Monthly Archives: August 2011

Foiled Review

Foiled by JanFoilede Yolen.

First Second, 2010. 978-1596432796

Synopsis: Aliera Carstairs doesn’t fit in to any of the cliques at school: being a fencer doesn’t qualify her as a jock, she doesn’t look good in black so she can’t be a goth, her grades aren’t good enough to be a nerd, and she doesn’t like the preps. She is a talented fencer and her coach, Chris, thinks that she is good enough to go to nationals. Aliera has an Aunt Hannah and a cousin, Caroline, with whom she spends her Saturdays playing role-playing games after she is done with fencing practice. Aliera’s mother likes to frequent Salvo (Salvation Army) shops and estate sales looking for odd artifacts, and comes home one day with a weapon with a ruby on the handle from Aliera that she uses as a practice foil. She couldn’t care less about boys, being as the only ones that have looked at her have been the ones she defeated in fencing matches.

Then Aliera meets Avery Castle. Avery is gorgeous and girls are throwing themselves at him right and left. Avery also happens to be Aliera’s lab partner, which she dislikes, but she can’t put her finger on why. Aliera thinks she may be in love with him, but having been warned by Chris to protect her heart, she brushes it off…until Avery asks her on a date. Aliera agrees to the date and goes to Grand Central Station after fencing practice on Saturday. While she waits for Avery, she dons her fencing mask to protect herself from an attacking bird, and a world of fairies, trolls, and dragons explodes around her.

Why I picked it up: Since Jane Yolen is best known for her folktale literature, I was surprised to see that she had done a graphic novel – which was part of my reasoning for picking it up, aside from the fact that the art jumped out at me.

Why I finished it: Since Aliera is colorblind, the book is largely colored with shades of grey and white, which I thought was a nice touch. When she puts on her fencing mask in Grand Central Station, the pages explode with color. These bits of color stay with Aliera after she escapes with Avery and heads home after her disastrous first date. Each chapter is named for a fencing move, and the terminology Yolen uses in the fencing sequences is interesting and informative. Cavallaro’s art is somewhere between realistic and cartoonish, and the bits of color added in at the end of the story are a creative touch, now that Aliera and the reader knows about this alternate world behind her fencing mask. Foiled is evidently the first volume in a two volume story and I am excited to read the next one.

Other related materials: NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley; Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis; Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks; Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel; Olympians series by George O’Connor


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The Lightning Thief Review

The LigThe Lighting Thiefhtning Thief by Rick Riordan

Disney-Hyperion, 2005. 978-0-7868-5629-9.

Synopsis: Percy Jackson is a ‘troubled’ kid who, through no fault of his own, has a knack for getting into trouble. But when ancient Greek monsters start attacking him, Percy learns something far more disturbing: he’s actually the son of Poseidon, God of the Sea, and not only has he been accused of stealing Zeus’s Master Bolt and Hade’s Helm of Darkness, he’s actually not supposed to have been born. Not to mention his favorite teacher is a centaur and his best friend Grover is a goat. Taken to the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood and being told of the charges against him as the lightning thief, Percy is sent on a journey with Grover and fellow camper Annabeth Chase (daughter of Athena) to retrieve Zeus’ bolt before the summer solstice. Being a demigod is certainly a lot more dangerous than it sounds….

Why I picked it up: This was another recommendation from a friend who loves Greek mythology and was curious to see what Riordan had done with it. I was similarly inspired by this comic.

Why I finished it: I like what Riordan has done in terms of giving Greek myth a more modern twist. It definitely has the potential for getting people interested in Greek Gods (crash course from Wikipedia). The first person narrative was great in terms of getting into the characters and the story without being too cinematic – Percy is clearly out of his element and the reader can definitely feel the confusion, but luckily, both Percy and the reader are brought up to speed with demigod lore and expectations. My favorite chapter was the Capture the Flag: definitely dangerous, but totally awesome at the same time. Riordan is definitely capturing some of the essence of what teenagers go though growing up, demigod or not: the struggle to fit in, make friends, deal with raging hormones, and live long enough to get a driver’s license. This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

Other related materials: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (movie); The Sea of Monsters (Book 2) by Rick Riordan; The Titan’s Curse (Book 3) by Rick Riordan; The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4) by Rick Riordan; The Last Olympian (Book 5) by Rick Riordan; The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus Book 1) by Rick Riordan; the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan; Olympians series by George O’Connor

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The City of Ember Review

 The City of EThe City of Embermber by Jeanne DuPrau

Random House Children’s Books, 2003. 978-0-375-92274-9.

 Synopsis: Ember is a mysterious city fashioned by The Builders lit only by light bulbs, which are turned off from 9pm to 6am each day. Food, clothing, and other supplies are provided for the city’s people from storerooms and children are required to attend school until the age of 12, when they are assigned a job. Long ago, the Builders left instructions for leaving the city in a box that would automatically open at the appointed time. The box was left in the care of the first mayor, and passed down from each mayor until one day it was lost.

Many years later, the city of Ember is in disrepair – blackouts and low amounts of supplies are causing panic. Lina Mayfleet and her friend Doon Harrow believe that something must be done to save the city. Day by day, as the blackouts last a little bit longer, Lina and Doon discover the mayor has been hoarding food and supplies for himself in a storeroom deep underground, and everyone believes that the day the lights will not come back on is near. Then, Lina’s grandmother finds a mysterious box hidden in their closet, containing instructions for getting out of the city. The only problem is Lina’s sister has chewed the paper and the instructions are indecipherable. Now Lina and Doon must decipher the riddle in order to save their city.

Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me by a friend, who picked it up because she was intrigued by the cover art. I was similarly inspired by this comic.

Why I finished it: DuPrau takes an interesting look at the dystopian society melding together different elements from the science fiction genre to create a city and its peoples that are totally dependent on the ruling powers to help keep their city going. I liked that DuPrau puts the power of finding a solution into the hands of two 12-year-olds, creating the belief that one is never too young to find the right answers and save the city. The voice of the third person narrator is both childlike and mature, seeming to weigh the options as it follows Doon and Lina in their journey to save their beloved city and their families.

Other related materials: The City of Ember  (movie); The People of Sparks (Book 2 of the Books of Ember) by Jeanne DuPrau; The Prophet of Yonwood (Book 3 in the Books of Ember) by Jeanne DuPrau; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Tween Book Blog

Welcome to Tween Book Blog! This is a blog for book, TV show, and movie reviews and recommendations, as well as to talk and chat about your favorites!

My name is Beth and I will be writing this blog. I am currently a Masters in Library and Information Science student in my second year. I am interested in YA services and good reading! I love to read, watch movies, cook, and play with my dogs. I want to find out as much about teen interests as I can to find better ways the library can serve them.

This is just a preliminary post, so look forward to more soon!

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