Monday's Muse, 31st edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Plant-Boy's Song by Phillip Glass.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli.

A library card is a kind of magic ticket: a passport to places distant--unknown--even forbidden. In his latest offering, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes that idea and spins it until the story, its characters, and all of us are dizzy, and offers it as a prize to young readers up for the ride.

The magic library card that turns up in the four separate stories in this book is a ticket to whatever each young character needs most at the time. Each story is imaginative, surprising, and well beyond the "books are good for you" theme one might expect from a tome with this title.

To the reader, it's almost Twilight Zone-y. The 12-ish kids in these stories face varied turning points as they move toward adolescence. They all find their way thanks to a mysterious blue card that seems to have materialized from nowhere.

Street kid Mongoose must decide whether to follow a friend clearly on his way to trouble or seek his own path. April, just moved from New York to an isolated farm, needs a friend. Deprived of television for a week, young Brenda must learn to handle her restlessness and figure out who, besides those goofballs on television, lives inside her head. A grieving Sonseray, barely realizing he's in need, finds comfort and a reassuring connection to his dead mother.

For many kids, the library is just that place where the Ghostbusters first got slimed. This book offers a reminder of the "real" spirits waiting on every shelf. Review

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell.

From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York.

When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army.

The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.

Nate Benedict is Billy's father. He's also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal--he'll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.

As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.

Lirael by Garth Nix [included because it has one of the best libraries in fiction].

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr's birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission against the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to Sabriel, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, New York Times bestselling author Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.

Please Bury Me in the Library by J. Patrick Lewis (Author), Kyle M. Stone (Illustrator)

A semi-swell collection of 16 poems celebrating books, reading, language, and libraries. Subjects range from Otto the Flea (who writes, of course, his "Ottobiography") to "The Big-Word Girl" (who takes her Webster's to the movies) to "Great, Good, Bad" books ("A bad book owes to many trees/A forest of apologies"). The brief selections encompass various forms, from an eight-word acrostic to haiku to rhyming quatrains and couplets. The tone is generally light, with the last few entries turning more to wonder and metaphor ("A good book is a kind/Of person with a mind/Of her own..."). Usually printed one per spread, the poems are accompanied by richly dark artwork. The thickly applied acrylic paint and mixed-media illustrations are sometimes reminiscent of the work of David Shannon, with a comically grotesque air, and add comprehension to the verses. The Lewis hallmarks are all here–clever wordplay, humor, nonsense, rhyme–though the collection doesn't have quite the spot-on snap of his best stuff. Kids will enjoy the switcheroos of "What If Books Had Different Names?" ("Alice in...Underland?/Furious George...") and the faintly macabre title poem, but others, which reach a bit for even a nonsensical point, will have less appeal. Lee Bennett Hopkins's Good Books, Good Times! (HarperCollins, 1990) and Wonderful Words (S & S, 2004), which include offerings on the same subject from many fine authors, would partner in a nice balance with Lewis's frothier nonsense. –Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA School Library Journal

The Library by Sarah Stewart.

The creators of The Money Tree paint a blithe yet affectionate portrait of a woman whose life centers on reading. Elizabeth Brown's obsession begins in childhood: "She didn't like to play with dolls,/ She didn't like to skate./ She learned to read quite early/ And at an incredible rate." Stewart's nimble verse follows the bibliophile through the years as she fills her home with books. Finally, "when volumes climbed the parlor walls/ And blocked the big front door,/ She had to face the awful fact/ She could not have one more." Elizabeth then decides to share her wealth: she donates her collection to the town, turns her home into a library and-of course-continues to read voraciously. Attuned to the story's humor and period setting, Small's (George Washington's Cows) airy illustrations charm with historical touches and soothing pastel hues. Triple-ruled black borders and filigreed corners suggest a family album of old, while black-and-white spot art highlights details of a singular life. The book's dedication adds a poignant note: "To the memory of the real Mary Elizabeth Brown, Librarian, Reader, Friend 1920-1992." --Publisher's Weekly.

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora (Author) and Paul Colon (Illustrator)

Tomas Rivera, who at his death in 1984 was the Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, grew up in a migrant family. Here, Mora tells the fictionalized story of one summer in his childhood during which his love of books and reading is fostered by a librarian in Iowa, who takes him under her wing while his family works the harvest. She introduces him to stories about dinosaurs, horses, and American Indians and allows him to take books home where he shares them with his parents, grandfather, and brother. When it is time for the family to return to Texas, she gives Tomas the greatest gift of all--a book of his own to keep. Colon's earthy, sun-warmed colors, textured with swirling lines, add life to this biographical fragment and help portray Tomas's reading adventures in appealing ways. Stack this up with Sarah Stewart and David Small's The Library (Farrar, 1995) and Suzanne Williams and Steven Kellogg's Library Lil (Dial, 1997) to demonstrate the impact librarians can have on youngsters. --Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, School Library Journal

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.

"In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was 'Read.'"*
--Alia Muhammad Baker

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries.

Includes an author's note.

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones.

The sequel to Howl's Moving Castle

When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle's house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn't realize that the house bent space and time, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she's been targeted by a terrifying creature called a lubbock, too, and become central to the king's urgent search for the fabled Elfgift that will save the country. The king is so desperate to find the Elfgift, he's called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, the great Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer won't be far behind. How did respectable Charmain end up in such a mess, and how will she get herself out of it?

Libyrinth by Pearl North.

Haly is a Libyrarian, one of a group of people dedicated to preserving and protecting the knowledge passed down from the Ancients and stored in the endless maze of books known as the Libyrinth. But Haly has a secret: The books speak to her.

When the threat of the rival Eradicants drives her from her home, Haly learns that things are not all she thinks they are. Taken prisoner by the Eradicants, who believe the written word to be evil, she sees the world through their eyes and comes to understand that they are not the book-burning monsters that she has known her entire life.

The words of a young girl hiding in an attic—written hundreds of years before Haly’s birth—will spark the interest of her captors and begin the change necessary to end the conflict between the Eradicants and Libyrarians. With the help of her loyal companion Nod, a creature of the Libyrinth, Haly must mend the rift between the two groups before their war for knowledge destroys them all. Haly’s life—and the lives of everyone she knows—will never be the same.

A powerful adventure that unites the present and future, Libyrinth is a fresh, magical novel that will draw in young readers of all genres.


Meg said...

Oo! I read Libryinth...good book! I think a sequel is due out soon...I read too many books with sequels and I need to keep a list.