Monday, December 15, 2008

Cafe Library Discussion a Hit

Superintendent Dean Sanders led our discussion of Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Great discussion questions and answers!

Click here to view Beah talking to John Stewart on The Daily Show.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

December Cafe Library

We'll be reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah for December's Cafe Library. Our superintendent, Mr. Dean Sanders will be our guest discussion leader. To read more about this book, look at the previous post from Thursday, August 21, 2008. I hope everyone can make the December 9th meeting!

Click here to view Beah talking to John Stewart on the Daily Show.

Taylor, Awesome Job!

Taylor did an awesome job selecting a classic mystery, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie for November's Cafe Library. She also led the discussion and did a great job. The book kept us guessing, "who done it." Most of the group would read another book by Christie.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rachel did an EXCELLENT JOB!!

Rachel led our discussion of Sold by Patricia McCormick. She did an absolutely wonderful job!!
Thank you RACHEL!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone: Memories of a Boy Soldier is really good. However, it is also really graphic. Some of the stuff that happens in it is so brutal and awful. It really makes me sad knowing that stuff really did happen in real life. But, i am glad i am reading it because it gives me a lot of new knowledge about a topic i really didn't know a lot about. I like to expand me horizons, hahaha.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn, the last book in the Twilight series came out this summer. I read it when it came out and thought it was fantastic. There were just a couple of things that bugged me about it, however I won't say what they were because I don't want to ruin the book for everyone. This book is worth reading!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Shackleton's Stowaway

Shackleton's Stowaway by Victoria McKernan is a great adventure story. I just finished rereading this book and had forgotten how suspenseful the story is. The book is a based upon factual events of Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition to Antarctica in 1914-1916.

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."
This is a quote taken from an advertisment for one of Shackleton's expeditons. Even though the description is factual, the story of the men's journey and survival is very compelling.

Here's a Google Earth Community placemark which shows the events of the story.

This novel is also a Battle of the Books selection for the 2008-09 season.

Kabul Beauty School

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Behind the Veil by Debbie Rodriguez is a non-fiction account of a mid-western beautician who goes to Afghanistan to help the women there. This book talks about the treatment of women in Afghanistan before the Taliban, during their reign of terror and after. By opening a beauty school, Rodriguez has helped many women not only feel better about themselves but earn a living for their entire family.

Rodriguez tells how she came to Afghanistan as a relief worker but ended up opening a beauty salon and school. The author befriends many women and tells their stories. Even though some stories are sad and eye-opening, this is a book of hope for many women.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I just finished Being, by Kevin Brooks. This was an interesting book in that it was a fast-read, a somewhat thriller and somewhat of a sci. fi. book. It's about 16-year-old Robert Smith, who goes in to see the doctor for a routine scope exam but what the doctors find is anything but normal. It is revealed that Robert has filaments, moving metal parts and plastic casings inside of him. Robert wakes up during the point in the exam when the doctors find all this stuff. He also overhears that they want to do further experiments with him to find out just what type of being he is. He also surmises that all the doctors in the room aren't doctors at all but perhaps some men he can't trust that work for the government or a private group. Robert panics and decides to get out of there as fast as he can. To do so, he has to take one of the doctors hostage. This spins out of control for Robert as he needs to steal cars and dodge the doctors that want to explore him.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bastard Out of Carolina

Wow, Bastard Out of Carolina is an intense book! Dorothy Allison wrote a gripping story of a young girl who is sexually and physically abused by her step-father. Set in South Carolina, this book depicts a family that knows poverty but still tends to strong family ties. I will tell you that this is a chilling book and very realistic. You won't know what happens at the end until the very last page. BTW, Bastard Out of Carolina was made into a movie.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Human Rights Related Books

I read Sold by Patricia McCormick and A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Ms. Onsrud read Sold and posted about it a while back so I'll refer you to that post. I really liked this book although it was a bit hard to take because of the treatment of the girls.

