Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Going Bovine" -Libba Bray

Going Bovine provides readers with a journey through the main character’s (Cameron) fight for his life when battling mad cow disease. As Cameron’s guide Dulcie says “everything’s connected Cameron. There are no accidents” (p.117) which becomes apparent throughout the adventure. Readers in the young adult age group may especially relate to the teen drinking, drug use and sex that is peppered throughout the novel, involved enough to make the characters seem real without being overwhelming.

Young adults reading this title will likely be left with two strong thoughts that may influence their behavior. First, not to take anything for granted. Cameron does not particularly enjoy his life prior to finding out he has mad cow disease, but is willing to go on a very long and strange journey to save it when he realizes he may die. Second, that everything is connected. The simple act of Cameron giving Keith the ’magic screw’  (p. 360)after Dulcie describes how Keith’s experiences on that day will lead him to drop out of school, go overseas and die in the war (p. 356-7), saves his life by making him the base for a television program (p. 390). The idea of connectedness is played out in many ways throughout the story, and will encourage young adults to think about how their actions may affect others. As this age group is generally short sighted in relation to the long term consequences of their actions, a gentle reminder to think about what they do will have a positive influence on readers.

The fast paced and odd story line is likely to encourage readers to follow along quickly, and be surprised with the messages given throughout the text. As Suzanne Gordon says in a School Library Journal review “many will enjoy asking themselves the questions both deep and shallow that pop up along the way.” Libba Bray’s writing allows the deeper questions to evolve over time and throughout the journey, which may encourage a deeper thought process for young adult readers.


Gordon, S. (2009). “Going Bovine.”  School Library Journal 55(9), 151. Accessed through WilsonWeb database.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"When You Reach Me" -Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me is a gateway book into science fiction for middle school and junior high readers. As Deborah Stevenson states “that [science fiction] element never takes over the story”, which may be helpful for reluctant readers. The focus placed on the day-to-day activities and friendships of the main character, Miranda, allow readers to connect with her character and become involved in the mystery of the story before realizing the clear science fiction aspects present.

Miranda discusses her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, on numerous occasions throughout the story, often focusing on the time travel experienced by Meg, a foreshadowing of what will occur in Miranda’s life in future chapters. Consistent references to A Wrinkle in Time throughout When You Reach Me should naturally encourage readers to choose Madeleine L’Engle’s text after finishing the story of Miranda. James Blasingame says “reading A Wrinkle in Time is not necessary in order to enjoy the book, but it does make it more fun” which may be true, as it is easier to follow her discussions with Marcus regarding the time travel and the broccoli patch (most significantly on pages 49-52). However, after reading Miranda’s story it is likely that young minds will be sufficiently primed with the possibility of time travel and other science fiction themes to accurately comprehend and accept the writing of L’Engle, which has a much heavier emphasis on science.

Ultimately, each reader has unique personal experiences that allow different characters, plots, and themes to connect with them. The science fiction genre does not have to be so strongly based on science, or only involve robots and aliens, which may be the perception of younger readers. Fiction options, such as When You Reach Me, will allow readers a peek into the science fiction world, which can open an entirely new area of creativity for middle school and junior high readers.

Blasingame, J. (2011). “When you reach me” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(6), 461, 464. Accessed August 30, 2011 through Wilson Web.

Stevenson, D. (2009). “When you reach me” Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. 63(1). Accessed August 30, 2011 through Wilson Web. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speedway Public Library

The Speedway Public Library offers a variety of exciting resources for young children through the creation of Toddler Time and Story Time events.  For children ages four and younger, Toddler Time joins caregivers, children and librarians together weekly in twenty minute increments to sing  entertaining songs, read exciting books, and gather together to experience new activities. For children slightly older, Story Time is an option. During Story Time, children three to six years old gather together every week to experience new stories and enjoy other activities and songs from a lesson plan prepared by a librarian.

An online library resource page is offered by the Speedway Public Library to children and youth that are interested in looking for books on a certain topic.  By going to the Speedway Public Library e-library tab on the left side of the library homepage, and then viewing the “Kids’ Library” tab, children and youth are able to see bibliographies of books offered on a certain subject, which is connected directly to the library’s online public access catalog (OPAC), to see if the books are available at the current time. Children may click on the following tabs to find more information:  ‘A’ to ‘Z’ (books about subjects arranged by letter), Animals, Cooking, Fun Stuff, Handicrafts, Holidays, Jokes & Riddles, Kids’ Concerns, Plays, Poems, Science, Spooky Things, Sports, Stories, & United States. Some examples of topics found under each of these headings are as follows:

  • ‘A’ to ‘Z’: Adoption, Adventure stories, Apes, Aquariums, Death, Declaration of Independence, Deer, Desert Storm, Dinosaurs, Diving, Latchkey, Lexington & Concord, Light, Lions and Tigers, etc.
  • Animals: Bears, Chickens and Poultry, Eagles, Frogs, Mice, Owls, Pet Stories, etc.
  • Cooking: Opens directly to the OPAC to a variety of children’s cookbooks
  • Fun Stuff: Board games, Collecting, Fortunes, Magic Tricks, Parties, Puzzles, etc.
  • Handicrafts: Baskets, Drawing & Sketching, Jewelry, Models, Needlework, Paper art and origami, sculpture, etc.
  • Holidays: Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.
  • Jokes & Riddles: Opens directly to an OPAC search of joke and riddle materials for youth
  • Kids Concerns: Adoption, Child Abuse, Divorce, Handicaps, Homeless, Manners, Peer Pressure, Racism, etc.
  • Plays: Opens directly to an OPAC search of materials concerning plans and theatre for youth
  • Poems: Opens directly to an OPAC search of poetry materials for youth
  • Science: Chemistry, Electricity, Inventors & Inventions, Magnets & Magnetism, Planets, Science Projects, Solar system, Sound, etc.
  • Spooky Things: Ghosts, Monsters, Superstitions, Werewolves, Witches & Witchcraft, etc.
  • Sports: Auto racing, Boxing, Gymnastics,  Martial Arts, Soccer, Wrestling, etc.
  • Stories: Adventure stories, Funny stories, Science fiction, Westerns, etc.
  • United States: Civil war, Congress, Desert storm, French & Indian War, Korean War, Revolutionary war, Statue of Liberty, War of 1812, etc.
Additionally, there is homework assistance offered for children in kindergarten through grade six every Wednesday from 4 to 6pm. For slightly older teens and young adults, homework help is available weekly on Thursdays from 5 to 7pm.

Many libraries offer book discussions for adults, but it is beneficial for individuals to become involved in reading, discussing and interpreting literature at a young age. The Speedway Public Library is planning on beginning book discussions for youth and young adults next year, and is currently looking for responses to a short survey at their home website to determine what books should be considered. All survey answers are anonymous and ask for the following information: Age, Grade, Favorite books, Favorite types of books, What to discuss, What to do (talk about the book, make crafts, make a video, watch the movie version), and information regarding a possible Game Day after book discussions.

Offering a wide variety of opportunities for youth to become involved in using the library website and becoming involved in library programs is clearly a priority at the Speedway Public Library. A wide variety of ages are catered to in many different programs that are offered on a regular basis to patrons. Increased advertising through the library website and word of mouth will ensure that the plethora of resources available to youth in this area does not go unused.