Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TELL THE WOLVES I'M HOME



Tell the Wolves I’m Home
By Carol Rifka Brunt
Published by Dial Press
Copyright © 2012

In 1987 the world was a slightly smaller and more compartmentalized place. For someone to come out as being homosexual was still a big shock, and while they were on the cusp of a successful treatment, for someone to have AIDS was a death sentence and it often made them a pariah. For those of you who were alive then it is amazing how different the world is now. This book will bring that back to you.

June Elbus is 14. She is a nerdy, awkward, dreamer. While not ugly she is not especially attractive when compared to her older sister Greta. June and Greta used to be best friends, but somewhere along the way they grew apart and Greta became very mean. Recently their Uncle Finn, a famous New York City Artist, painted a portrait of them together as his last gift to them before he succumbed to AIDS. Finn was June’s best friend, godfather, and the only person she felt truly understood her. June believes that she knew her uncle better than anyone, but a stranger will help her get a whole new perspective. She will learn more than she ever thought she could about her uncle, her parents, her sister, and especially herself.

“Tell the Wolves I’m Home” is an absorbing family drama that is at once tragic and hopeful. It touches on themes of who we love and how, loss and grief, intense jealousy, and sibling relationships. I found little nuggets of truth that we often forget about like why we all do what we do, or why we love who we love.

Brunt has written compelling character’s that make you feel something and then later give you conflicted feelings. The story’s protagonist is very well written and complex; na├»ve and thoughtful all at once. The same of course can be said of all the characters in this book; few of them remain as simple as they seem at first.

Also well done is how the story doesn’t feel old or dated even though it was set in 1987, and yet it really can’t exist in this permutation without this time period. To make this a contemporary realistic novel would not work. There are certainly still hateful and ignorant people out in the world, but the majority today is more tolerant, if not accepting of homosexuality, and we have much greater insight about the transmission of HIV and AIDS. So the reaction June’s family has to the tragedy and its unfolding aftermath is wholly unique to this time period.

“Tell the Wolves I’m Home” is a 2013 Alex Award Winner, an annual award given to books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults. This book certainly discusses some mature topics in addition to AIDS and Homosexuality, but it does not descriptively go beyond what is appropriate for teens (12-18).


Thursday, April 17, 2014

THREATENED



Threatened
By Eliot Schrefer
Published by Scholastic Press
Copyright © 2014

With a title like “THREATENED” you would expect a book that is suspenseful, and then you see a cute little chimp hanging from a tree and your next thought is “awwww, poor chimp. This must be an ecological novel.” It is, in part, but it is also so much more than that. It is a novel about running from and confronting your fears, it is about making a family and a home, and it is about saving Chimpanzees.

Luc has always been afraid of the chimpanzees that lived in the jungle near his home. Their yells, shrieks, and cries would terrify him and he would huddle up with his mother who would warn him, “‘this is why you must always be home before dark, Luc. If you’re not, you’ll become one of the kivili-chimpenze.’ The Mock Men.” Though he still fears the chimpanzee, Luc has more pressing fears now, like finding enough to eat and avoiding Monsieur Tatagani’s beatings. Monsieur Tatagani is a money lender who takes advantage of indebted orphans. Soon Luc will have to deal with both fears, when a kindly “professor” trick’s Tatagani and takes Luc into the jungle with him to study the chimpanzees.

Our protagonist, Luc, is threatened with imminent harm from people and the jungle, the Chimpanzees are threatened with loss of home and extinction, and the professor is threatened by his past catching up to him. This novel lives up to its title, but underneath all the threats lies hope. How do you keep hope when you’ve lost everything, when you are beaten, and when you are afraid. By finding something new to care about, and Luc finds that in the Jungles of Gabon.

I really appreciated the realism with which the author portrays Chimps in this novel. While they are simpler than humans, they are still quite complex animals with varying personalities. Our experience with them in books, on television, and from a distance at zoos, along with that all too human face, make them seem docile and kind, but in truth Chimpanzees can be very aggressive and dangerous. That danger is in part because they are 4 times stronger than a comparable human. Knowing these things about the Chimpanzee makes this book even more suspenseful. While reading this I imagined myself sitting in a canvas tent in the middle of the jungle, hearing the chimpanzees in the treetops above, and wondering if one of these unpredictable creatures would tear through my flimsy shelter. There really are some terrifying moments in this book that are terrifying because they are based in reality.

But again this book goes beyond the fear factor and it shows you the human factor, which is really interesting in comparison to the Chimpanzees which it is set against. This is one of those books that make you consider man’s place in nature. It makes you consider man’s inability to be peaceful. But it also gives the reader hope because it reminds us that there are people out there who overcome adversity, and there are people who make a difference.

Threatened is one of those great stories that make you want to know what would have happened to the main character had the story continued. I think about it every time I share this book with someone. What if Luc had… I don’t want to give away the ending, but just know that this is a story that will stick with you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SNO-ISLE LIBRARY FOR TEENS




The End of the Trail: How the Western Movie Rode Into the Sunset
Thursday, April 10th  6:00 pm

Whidbey Reads and Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau present Robert Horton and a conversation about the Western movies of the late 1960s and early '70s, and what these films say about the culture of that period. Funded by Humanities Washington and Friends of the Oak Harbor Library. 

Astronomy for Everyone
Monday, April 21st  6:30 pm

Island County Astronomical Society of Washington is dedicated to general astronomy, education, and encouragement of public appreciation for the art and science of observing. Each meeting includes presentations of basic astronomy principles and other select topics. No experience necessary.

Teen Time @ the Library - Felties!
Wednesday, May 7th 3:00 pm

Bring your friends and relax at the library. Play games, talk about your favorite books, or make the monthly DIY project. This month's project: Felties! Sew your own felt creatures.




Earn Community Service Hours!

Walk with the library at the Holland Happening Parade, and you can earn 3 hours of community service.  It’s easy, fun, and there will be doughnuts!  Every year the library walks in the parade, and you can show your love for the library with us.  This year’s parade is on Saturday, April 26th.  Meet at the library at 9:45 am to first enjoy your doughnut.  We head down to the parade lineup at 10:00 am, and the parade starts at 11:00.  We’re usually finished by 1:00 pm, at the Ace Hardware parking lot.  Let me know if you’d like to come along, and bring a friend!


Visit the Sno-Isle Teens page on the library website

Sno-Isle Teens is your one-stop shop for library fun and information.  Not only can you find all sorts of homework resources, you can answer poll questions, read and write book reviews, learn about contests, and discover your next favorite book.  Speaking of contests, the voting for your favorite Teen Tech Month video will begin soon.

Watch the page so you’ll know when voting begins!



In the meantime, I’m planning some exciting things for summer and beyond.  Stay tuned for some big announcements about new summer reading contests and events.