A Criminal Magic takes the idea of Prohibition then adds magic. In this world a drug similar to alcohol called shine is made through magic. Its strength depends on that of the sorcerer who created. Like our Prohibition in the 1920s the sale and creation of shine is outlawed. Similarly to real life, many people choose to sell it illegally. Enter Joan and Alex. Joan is struggling to keep her family afloat, after the death of her mother a talented sorceress when she meets Harrison Gunn, a crime boss, who offers her an opportunity to make the money she needs as long as she make shine. Alex’s father was arrested for running a shine ring. What the police didn’t know is that Alex himself was involved. Or at least that’s what he thought until they offer him a deal. If he infiltrates a crime ring run and helps the cops shut it down, they’ll leave him alone and so he reluctantly agrees. As the story continues, Alex and Joan’s stories start to intertwine, leading to a conclusion that no one will see coming.
I liked the multiple POVs in this story. If only one of two told the story, it wouldn’t as much sense and the characters themselves would be more one-dimensional. This way we got to know both Joan and Alex and find out what they hid from each other and eventually what they hide from the reader. Both speak in the 1st person but there’s never any chance of the reader confusing their perspectives.
In terms of world building I thought the author did a good job of balancing between making a distinct world that was different from our world but at the same time keeping enough the same so that the reader isn’t overwhelmed. I liked the descriptions of magic and hearing about all the different things it could do based on who was wielding.
At times the plot moved a little slowly but overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend to fans of fantasy and/or historical fiction Continue reading
The newly formed Horace Greeley High School Literary Society will be offering a themed book list each month. The first is a list of Family-themed suggestions. Here are some of the titles along with the "call numbers" to find them here in the library.
Funny in Farsi-YA Biography Dumas
Brooklyn-Fiction Toibin Book Club
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before-YA Han
An Ember in the Ashes-YA Tahir Ember v01
The Unexpected Everything-New YA Fiction Matson
Since You’ve Been Gone-YA Payne
Under The Mesquite-YA McCall
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
(Grade recommendation: 7-10)
Young adolescent named Junior who lives a hard life on his Indian Reservation with his abusive best friend and a tough social life at school, decides to move to an all-white school with an Indian as their mascot. He enjoys his new life, making the school basketball team and getting a girlfriend, but still having to deal with people back home referring to him as a traitor
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s0lCA3FlulVhK6DFE2d3uYCipc6ApY8Gn2rMwm6fYqw/edit Continue reading
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
This is by far my favorite alternate history novel, and my favorite graphic novel of all time, not to mention one of my favorite novels in general. Like many recent comics in the superhero genre (recent being only generously given, considering it was written in the 80s), Watchmen seeks to both celebrate and subvert its genre. It takes place in an alternate history where shortly after the rise of superhero comics, many people started taking to the idea of masked vigilantism themselves. It also takes on several tropes of the genre through its characters. Dr. Manhattan is an all powerful superhero being who, unlike superman, finds himself alienated from the human world after gaining godlike supersentience, and near omnipresence. The stereotypically conservative undertones of the genre that have so often been the subject of debate are reflected in the extremely right-wing Rorschach, who lives life with a near psychopathic disregard for the shades of grey in the world. Far from a humorous satire, Watchmen not only tackles historically rooted issues like the mutually assured destruction of the cold war, but also ponders universal issues, connecting the importance of the individual, with the importance of the majority, and finding no contradiction in the process.
Stars Above by Marisa Meyer
Even though for the most part, Winter wrapped up the Lunar Chronicles pretty well, there were still some things that were unfinished. This collection of stories, explains any last questions that fans of the series might have, as well as providing an epilogue that takes us beyond the end of Winter. There are nine stories total, all of which are well written, but some of my personal favorites were:
The Keeper: An explanation as to how Cinder ended up living with Michelle and Scarlet. But there’s more to it than that, the reader also learns a little bit more about Scarlet and how she came to live with her grandmother.
The Little Android: Technically this story is irrelevant to the rest of the series, as characters that we already know make a fairly brief appearance. But even so it’s a really good retelling of the Little Mermaid, keeping with the theme of fairytales being reimagined.
Glitches: The story of how Cinder came to live with Adri, Garan, Pearl and Peony. It’s sad but it gives the reader a little bit more insight into why Adri and Pearl disliked Cinder so much.
Something Old Something New: Set sometime after the end of Winter, all of the characters have returned to France, for Scarlet’s and Wolf’s wedding. It’s a very happy story that perfectly wraps up the series.
