Wednesday, January 29, 2014



The gloomy days of winter are here, but I’m happy to tell you that there’s a lot of things happening at the Oak Harbor Library.

We’re starting a new monthly event for teens (grade 6-12) called Teen Time @ the Library.  You and your friends are invited to come and hang out for a while – we’ll have board games, snacks, and a DIY project each month.  It’s an opportunity for you to take a break from homework and relax with friends.  The first Teen Time will be on Wednesday, February 5th, 3:00 pm.  Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, our first project will be candy iPods.  Come and make one for your sweetheart – or yourself!

Stay tuned for information about upcoming Teen Time events and other exciting things that are being planned as we speak.

Do you have an account on Goodreads?  If you do, and would like to talk about your favorite books with other Sno-Isle teens, librarians, and even some authors, you’re invited to join the new group called Sno-Isle Teen Book Lovers.  This is a private group, so you can be sure it’s a safe place to talk with others about the books you love.

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone about Sno-Isle’s Teen Homework Resources page.  Not only do you have numerous research databases available to you, but you also have access to these two very useful FREE homework help resources:

HelpNow - Live Homework Help, Skills Building and Writing Workshop for grades 3-12. College students may also find the skills review and writing workshop helpful. One-to-one online tutors are available from 1-10 pm, seven days per week.

Learning Express Library - SAT/ACT/GED test preparation, practice tests, and learning courses.

If you have questions about using any of these resources, stop by the library or call to set up a Book A Librarian appointment for 30 minutes of one-on-one help.


Anne Murphy
Teen Services Librarian
Oak Harbor Public Library

Find us on Facebook – Oak Harbor Library Teens

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Am Malala

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

By Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Published by Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2013
Review by Anthony Kendrick

Imagine a world where millions of children do not get an education because of poverty, greed, war, ignorance, or prejudice. We aren’t talking about the middle ages; we are talking about 2014. There are Fifty-seven million children (p. 312) today who cannot go to primary school. So many youth today take the opportunity for education for granted, but be assured if it were taken away from you, you would miss it.

Malala Yousafzai comes from a country where the education record is terrible. Many children she saw everyday could not go to school because they had to contribute to their families who lived in poverty. Many could not go to school because the Pakistani politicians who promised new roads, electricity, hospitals, and schools for rural villages never followed through on their promises. And many could not go to school because Muslim Extremists known as the Taliban mislead, and often force, the public into believing that girls should not go to school.

Malala is lucky though, in a land where sons are valued above daughters she has a father who loves her immensely and wants her to be as free as any son. He wants to make sure that she has an education. Malala loves learning and thinks that every boy and girl deserves the opportunity to go to school. By word and deed her father taught her to use her voice to help others, so that is what she did. 

At a very young age Malala was a very vocal advocate for the right to an education. This eventually led to her being targeted by the Taliban who finally followed through on their threats and tried to kill her.

“I Am Malala” chronicles how she got to that point in her life, and how she refuses to let her tragedy and her fear quiet her. While she is critical of many groups from the U.S. to her own people. She never comes off as vengeful and hate filled. Malala story is terrible and sad, but it is a story of hope, because there are people, especially young people, who care about others and want to make a difference.

This is a great story for many American students to read; students who don’t know just how good they have it. While we have many troubles in the American education system having the right to go to school is not one of them. Yet, there are people who are still fighting for this right even on threat of their life. 

By reading this book my eyes were opened a little more to what life is like in many parts of the Middle East, what the common view of western nations is, and how the U.S. in particular played a negative role in the production of these feelings. I also learned a lot more about Islamic teachings and how it is being twisted for corrupt ends. Of course it should be noted that politics and religion has been twisted for corrupt ends for a long time in nearly every nation.

While it is a bit choppy in it's content, overall I highly recommend this book. And whatever thoughts you glean from it at the least see it as a cultural study and gain appreciation for the rights that we take for granted.

Friday, January 10, 2014


I Am (Not) the Walrus
Ed Briant
Published by Flux
Copyright © 2012
Review by Anthony Kendrick

Everyone knows that it’s the good looking jocks that get the girls. There is only one sure fire way around that if you aren’t terribly athletic, and that is to play in a band. But sometimes playing in a band brings more drama than it’s worth. Nahhh, girls are worth it!

