Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pinterested in Books #11

You can check out my Pinterest, where I've got bookish boards as well as lots of other assorted collections. Feel free to share links to your own bookish pins and boards in the comments!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 163
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: October 28, 1977
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction, classics

From Goodreads:
"Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new kid, a new girl, boldly crosses over to the boys' side of the playground and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. It doesn't matter to Jess that Leslie dresses funny, or that her family has a lot of money—but no TV. Leslie has imagination. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

I first read this book as assigned reading in fifth grade, and it's stuck with me ever since. Some details faded out in my mind over time - I remembered the main plot, but I couldn't remember the details about Terabithia... Did they really travel to a fantasy kingdom? Or was it all in their imagination? I consider it a sign of Paterson's talent that she made reading about their time in Terabithia so exceptional for me that as I grew up I could not remember if it was real or imagined.

Jess and Leslie do create Terabithia out of their imagination, but it becomes a real place for them and begins to take on a sense of realism in the book as well. But it seems that some people don't like that, as I discovered when I was looking for books to read to celebrate Banned Books Week and found Bridge to Terabithia on the list of banned and challenged books. According to the ALA website, it's been challenged for "occult/Satanism, offensive language." The website Banned Books Awareness expands upon this:
"At issue with censors are death being part of the plot..., Jess’ use of the word “lord” outside of prayer, offensive language, and claims that the book promotes secular humanism, new age religions, the occult, and Satanism. Some critics also proclaim that Leslie is not a good role model simply because she doesn’t attend church."
Oh no! Leslie doesn't go to church and Jess uses "lord" in a regional dialect! Hide the children! And, and, Leslie and Jess are *using their imaginations* to create a kingdom where they rule, which contains a sacred place where they send up generic prayers and positive wishes to no one in particular. Clearly, this is Satanism - this is secular humanism, new age religion, occult, and Satanism! Because children who use their imaginations to create beautiful places where they feel safe and happy and connect with nature obviously must be evil.

... What the what? I mean, seriously. This makes me really upset. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But for someone to declare that no one should be able to read this book, that it should be removed from libraries and schools, just because it contains things that they themselves don't agree with is madness. And those are my feelings for any other banned or challenged book too.

*dismounting soapbox*

In my opinion, Bridge to Terabithia is a truly beautiful book that covers a lot of issues with a gentle yet meaningful touch. For me, it speaks strongest about friendship and loss. Jess and Leslie's friendship develops in a way that many of my own middle school friendships did - uncertain at first, but then suddenly strong and perfect and natural. And then, the tragedy. (SPOILER - highlight to read: I don't remember feeling a sense of dread when I first read the book in fifth grade; I just remember all of a sudden it was announced that Leslie was dead. But rereading it now, I definitely felt some foreshadowing and suspense as Jess worries about crossing the rising river. It nearly broke my heart when he was invited out with his teacher and wanted to invite Leslie, but decided not to. Again, I didn't think of this when I was younger, but reading now, I felt the full weight of his guilt and regret right along with him when he finds out that Leslie has died while he's been out seeing things that she would have loved to have seen with him.)

I have a feeling middle grade readers and older readers might take away different things from this book, judging by how differently fifth-grade me and adult me experienced the book. But I think that's what makes it beautiful, and what makes it earn its place as a modern classic.

Final verdict: I'm obsessed with it! I thought this book was amazing! It's now officially one of my favorite books! I immediately bought a copy for myself because I will be rereading it again and again! I shall be shouting about it from the rooftops for days and I am currently recommending it to everyone I come in contact with!

{ I read this book to celebrate Banned Book Week 2014! }

{ Favorite quotes from Bridge to Terabithia }
" 'Ain't 'cha gonna run?' she asked.
'No,' he said, shoving the sheet away. 'I'm gonna fly.' "

" ' We need a place,' she said, 'just for us. It would be so secret that we would never tell anyone in the whole world about it.' ... She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. 'It might be a whole secret country,' she continued, 'and you and I would be the rulers of it.' "

She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there---like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone.

For hadn't Leslie, even in Terabithia, tried to push back the walls of his mind and make him see beyond to the shining world---huge and terrible and beautiful and fragile? (Handle with care---everything---even the predators.)

{ More about Katherine Paterson }

Katherine Paterson's Goodreads profile
Katherine Paterson's website

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Release Round-Up: September 22-28, 2014

Young Adult

by Scott Westerfeld

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 608
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction, paranormal

From Goodreads:
"Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

Salt & Storm
by Kendall Kulper

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 416
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fantasy, witches

From Goodreads:
"A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

The Fires of Calderon
by Lindsay Cummings

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 352
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

First in The Balance Keepers series. From Goodreads:
"The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson,
The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth."

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
by Julie Berry

Release date: September 23, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 368
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Suggested tags: middle grade, historical fiction, mystery

From Goodreads:
"There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings."

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banned Books Week: Sept. 21-27, 2014

Happy Banned Books Week, fellow readers! From the ALA website:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

In celebration of Banned Books Week, I'll be reading as many banned or challenged books as I can, especially young adult or middle grade books! I'm starting with Bridge to Terabithia, which was one of my favorite books when I was younger, and frankly I can't remember anything about it that would cause it to be challenged. But according to the ALA website, it's been challenged for "occult/Satanism, offensive language." The website Banned Books Awareness expands upon this:
"At issue with censors are death being part of the plot..., Jess’ use of the word “lord” outside of prayer, offensive language, and claims that the book promotes secular humanism, new age religions, the occult, and Satanism. Some critics also proclaim that Leslie is not a good role model simply because she doesn’t attend church."
I really don't remember any of that!! :|

Check out to find a list of frequently challenged books. Here are some young adult and middle grade books that I found on the list: