Tag Archives: YoungAdult

Children of the Sea: Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi

Children of the Sea: Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi

Translation by JN Productions

Viz Media, San Fransisco, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

The first manga I have managed to get through!  For some reason my brain has a hard time wrapping around the right to left format.

Ruka is having a hard time.  Shuttling between her parents is difficult, she is having trouble at school and feels out of place everywhere.  She dreams of a ghost she had seen in the aquarium where her father works, a ghost that turns into light.  Then she meets two brothers,  Umi and Sora.  While the adults around these children struggle with a mystery of disappearing fish, Ruka, Umi and Sora discover a connection and begin to find out things about their past and about their future.

What drew me in was the sea, what kept me there was Igarashi’s stunning artwork.  The library only has volume 1, I am going to have to fine or buy volume 2.

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Filed under Graphic Novel Challenge 2010, Graphic Novels, Manga, Review, Young Adult

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, 2010

Borrowed from the library.

From the author of Marcelo in the Real World.

Seventeen-year-old Pancho Sanchez is on his own.  After the death of his father and what Pancho believes was the murder of his sister, he is placed at St. Anthony’s until he turns eighteen.  There he meets Daniel Quentin, a young man his age, diagnosed with cancer who, when not taking about things Pancho doesn’t really understand, spends his time writing the Death Warrior’s Manifesto.

“Okay, the answer to the question “Why You?” has no answer at this time.  I don’t know exactly why you.  We’ll find out soon, I’m sure.  But I do know that you’re the one.  I knew you were the one when you drove in yesterday.  The hard part to explain is how I knew.  Let’s just say that one of the benefits of this illness is the increased power to recognize a gut feeling and take it seriously.  I knew someone would come to help me.  It had to be the right person.  You are it.”

“Help you do what?” Pancho leaned backwards and the stool wobbled.  He grabbed onto the wall.

“Help me with…the preparations.  Help me and I will help you.”

“I don’t need help with anything.”

“I can read it in your eyes.  There is something you want to do.  No.  I’d say it’s more like there’s something you feel you need to do.  It’s eating you.

“How do you know that?”  He sounded more alarmed than he wanted to.  From page 40.”

Pancho is filled with anger, on a hunt for his sister’s murderer and planning revenge.  Meeting D.Q., spending time with him and other wonderful characters, forces him out of himself, forces him to look at his life in a different way.  Stork uses wonderfully clear and direct story telling to create a fine novel for young adults.  I believe he wrote this before Marcelo, and even though it is not quite as polished as that book, I enjoyed it and recommend it.

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TheHappyNappyBookseller

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Filed under Review, Young Adult

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, 2009

A New York Times Notable Children’s Book 2009.

Borrowed from the library.

This book is being marketed as a young adult novel.  I think everyone who loves a good story would enjoy it.

Marcelo is seventeen and hears music in his head.  He has a condition like Asperger’s, somewhere on the Autism spectrum.  His father has never really believed in the music or in Marcelo’s differences and thinks he needs to join the “real world”.  The world of law firms and cut-throat competition.

Marcelo finds entering this world difficult and scary but he is strong, brave and willing to struggle to reach a goal.  Along the way he discovers greed,  dishonesty and the need to make hard choices.  He also discovers love.

…..I feel I need to explain to Jasmine what I felt for the girl, but how can I when I don’t know myself? “It was like a question.  Like a question that had to be answered.”

“What question?”

“There are no words for it.”

“But if you could put it into words, what would the question ask?”

Is there a way to articulate what I feel?  It seems like a long time passes before I speak.  “I guess it would be something like, “How do we go about living when there is so much suffering?”  Does the question make sense?  Is it the type of question that is ever asked?”  From pages 165/166.

Stork has spent time with young people who have different ways of thinking and feeling and it shows in his writing.  Marcelo’s voice is distinct and direct, beautiful in its clarity.  He meets different kinds of people, those who understand and admire his differences and those who try and take advantage.

A true coming of age novel Marcelo in the Real world is a joy to read, with a protagonist I will not forget.

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Filed under Fiction, New Authors 2010, Young Adult

The Rock And The River by Kekla Magoon

The Rock And The River by Kekla Magoon

Aladdin, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

This is a book that should win many awards.  Kekla Magoon has taken a difficult time in civil rights history and brought it to life with grace and lyrical language.

Sam is 13 and the son of  civil rights activist who is close to Reverend Martin Luther King.  He and his older brother, Stick, have grown up making signs and marching in demonstrations.  It is 1968 in Chicago and some people feel that the movement is not bringing change fast enough.  When Stick decides to join the Black Panther Party, Sam has to decide if he will follow his beloved brother or stay on the path his father has chosen.  Magoon expresses Sam’s thoughts in a way that is very rare.  There is deep understanding and compassion here.

