Seal Beach Teens Recommend…

At the Seal Beach Mary Wilson branch of OC Public Libraries we recently set up a display -- creatively collaged by our Teen Advisory Board (TAB) -- at which middle schoolers and high schoolers can recommend titles to their peers.  Quite a few TAB members and other teens have already added their favorite books to the display.  Below I’ve included a few of their suggestions.

Read the graphic novel Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis before the movie comes out on August 1st!  This first volume in a new series begins with details about the backgrounds of the Avengers included: Star-Lord/Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Iron Man.  The Guardians must defend Earth, Star Lord’s home planet, against invading Badoon forces.  This adventure is a mix of humor and dramatic space battles.
Another teen recommendation is Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands (Holly Black, ed.).  In this anthology both runaway human and elfin teens go to Bordertown, a place on the border between their two worlds, to find themselves and a little fun too.  The first Bordertown anthology, The Essential Bordertown: A Traveller’sGuide to the Edge of Faerie (Terri Windling, ed.), was published in 1998.  It is credited with being a precursor to the urban fantasy genre.  In 2011 Welcome to Bordertown was published.  Some of the authors of The Essential Bordertown, such as Charles de Lint and Ellen Kushner, return in this new anthology, joined by authors such as Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman.  The volume includes twenty stories (including one in graphic novel format), poems and songs.

Teens still love the classics, as evidenced by the several timeless books recommended by Seal Beach teens.  One of these is Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. In this early 17th century novel, Alonso Quixano, a man of modest means who lives in the Spanish countryside, becomes so enamored of the great tales of chivalry that he decides to become a knight himself, righting the wrongs that he encounters. In his travels he is accompanied by Sancho Panza, who acts as his squire.  Fueled by Quixano’s/Quijote’s imagination, the two become involved in a sometimes humiliating and often humorous series of misadventures.

In Helen Eve's Stella Caitlin Clarke lives in New York City, but when her parents decide to divorce she is sent off to a strict boarding school in England.  The prized position in this British school’s social hierarchy is held by the malicious Stella Hamilton, who welcomes Caitlin into her select group of “Stars”.  Stella’s goal is a relationship with the most popular boy in school and election to Head Girl.  And Stella is not one to cross.  As Caitlin herself becomes popular, she learns that many students are not happy with Stella’s power.  Caitlin must decide whether to pursue becoming Head Girl herself or return to the U.S. to see her little brother.  The story is told through Caitlin and Stella’s alternating viewpoints.

Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion won the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.  This unique novel is one of my personal favorites.  In this dystopian tale, lying in between the U.S. and Aztlán (the former Mexico) is an area called Opium, ruled by a 142-year-old drug lord, El Patrón.  Matteo Alacrán is a clone of El Patrón and has spent his childhood in seclusion, raised by a caregiver.  At a certain point Matt begins to live at the Big House on the Alacrán estate.  However, it soon becomes clear that El Patrón plans to harvest Matt’s organs.  With the help of a few allies, including his bodyguard and a good friend, Matt attempts escape.  And the adventure only continues from there.


What is Literary Nonfiction? – Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog, I introduced the concept of Literary Nonfiction: richly written books that foster an interest in reading for information. It is sometimes also called narrative nonfiction. We can expect teachers and students to be looking for this type of book as the Common Core curriculum is implemented over the next few years.

Here are some examples of literary nonfiction that should appeal to a variety of readers.This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few suggestions to get you started. Click on the links for book summaries and OC Public Libraries locations. Add your own suggestions to the "Comments" below!

 Nonfiction for K-3rd Grade

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. Hill, Laban Carrick. 2010. XP 738.092

Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue. Rose, Deborah Lee. 2013. XP 599.7861

Nasreen’s Secret School: a True Story from Afghanistan. Winter, Jeanette. 2009. XP 371.8234209581

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle. Dennis, Brian. 2009. XP 636.70929

Owen and Mzee: Language of Friendship. Hatkoff, Isabella. 2007. XP 599.635139

Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum. McCarthy, Meghan. 2010. XP 664.6

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs. Muntean, Michaela. 2012. XP 636.70887

Waiting for Ice.  Markle, Sandra. 2012. XP 599.7861

Nonfiction for 4th- 6th Grade

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci. D’Agnese, Joseph. 2010. XI 92 FIB

Dewey the Library Cat: a True Story. Myron, Vicki. 2010. XI 636.8009

       XI 92 SCI

Pharaoh’s Boat. Weitzman, David. 2009. XI 932.012

Remember Little Rock: The Time, the People, the Stories. Walker, Paul Robert. 2009. XI 379.263

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.  Nelson, Kadir. 2008. XI 796.35764


Take an Amazonian Adventure!


