Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

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One thing that is certain about life is that we will lose loved ones. However despite this fact when we do lose someone there is always a mourning period of some sort. This is the premise of this great novel for young adults written by Jason Reynolds.

We meet a young man called Matt grieving after the loss of his mom. Matt was an only child and was very close to his mom so of course he takes her loss very hard. His dad, grieving himself doesn't quite know how to communicate with Matt. Then Matt gets a job at a local funeral parlor and finds that wearing the black suit is comforting...so he begins to wear it all the time.

Though he is grieving, Matt never really lets it out and continues life as usual, going through the motions more than anything else and hanging out with his best friend Chris. Matt does develops a strange obsession though, at the funerals he attends he starts searching out the faces to find the one person who is really, truly sad. This is comforting for him and he develops an eerie sense of who this person is. Then at one funeral he meets someone who will change his life and help him to deal.

Reynolds takes a tough subject but adds enough humorous touches here and there so as to not make the book totally depressing. In fact as we read the book we discover people who are grieving for many things and who have never really gotten over their grief but who make an effort day after day. This, I think is an excellent lesson indeed. I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Green Bicycle by Haifa Al Mansour

515WhW2bKTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (231×346)   The Green Bicycle is a debut novel as good as any I have read in some time. The spunky young protagonist Wadjda loves to throw rocks, records the latest pop songs, wears cool sneakers and makes mixtapes which we gives to friends at school.  The thing is her behavior is not that of the typical Saudi Arabian girl she is constantly at loggerheads with both her mother and her teachers at school.

Her mother works hard, often leaving very early in the morning for an hours long commute to work (I will never complain about my 45 minute slog again!) and her father works on an oil rig. Her parents are loving, doting parents but something seems to be causing a rift between them which Wajdja determines to fix.

Wajdja's life is changed when she sees a bike in a storefront one day and she schemes to get the princely sum to purchase it despite the fact that culturally it is forbidden for girls to ride bikes

Mansour gives us a glimpse into various facets of life in the kingdom such as the influx of foreign workers (something that seems to be a global phenomenon), the Muslim custom of marrying second and third wives and the tribal vestiges that still exist even in this modern country.

The overall tone of the book is very positive and I could not help but get the impression that for a young girl in the West, reading this book should be inspirational due to its hopeful tone and the fact that despite all Wadjda encounters she never loses hope and views each new day as an opportunity.

The book is an adaptation of a film that Mansour worked on so I am going to have to put this on my to-see list as well. I recommend this book for ages 10+ due to some sensitive topics discussed however.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Seuss celebration!

Last week was Theodore Seuss Geisel's (better known as Dr. Seuss) birthday. Libraries across the country if not the world.  Most libraries start planning these events months before and at our branch this was the case. Thank goodness for Google Drive and Pinterest. In our library system we use Drive to create documents for programs and share with each other. One of my coworkers has been almost begging us to use Slack as well so perhaps we may start to use this platform in the future.

The actual celebration was a bit more low key than in other years but I still wanted to share some of the pictures. This was not the best picture I could find of the Seuss hats we made but kudos to our volunteers who cut and cut and cut to get all these pieces ready.  If you are reading this and you work in a library and don't have volunteer help, try to get some as soon as you can. They take some of the load off you and your staff.

My sons enjoyed themselves at the Seuss silly photo booth. We had a variety of props that have accumulated over the years and we store these in a big storage box.  We thought about using the curtains you see in the picture as a backdrop but decided not to. The library system has a green screen that could be used for a program such as this so that may be an option to pursue in the future.

These thing 1 and 2 stick puppets were my favorite thing on the day itself. What surprised me was that kids young and old made them. I think the cuteness must have factored into it. Googly eye clean up afterward wasn't too bad either

Til next time!