Author Archive

Libraries During the Holocaust

January 21, 2018

Recently I took a trip to Israel. One of my goals on the trip was to go to a public Library, preferably in Jerusalem. However, it was a guided tour so my dream was not realized (**sigh**).

While in the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, however, my tour guide instantly peaked my interest when she began discussing the informal, black market “libraries” that sprang up in various Jewish ghettos. Life was extremely hard in these ghettos and resources were limited making survival almost impossible. One would think that having a Library available for the people would not have been a priority.

What I found most interesting was that the books that were most checked-out were cookbooks and agriculture books. She explained that the cookbooks were a form of escapism for these people who had extremely limited amounts of food (they were only rationed about 150 calories a day). They would read these cookbooks and dream of a day when they could return to a normal life and cook their beloved cultural recipes. She also explained that the agriculture books were often taken out so that Jews could learn about how to farm food. Many of them had hope of escaping the ghettos and moving to the “promised land” (what is now Israel) where Jewish farming settlements had already been forming. Obviously, for most people these dreams were sadly never realized. It was fascinating to learn that even during troubled times the Library was still a place of learning, escape, and help for those who needed it.

The more you know!

Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico

January 1, 2018

 

index.jpgSofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost In Mexico by Malin Alegria is a story about Sofi, a first generation Mexican-American living with her strict but loving parents in California. When she and her friends cross the border to Tijuana for spring break, Sofi has no idea that she will have trouble crossing back over the border – until she is stopped at customs and told that she is not an actual citizen of the United States and must remain in Mexico. While waiting for news from the US, Sofi lives with her poor relatives and learns what real life in Mexico is like and what it really means to struggle to survive.

This story is cute, but the story never seriously delves into the seriousness of situations like Sofi’s. This book is great for the younger set, but even readers in High School might find Sofi’s plight pretty lame.

 

Finding Audrey

December 26, 2017

Finding Audrey is a Young Adult book by bestselling adult author Sophie Kinsella.

 

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The book is about Audrey, a teenage girl who cannot leave her house. Something bad happened to Audrey at her last school, so now she wanders around the house aimlessly wearing sunglasses and unable to have much contact with the outside world. Her doctor tells her to make a video documenting her life, family, recovery, which helps her interact with others and herself. Of course, her brother’s cute best friend Linus showing up and taking an interest in Audrey terrifies her (but also sort of pushes her along). It seems a little bit too-good-to-be-true, but it is a  nice story nevertheless.

Kinsella has created some lovely, humorous, chaotic family members for Audrey and that is what saves

this book. You will laugh out loud and if that doesn’t make a good book then I’m not sure what does!

Still Life With Tornado

December 10, 2017

Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King (who is an author that I love) is a book that left me with mixed feelings.

Sarah is a sixteen year-old girl who lives with her parents in Philadelphia (her older brother has inexplicably been out of touch with them for years). But with this book nothing is as it seems. There is abuse, bullying, and obvious mental illness.

Abuse and family are not new topics in YA. The genre is filled to the brim with many different books that deal with one or both. But King doesn’t play by the usual rules. Still Life with Tornado is full of strangeness from the very first chapter. Sarah is experiencing an existential crisis – she has stopped going to school (and won’t explain why) and she’s obsessed with the lack of originality in the world around her. She wanders around each day, meeting various past and future Sarah’s (ten year old Sarah, twenty-three year old Sarah, etc.). Her point-of-view can be a bit exhausting at times because her tone is that of a petulant ten-year-old – but maybe that is the point. If this was any other author, I would probably have assumed the book was all about internal teen angsting. But, of course, it soon becomes apparent that this is not really a book about Sarah at all. Or, rather, it’s about so much more than her. It’s abindexout her absent brother and the reason he left. It’s about her mother and father and their toxic relationship. It’s about what happened in Mexico six years ago.

Gradually, all of this is revealed. The author carefully peels back layers until a story about a teenage girl on a quest for art and originality becomes a dark, haunting tale of relationships and sad secrets left festering in the closet for years.

This book may frustrate you to read, I certainly had some trouble with it, but once you get the entire story you can appreciate what King is trying to convey.

Bookish

December 7, 2017

Children/YA author Kwame Alexander (author of The Crossover, Booked, and Solo to name a few) has a Facebook TV show that he launched this year. It is “Bookish is the scoop, the lowdown, the 411, the skinny, on Kwame’s books, fave authors, and the literary happenings of his entourage.”

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FBookishShow%2Fvideos%2F1975030102713133%2F&show_text=0&width=560

This last week he aired his first “live” episode which featured a local librarian Morgan Strand (Nyack Children’s Librarian)!! Check out the episode and his other ones too, they are really fun!


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