Toby is in a two man Beatles cover band with his friend Zack. Zack plays lead and Toby plays Bass, and they are about to play their first gig. But ever since his girlfriend Katrina broke up with him he can’t quite pull off the happy Beatles vibe. No matter what he does or where he goes Katrina is stuck in his head. He sees her face everywhere. And as if girl problems weren’t enough, he’s having trouble with his bass.

While he his fixing his Fender P(recision)-Bass he finds a note inside it that says:

“PLEASE. If you find this note inside the bass, then the instrument has been stolen. Please, please, return it to me as soon as you can. This instrument is everything to me, and without it my entire existence will be meaningless.”

Toby isn’t quite sure what to do about this note, but being the noble soul that he is he calls the enclosed number and asks for the writer, and he is going to wish that he hadn’t. On the upside though, he finds a girl that makes him forget about Katrina. She is short, cute, and impossible. She hates him and she drives him crazy. So he has that going for him.

I love Rock & Roll! (Thank you Joan Jett.) This novel has an enjoyable and simple Rock & Roll feel to it. It’s got a nice little mystery in it: Where did Toby’s brother get the P-Bass, who is this girl who wrote the note, who is the odd man who keeps following him, and where did this bass come from originally. There is a little action, a little suspense, and a little romance. Overall it is an interesting and enjoyable story.

My biggest criticism is with the publisher. There were too many instances of missing words and one instance of character confusion that should have been picked up in proofreading. It didn’t ruin the story it just made it seem unpolished. Another small note is that the occasional daily horoscope posting didn’t add anything to the story for me. It seemed like a waste of space. These are minor problems though, and they don’t harm the story overall. Musicians and romantics should enjoy this quick read.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Chronicles of Prydain

The Chronicles of Prydain Series
By Lloyd Alexander
Published by Henry Holt and Company
Copyright © 1964 – 1968
Review by Anthony Kendrick

The Chronicles of Prydain is an epic fantasy series by the late and great fantasy author Lloyd Alexander. To really appreciate his work you must read this series. Think the lord of the rings but on a feudal level, and written for children.

The series contains these stories:

The Book of Three – In which Taran an assistant pig keeper sets off to find a runaway pig that tells the future and ends up on a quest to save Prydain from the forces of evil. He is joined by Princess Eilonwy who possess a strong will and mostly latent magic, Fflewddur Fflam who splits his time as a king and a bard who is known to stretch the truth a little, Gurgi Taran’s faithful page though I’m not quite sure what he is, and Doli a stout hearted but curmudgeonly dwarf.

The Black Cauldron – In which Taran having showed is mettle has been selected by Prince Gwydion to accompany a band of warriors who will travel to Annuvin to seek out and destroy the Black Cauldron from which the evil Arawns undead cauldron born warriors are created. In his close company is the noble bard Adaon  and the glory hound Prince Ellidyr who has a chip on his shoulder. However, finding the cauldron and destroying it will be two separate tasks altogether.

The Castle of Llyr – In which Taran will accompany Eilonwy to the Isle of Mona where she will learn to be a proper princess. However, Taran will soon find out that there are others waiting for them there that wish to awaken Eilonwy’s magic for their own evil ends. When Eilonwy is kidnapped it is up to Prince Gwydion, Taran, Fflewdur Fflam, Rhun the noble yet bumbling Prince of Mona to find her.

Taran the Wanderer – In which Taran sets out on quest by himself to find out who he truly is. His travels take him from the dangerous Marshes of Morva in the southeast all the way to the Free Commots in the western lands eventually meeting up with Fflewddur Fflam. Along the way he will make many new friends, and a few enemies, and he will learn the value of wisdom and hard work and the disservice of pride.

The High King – In which the Chronicles of Prydain come to an end and the whole land is primed for the ultimate battle between good and evil. The most powerful weapon in the world has fallen into the hands of Arawn Lord of Annuvin and Prince Gwydion and Taran must raise an army to meet this threat. A race against time and an inhuman foe that gets stronger the closer that they get to Annuvin will test Taran’s army to its limits. In the end Taran will have to make the most crucial decision of his life.

The Chronicles of Prydain are loosely based on old Welsh myth, or at least this is where the ideas sprang from after which the stories took on an entirely different life. As a man of paternal Welsh descent (well back in my ancestry), I cannot help but like these books for that fact alone.

