with “normal” kids and learn more. It isn’t until a new computer allows her to communicate, much like Stephen Hawkins, that her family and friends realize her potential. But even when they do, Melody faces obstacles that make life more difficult for her than for most people. With her strong determination, she overcomes it all.
This book is a must-read for all booklovers, but a special eye opener for all those (educators) who work with children who have physical challenges.

ISBN 141697170X (ISBN13: 9781416971702)

Book Review: Bloomability by Sharon Creech

Bloomability by Sharon Creech
One of those lovely books to curl-up with, this is the story of coming-of-age of a girl attending an international school in Switzerland.
After having been “kidnapped” by an aunt,Dinnie Doone discovers all the “bloomabilities” that life has to offer. 
As with many good tales, getting rid of the parents often seems important to allow the main character to blossom. In Dinnie’s “second life” in Europe, her family continues to neglect her, forgetting even to let her know where they’ve relocated. Dinnie gradually adjusts to her new environment and makes friends with other students from around the world: exuberant Guthrie; bitter Lila; and language-mangling Keisuke, who says “bloomable” when he means “possible.” 
Together, these middle schoolers share classes and adventures, and explore ideas and emotions. A great middle school read from Newbery Award-winning author Sharon Creech 
 
Paperback, 273 pages HarperTrophy ISBN 006440823X (ISBN13: 9780064408233)
For more details and a teaching guide: http://sharoncreech.com/teach/teach.asp

Counting By 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

You know those books that allow you to crawl inside the main character’s head and allow you to dwell there for a while? Those comfortable, even if disturbing, books that are so real.  Those books that are like a lollipop – you start licking (reading) slower so that the good feeling with last longer…

That’s how felt while reading Counting By 7’s.
This is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now. Willow’s world is suddenly, tragically, changed when… well, I won’t tell you ’cause you have to read it yourself. The triumph of this book is that it is “not” a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

“Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way I’ve never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that I’ll never forget.”–John Corey Whaley, author of “Where Things Come Back”

“Willow Chance subtly drew me into her head and her life, so much so that I was holding my breath for her by the end. Holly Goldberg Sloan has created distinct characters who will stay with you long after you finish the book.”–Sharon Creech, Newbery Award-winning author of “Walk Two Moons”

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking  by Astrid Lindgren

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

The book that I loved as a child, translated from Swedish, is now a classic. Does that show my age, too?
But really this story is ageless. As all good child protagonists, Pippi has no parents. At least not any that are in the picture. And as any child reader, I vividly remember wanting to live just like Pippi: to eat when and what I wanted. To only go to bed when I decided to. To have the freedom and the strength to make my own decisions. Pippi has even more strength than that. She can lift up her horse and do other amazing things that seem to perfectly fit the story.

Re-read this book, share it out loud with a child in your life! Re-live being a child in a book in which anything is possible.

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition (April 26 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402498

Also check out Astrid Lingren‘s web page with wonderful information:
http://astridlindgren.se/en
 IBBY, the International Board of Books for Young People, administers the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award:
 http://www.ibby-canada.org/?page_id=246

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Sometimes I am not sure what motivated a Newbery jury in selecting a particular book. Daunting as their task must be, Newbery novels have been all over the map for me – from books I adore to books in which I just don’t see the merits. But The One and Only Ivan is a delicious, unique, lovely written story. Published by HarperCollins in 2012, this is the 2013 Newbery Award winning novel. 

If gorillas had a human voice, this one rings true as a large primate living in captivity. Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all since he has successfully blocked out the dark events of his past. He has accepted his fate, even if he’d rather be anywhere else.

Ivan’ friends are Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. Bob is a wonderful character, stray by choice. Stella, however, has an elephant’s memory and she has not forgotten how life in the wild was. She has not forgotten nor accepted humans’ brutalities. In between the circus acts in which both Ivan and Stella have to earn their keep, Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then Ruby arrived, a baby elephant taken from her family. She makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
Beautifully and gently told, this story can lead to much contemplation of how humans hunt, and keep animals in captivity. I’ll never again look a zoo gorilla in the eyes without wondering what’s going on behind that high forehead.

http://theoneandonlyivan.com/