Thursday, August 8, 2019
Straight Talk for Librarians: Like Priest's book Princess X, Agony House incorporates graphic elements into a prose story. As the main character reads the newly discovered comic book, readers get to follow along and try to unravel the mystery. The retro style and black and blue color scheme of Tara O'Connor's illustrations parallel and compliment the text. While the ending was predictable, this is still an important book to hand-sell to kids. Priest tells the story of the impact of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of the New Orleans community without beating the reader over the head with it. Even more significantly, Priest addresses the issue of white "saviors" returning to the city to renovate homes with little concern for or help from the remaining black neighbors and neighborhoods. For kids who aren't aware of the the racial tensions surrounding the
rebuilding of New Orleans or who don't have vivid memories of the people trapped in the Superdome, this book is an important and engaging read.
Straight Talk for Librarians: Kids LOVE the Amulet series and it's not hard to see why. The books include exciting adventures, science fiction and fantasy elements, beautiful illustrations, and engaging plot lines. One of the biggest advantages of this series is the wide appeal across age ranges. My third grader has devoured the whole series for the action and adventure. My high school students are able to pick out themes and and infer meaning from both the text and the illustrations. Because of the nature of the story, there are some illustrations that show explosions or battles, but there's nothing that's gory or hard to handle. This series is a must-have for elementary, middle, and high schools.
Straight Talk for Librarians: Messner has a knack for writing historically accurate tales that seamlessly incorporate her extensive research while maintaining a fast and engaging pace. Journey through Ash and Smoke is no different. At the end of the book, Messner includes a thorough Author's Note that includes a description the process of her research, photos of her trip to Iceland, and explanations for the inspiration for parts of the story. While the time-travel elements mean that the book is a work of historical fiction, she also provides suggestions for further reading and a source list of her research. This would be a great book for young people who love non-fiction but who are looking to branch out and explore other genres, who love history and learning about other cultures, or who just love a good adventure.