2014 Printz Winner Is A Well Constructed Page Turner

MidwinterbloodMarcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood is captivating!  I grabbed it off the shelf at my library as soon as I heard the announcement.  It is one of those books that cannot be explained, you just have to read and experience it for yourself.  The book is told in short stories.  It reminds me of Cloud Atlas and one of my favorite TV shows, Lost.  I tried reading Cloud Atlas and got stuck in the density.  However Midwinterblood has all of the creative story weaving without getting a reader like myself bogged down in details.  The stories follow the phases of the moon and jump around centuries.  Eric is a character who emerges in each of the stories.  The story is beautifully crafted and fits together.  The stories span from a 10th century vampire to the far future of the 2070’s, all involving this island.  I found myself saying “a-ha” to myself as a new layer of this story is revealed.  I highly recommend this.  I’m not sure how it fits into the teen category.  I would recommend it more to adults or a teen with highly sophisticated reading tastes.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss the app One Degree.  If this existed, would you use it?  Why or why not?

Talk about Eric Seven’s relationship with Merle.

Talk about Eric and Merle’s relationships and how they change through the stories.

How does the island’s flower play into each of the stories?

What are your thoughts about the discovery in the meadow?

Why do you think Eric’s story keeps bringing him back to the island?

Discuss how the name of the island changed throughout the story.

Discuss Eric’s reoccurring phrase, “Well, so it is.”

What do you think will happen after the events in the final chapter?

Readers who like more cerebral supernatural fantasy will eat this up Stephanie Kuehn’s Charm & Strange

Charm & Strange

Stephanie Kuehn’s Charm & Strange is a story is about the struggle of Andrew Winston Winters and will keep you guessing to the end. We know his family suffered a tragedy and that he was somehow involved. His brother and sister are dead and he was shipped off to a boarding school. Before the traumatic event he was known as Drew. After that he goes by his middle name, Win. Win excels in science. The title gets its name from both the names of quarks and how people see Win. Some find him charming, but most will agree he is strange. The story is told in alternating chapters in the present and the past. The present is “matter” and the past is “anti-matter.” Kuehn does an excellent job weaving the details of Win’s current war within himself while giving us clues to his past. Win has some serious anger issues and is prone to violence. In one instance he takes it out on a boy who beats him at tennis. Win’s family is full of secrets that will have the reader wondering whether they have supernatural powers or issues with abuse. Win has problems with his roommate. Kuehn weaves the details of their relationship as she develops both characters. It is too simple to call this a werewolf book. The book is beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down and made my way through it very quickly.  I highly recommend this for both male and female readers.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss Drew’s behavior after losing the tennis match to Soren.

Talk about his relationships with his brother and sister.

Why do you think Win’s parents sent him to boarding school.

What do you think really happened to Lex?  Talk about their complicated relationship.

When he says there is a wolf inside of him, what do you think he means?

What was your reaction when you found out what happened to Win’s brother and sister.

Discuss Win’s fascination with science.  Discuss what a quark is.

Why do you think he gets so carsick?

Do you think the werewolves are real?



Rainbow Rowell Does It Again With Beautiful Love Story In Fangirl!

FangirlOh Rainbow Rowell, how I love you!  I know I am in for a fantastic reading experience when I pick up one of your books.  Cather and Wren are twins.  They are going to the same university.  Wren drops the bomb on Cath when she tells her she does not want to be her roommate.  Cath has never been without Wren and this freaks her out.  Cath wants to be a writer and is already a widely read one.  She writes fan fiction for Simon Snow, a Harry Potter like character.  Social situations are very stressful for Cath.  Without Wren, she is not sure how she will handle it.  Cath’s roommate is a girl who was hoping to live alone, but is stuck with Cath instead.  She is rather gruff, but has a friend named Levi who takes a liking to Cath.  Cath is in for a ton of confusing feelings and social situations to get through.  She would rather stay in her dorm room and write her fan fiction.  Another student, Nick, tries to take credit for her work.  Wren wants to find their mother.  Levi likes her, but then kisses another girl.  How is Cath supposed to deal with all of this?  One of my favorite moments is when Cath says, “Smiling is confusing.  That is why I don’t do it.”  She helps Levi with his homework because of a secret of his.  I love that she reads The Outsiders to him.  It is one of my favorite books.  Rowell creates such endearing characters.  I found my own shy self in Cath and could relate when she was stressed out about finding the cafeteria in the dorm room.  I love how she evolves as the story unfolds.  I highly recommend this book to everyone!

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss fan fiction.  If you could pick a book or tv show to write about, what would you pick?
Discuss how Cath discovers boys after her split from Abel.
Do you think Abel was really Cath’s boyfriend?
Why do you think Wren needed a break from Cath?  Discuss how Cath reacted.
Discuss Reagan and Cath’s relationship.
Discuss Nick & Cath’s relationship.  Discuss her relationship with Levi.
Read page 142 out loud and discuss.
Talk about Cath’s night with Levi after reading The Outsiders.
Why do you think Levi kissed Cath and then the other girl.  What would you have thought?
Discuss this passage, “Smiling is confusing.  That is why I don’t do it.” (pg. 208)
Talk about when Nick wants to use their joint story for his assignment.
Discuss Cath’s decision not to let the story she and Nick wrote together get published.  What would you have done?
Discuss when Levi says, “I choose you over everyone.” (pg. 409)
Read out loud the passage on the last page and discuss.