Wednesday, April 30, 2014

HUB Challenge 2014 Check In

So the Hub Challenge started two months ago and I have read 17 titles as part of the challenge. Challenges are hard for me, because there are so many books that I want to read and they often take precedence before challenge books. Especially since with a list like this, I have read so many before the challenge began. I re-read a few graphic novels, but haven't taken the time with some of the other books (even those I adored!)

I am going to wait until the challenge is finished to talk about all of the books, etc, but I wanted to take this check in to mention a couple I read because of the challenge and loved:

CLA Book Buzz 2014, First Second Part 1

This week I was very lucky to hear from a panel of publishers on their upcoming books. There were so many (!!!!) that I am going to have to break up reporting on these by publisher and then maybe even by their books.

I am going to start with First Second Book, who came and talked about many graphic novels--several appropriate for teens, and several I was really excited about.

The first book I want to talk about is Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke. I loved the illustrations. They were beautiful, detailed and full of fantasy. A dream come true for any girl or boy. I was trying to explain it to my mother and here is what I came up with:

Julia is sort of a new Pippi Longstocking. It is about making family from friends, taking responsibility. And I think maybe there might have been an allegory about stuffed animals in there somewhere. At least that is what I thought when Patched Up Kitty was introduced.

I give this 5 stars for illustration and 4 stars for writing/content--this could have had so much more and I still wouldn't have tired of the story! But, as I was forewarned, this is more of a graphic novel/picture book and meant for a much younger audience than me.

Here is some of what I want to know:

  • Did Julia's House come to the sea on the back of a turtle? It looks like it. Is Julia friend's with the turtle, does the house move often? 
  • What are some of the creatures that come to the house, I don't recognize all of them and I want to know more. 
  • And please, please tell me about the repairman! 

The next book I read was Andre the Giant by Box Brown. Andre was apparently a very famous wrestler. I assumed I was going to be reading the back story of the character he played in The Princess Bride. Completely my mistake, but if Goodreads can be trusted, I am not alone.

Carefully researched with a detailed bibliography, this is a well-executed graphic non-fiction work. I actually learned quite a bit about the sport and showmanship of wrestling. As it was non-fiction it was more fact based than character driven, and that would have involved me as a reader more--but then it would not be the resource that it is. I wish that the teens visiting my library had to do reports on biographies. I think this would be a great choice for reluctant readers.

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

So this book fits a niche audience. But will also be widely applicable to a larger group. An Armenian-American who discovers he's gay. And there isn't any of that internal panic or homophobia. It's wonderful to read and wonderful for teens to have this book as an example as well. Diversity list, pick up this book! And then maybe start reading about the Armenian people.

However, I really wanted a bit more from the writing. I felt disconnected from Ethan--at times he seemed too much like a skater caricature. But that doesn't mean I didn't like all of the characters. I did, even Alek's very-opinionated, grade-obsessed parents.

This will definitely be purchased for the teens at my library and I am sure it will circulate well.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

So other than being super intrigued by the premise and excited to recommend this book, here is what I have to say:

1. Travis has the best friends EVER! You know that one scene--in the hospital. Trust me, you will know it when you read it.

2. Travis is completely, unequivocally and past the point of understanding self-involved. OK, he is one of two people ever to have a full body transplant and come back to life. But in 4-6 months he couldn't make one thing about his family or friends, it all had to be about him?

Anyway, John Corey Whaley is now on my must read list.
Four Stars, because I really wanted to scream at Travis.