Category: Library

Book Review: The Hate U Give

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The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas
Harper Collins; New York; 2017
444 pages

 

“I love Jesus but I cuss,” says Angie Thomas on her Twitter bio, and though she wrote The Hate U Give while working in a church as a secretary to a bishop, this young adult novel contains plenty of unsanctified language. The story Thomas tells, however, is wholly compassionate and full of grace, and the language is simply true to reality. In spite of being a work of fiction, The Hate U Give is a window into a reality that most white folks aren’t familiar with, and a mirror for the black folks who are. Angie Thomas recognizes the importance of black young adults being able to see themselves as the stars of stories, and Starr Carter, the main character and narrator of this novel, is a wonderful example.

After witnessing her close childhood friend, Khalil, gunned down by a white policeman, sixteen-year-old Starr Carter has to come to terms with her world in the aftermath. Should she speak out about what she knows and potentially draw fire on herself and her family? Her beloved Uncle Carlos, who’s a cop himself, tells her that the police just want to know the truth. Her father says, “Oh, we know the truth, that’s not what we want…We want justice.” Although those who knew Khalil know he was “more than any bad decision he made,” and death isn’t an appropriate sentence for his mistakes, getting justice is more complicated than one might wish. And though her friend is dead, Starr still needs to figure out how to live. How can she solidify her seemingly two different identities as she navigates the white, wealthy prep school she attends and also the “hood” she lives in where drugs and gangs are all too familiar?

Starr’s own father, Maverick, or Big Mav, is a reformed gangbanger who spent three years in prison and got out when Starr was six. He wears his love for Starr and her brothers for all to see, with their pictures tattooed on his arms along with the words, “Something to live for, something to die for.” As Starr describes them, “Love letters in the simplest form.” Starr is definitely blessed with loving family and community members, but even though her father tells her that she has nothing to fear but God, him, and her momma—especially her momma when she’s mad—the truth is that danger lies in both her neighborhood, and in the larger white society that sees everyone like her as a potential criminal. Can Starr be true to herself and her beliefs, and still be safe? You’ll just have to read it to find out.

The Hate U Give is an affirmation of the Black Lives Matter movement and a dedication to all the young black people who have been murdered by police and condemned by a society that doesn’t understand them. Richly detailed, honest, and intensely relevant, there’s good reason this book has spent months on the New York Times YA bestseller list. Read it first; the movie will be coming soon.

                                                            Kori Kunz
Teacher Librarian at Sheldon High School

 

25th Annual Letters About Literature National Writing Competition

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Polish up your reflective writing skills and write a letter to an author—living or dead—explaining how his or her work changed your view of yourself or your world.

National Winners in each competition level will receive a $1,000 cash award
National Honor Winners in each competition level will receive a $200 cash award

ENTER ON ONE OF THE THREE COMPETITION LEVELS:
Level 1: Grades 4, 5 and 6
Level 2: Grades 7 and 8
Level 3: Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12
Deadline (all competition levels): December 9, 2017
HOW TO ENTER IN TEN EASY STEPS!
1. Select a book that you have read and about which you have strong feelings.
2. Imagine sitting down with the author of this work and sharing your personal thoughts. Your letter should be personal and sincere, more like a private conversation rather than book report or a fan letter.
3. Share specific details both about the book and about your reaction to the book.
4. Keep in mind that this is a reflective writing contest and that means you need to think about what you read and the meaning you gleaned from the author’s words.
5. Type your entry.
6. Complete the entry coupon (available in the library or from the website linked below) and staple it to your entry.
7. Enclose the letter in a large, flat envelope 8” x 10” (or larger). Please do not use letter-sized envelopes.
TEACHERS’ NOTE: PLEASE MAIL CLASS SETS IN ONE LARGE ENVELOPE.
8. Indicate the competition level on the envelope—Level 1, or Level 2 or Level 3—depending on your grade. If you are submitting for more than one level, use a separate envelope for each level.
9. Mail your entry to:
Letters About Literature
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave.
SE Washington, DC 20540-4921
10. Download participation certificate at http://read.gov/letters  (available November 1, 2017)

The official entry form with guidelines is available on the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress website: http://www.read.gov/letters/states-list.html#oregon. All entries must be received at the Library of Congress by December 9, 2017.

It’s BANNED BOOKS WEEK!

Banned Books Week: Our right to read, September 24-30, 2017

Celebrate your right to read! If you think censorship is a thing of the past, think again. Every year folks object to books that are being sold or that are available in libraries, and try to get them removed from shelves. It is part of the Library’s Code of Ethics to “uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.” Come check out our display of banned books in the library and then check one out to read for yourself, and pick up an “I read Banned Books” button. Take advantage of your intellectual freedom!

Book Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy


Dumplin’
By Julie Murphy
(Balzer + Bray; New York, NY; 2015. 371 pages)
Ages 13 and up

 

“Clover City isn’t known for much. Every few years our football team is decent enough for play-offs and every once in a while someone even makes it out of here and does the kind of thing worth recognizing. But the one thing that puts our little town on the map is that we’re home of the oldest beauty pageant in Texas. The Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant started back in the 1930s and has only gotten bigger and more ridiculous with every passing year. I should know since my mom has led the planning committee for the last fifteen years.” So says Willowdean Dickson, the teenage star of this delightful novel about being big and beautiful, but still having to navigate friendships, dating, and a beauty queen mother who can’t seem to accept that fat can be fabulous, too.

 

Known as Will to her friends and affectionately nicknamed Dumplin’ by her mother, Willowdean introduces herself to the gorgeous new boy at her fast-food workplace as, “Cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl.” She likes that he doesn’t seem to react to that, other than to smile and tell her his name, Bo. She goes on to explain to readers, “The word fat makes people uncomfortable…But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it. So I always figure why not get it out of the way?”

 

And that’s Will, straightforward and self-assured. Until Bo shows he’s interested, and the dominant thin culture that says she’s not good enough for his kind of handsome starts crowding out her confidence. Then a bully at school overhears her mom’s affectionate nickname and turns it into something that makes her “feel so small for being so large.” In an act of rebellion and self-assertion, and “because there’s no reason I shouldn’t,” Will decides to compete in the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. Her action is a spark that ignites a minor revolution and inspires a few other unconventionally beautiful girls to become participants as well, but this is no fairy tale and the revolution is not without setbacks.

 

Dumplin’ is deeper than a superficial beauty contest, however, and offers an array of situations, confusions, and triumphs to entertain and enlighten readers. With a best friend break-up, the recent death of her favorite aunt, relationship challenges, and moral dilemmas to deal with, Willowdean is complex and conflicted and contains multitudes. She and the other characters in this sweet novel will win your heart. Read it and enjoy!

Look Away. A Series of Unfortunate Events

Netflix has produced an excellent version of Lemony Snicket’s wonderfully horrible tales. Whet your appetite for it by listening to this interview with the author, Daniel Handler:

http://www.npr.org/2017/01/13/509587895/the-man-behind-lemony-snicket-talks-about-writing-for-kids-and-his-childhood-fears

There is a transcript on the linked page, but in this case reading is not as much fun, and I highly recommend listening by clicking the blue and white play button in the upper left. Enjoy…or, um…don’t.

And here’s the trailer for the Netflix series: