Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teens' Top 10 of 2009

In conjunction with Teen Read Week, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced the winners of this year's voting for the top ten young adult books for 2009.

1 Paper Towns by John Green
2 Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
3 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4 City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
5 Identical by Ellen Hopkins
6 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
7 Wake by Lisa McMann
8 Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast
9 The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
0 Graceling by Kristin Cashore

YALSA reports that more than 11,000 readers age 12 to 18 voted online for their favorite titles of the year.  I can personally comment on three of the titles on this list.  I enjoyed Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final novel in the Twilight series, although I considered it the weakest of the four books.   

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was not to my liking, and I quit reading it at about the fourth chapter.  I thought it too dark.  Not everyone agrees with me, though.  The book won the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature.  Then again, the Newbery Medal has been loosing respect in recent years as the winners have not been as universally popular as they once were.

One of my daughter's tells me that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the best book she has ever read.  I plan now to read it.  I looked at it when it was first published, but it sounded too depressing for my liking.  My daughter says parts are sad; but that it is an excellent book.

What about you?  On which of these top ten can you comment?  Is there a book you would add or delete to the list?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hispanic Heritage Month Book List

Celebrated annually from September 15 – October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the culture and traditions of those Americans who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish speaking countries of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.  In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, here is a brief list of suggested titles.

Books for Preschoolers

Diez Deditos = Ten Little Fingers and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America by Jose-Luis Orozco         
In English and Spanish, Orozco provides songs, rhymes and finger-plays with the actions explained for caregivers.

Dona Flor by Pat Mora
This is a tall tale about a giant woman with a big heart.

Frida by Jonah Winter
A whimsical introduction to the life of painter Frida Kahlo.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy
As Martina interviews potential husbands, her grandmother gives her some shocking advice. 

Books for Kids

Baseball in April, and Other Stories by Gary Soto
Eleven contemporary short-stories tell of the lives of Mexican American families in California.  

Ellen Ochoa: The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut by Maritza Romero
A profile of the life of the first Hispanic woman astronaut.

I, Juan De Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
Juan, who serves the great painter Velasquez, secretly teaches himself to paint, gaining respect and freedom.

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
Sixth-grader Tyler Paquette befriends a migrant Mexican family working on his family’s Vermont farm.

Books for Teens

Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Chicago high school student Violet Paz reluctantly prepares for her quinceanera.

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez
Winner of the Pura Belpre Author Award, this is the story of fourteen-year-old Manny Hernandez and his search for respect.

Someone Like Summer by M. E. Kerr
An upper-middle-class white girl from Long Island and an immigrant worker from Colombia fall in love despite objections from their families.

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales
Sofia discovers that her experiences as a scholarship student in Austin strengthen her ties to the family and friends she left behind in the barrio of McAllen.

Books for Adults

In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd by Ana Menendez
A collection of poignant and humorous interrelated short stories that tell the lives of Cuban immigrants in Miami.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Three young wives in the Dominican Republic, assassinated after visiting their jailed husbands, become mythical figures in their country.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
Winner of the 1990 Pulitizer Prize for fiction, this is the story of brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo who come to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with plans on becoming  mambo stars.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The history of the Buendia family is also the story of the rise and fall of their mythical town, Macondo.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Albert Goldbarth and His Shawl

Driving home this evening, I heard poet Albert Goldbarth read his poem Shawl on The NewsHour.   Goldbarth is the only poet to twice win the National Book Critics Circle award for poetry.  He won it in 1991 for his collection Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology, and in 2001 for Saving Lives.  Of his 25 books of poetry published to date, To Be Read in 500 Years is his most recent, published in 2009.  Goldbarth is also the winner of the 2008 Mark Twain Poetry Award from the Poetry Foundation.  Goldbarth does not own a computer.  He writes longhand in spiral bound notebooks with inexpensive pens.  When he feels a poem is complete, he types it. In his interview on The NewsHour, Goldbarth said, "It feels to me as if I were born to write, that that's why I was put on Earth, and I've been trying to be the best poet I know how to be."  I was so taken with Goldbarth and his poem Shawl that when I arrived home I immdeiately sat down to share them here.


Eight hours by bus, and night
was on them. He could see himself now
in the window, see his head there with the country
running through it like a long thought made of steel and wheat.
Darkness outside; darkness in the bus -- as if the sea
were dark and the belly of the whale were dark to match it.
He was twenty: of course his eyes returned, repeatedly,
to the knee of the woman two rows up: positioned so
occasional headlights struck it into life.
But more reliable was the book; he was discovering himself
to be among the tribe that reads. Now his, the only
overhead turned on. Now nothing else existed:
only him, and the book, and the light thrown over his shoulders
as luxuriously as a cashmere shawl.