As Stick went on, I let myself be captivated by his words, swept up into his vision of the movement.  I had been so deep inside Father’s for so long that it felt good to rise above what I knew.  I entered another space in that moment, as if I could see a corner of Stick’s mind that had long been hidden from me. From page 232.

The anger returned then, in a way I hadn’t imagined possible.  Anger can come to you so tangibly, so physically it’s like a separate person.  As if someone enters your body, stands there with one fist in your throat and the other tight around your gut.  It’s like tears you can’t cry, but stronger, more insistent.  Deeper.  And it won’t let go.  It’s cramped and it’s crying, but it won’t let go.  From page 254.

Writing about the Black Panther Party in a balanced way could not have been easy. The Panther organization should be considered one of the most important political and social movements in American history but, unless you were directly involved or have studied Black history,  they have faded from cultural memory.   Maybe that’s because there are very few things more frightening to a white person then a black person with a gun.  That is how most people saw the Black Panthers.

During the 1960’s the government and the press chose to portray the Black Panthers as radical,  gun wielding thugs.  As a white person, or even a middle-class black person, unless you were willing to look past the lurid headlines, you missed the  attempts to end police brutality, the food programs, free health clinics and systems of social support that were the party’s primary focus.  The federal government developed a program to spy on, infiltrate and destroy them. I’m sure that today they would immediately be labeled “domestic terrorists”.

In The Rock and the River, Kekla Magoon brings the Panther’s goals back into focus and shines a light on divisions within the civil rights community.   I hope this novel gains wide recognition.  It has won the 2010 John Steptoe Award for New Talent and has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award.  Magoon is a brilliant, articulate young women and deserves high praise. Her website is here. Twenty-eight Days Later has an interview with her here.

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Filed under Historical Fiction, New Authors 2010, PoC, Review, Young Adult

In The Company of Whales by Alexander Morton

In The Company of Whales:

From the Diary of a Whale Watcher by Alexandra Morton

Orca Book Publishing, Vancouver, BC 1993

From my school library.

This is a wonderful science book for middle readers.  Alexandra Morton, a whale researcher from British Columbia explains how she became interested in studying Orcas (Killer Whales – Orcinus orca), how she tracked one captive whale’s family into the waters of Western Canada and what it is like studying these magnificent animals.

She includes notes from her observation diary, beautiful photos,  and many sidebars on Orca families, behavior and the environment they live in.  Her writing is very clear and direct and any student reading this book is going to learn something about what it takes to study these animals in their environment.

Spring –

June 18

0740 – Drop the hydrophone.  At first all I hear is the snapping of shrimp and the strange little chirps I hear only in the inlets.  My underwater microphone, called a hydrophone, allows me to hear beneath the surface.  Above the water all may be quiet, but underwater I can hear rock cod grunting, otters piping, many unidentified sounds like little chirps, and, of course, the calls of killer whales.  The whales can be very loud and heard ten miles away if there are not too many boat engines drowning them out.  Often the best way to find whales is by listening for them.  From page 19.

Alex Morton runs an organization called the Raincoast Research Society which can be found here.

Puget Sound Orcas

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Filed under Animals, CanadianBookChallenge3, Review, Science, Young Adult

Two Young Adult Novels

I finished two young adult novels this week and enjoyed both of them.  As I mentioned in a previous post I believe that the boundaries between “genres” are being blurred.  I think this is being driven to some extent by authors of novels for middle school and young adult readers.  I hope this will have a good impact on what these young people read as adults and that more books labeled “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy” will be considered as literature and read and critiqued as such.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2008

Borrowed from my library.

Seventeen year old Jenna Fox has woken from a year-long coma.  She is having to learn basic things like smiling and walking.  She suffers from blinding flashes of memory that are so complete they shouldn’t be possible.  Her mother doesn’t want her to leave the house and her Grandmother doesn’t want much to do with her at all.

This is the basic premise of the novel and it moves forward to touch on identity, family and  ethical dilemmas that we face now and in the future.  It is well-written, fast paced and a wonderful  introduction to some of the pressing questions we will have to answer about what it means to be human.   It has been glowingly reviewed on many blogs and there are rumors of a movie.

Is this a young adult thriller, a science fiction novel, speculative fiction?  This is one of the books that will blur the lines between genres.

Other reviews:

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Ash by Malinda Lo

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2009

Borrowed from my library.

