A day-by-day telling of the last days of the Civil War, the death and funeral of Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis' last attempts to continue the war.
This is a version of the book Bloody Crimes for younger readers.
Why I picked it up: I think three or four different librarians recommended this book to me. But I really picked it up because I had heard the legend of the Lincoln ghost train: a spooky spectral train that follows the same route President Lincoln’s funeral train made from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, IL, to bring his body home again. It's one of the few ghosts of a mode of transportation! I wanted to know what inspired the strange stories.
Why I finished it: Lots of things I didn’t know. For example: 1) Confederate president Jefferson Davis intended to keep the war going even after Robert E. Lee surrendered his army (it was just one of many fighting the Union). 2) Davis took a fortune in gold (the treasury of the Confederate states) with him when he left Richmond, VA, before the city burned. 3) The Confederacy had its own postmaster!
I'd give it to: Mark, because of the heartbreaking scenes as Lincoln's body is paid last respects at each of the funeral train’s stops. People waited in line for days, women wept and brought floral wreaths, and others stood at the side of the tracks in the night, holding up their babies to see the train flying by. The train became a way for people to mourn everything they had lost during the bloody conflict, and a way to give thanks for the country’s reunification.
In the pages of MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman re-enters the Pulitzer prize–winning Maus, the modern classic that has altered how we see literature, comics, and the Holocaust ever since it was first published twenty-five years ago. He probes the questions that Maus most often evokes—Why the Holocaust? Why mice? Why comics?—and gives us a new and essential work about the creative process. MetaMaus includes a bonus DVD that provides a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus linked to a deep archive of audio interviews with his survivor father, historical documents, and a wealth of Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches. Compelling and intimate, MetaMaus is poised to become a classic in its own right.
Superman's cousin Kara, a gawky, insecure girl, lands on Earth and tries to fit in at school. Her superpowers only make things worse.
Why I picked it up: I loved the original Supergirl comics, and have hated every version since, especially since they kept making her older, sexier, and more scantily dressed. This looked like a throwback with modern sensibilities, something I would enjoy sharing with my kids.
Why I finished it: Kara's schoolmates laugh at her out-of-towner weirdness, and her teachers are unsympathetic. It reminded me of my childhood (I moved around a lot as a kid). She creates a hilarious fantasy life in which she runs away to the moon, where she is acclaimed and admired.
I'd give it to: Claire, an eighth grader who I suspect would identify with Kara's nerdy classmate Lena, Lex Luthor's little sister. She's a budding supervillain who creates a ray that makes people think they're ducks. Lena, I mean. But maybe Claire, too.
What do you get when you mix adults, teenagers, children, babies, seniors, professionals, parents, teachers, students, homeschoolers, and the homeless? That very funniest of places, your local public library, home of the hugely popular Web comic Unshelved.
"Unshelved makes me appreciate those busy librarians of my school days even more. They were my best friends no matter where I went, and I worshipped them. Seeing what they had to deal with only notches up my love for them!"
-- Tamora Pierce
This eighth collection includes fourteen months worth of daily Unshelved strips in a new, handier-sized volume, plus strips never published on the web, author commentary and an introduction by Paul Southworth, creator of Ugly Hill and co-creator of Not Invented Here.
Tom Bissell, a lifetime video gamer, spent years of his life interviewing experts and traveling around the world to research the importance of video games. He uses examples from seminal games to explore how players interact with them, and to explain the artistic integrity of games. Bissell considers this time to be a golden age of both rendering power and storytelling. He explores many struggles game designers face in their work, like the tension between the framed narrative, where the player is told the story, and the ludonarrative, where the player creates the story as they make different choices.
Why I picked it up: My sons stay in our basement drafting imaginary sports teams, taking their football star avatars from high school to the college National Championship, and generally whaling on each other digitally for hours at a time. I was hoping this book, which I found on the staff picks shelf at my local library, would give me some insight into their motivation, or (even better) promise that the hours they spend gaming will lead to success.
Why I finished it: Bissell uses classic games that we are all familiar with to explain how video games react to and change popular culture. He also explains why storytelling and acting in video games lagged behind other media by quoting a game designer who said, “… we didn’t have the ability to render characters, we didn’t know how to direct the voice acting… because we were too busy figuring out how to make a rocket launcher.” However, he then documents several ways this has improved, with better scripts, acting and design allowing games to take their rightful position as a recognized art form.
I'd give it to: Norm, my friend who owns three major gaming platforms, and would find dignified and scholarly-sounding statements to justify that he still plays “kids’ games.”
The first-ever collection of the daily comic Scenes From A Multiverse by Jonathan Rosenberg (creator of Goats about what it’s like to live in a multiverse. Each day we visit another location somewhere in an ordinary, everyday multiverse and see how folks there live and play.
With full-color comics to treasure and cherish and someday bequeath to your heirs, SFAM Vol. 1 will literally tear you a new one, several inches to the left of the original one. Contains bunnies, giant robots and measurable quantities of spite. Features an introduction by Queen Skepchick Rebecca Watson.