At the end of the book there’s also a slight preview for Heartless, a reimagining of Alice in Wonderland.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Even if you haven’t read the Grisha trilogy, you can still read Six of Crows. It’s set in the same world but rather than in the Russian counterpart in this book we travel to what in our world would be Holland. Kaz Brekker, a gifted thief is offered more money than he could possibly dream of, if he’ll agree to pull off a near impossible heist. He knows he can’t do it on his own, so he puts together a team. They’re a ragtag group, that doesn’t particularly trust each other, yet the world may depend on their success for survival.
Six of Crows is told from multiple perspectives, although some are much more frequent than others. The third person narration works well for this because it allows the reader to still be surprised by what the characters do or say, as well making it easier to distinguish who’s narrating.
Each character was very different and all of them were well developed. Although I felt that by the end the ones I knew the most were Kaz and Inej, I thought that at all of them had been written so well.
The plot of this story is outwardly simple-just steal the jurda parem, and by extension possibly save the world. Yet because each character has their own story and motivations, there’s so much going on throughout the book.
There are also so many things that you don’t see coming.
Those of you who follow Harry Potter news closely may already know that J.K. Rowling has started releasing tantalizing tidbits about the history of magic around her Harry Potter world. Now, fans know the name of the North American school of magic--Ilvermorny--and where to retreat in the icy winters (I'd choose Brazil's wizarding institute, Castelobruxo).
Today, Rowling published online the first in a series about North American magic, with more installments each day this week. Enjoy!
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: If you’re looking for a light, fun read with some depth, this is the book for you, especially if you’re a Harry Potter, The Bachelor, or Oreo enthusiast. A brilliant, witty, and hilarious coming-of-age, coming-out story which defies all stereotypes. Pitched by the author as a “updated You’ve Got Mail starring gay teenage boys with good grammar”. The teen voice is incredibly authentic.
Here are more photos from our exciting Chinese New Year celebration:
As you can see, the afternoon was a festival of art, music and dance.
Jack Liu's brushpainting, Kevin Liu's woodcarving, the Kwan Kung Fu School's martial arts demonstrations, a poetry recitation and Tracy Lin's fan and ribbon dancing were among the riches we enjoyed.
We are indebted to Cristina Li and Maggie Liu for bringing such an array of Chinese culture to our library theater.
Happy Year of the Monkey, everyone!
We celebrated the start of the Year of the Monkey with Chinese dances, music, poetry and visual arts.
Kwan's Kung Fu Masters of Peekskill dazzled us with their Lion Dance. We're sure any evil spirits were driven out of our theater by their gymnastic display. Students and masters of the studio demonstrated martial arts, as well. Check back to see more posts, including (we hope) videos of that lion!
Many, many, many thanks to Cristina Lee who asked if we could host a Chinese New Year celebration and proceeded to organize the entire afternoon!
Earlier this month, I got a sneak peek of Westchester resident Eric Velasquez's new picture book, an adorable tale of a boy searching for his favorite stuffed animal. I also learned the delightful backstory to this charmer, due out in February.
At last year's Chappaqua Children's Book Festival, Eric spied a young boy who looked just right for a picture book. And after talking with the child's parents, he invited them all to his studio to take photos to serve as models for the boy in his latest story! Though Eric based the boy's apartment, the parents, and the grandmother on his own childhood in Spanish Harlem (right down to the orange lamps), the inspiration for the boy diligently hunting for his stuffed antelope comes from right here in Chappaqua.
(Here we are, both being very excited about the book.)
I just became aware of a great new source of nicely-illustrated stories from Africa that are available for reading or downloading:
And it's free!
Folktales, fables, and stories of contemporary life in Africa are included. They range from the simplest early readers to fairly lengthy narratives in picture book format. They're written in a variety of African languages (Kiswahili, isiXhosa, Lusoga and many more) but almost all of them have been translated into English, as well.
Here are a few of my favorites from the site:
"Maguru Gives Out Legs" is a porquoi tale which explains why snakes are legless. I like it so much I'm going to add it to my storytelling repertory.
"Refiloe and the Washed Chickens" is a funny story featuring wedding preparations and a family feud. (Don't worry about those chickens. They really are alive all along!)
"My Red Ball" is a lively early reader enhanced by the variety of visual perspectives.
Let us know if you find any other gems on the website.
It's Chappaqua Challenge time again! Readers in grades 4-6 form teams of 3-4 people and read from a list of 12 great books. Then all the teams get together in March to quiz each other, have a party and get gift certificates for more books. There's no score, winners or losers, so it's really about trying different types of books and having fun. Click here for more info.
