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I read many books at one time.  I will have one (or more) as an eBook.  I will have one as an audiobook.  I will have a few in print format – maybe a graphic novel and a book.  So many people I speak with are just in awe and ask me how I can keep all these stories straight and in the past I have always said, I don’t know, I just do.

However, recently I came up with a comparison that I think may help people who read just one book at a time understand better.  

Typically, I have a larger family Thanksgiving gathering.  (Insert your own family gathering here.)  I am able to have different conversations with different family members.  I can talk to my aunt about gravy.  I can talk to a sibling about horses.  I can speak with a cousin about their work.  I can speak with my cousin’s child about whatever they are needing to speak about.  I can speak with my own child about their partner and all these conversations are kept separate.  I would never ask my aunt about my cousin’s work or my child about horses.  Each person has their own voice and their own themes.  If my aunt mentions her mother and how she met her father during World War II – that is a completely different story than my cousin’s child story about how they got their dog.  Sometimes, we may need to go back very briefly when something big happens and dislodges the conversation.  Think oh dear the Thanksgiving turkey needs to come out of the roasting pan and everything in the kitchen needs to stop.  But then you ask – “Oh where we before we were interrupted and you go back and then move forward” yet it doesn’t take a huge effort.  

I tend to have a non-fiction book going, a youth fiction book, a more literary book, a romance and something that has just caught my eye.  Every once in a while I go into the children’s room and find a new picture book that I wish was available when my own children were young because it is just that cool!

I am a co-chair for the High School Selection Team of the Nutmeg Book Award so my youth fiction list is a never ending and growing list of novels in verse, graphic novels, horror, romance, and social justice titles.  It is fun and exciting and a little daunting.  

I think this list that I have is partly because I want options, maybe I don’t feel like reading the book about the Founders of the US and what they were reading, maybe I want a light shape shifter romance or a high school book about a student witnessing a murder.  Having different titles available to me helps me get through the different obligations that I have and helps me to meet the goals that I have. 

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The most basic difference between a comic book and a graphic novel is the binding – a comic book is stapled and a graphic novel is glued like a regular book.

Youth adore graphic novels and they seem to perplex adults.  The most often asked questions by adults is – “Is it reading?”

While I might not recommend that anyone have a 100% graphic novel reading list, they do make some amazing graphic novels and I would certainly recommend adding a few each month to your list.  Think of them like dessert, you do not want to make your whole diet to consist of cookies and ice cream, but it is certainly a treat to have them once in a while.

I have read some truly difficult themed graphic novels.  I have read classics that have been re-issued as graphic novels.  I have read non-fiction graphic novels.  Truly, it can be an impressive collection.

“Isla to Island” by Alexis Castellanos tells the story of a young girl who comes to the United States in the 1960s from Cuba.  This wordless graphic novel has such amazing illustrations that you see what it is like to move away from all you know to a new place where you need to learn a new language and explore new passions.  This story is such a sweet heartfelt story.

“Maus, volumes 1 & 2” by Art Spiegelman is a non-fiction graphic novel about the author’s parents’ experiences during World War II in the concentration camps of Germany.  This title has recently gained headlines because the State of Tennessee has banned it from all schools because of the violence and nudity.  The characters in Maus are either mice, cats, dogs or pigs; each animal represents a different nationality so “nudity” in my mind is a mute question but this book is not for all audiences.  It is a non-fiction account which deals with the trauma of war and prison camps.  It is a difficult book, but it is a wonderful book.  It shows the pain of intergenerational trauma.  It shows the ways that families have to process pain, health issues, and the question of “what does it mean to survive?”

 

“Wynd” by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas is a graphic novel set in a fantasy realm where this city is isolated from other cities and surrounded by magic filled forests.  In the city, magic is punishable by death and our hero, Wynd, must keep his magic secret or be executed.  He was raised by a kind bar owner and her daughter.  This fantasy graphic novel has adventure, magic, evil kings and princes trying to do the right thing in hard times.  It has a strong storyline and beautiful illustrations.  

These are just a few examples.  Graphic Novels have come a long way from the “Betty & Veronica” high school hijinks.  Many have very deep themes of identity, domestic violence, substance use, and dark times in history.  However, graphic novels can shine a light on topics that we might try to shy away from in “normal” reading so that we get a peek at a topic that we otherwise might choose to ignore.   

The next time you go to the library, why don’t you look at the graphic novels and see what you think.  Come on in and check them out!