Ash is a richly detailed retelling of “Cinderella”  with added depth from old folktales and some very interesting twists.

As Aisling sleeps after the loss of her mother she has dreams of white horses and tall, wraith-like riders. Ash’s father remarries and dies.  She is forced to leave her small town and move to the city, living her life in servitude.

Ash has  lived in a place that is very close to the old magic.  Her only comfort comes from reading the old tales in a book left by her mother.  She believes her only salvation will come when she is taken away by the fairies.   In the deep woods she meets a man as pale as a ghost, more handsome then any she had ever seen.  Here is her prince, but he is of Fairy, and dangerous.  The story takes different turn when Ash meets the King’s huntress, Kaisa.  Through Kaisa’s kindness and caring Ash’s heart begins to heal and her desire to live returns.

This is a dark and lovely tale, rich in fantasy, with a new kind of romance  that make an old favorite new again.

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Filed under Fantasy, Review, SpeculativeFiction, Young Adult

The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and0763644900.01._SX140_SY225_SCLZZZZZZZ_ The Answer

Chaos Walking: Book Two

by Patrick Ness

Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

I read the first book in this series, The Knife of Never Letting Go,  in January but did not feel competent enough to write a review.  Now I wish I had, I also wish I had read that book again before reading this one.  That said I think the second book of the series is even stronger that the first.


In first book we meet Todd and Viola who are running from and fighting against the forces of Prentisstown.  It is a fast and furious novel with a cliffhanger of an ending.  The Ask and The Answer takes up just were the first book leaves off.

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss.  Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. From the  jacket flap.

I do not want to tell too much of the story, because to say anything other than the story continues with Mayor Prentiss, and that there is a force fighting against him,  would give too much away.  Just know that this novel touches on many timely issues.  It is a study of racism and prejudice.  It is a study of trust and love.  But, for me,  it is a mainly a study of war, from every side.  Ness touches on all the rationalizations of war, all the reasoning behind terrorism and torture,  in a way that is honest and extremely direct.  Bad things happen, good people do bad things, and every possible behavior is explained and excused by logical sounding arguments.  Except that it isn’t.

“If you ever see a war,” she says, not looking up from her clipboard, “you’ll learn that war only destroys.  No one escapes from a war.  No one.  Not even the survivors.  You accept things that would appall you at any other time  because life has temporarily lost all meaning.” From page 102.

That is one of the best thoughts about war I have ever read.  I highly recommend this book. I think young adults and adults should read this series. Then they should talk about it, together if possible.

Here is another thought.

War makes monsters of men.

There is more, the ending is another cliffhanger and has left me waiting excitedly for the third book in this series.  Patrick Ness has a fine web site.  It can be found here.

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Filed under SciFi, SciFi Challenge, Young Adult

Sometimes we’re always real same-same by Mattox Roesch

1932961879.01._SX140_SY225_SCLZZZZZZZ_Sometimes we’re always real same-same by Mattox Roesch

Unbridled Books, Denver, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

I have to thank Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray for turning my attention to this book.  Just so you know from the start, I loved it.  Maybe it’s because I love Alaska, or maybe it’s because I have seen Salmon crowding up a river.  I think  Roesch has produced an amazing first novel, made up of stories previously published and woven together into a fine, fine thing

Seventeen year-old Cesar has ended up half way up the coast of Alaska, on the edge of the Bering Sea, in the tiny town of Unalakleet.  Back in L.A. he was deep into gang life, had been involved in a terrible crime, his brother in jail for murder.  His Mom decides to head back to her home, away from her absent husband, to make a new life for herself and her son.

Cesar figures it won’t be long before he has enough money to catch a plane south, but his cousin Go-Boy is convinced he will stay.  It is Go-Boy who helps brings profound changes to Cesar’s life.

All along my plan in Unalakleet had been simple-pick up a job, a few paychecks, a plane ticket home.  So right after I arrived I started looking around. But jobs weren’t available.  I tried to get on with the company building the new jail, but I didn’t have construction experience, and the crews had already been filled, and something about building a jail seemed wrong.  That left the grocery store and the fish processing plant.  The grocery store only had a few employees and all the positions were taken, and I didn’t want to work ankle deep in fish guts and end each day smelling like seafood waste.  So I turned to Go-Boy.  And just like Go-Boy-supportive and helpful to a fault-he set me up with a job at the North River counting tower just a few week after I arrived, counting fish, making more cash than I would’ve imagined ever being possible in a place like this. From page 33.