Lloyd Alexander has written a protagonist for the everyman, or boy. Taran , his most complex character, comes from little means, but his true birth is a mystery that his own kind master will not tell him. Taran wants so badly to be a great prince and warrior rather than the assistant pig-keeper that he is. What I love about this series though, is that Taran learns that while some bestow nobility at birth, true nobility is something that is learned and earned. Taran himself, will come to be truly noble, but you will have to find out how for yourself.

While there are a few small exceptions, many of the other characters in this book are quite simple in scope, but that is okay because they are there to help move Taran’s story onward and they assist him magnificently. However, some of these characters do at time have moments of complexity. I absolutely loved Gurgi, though I have no idea what kind of creature he actually is, he starts off seemingly as a sniveling and conniving little creature whose only care is feeding his belly, but he turns into one of Taran’s most trusted companions willing even to die for him.

While there might be temptation to compare The Chronicles of Prydain to The Lord of the Rings, it really isn’t necessary. While there are some similarities, there are more than enough differences, some significant, to let them stand on their own merit and to simply enjoy them both.

Lloyd Alexander is among the best fantasy writers of all time, but he has been forgotten by the book reading public for some time now. Students today have never heard of him. Most readers of my age have not heard of him. I really want to change that. I highly recommend his quintessential works “The Chronicles of Prydain”. Once you read this you will be hooked.

Monday, January 6, 2014


The Riverman
By Aaron Starmer
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux
Scheduled for release March 18, 2014

Review by Anthony Kendrick

Children's literature is filled with stories of children who find portals to strange new worlds where they can become more than what they are. But who are they really when they are in the real world? And what effect do their fantastical journey's have on those close to them?

Fiona Loomis is about to go missing, and she knows it. But she wants somebody to know why. She can’t tell her parents or the police because they wouldn’t believe her, and besides they would probably question her sanity and send her to an institution. No, it has to be someone like her; someone she has a history with, who is just as creative as her, and someone she can trust with a secret. That someone is Alistair Cleary.

Alistair has been selected by Fiona to write her biography; the biography of a self-proclaimed weirdo. She believes that in her basement there is a portal to another world where anything she wishes becomes reality, but there is another creature inhabiting this world that is stealing the souls of her friends; a creature they call “the Riverman.” Is she telling the truth, or is this a cry for help veiled in a fairy tale. Alistair will take it upon himself to find out and his life will never be the same.

“The Riverman” had me hooked from the very first paragraph:

“Every town has a lost child. Search the archives, ask the clergy. You’ll find stories of runaways slipping out of windows in the dark, never to be seen again. You’ll be told of custody battles gone ugly and parents taking extreme measures. Occasionally you’ll read about kids snatched from parking lots or on their walks home from school. Here today, gone tomorrow. The pain is passed out and shared until the only ones who remember are the only ones who ever gave a damn.”

Yes, this was going to be a story of lost children. It was to be a mystery. But it turned into so much more than that. “The Riverman” is equal parts fantasy and juvenile psychological thriller, with just a hint of unrequited love thrown in. Starmer does a great job keeping the reader off balance while we try to decide what type of story this really is; what is really going on with Fiona.

There were a few things I really love about this book. First Aaron Starmer seems to have a need to mess with our conceptions of time a little bit. While it is not abnormal for a decade in a fantasy world to be as seconds in the real world, it is abnormal to have a character keep track and adjust their persona accordingly. Second, I really like the complexity of the protagonist. Alistair is an average 12 year old who is neither popular nor unpopular; he is a good student and a seemingly good son, but he also keeps secrets, plays dangerous games, and has a dangerously overwhelming desire to protect Fiona no matter the lengths he must go to. However it is to be noted that, for me, Alistair was occasionally unbelievable as a 7th grader. Otherwise he was a compelling character.

As with any good book, “The Riverman” leaves you wanting more. Though I was definitely disappointed to not get the answers I wanted at the end of this book, the ending makes sense. You never get an answer to an unsolved missing person case and all that remains is memories to haunt you or comfort you, and this book is just like that. "The Riverman" is odd and intriguing, suspenseful and absorbing. Middle school readers, as well as juvenile and YA fiction readers of any age, will not be able to put this down.