NUTMEG-LOGOHave you ever seen the image to the right of this post?

Do you know what the Nutmeg Book Award is?  Every year a select group of students and librarians gather together and read from 60 to 130 books, this number is dependent on for which level they are participating in.

Though I know many adults who do not think of reading youth books — if you are ever looking for some books that speak to an age group; you might consider looking at the teen (grades 7 & 8) or high school (grades 9 to 12) to find what Connecticut tweens and teen say are interesting.  Teen readers read 80 books and had to write short blurbs defending their position about if this book should be a nominee … one of 10 books they are asking the rest of the Connecticut students to read.  High School readers had to read at minimum of 60 books and find 10 that they recommend to others.

Some of the past award winners are very familiar to readers and movie goers — “The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan and “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins — please don’t a book by its movie!

These awards are wonderful to be a part of … if only to use the lists as a short list for gift giving or an idea to find some recommended books.  The Goshen Public Library always purchases two of each Nutmeg Nominee so that many people can have the opportunity to read these amazing books.  You can tell a past nominee because they have the Nutmeg sticker on their spine with the normal library markings.

Code: a Virals Novel by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs  ISBN 978-1595144126 (read by Cristin Milioti )

When many people see the name Kathy Reichs, they think of “Bones” an adult mystery/suspense series revolving around a forensic specialist, Temperance Brennan.  Tory Brennan is the niece of the Temperance and in every book there is a phone call to the esteemed scientist for help with scientific information and translation.

cover art for Code by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

cover art for Code by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

This was a book that I thought was great because I like the concept of mutations and shape-shifting and extra powers; however my teenage son was less than thrilled about … but it could have been the reader that he really didn’t like.  Also, though the teens acquire the heightened olfactory abilities of the wolf and speed — they actually don’t change.  Their eyes just turn color and really where is the cool factor of yellow eyes?

I like this series because Tory and her friends are just your average every day teens who are smart and live in isolation on this island off the coast of South Carolina.  Their families live on an island owned by the University and their families are all co-workers.  The kids take a ferry to school on the main-land and they need to go by boat anywhere they want to travel.  This series shows a group of youth with initiative and intelligence.  A group of teens that like each other and though they may not always agree, willing to work towards common goals.  They overcome hardships and issues and remain committed to the pack.

I would recommend these books to tweens and teens who like to read about the what might have beens.  The ideas of science and questions of solidarity are important recurring themes.

These books are great and may fall under the category of best read if you are sensitive to voices on audio…

From School Library Journal

Gr 7-9-Months ago, 14-year-old Tory and her friends accidentally acquired supernatural abilities while attempting to solve a decades-old cold-case murder. Now, the group has discovered a geocache, left behind by someone they know only as the “Gamemaster.” The Gamemaster leads the gang on a scavenger hunt peppered with puzzles, codes, and riddles. As the treasures they find become increasingly dangerous, Tory and her friends suspect that one geocache may be a ticking time bomb. The Virals must race against the clock to find it before it detonates and kills innocent people. While this sci-fi/mystery mash-up has some plot inconsistencies and implausible moments, it will appeal to fans of the first two books. The four Virals-Tory, Shelton, Ben, and Hi-are well defined in the course of the story. Though they are all intelligent and protective of one another, their actions are not always prudent or legally sound. The group’s “save the world” mentality thrusts them into plenty of perilous situations, and simply letting law enforcement handle the Gamemaster is never a real consideration. Still, the friends admirably stick together and will stop at nothing to protect the innocent.-Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger ISBN 978-0156029438 – Read by William Hope (Reader), Laurel Lefkow (Reader)

 

Have you ever listened to a book which was a little confusing in audio but thought that if read from a page would have made much more sense?  I do not know about anyone else but this book fell into that category for me.  I really enjoyed the book and the lovely twists and turns and back and forth; the idea of love that transcends time and place.  Maybe my confusion was something that every reader felt, but I believe that this is one book to be read.

cover art from The Time Traveler's Wife

cover art from The Time Traveler’s Wife

Each chapter opens with a time date and age of Henry and Clare.  The audio book has two readers – one reads Henry perspectives and the other reads Clare’s.  They are excellent readers and my complaint has nothing to do with the readers, but unless you have an eidetic memory, very few people as they are driving down the road can remember “Christmas Eve 1991 (Clare is 20, Henry is 28)”

Henry has a condition.  With no control or planning he will all of a sudden leap from this life into a scene from the past, usually a scene with great emotion.  He has seen the car crash where his mother died on any number of occasions, he goes back to when he meets Clare for the first time.  As he ages, the condition is worsening and he has less and less control.  He has found a doctor who is trying to help and found a friend who concocts drug combinations to try and help him stay in one place; but there comes a point when nothing helps.