Sometimes we’re always real same-same is the story of  two young men, both of them dealing with the past, some of it ugly, and both of them gaining strength and maturity through the connection with each other and with the Unalakleet community.

Roesch doesn’t do anything fancy, his language is clean and direct, the dialogue sounding like you’re standing right there.

We both bobbed along in the water.  We were buoys.  I slapped at a bug on the water’s surface and G0-Boy leaned into the current, scrubbing at a stain the size of a man-hole cover.

Then he asked, “So what did you do in town last night?”

“You know there is nothing to do.”

“Can’t even try-make something up, uh?”

‘Okay,” I said. “Truth? I was looking out for your sister.”

Go laughed, said, “Man. saglu.”

“What?”

“Kiana’s the last person who needs anyone looking out for her.  Especially you.”

“What’s especially you?”

“Man, she raised herself until she was ten,” he said. From page 44.

And then there are those lines that just jumped out at me, and keep running through my head.

“How we love is our religion.  Not what we believe.”

“Yeah, we had sex,”  Kiana said.  “But it wasn’t anything.”

She could spend silence better than anyone I knew.

I could go on but I would suggest you read the book.  Some reviewers have found that the story jumps around.  That may come from fitting bits and pieces of earlier writing together.  I didn’t find it a problem at all.  This novel has left a lasting impression on me and I will read Roesch’s writing when I can find it.

Mattox Roesch had a web site here.  He lives in Unalakleet, there are pictures.

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Filed under Fiction, Review, Young Adult

The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

0670020990.01._SX140_SY225_SCLZZZZZZZ_The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff

Viking, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

I read this for Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.

I first found Meg Rosoff’s work last summer when I read What I Was.  I was captivated by her words.  My review of  that book is here.  This new novel  solidifies my appreciation for Rosoff’s commitment to her stories and the clarity of her writing.

The Bride’s Farewell takes place in and around the cathedral city of Salisbury, near the Salisbury Plain, the location of one of the world’s most famous pre-historic monuments.local_stonehenge

It is the story of Pell Ridley, her need to break free of grinding poverty and of her family’s and her community’s expectations.

On the morning of her wedding day Pell takes her small dowry, her horse Jack, and somewhat unwillingly, her brother Bean and runs away.  She  heads for the Salisbury Fair.  Her plan?  To to find work, escape a marriage she dreads, and start a life for herself.

It was a tangle of a family, for better or worse, a right complexity of children, all knotted up with love and jealousy, and all competing for anything they could get-food, boots, underclothes without holes, a shawl, a piece of bread, a kind word from Mam.   Each acquisition took on the status of treasure in times so tight you thought you might die for the want of a half a spoonful of drippings or a shoe you couldn’t see through. From page 24.

Although Pell has great knowledge of and skill with horses her  journey towards independence is not easy. She is robbed, harassed and threatened.  There is separation and loss but also, eventually, healing and love.  As with What I Was, Rosoff takes great care with place and setting, bringing the Fair, the city, Pell’s travels and the local people to life.  The story feels historically accurate, a bit like reading  Hardy or Dickens, but no where near as dense.   It is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The Bride’s Farewell is being marketed as a young adult novel but, as with many YA titles,  I found it a quick and engaging  read.   I am planning on reading How I Live Now within the next few months.

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Filed under Review, Young Adult

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

lococe69d917dba13f85931676355514141414c3441 Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

G.J. Putman and Sons, New York, 2003

Jacqueline Woodson has written a beautiful novel in verse for middle grade readers.  Lonnie Collins Motion, named after his Mom’s favorite song, Locomotion,and his sister Lili have lost their parents in a fire and are living in different foster homes. This separation, the memory of his parents and their death and the fact that he lives with Miss Edna, who likes him to be quiet, make life very hard.

He is lucky though, he has a great teacher, Ms. Marcus, who has introduced his class to poetry and given Lonnie a way to express himself.  He writes about his loss, his family and his love-hate relationship with poetry. He writes about the sky, about basketball and about God. The touch here is light and endearing, never mawkish, and the mixed styles of verse are very fun to read.

Poetry Poem

You don’t just get to write a poem once

You gotta write it over and over and over

until it feels real good to you

And sometimes it does

and sometimes it doesn’t

That’s what’s really good

and really stupid

about poetry.

Page 62

Lonnie’s voice rings true.  Through these poems we watch him grow up and gain some understanding .  We see joy and peace begin to enter his life.  Woodson has written a sequel, Peace Locomotion, as well as many other young adult and children’s books.  Please visit her wonderful web site here.

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2 Comments

Filed under Challenges, ColorMeBrown, Review, Young Adult