Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting Ready for Middle School Book Talks

Next month the teen services librarian and I will be going to one of the local middle schools to meet their eighth grade students, promote our upcoming programs, and do some book talks. I chose the following books:

The Crossover
Kwame Alexander

Even though The Crossover got great reviews I resisted reading this book because I don't usually enjoy books written in verse. But once I started this book I couldn't put it down. The poetry didn't impede my enjoyment of the story; instead it enhanced it. The quick changes in font size, sentence length, and sentence structure gave the story its energy. Middle schooler Josh, nicknamed Filthy McNasty by his dad, believes that this is the year he and his twin brother JB will lead their basketball team to victory. What he doesn't expect is that JB will start spending more time with his new girlfriend than with Josh and that their dad may be hiding some serious medical issues. Young teens will be able to relate to the range of emotions that Josh expresses in this book.

I think The Crossover will appeal to younger teens who like sports stories but teens that like reading about family and friendships will also enjoy this book. This would be a great book to recommend to reluctant readers.

All Fall Down
Ally Carter

This book is a more traditional choice for a book talk. At our library teens, especially girls, love Carter's Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series. All Fall Down is the first book in her new Embassy Row series. This book offers readers suspense, action, and a hint of romance.

Three years ago sixteen-year-old Grace Blakely's mother was killed in a fire. Everyone believes that Grace's mom's death was accidental- everyone but Grace. She is convinced that her mom was murdered and she's been suffering severe panic attacks ever since. Grace's dad is in the military and being deployed overseas so Grace is sent to Embassy Row in Adria to live with her grandfather, a powerful U.S. ambassador. While in Adria, Grace spots the man she thinks killed her mom. This first book in the series introduces readers to the other teens on Embassy Row. Like many other teen novels there's the mean girl/rival, potential love interests, and other assorted friends. We learn a little bit about them in All Fall Down and we will probably learn more of their backstories in later installments of this series. Grace is a damaged and reckless heroine. As the story unfolds you root for Grace to not only uncover the truth about her mom but also to keep herself safe and sane while doing so.

Noelle Stevenson

I wanted to include a graphic novel and I chose Nimona before I even finished reading it. I still haven't finished it but I love the interplay between the shapeshifting wannebe sidekick Nimona and the evil supervillian Lord Blackheart. A graphic novel may not be a choice that will thrill the eighth grade teachers but last week's announcement that Nimona made the long list for the National Book Awards Young People's Literature category validated my decision to include this title.

Now that I've picked the books, I have to work on my book talks. Choosing the best words to sell the books doesn't come easily to me so I'm sure I'll be revising my talks right up until the day of the presentation.

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