Clare is a studio artist and Henry is a librarian in a special collection.  A fitting occupation for one who travels through time.

Henry takes nothing from one time to another and arrives naked. So he has had to adapt — find clothes quickly, be able to pick locks and has a loose moral code to allow himself to survive.  Though I may not agree with theft, I might think otherwise if I continually ended up in a strange place in winter with lots of snow on the ground.

This is first and foremost a love story.  Henry and Clare are truly an amazing couple.  Yet this is also a story of fantasy and the magical “what-if”.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys literature with a hint of romance and fantasy.  It is a very well written work with some great characters.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This highly original first novel won the largest advance San Francisco-based MacAdam/Cage had ever paid, and it was money well spent. Niffenegger has written a soaring love story illuminated by dozens of finely observed details and scenes, and one that skates nimbly around a huge conundrum at the heart of the book: Henry De Tamble, a rather dashing librarian at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, finds himself unavoidably whisked around in time. He disappears from a scene in, say, 1998 to find himself suddenly, usually without his clothes, which mysteriously disappear in transit, at an entirely different place 10 years earlier-or later. During one of these migrations, he drops in on beautiful teenage Clare Abshire, an heiress in a large house on the nearby Michigan peninsula, and a lifelong passion is born. The problem is that while Henry’s age darts back and forth according to his location in time, Clare’s moves forward in the normal manner, so the pair are often out of sync. But such is the author’s tenderness with the characters, and the determinedly ungimmicky way in which she writes of their predicament […] that the book is much more love story than fantasy. It also has a splendidly drawn cast, from Henry’s violinist father […] to Clare’s odd family and a multitude of Chicago bohemian friends. […] It is a fair tribute to her skill and sensibility to say that the book leaves a reader with an impression of life’s riches and strangeness rather than of easy thrills.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Jester Jim Juggling Show — come and welcome back Jester Jim to Goshen. We are SO happy he will be joining us on Tuesday August 5. http://ow.ly/i/6neij

Spring EGGstravaganza

A Morning of Crafts! Bunny Mask, String of Bunnies, Nest of Yummy Treats…

April 17th — 10:30AM – call to register

Spring EGGstravaganza

A Morning of Crafts! Bunny Mask, String of Bunnies, Nest of Yummy Treats…

April 17th — 10:30AM – call to register

Silly Willy Wednesday — Wednesday April 9th an after-school program, pick-up at 2:30PM
silly snacks, silly jokes, silly stories, silly crafts
call to register

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley ISBN 978-1451654424

cover art from The Smartest Kids in the World and How they got that way by Amanda Ripley

cover art from The Smartest Kids in the World and How they got that way by Amanda Ripley

The American Education system is broken and after reading books like this I really wish that someone would have the courage to announce it from the roof tops.  THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED!!!

Amanda Ripley is a journalist who tried to avoid the complex educational system; however, she was interested enough in these comparison studies and PISA test scores.

PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a test that is put together by the OECD (Operation for Economic Co-operation and Development) — this test evaluates if children are ready for adulthood and the duties of earning a living.  Problem-solving more than answering basic facts.

The test has learned that though the USA spends almost the most per student … we are about the middle of the road in results.

Amanda Ripley tracked three US students who studied abroad in Korea, Poland, and Finland.  She compared their experiences with foreign students who came to the United States.

I loved this book and I would say that anyone in the education field or any parent who is concerned about their children should read this book — it is fascinating.

The US education system is broken and needs to be fixed before we ruin the lives of many more students.

To learn more about the OECD — please click on the link

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Ripley] gets well beneath the glossy surfaces of these foreign cultures and manages to make our own culture look newly strange…The question is whether the startling perspective provided by this masterly book can also generate the will to make changes.”

(New York Times Book Review)

“Compelling . . . What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in The Smartest Kids in the World, her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe ….Ms. Ripley packs a startling amount of insight in this slim book.”

(The Economist)

“[T]he most illuminating reporting I have ever seen on the differences between schools in America and abroad.”

(Jay Mathews, education columnist, The Washington Post)