Archive for April, 2012
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Jack Gantos has a whole summer planned full of baseball, history books, and war movies when suddenly, caught in the middle of his quarreling parents, he becomes “grounded for life,” ruining everything. Even though he lives in the dying town of Norvelt (originally founded by Eleanor Roosevelt to help poor families) and there’s not much to do, when his mom volunteers him to help an aging neighbor type up the town’s obituaries, he’s less than thrilled. Soon, though, Jack finds himself absorbed in the town’s history and the “original” Norvelters, as his spunky neighbor calls them, and he’ll do anything to get out of house arrest and over to help her in her task. Soon he’s involved not only with the obituaries but in a feud with an old man who ride’s a trike, play-acting the Grim Reaper, distributing Girl Scout cookies, digging a fake bomb shelter, and a near-constant nose bleed, not to mention a potential murder. Suddenly his summer is anything but dull!
Described as “melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional,” Dead End in Norvelt is a most-times funny and sometimes heart-breaking story of a boy coming of age in an old town past its prime full of wacky yet believable characters. Both darker and lighter themes blend with Gantos’ humor as Jack finds himself imbedded in nearly everything going on in town. The relationships between Jack’s parents and himself are enough to fill a book, but author Gantos has woven an entire town’s worth of personalities and interactions together seamlessly. (more…)
It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Based on author Phyllis Alsdurf’s own childhood on a Midwestern dairy farm, this book has a lyrical story, a description of the daily chores a daughter shares with her father each evening as they milk and take care of their cows. Each two-page spread is a beautiful illustration that supports Alsdurf’s simple, straightforward narrative, a step-by-step introduction to evening tasks on a small family dairy farm. The story goes beyond that, though, sharing not only chores but the loving relationship between a father and daughter as well as the relationship between humans and animals.
So you won’t think I’m overly infatuated with this book (and maybe I am), I’ll let you in on a secret: I showed this book to an authentic dairy farm girl, and she loved it too. My soon-to-be Mother in Law grew up on her father’s Wisconsin dairy farm, and she gave It’s Milking Time her official seal of approval and accuracy. (more…)
Please give a warm welcome to author Lissa Price whose book Starters, a sci-fi thriller for young-adults, hits bookstores and libraries this month! Starters is the first in a duology of books (the second is Enders, due out December 12th), and it has a rip-roaring pace full of twists and turns galore. We met with Lissa after a shared event she had with fellow debut author Marissa Meyer (Cinder), and it was very clear what a huge fan of YA literature she is!
My Big Idea was that in the future, desperate teens would rent out their bodies to rich seniors who could then enjoy being young again. It came to me in Costco, a few years ago. Trying to get a flu shot.
Thanks so much for meeting with us! I’d just like to say that I really enjoyed Starters, and the way you set the pace was fantastic. You talked about some of the inspiration for Starters coming from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Did you have other literary inspirations?
I’m glad you asked that – Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron. I love that book! I am probably more passionate about that than the other two, partly because a lot of people haven’t read it and don’t know about it (even though it’s being developed into a film by Hugh Jackman’s company). I think she came up with such an amazing world. [Fisher] managed to get part of the old world in there but make everything new. I love different levels of reality–that’s my thing (Memento, Inception, The Matrix)–so, I love Incarceron. (more…)