Between the World Cup games played in Manaus, Brazil, and our weekend viewing of Rio 2, set in the rainforests of the Amazon, I have been thinking a lot about a favorite read: Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea.

In 1910, orphan Maia is sent from England to live on a rubber plantation in the Amazon with distant cousins – whose distaste for young Maia is only rivaled by their aversion to the amazing natural world around them. The Carters and their twin daughters do nothing to make Maia feel welcome, but luckily her new governess, and two new friends – Clovis, a child actor whose specialty is Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Finn, a boy who wants to stay in the Amazon with his relatives there rather than be sent off to live with his wealthy grandfather in England – help Maia on her grand adventure.

Ibbotson blends adventure, suspense, and humor in a tale that is a great read for 5th -8th grade boys or girls, and would be an excellent read aloud for younger kids, as well.

It’s a great follow-up or introduction to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classics:

Little Lord Fauntleroy 
A Little Princess (audio)


And you can keep the adventure going all summer long with other tales like:
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (audio)
The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (audio)
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer (audio)


Karin Slaughter

Have you decided which event you'll be attending? Karin Slaughter will make her only   
Orange County appearances in support of her brand-new thriller, Cop Town, this weekend!

Saturday, July 19th at 2pm
Rancho Santa Margarita Library
30902 La Promesa, Rancho Santa Margarita. CA

Sunday, July 20th at 2pm
Laguna Niguel Library
30341 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA


When Pets Behave Badly

Since animal lovers think of their pets as part of the family, it can be especially upsetting when Fido or Fluffy’s behavior is unwanted, disruptive, or completely out-of-hand.  Behavioral problems are the number one reason why pets are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.  Resolving pet behavior problems can be difficult, and there are many outmoded theories and misconceptions clouding the issue.  Here are two books that can help you resolve pet behavior problems.

Decoding Your Dog published by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists explains common dog behaviors, and reveals how to prevent or change unwanted ones.  Of special note is the chapter written by Dr. Stefanie Schwartz on dog aggression, an especially common problem.  Dr. Schwartz does a great job in explaining the different types of aggression, the differences between normal and abnormal aggression, and how to go about managing an over-aggressive dog.

Also written by Dr. Stefanie Schwartz is Dr. Cookie’s Guide to Living Happily EverAfter with Your Cat (Dr. Schwartz was nicknamed Dr. Cookie for her tendency to shower her four-legged patients with pet treats).  This is an illuminating book that explains the mysterious workings of our feline friends, and how to handle unwanted behavioral issues.  This is an informative, yet light-hearted book full of advice and wisdom, written by a true animal-lover.
Dr. Stefanie Schwartz

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, Veterinarian and Board-Certified Specialist in Veterinary Behavior, will be at the El Toro Branch Library on Friday July 18th from 1-2pm to discuss solving pet behavior problems.  This program is part of our "Paws" to Read Summer Reading Program for Adults,  and is free and open to the general public.


Summer Reading for Adults

Each year the library offers a Summer Reading Program. If your child hasn't signed up yet, be sure and visit an OC Public Libraries branch today! Some branches are even offering a reading program for adults. Don't let the kids have all the fun, earn all the prizes, or read all the books! Check with your local branch to see if they are offering a program for adults.
This year the reading program theme is "Paws to Read". That's right, it's animal themed! We all love the theme. Even if you don't officially sign up to participate in a reading program there are many fun animal themed books you might like to read this summer. May I recommend:
Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn
The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery
Through a Dog's Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Watership Down by Richard Adams
White Fang by Jack London
This list is just a short list of fiction and non-fiction titles. There are lots more great animal themed reads. Please share some of your favorite animal themed books that make you want to "Paws to Read".  


Happy 4th of July!

All the OC Public Libraries' locations will be closed on July 4th in observance of Independence Day. But luckily our elibrary never really closes. You can access free eBooks and eAudiobooks on OverDrive. All you need is your library card and PIN number! You can also access free magazines on Zinio.
Book Talk wishes you a fun and safe 4th of July.