A couple of Easter eggs go bad in the fridge and decide to make a break for it.
Why I picked it up: Mistakenly thought the egg on the cover of this picture book was a vampire.
Why I finished it: Great egg and food-related puns throughout. On escaping their carton, Benedict screams, “Never say dye!” Then, as they’re roughing up the vegetables, one cries, “Help! Lettuce go!”
I'd give it to: Ron who, like me, was a big fan of Piers Anthony’s Xanth series back in high school. He could use this to instill a love of wordplay in his toddler, planting the seed that will make her enjoy A Spell for Chameleon when she’s older.
Off the coast of a tiny island a mysterious package goes missing.
Rival whaling factions reignite an ancient feud when their paths cross.
Korean smugglers want to open a bed and breakfast.
A privacy expert sets in motion her plan to create a cell phone network using migrating whales.
... and Orange Whippey is caught in the middle of it all.
Swell is a raucous roller-coaster ride...
-- Tam Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
Kana is spending the summer at her grandparents’ fruit farm in rural Japan, waking up early, trimming trees and working hard to fit in with her traditional relatives. She is not there for a vacation. It’s a weird place for a half-Japanese American girl to stay, but she’s there to get away from school, where an eighth-grade girl, Ruth, committed suicide at the end of school. Because Kana and her friends were cruel to Ruth, all are dealing with crushing guilt and wondering if they could have prevented her death. Kana can’t seem to work hard enough at the farm to block out thoughts of Ruth -- in fact, she often talks to Ruth in her head as she works.
Why I picked it up: Nominated for my book committee, BFYA. I was also hoping it was a middle-school appropriate version of the free verse Ellen Hopkins books like Crank and Burned that are so popular at my school.
Why I finished it: Last year, at the school where I work, we also had a girl commit suicide. Because I knew her and a few of her friends as well, I saw its aftermath and its impact. Kana’s experience is much the same, and Thompson’s sparse free verse captures her grief, guilt, and confusion. Kana is eventually able to take Japanese traditions of remembrance home to help her American friends grieve.
I'd give it to: My student Kat, because she was a friend of the girl from last year, and I think this book would help her understand what happened. And my daughter Grace because she loves stories of my trip to Japan as a child and this has details about super-hot baths and ancestral shrines and such.
On their return trip to Elsewhere to try to save Rebecca from her illness, Noah, Rebecca, and Theo are possessed by the tears of the dead. Zombified, they attack Max as he tries to save them.
Why I picked it up: My daughter and I are huge fans of the Elsewhere Chronicles. When I saw an unbound galley of this at Book Expo America, I begged for an early copy (and got one). (Woo!)
Why I finished it: This volume really amps up what’s at stake for the characters (one of the friends dies) and the sinister nature of the Master of Shadows.
Plus Elsewhere is a fantastic world, and I never know what’s going to be on the next page. I never expected the potentially deadly, oversized “dandelion” seeds.
I'd give it to: Collette, who liked the world-hopping Akiko and wouldn’t be freaked out by the undead bear our Max faces.
Lissa is sick of the rivalry between the men's football team and soccer team. Nobody remembers why it began, and now the violence is escalating and causing the guys to neglect their girlfriends. She decides she has had enough, and gets the girlfriends to go on strike to make the guys to stop their childish behavior.
Why I picked it up: The author, who is only twenty and also already wrote The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, was going to speak at one of my library's teen book group meetings, so I was giving a copy of the book away on our blog. But after opening it randomly to a hot make-out scene in the library, I decided I needed to read it first.
Why I finished it: As a teen I read Lysistrata, where Greek women withhold sex to help end The Peloponnesian War, and found it titillating. I loved how Shut Out was equally celebratory of women's power (without being unnecessarily graphic) yet totally sexy.
I'd give it to: Cassie, one of my teen readers at the library who loves passionate and believable teen romances. I believe she would really like it, but also because she would pass it along to all her friends and save me some embarrassing booktalking.
The Norbois are just another typical rich family who summer in the town of Blessed, near Lake Michigan. The upper middle class parents and four children are friendly enough to the locals but generally keep their distance. When a handyman notices something unusual on their property, Sheriff DeWitt discovers that the entire family has been slaughtered and left to rot in their vacation home. The sheriff struggles with the horrendous crime while still trying to cope with a personal tragedy. Suspects from the family's past as well as the local townspeople provide more questions than answers.
Why I picked it up: Guest, author of Ordinary People, based this book on murders that occurred in Michigan in the 1960's.
Why I finished it: The novel’s multiple viewpoints (the victims, sheriff, and witnesses) and the way they were read by two performers pulled me into the idyllic setting of Blessed as its residents' feeling of safety and trust were torn apart. The points of view also created a tightly wound suspense that the audiobook emphasized. This was a violent but quiet mystery, and it lacked the action packed, blood and guts scenes I would normally expect for this type of gruesome murder.
I'd give it to: Katy and Tyler on their drive up to Michigan for their next vacation. They've been going to the same small lakeside town for nearly a decade, so that maybe they'll come visit me in Seattle, instead.