June is generally recognized as LGBT Pride Month. In honor of this, the Lambda Awards were announced last week for excellence in LGBT literature. A long list of winners in a wide variety of categories can be found on their website.
The winner in the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category is Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright. This novel is about high school student Carlos Duarte who is juggling a job at the Macy’s makeup counter, a jealous boss, his sister’s abusive boyfriend, and a difficult crush. Booklist’s review of Wright’s novel remarks that “there’s a whole lot going on in Wright’s novel, but it’s handled deftly and, for the most part, believably. Best of all, Carlos is not completely defined by his homosexuality. It is an important part of him, yes, but so are his ambition, his concern for his sister, and his capacity for friendship.”
Grace Brown, a 20 year old skirt factory employee, was murdered in 1906 just outside an Adirondack mountain resort by Chester Gillette. Gillette was arrested soon after Grace’s body was recovered in a lake and he was later executed in a New York prison.
This gruesome true story serves as part of the backdrop for the very non-gruesome and excellent young adult novel, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. The main character, Mattie Gokey, receives a bundle of letters from a guest at the resort and makes a promise to burn them. But when Grace’s body is later pulled out of the lake, Mattie becomes unsure what the right thing to do. Maybe the letters hold answers?
Mattie is also torn between her duty to her family and her dream of going to college. Her family lives in a rural area and they work extra hard making a living off of the land, made especially difficult since her mother has passed away and there are three younger girls to look after.
The Edgar Awards are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America and are often considered the most prestigious awards for the mystery genre. This year's awards were presented this week and the winners include:
Investigating a serial carjacker whose actual targets are young children in back seats, Jack Caffery teams up once again with police diver Sergeant Flea Marley, whose life is endangered by a discovery in an abandoned, half-submerged tunnel.
Celia Scott and her family move back to her husband's hometown in Kansas, where his sister died under mysterious circumstances twenty years before, and where Celia and two of her children struggle to adjust--especially when a local girl disappears.
In 1919, the McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry located in Evesden-a shining metropolis, the best that the world has to offer. But then eleven union men are butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this and uncover the dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton.
The Pulitzer Prizes were awarded this week with the announcement that there will not be a fiction winner for 2012. This isn't the first time that there was no prize, but the announcement still comes as sort of a shock. Three finalists had already been announced, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, and The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace.
While Sig Gissler, an administrator for the Pulitzer Prize awards says “it is not a statement about fiction in general – just a statement about the process”, Ann Patchett disagrees. Patchett who is an author, reader and book store owner wrote an op-ed in the New York Times criticizing the lack of award. She argues that there were actually many deserving books this year and the excitement created for both readers and sellers of books is something that is desirable and necessary. Read more »
When Tinkers won the Pulitzer Prize, I put it on my to-read list where it lingered for two years. I had a hard time summoning enthusiasm after reading the description every time I went looking for a book. A few months ago, I deleted it off my to-read list acknowledging that I would probably never read it. Last week I thought I would give it another shot and now I wonder why I waited so long. Paul Harding's first novel sucked me in right from the hallucinatory beginning and I didn't want it to end. The banalities are such: George is dying and reflective on his life, family and career. The narrative alternates to a time when George is very young and focuses on his father, a man who ends up being unfairly defined by his grand mal seizures. In between these paragraphs, there are excerpts from the fictional book called The Reasonable Horologist and other shorter paragraphs that seem nonsensical at first, but end up working at the end. Time and memories are the main theme and this book has a rural New England setting. Read more »
With a wry wit honed as an Emmy Award winning writer and animator for Sesame Street, author and illustrator Mo Willems broke into the world of Children's Literature in a big way in 2003 with a bus obsessed pigeon. The following year he endeared himself to children and parents alike with his spot on depiction of a distraught toddler who has lost her stuffed animal in the picturebook Knuffle Bunny, which also earned Willems his second Caldecott Honor medal from the American Library Association (ALA).
But it was Willems' Elephant and Piggie books for early readers that secured his renown as "the Dr. Seuss of this generation." In fact, his first Elephant and Piggie book: There is a Bird on Your Head! received the 2008 Geisel Award Medal, which the ALA gives to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The winners are recognized especially for their ability to creatively and imaginatively engage children in reading. Willems won the Geisel Award again in 2009 for his second Elephant and Piggie book: Are You Ready to Play Outside? He received the Geisel Honor Award in 2011 and 2012 for the Elephant and Piggie stories: We Are in a Book! and I Broke My Trunk.
If you haven’t yet introduced your beginner reader to an Elephant and Piggie story – there are now 17 to choose from – each one as delightful as the next, all featuring large type and short sentences that manage to convey the charming friendship Elephant and Piggie share. (If Willems is this generation’s Dr. Seuss, Elephant and Piggie are this generation’s Frog and Toad – good friends who appear in the beginner reader stories by Arnold Lobel.)
Whether you are a brand new or longtime fan of Elephant and Piggie, you are sure to enjoy meeting them this Friday, April 13 at 4:30 pm when we will be sharing some of their stories, a short film, and a craft celebrating their adventures together. Call us at 349-3100, or register online to reserve a seat. And stop by the reference desk between 2:30 and 4 pm Friday afternoon to try out the “Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App” activity we have on our iPads. In the meantime, you can create a dance for Elephant and Piggie at The Pigeon Presents website, or visit Mo Willems' website to find more fun and games!
Last night the National Book Critics Circle awards were presented to the best books published in English. They are the only awards chosen only by book critics. The National Book Critics Circle "honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature". Great mission! We like fostering conversations about reading too!
February is National African American History Month, and fittingly, Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, recently won the American Library Association's 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award. Nelson has provided an overarching introduction to the difficult history of African Americans, told in the voice of an elderly female whose grandfather was born in Africa and was kidnapped and taken to America as a slave at age six.
We are still a few weeks away from the Academy Awards, but the nominations were announced last week. Out of the nine best picture nominees, six are based on books. So while maybe watching the nominated movies is on your February list, it also proves an opportunity to add some new book titles as well. The six books include:
Recently I decided to read a mystery that was either nominated for or won an Edgar Award. I choseThe Lock Artist, 2010 Best Novel winner, because it sounded interesting. I was not disappointed. The story is narrated by Mike, a "boxman"- someone who can open any lock without a key whether it's on a safe, a door, a window or a padlock. We know this talent has landed him in prison at the age of 18 and that from there he writes his life story. We also know Mike is known as "Miracle Boy" because he survived a family tragedy that is hinted at throughout the book. This tragedy rendered him unable to speak, which brings an interesting facet to the tale. When he falls in love he is only able to communicate with the object of his desire through his other talent- drawing. The Lock Artist is not just one mystery, but many within the life of Mike- which job finally landed him in prison, what happened to the girl he loves, who is the dangerous and mysterious man who employs him, what happened to him as a child? Each chapter jumps to a different point in time in Mike's life with many ending as cliffhangers.