The world has shown itself to be a pretty scary place recently. StoryCorps hopes to bring the global community a little closer together this Thanksgiving by collecting tens of thousands of stories, doubling their archives in one holiday weekend. By sharing and listening to the lives of our family and friends, we can learn about our collective history and get insight into our immediate community's experiences.
Consider working together this Thanksgiving to add a new voice to the archive--the StoryCorps app makes recording and posting simple. Or listen to one of the 65,000 stories already available and see the world just a little bit differently.
There were witches a-plenty, assorted animals and superheroes galore at our Halloween celebrations this year.
The younger children trick-or-treated through the library and the older set mummified their parents. Everyone heard stories appropriate to the holiday.
We can hardly wait until next year!
What a large and enthusiastic crowd of budding engineers we had building bridges in our theater on September 24th!
Kathryn, Karen and Louise from "Arch for Kids" explained the principles behind bridge architecture. Then our kids and their caregivers were set loose to construct and decorate drawbridges, lift bridges or arch bridges. The results ranged from elegant to fantastic.
It was an excellent afternoon of creative scientific endeavor.
See an array of illustrative photos here:
In LEGO Club yesterday, we invented our own sports and games and built the fields of play out of LEGOs. The rules of each sport are still a little unclear, but stay alert! The consequence of failure is mostly death.
Stay on your toes to enjoy our obstacles courses!
And our perilous climbing walls!
(With proper respect to the inspiration: American Ninja Warrior.)
We have one more week, so come back to invent with us again or join us for the first time.
More like "from the book," actually. At this school year's first LEGO Club meeting, we built creations inspired by scenes from books. Some were classics, like The Night Before Christmas.
Or this race (if only we could remember the name of the book . . .)
Others were new favorites, such as Louis Sachar's Newbery Award-winning Holes. (With an assist from Dr. Who's TARDIS--what better way to escape juvie in the desert?)
Or Clariel, part of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series.
A couple were mash-ups--hey there, Dr. Who!--with one many-tentacled monster from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea menacing a jail.
And, finally, one can only be termed a "future bestseller" since it may not have come from a book (yet).
But of course, the most important part of any book is the pages and pages and lines and lines of words. So, here's to you, written text!
Have a great holiday weekend!
Sanjana's display New Yogibo cover
This was such fun! Around 70 people danced, watched and otherwise and enjoyed the rousing talents of the Walker Family Band. There's nothing like swinging your partner and do-si-do-ing in the early evening light. We hope to make this an annual event--maybe you can come next time!
We had a great time at the Barn Dance on August 26th. About 70 people came to do-si-do and swing their partner and promenade around the library courtyard. We had a great house band, the Walker family! (Yes, the walkers taught us to dance!). Below are some pictures of what we hope will be an annual event.
This was an interesting piece in the Times yesterday. In it, award-winning author Maile Meloy muses on her experience of writing for children without having had any.
I plan to discuss this question with the Young Critics at our next meeting in September. Past Young Critics groups have already discussed why authors often get rid of parents in their stories, but this is another issue. "Write what you know" is probably the most common advice given writers. But does "knowledge" of kids need to include having some of your own, or is having been one enough? We've all done that!
Side question: If you only write what you know, how do we get fantasy, science fiction, or even historical fiction?
What do you think? If you're in 4-6 grade and wonder about this stuff, too, join us once a month on Thursday nights for Young Critics. The first month, we'll be discussing whatever you're read recently. (If you've haven't read Meloy's The Apothecary yet, try it--it's terrific!)
As reported in the New York Times yesterday, pediatrician and literacy advocate Peri Klass, M.D. reports on some exciting new research: scientists are establishing just what happens in children's brains when we read to them. Think it's all just cute bunnies and clueless hippos? Think again! Critical brain networks and visual skills show much greater development when children listen to stories.
So don't skip that bedtime story tonight!
I love when non-children's book people mess around with famous picture books. At least I love it when they end up so hilarious. Thank you, Mallory Ortberg, for this sentence: "You have given him not a cookie but your own self-esteem." And you're welcome, everyone else.
So last night we had a lot of fun discussing the book and the movie James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl--and eating pizza! We talked about the various artists who've illustrated the book, who were our favorite characters, and why authors often get rid of parents in their stories. It was interesting to hear the kids' ideas about how the book and movie differed, and why the filmmakers might have made those changes.
Did you know that Roald Dahl disliked Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory--the film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-- so much that he refused to permit any other film adaptations of his work until after his death? He thought the movie was too much about Willy Wonka and not about Charlie--and judging just from the title, I'd have to agree! So Matilda--a big favorite in our group (maybe we'll do that next summer)--and Fantastic Mr. Fox, to name a few, had to wait.
We also talked about other books by Roald Dahl, and which ones were favorites, and why. Have you read Boy: Tales of Childhood, his autobiography? If you have, you can guess why he has so many cranky, even evil adults in his books. And candy. And rats...
We're doing another Read the Book, See the Movie program in two weeks, so if you like movies, join us! We'll be doing How to Eat Fried Worms on August 7th, for entering 4-6th graders. Please register so we know how many pizzas to get! We promise not to make you eat any worms.
Last Friday evening 14 young Chappaquidians displayed an amazing array of talents at our Third Annual Chappaqua Children's Room Talent Show.
We had singing.
We had dancing.
We had drumming.
We had magic.
And hula hooping.
And a contortionist.
They were all amazing.
We'll do it again next year, so start preparing your acts today!
Lois Lowry wrote some of my all-time favorite books. In my head, I'm still friends with Anastasia Krupnik. I wrote my Master's thesis on The Giver and Gathering Blue. Lowry answered questions today on Tumblr about her books and explained why books do not belong to their authors alone.
I think about those things all the time because those things happen all the time. But each time a reader picks up a book, he makes it into his own book. It isn’t what I have written, necessarily. He, the reader, adds in his own memories and imagination and dreams. This is as it should be. So I am not troubled by individual interpretations. -Lois
I'm so glad she feels that way, because I know I have taken her books for my own.
That's the sort of afternoon and evening we had yesterday in the Children's Room.
Steve Tomachek (A.K.A. "The Dirtmeister") regaled us with tales about scientific superheroes from Archimedes to Tesla and demonstrated some of their discoveries. Some in the audience found this made their hair stand on end:
We also found out that human beings are great conductors of electricity. this is shocking, in a good way:
We finished off our evening with a visit from two llamas and one alpaca from Hudson Valley Llamas. That certainly livened up our weekly Pajama Storytime! Many, many carrots were consumed by the llamas (see below):
Though we won't have llamas at the rest of the Pajama Storytimes this summer, we hope you'll join us on Thursday nights at 7:00. We'll wear out moose slippers, if you wear your jammies. Is that a deal?
Our llama friends are spending the day indoors so that they will be dry and happy when they visit us this evening.
Of course, we can't guarantee that it won't be raining at 7:00, but my personal weather forecaster claims that the bad weather is going to hold off until after 9:00.
The Llama Parade through the Library and out to our courtyard is slated to begin at 7:00. Come in your pajamas or come in your street clothes, but don't miss the Llama Drama tonight! (You might want to bring something to sit on, in case the ground isn't completely dry...)
Weather permitting, our Llama storytime will go as planned on Thursday July 9th at 7:00 PM. There is a chance of rain and thunderstorms on Thursday so feel free to contact the library to confirm if the program is on or has been postponed. We also suggest you bring something to sit on (blanket or chair), especially if we have rain earlier in the day and the ground is soft or wet.
A famous adult writer, Henry James, once claimed that the words "summer afternoon" were the most beautiful in the English language. I have to agree, especially since I'm going on vacation next week and may have some afternoons free. I don't know about you, but I always imagine that my vacation will be spent catching up on all the books I've been meaning to read for the last few months or maybe even years, like
or ones that I just discovered yesterday, like and . It's very exciting, but how will I carry all of my choices? Leaving one behind seems like giving up on a dream or a potential friend. And loading them all on a Kindle isn't the same. Kindle on the beach? Not sure about that. And can I get them all for free?
Sometimes I plan to bring books one way, and donate them to the local library after finishing them. When I don't actually read everything I bring (how could I? unless I never swim, eat, cook, bathe or get dressed?) I usually can't bear to leave any of them behind. So I tote them all home again.
Anyway, wish me luck. And if you come into the library later in the summer, I'll tell you which ones I really loved.
Greetings from the Chappaqua Library Children's Room!
We have many, many exciting programs planned for the Summer as well as our Summer Reading Club (with the ever-popular Guessing Jar) so we hope you'll come in and visit us soon and often.
We have been working hard to make room on our shelves for new fiction. Therefore, we have lots of free books for you to adopt for your home libraries. Come take a look and help yourselves. Don't be shy!