Tuesday, February 20, 2018

African American History Month Teen Reads

Roots by Alex Haley
When I was in 10th grade, we were asked to study the works of a great American author and defend its inclusion in the school’s curriculum. I studied Alex Haley and subsequently read Roots. 10 years later, I still advocate for its inclusion in every teen reader’s library of must-reads. Roots is a book that I have read only once and still remember vividly. To this day, passages of text and detailed descriptions have remained ever present in my mind. This absorbing, intense, emotional, moving, sometimes graphic and always memorable saga of Alex Haley’s family roots from his ancestors in Africa in the 1770s through his family’s experience in America until the 1970s will forever leave its mark on the hearts of readers. I whole heartedly classify Roots as a must read (or a must see if you prefer the mini-series). This book, Alex Haley’s personal fact-based history, will truly impact your worldview.
A Different Kind of Christmas by Alex Haley
A Different Kind of Christmas is an inspirational story that readers will want to visit frequently at any time of the year. Unlike the lengthy saga of Roots, A Different Kind of Christmas focuses on a single era in history, the time of the Underground Railroad. The main character, 19-year-old Fletcher Randall, is the son of a wealthy plantation owner who experiences great internal conflict as he studies at his New England school. After befriending a family of Quakers, Fletcher is forced to resolve his conflict once and for all. Can he return home for Christmas the same loyal son who will one day oversee his father’s plantation? Or will Fletcher follow the new stirrings of his heart and become a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to escape from his childhood home? Read this concise, but meaningful book to find out.

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X
“I am my father’s son. They will always come for me. But I will never succumb” (348).
X: A Novel is a unique portrayal of teenage Malcolm Little’s journey to becoming influential civil rights advocate Malcolm X. Rather than focusing on the politics of Malcolm’s later life, Shabazz emphasizes the identity crisis that takes Malcolm away from his family roots of activism and towards a life of rebellion, crime and independence from his parents’ legacy. As Malcolm faces the many social obstacles placed in his path, he finds himself questioning his personal role on the world stage and, more importantly, his role as his father’s son. Voted the 2018 Great Michigan Read, this novel is especially interesting for Michigan readers as Malcolm’s childhood experience in Lansing is thoroughly explored. A light read that delves into heavy topics, X: A Novel is a great conversation starter for teen and adult readers alike.
Reviews by Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library

Young Adult Programming Survey

Attention 6th-12th graders! If you print and fill out this survey between February 1-28, you will be entered into a raffle to win a brand new copy of X: A Novel (Ilyasah Shabazz)! Return the completed form to the Zauel Reference Desk. Winners will be notified March 1.
Name:                                                                                                             Grade:                 
Phone Number:                                                                                             Email:                  

1.      Would you be interested in attending teen book discussions held at Zauel Library?    Yes       No

a.      If you answered yes, how often would you like to meet?          Weekly                 Monthly  

2.      Approximately, how often do you visit Zauel Library?
a.      Every day
b.      Once a week
c.       Once a month
d.      Once every few months
e.      Strictly as needed
f.       I never visit Zauel

3.      Approximately, how often do you visit the Public Libraries of Saginaw’s website?
a.      Every day
b.      Once a week
c.       Once a month
d.      Once every few months
e.      Strictly as needed
f.       I never visit the website

4.      Would you be interested in any of the following programs? If so, please indicate which programs by circling “a”, “b” or both.

a.      Page to Stage Road Show
                                                     i.     Every June, I host the weeklong Page to Stage drama camp. In the fall, I would like to offer an opportunity for 6th-12th grade students who enjoy theater to participate in storytelling events in the fall and winter.
You would create a storytelling piece by yourself or with a partner. I would offer weekly practices, but only 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

I have a confession. I do not normally read graphic novels. I have a second confession to make. I read a graphic novel… and it’s seriously great! For fans of beautiful art, coming of age stories and female empowerment, read Pashmina! History students, first and second generation Americans, travelers, dreamers, read Pashmina! If you don’t fit any of the above categories… read Pashmina! Nidhi Chanani’s debut novel is a sweet story of a teenager named Priyanka who finds a magical pashmina scarf that connects her to her Indian heritage in fantastic ways. As Priyanka discovers who she is by learning where she came from, she learns of the legacy left to her by the women of her family- a legacy of faith, education, progress and strength. The artwork is compelling as it draws you into Priyanka’s reality and into the colorful fantasy of the world of the pashmina. Pashmina is a thoughtful, heartfelt story that will speak to anyone who has tried to define their identity and chart a path forward amidst the tangled web of legacy and family secrets. 

Reviewed by: Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library

Miss E by Brian Herberger

Fans of Across the Universe and The Mixed-Up Files of Basil E Frankweiler are encouraged to read the story of Bets and her mysterious friend “Miss E”. History, mystery, conspiracy and fun are woven together into this delicious tale that, I must admit, I consumed in one sitting! Elizabeth aka “Bets” is a teenage girl in 1967. She is a new girl, an army brat and a young adult about to embark on a series of changes in her life. When given an assignment to identify important figures of American history, Bets notices an incredible likeness between a defiant spunky aviatrix and her town’s very own Miss E. As Bets uncovers the truth about Miss E, she also begins to uncover the truth about her own place in history as Bets is introduced to the tensions surrounding the Vietnam War. Herberger encourages a message of social justice and free-thinking, but the book is heavily biased in favor of the anti-war stance without ever exploring the other viewpoints. This contradiction detracts from his advocacy of freedom, but nevertheless, remains a thought-provoking, spirited look at a time when dissension was greatly frowned upon. The story of Bets and Miss E is sure to inspire and intrigue readers of coming-of-age stories and historical fiction.

Reviewed by: Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library 

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo is a well-researched presentation of the special bond shared by the Van Gogh brothers. Inspired by their letters, Heiligman recreates Vincent and Theo’s lives from birth to death by using their very own words and sentiments. At just about 400 pages, this book is a bit slow to start. The shorter, almost fragment- like sentences scattering the early pages make for an interesting read that builds anticipation, but borders on driving the reader crazy by wishing that something would happen! However, if the reader hangs on, they are in for quite a treat. Vincent and Theo’s brotherly love transcends time and speaks to the heart of every reader that has wished for a soul mate. Through good times (and bad), Vincent and Theo were there for each other. Their heartaches, hardships and artistic genius are captivating. Reading like a soap opera, it engages the reader with the melodrama and yet educates the reader on the “other side” of the lives of these important figures. It is recommended that you read this book with Google Images nearby so that you can see the many paintings described. This book is perfect for readers who like art, history and truly touching, truly real stories. 

Reviewed by: Chiara Genovese, Zauel Library