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Showing posts from December, 2011

"The Boy at the End of the World," by Greg van Eekhout

I’m very grateful for The Boy at the End of the World, by Greg Van Eekhout. It’s a good, though not outstanding, book. More important, it fills a gap: science fiction for 3rd-5th graders. Because at some point during the school year, a teacher will assign a science fiction book report and I will have a hard time recommending books.
I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. And we know how much I like dystopian fiction (a lot). I have no problem finding good science fiction books for teens. In fact, some of the other librarians are tired of me telling teens (regardless of the assignment), “You must read Feed. Everyone should.” Or “You have to read Ender’s Game. You'll love it.” But younger kids come into the library looking for science fiction and it feels like there’s nothing very good. Most of them balk at the length of The True Meaning of Smekday (by Adam Rex), no matter how hard I sell it. They shrug their shoulders at The City of Ember (Jean DuPrau), even when I say it ha…

"A Monster Calls," by Patrick Ness

My colleague, the YA librarian at my library, and I are deep in the throes of reading books for Mock Newbery and Mock Printz meetings – and of course just trying to keep up with all the books published this year. Yesterday she handed me A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which she had just finished reading for Mock Printz (the Michael L. Printz Award is given for literary excellence in Young Adult literature). I snuck in a few pages at the reference desk and then read the rest of it in one sitting last night. Is it that good? Perhaps.
Conor, the teenage protagonist of A Monster Calls, is suffering as his mother receives treatments for cancer. He has nightmares, is bullied in school, and has far too much responsibility hoisted on his shoulders. As his mother’s condition deteriorates, he is visited by a monster, a spirit of nature, as old as the earth and as vast as the universe. I love guys like that. The monster and his mother help him learn that her dying is NOT his fault. It can take p…