Friday, August 26, 2011

Anya's Ghost

Here's a graphic novel that is for any teen - middle or high school - that feels left out. I read it yesterday and I have to agree with reviewers that it is a first rate story. The art work contributes to the story, but it isn't distracting either.

Anya is a Russian immigrant. Her mother still lives as she would back in Russia, while Anya wants to assimilate into the American life. At school she has only one friend, another outcast, and would do almost anything to be noticed by the cool kids. One day, as she skips classes, she falls down a hole and finds a ghost. The ghost's bones are in this hole, too. When Anya is rescued, the ghost tags along. At first she becomes a friend to Anya, but then the ghost becomes more demanding of Anya's time and attention. What will Anya do to get rid of her, or can she?

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol reminds me of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, a Printz medal winner. It is about the immigrant experience, trying to fit in, and renouncing your own heritage. These two books aren't the same, but if you like realistic fiction (OK, I know there is a ghost in one of these books), I think you would enjoy both titles.

Lastly, for another middle school-high school experience you might try Smile by Raina Telgemier. A young girl must wear braces for most of middle and high school and learn to cope with her own self image.

I've enjoyed all these books, all in graphic format. I hope you'll check them out! ~Joyce Laiosa

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Family Stories

If you have been following the Penderwick family, you are in for a treat with the latest installment. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is a summer story that takes place in Maine. Jeanne Birdsall, the author, lets you feel the ocean spray up against the rocks, hear the gulls calling, and enjoy summer as children are meant to; time to think, walk, explore, write, read, and imagine.

I fell in love with the very first Penderwicks book because of the love that is shared among the four sisters. There are typical sibling problems but first and foremost they look out for each other, care about each other, and try to be interested in each other. Into the four sisters lives enters a boy who is "adopted" by the girls as a brother. He fits into their adventures, and they truly care about his unfortunate life with his mother and stepfather.
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette has the three younger sisters visiting an aunt in Maine while their father is on his honeymoon with his new wife. The oldest daughter is on her own vacation in New Jersey, while Jeffrey, their "adopted" brother is forced to stay home. Eventually his mother relents and he comes to Maine, meets the very musical next door neighbor and finds that the youngest Penderwick may have some musical talent. (The rest of the family does not!) Their aunt is a great, patient friend to each member of the Penderwick family.

I highly recommend this book! If you like family stories, don't forget Saffy's Angel and all of the sequels (4) by Hilary McKay. Each book highlights a particular sibling, but the whole family is involved in all their escapades. These are contemporary stories set in England. I love the Casson family, especially the youngest child, Rose. Another interesting piece of information is the fact that each child is named for a color as the parents are artists. It may sound batty, but they are delightful.

Lastly, there are some older but wonderful family stories that shouldn't be missed! There are The Moffats by Eleanor Estes and sequels; The Saturdays about the Melendy family (and the sequels) by Elizabeth Enright; and The All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.

Try some special family stories today! ~Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Puppet People and The Firebird

The Puppet People will be here on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. with a performance of The Firebird. It is one of my favorite pieces of music! Now, some of you may be thinking that you are reading this wrong. The Firebird is a Russian folktale. Igor Stravinsky composed the music for a ballet of the folktale, and I know you will hear some of the music in the background of the puppet show.

This show will be our finale to the Summer Reading Program. Our prizes will be distributed and our programs will officially be over. We have one more program on Wednesday, August 31st at 10:15 a.m. That will be our "Camping" program with some boys from Boy Scout Troop 73. It is for Club 1-2-3 (children going into grades 1, 2, or 3).

What a summer we have had! "One World, Many Stories" has taken us around the world exploring stories, art, food, and games. The best part of the summer, is the reading so many kids do. Mrs. Brown and I are so proud of the children that are reading or listening to books by themselves or with other family members.

School will be starting soon and we have books on display about going to school - most of them funny! Check out those titles as you prepare the little ones for all their new experiences about taking a bus, meeting new teachers, and making new friends. Read about it all from the library.~Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Summer vacation is the perfect time to read aloud to the whole family. Choose an old classic or a short story collection. We have suggestions in either category.

Classics: If I had to choose one or two glorious books, I would choose The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahme or Charlotte's Web by E.B White. Both feature animals and are well written. These will please all ages, but probably elementary school-aged children into adulthood. If you want to entice younger children, please read Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. By the way, if you aren't up to the task of reading aloud, you can always get out an audio book for when you are driving. Listening together will make the trip fly by.

Short story collections are numerous. Are you up to scary stories, perfect around a campfire, or backyard fire? You can find humerous stories, sports stories, or famous tall tales. Here are a few from our library: The Random House Book of Ghost Stories, Ribbiting Tales, The Kingfisher Book of Great Girl Stories and From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasure of American Folklore and Folk Songs. You'll find short story collections in the nonfiction and fiction collections. Don't hesitate to ask your librarian for help.

Lastly, what is your favorite book from childhood? I bet it will make a great read-aloud to your own children! ~Joyce Laiosa