Long Way Gone was also excellent. It is a story of Ishmael, a 13-year-old from Sierra Leone who is forced into becoming a boy soldier for the government. (I had always thought it was only the rebels that pressed boys into service!) This is a memoir so it is Ishmael's remembrance of what happened to him between the ages of 13-18. It's heart breaking and also raw. (He does state in the book that he has a photographic memory so it would seem that the events he describes are pretty accurate.)

The book begins in Ishmael's village in Sierra Leone and takes the reader through the horrific tragedy of civil war. It ends in another country but in between, Ishmael has to come to terms with feelings of guilt and the psychological flash-backs that war can incur.

I'm thinking that this would be an excellent Cafe Library book.
BTW, this is a 2008-2009 Battle of the Books book.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Speaking of books that have been made into movies...

I read Girl With a Pearl Earring recently, by Tracy Chevalier, and really enjoyed it. I wanted to read it because I had seen and loved the movie with Colin Firth (yum!) and Scarlett Johannson.

The book is about a middle class Dutch girl in the late 1600s who has to take a job as a maid because her family has fallen on hard times. She is hired to clean the studio of the famous painter Vermeer, and they share a certain fascination for one another. It's sort of a coming of age story as she learns what is important to her as well as what is possible for her in the society she lives in.

I really enjoyed getting more insight into the main character, which was possible because the whole story is told from her point of view. Naturally, many aspects of the story were developed in more detail than in the movie; however, it was gratifying to know that the movie had remained true to the spirit of the book. Both versions of the story give insight into gender and class restrictions, while also delving into ideas about art and religion. Fascinating and melancholy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha

I finally read Memoirs of a Geisha by Aurthur Golden this summer. I've had the book since the movie came out several years ago and have been wanting to read it ever since. If you have seen the movie and loved it, I recommend reading the book. The book pulls you in even more than the movie as you follow the life of Chiyo (Sayuri) from her poor childhood to her life in the okiya becoming a geisha. Even though I know very little about Japanese culture, Golden places enough history into the novel to give you a sense of what was happening in their lives.

If you want a book to get lost in, this tome is for you and there is still time to read it before school starts!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Julie Anne Peters

I read two books by Julie Anne Peters: grl2grl and Keeping you a secret.
grl2grl is a collection of short stories about coming out, first time adventures, a transgender teen longing for a sense of self, a girl whose abusive father has turned her to stone, and much more. This book is filled with teens making their way through relationships and the search for identity. Of the two Peters's books, I liked this one better. It seemed more true-to-life.

Keeping You a Secret is one young woman's coming out and what that means in her life. As she begins a very tough last semester of high school, Holland finds herself trying to sort out her future and intrigued by a transfer student who wants to start a lesbigay club at school.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Three Bags Full

I just finished reading Leonie Swann's Three Bags Full. It was a very different murder mystery where a flock of sheep try to solve their shepherd's murder. The cast of sheep characters number 19; all with distinctive personalities. Othello the "bad boy" black ram; Mopple the Whale, a Merino who eats a whole lot and remembers everything, Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in the flock, maybe in the whole world who is the lead detective in this mystery.

I had a hard time trying to figure out this book at first but when I got rolling, I didn't want to put it down. There are a few LOL moments...I LOVE to LOL.

The book received lots of starred reviews. I encourage you to check it out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hurt Go Happy

Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby is a story about friendship and love--the love of a parent and child, sister and brother, and a young deaf girl, her elderly neighbor and his sign language using chimpanzee. It's funny, horrifying, compassionate, and full of twists and turns. The first time I read it, I enjoyed it. The second time (in one sitting) I cried in sadness and joy (even tho I knew what was going to happen) and wanted to learn more about chimpanzees.

Hurt Go Happy is one of the Battle of the Books selections for the coming school year. One of the the reasons it was chosen is because it has won the teen Schneider Family Book Award, an award given to an author or illustrator who artisically expresses the disability experience for children and young adults.

Do NOT checkout this link or this link until you have read the book !!! Did you know that Wisconsin has a primate research laboratory?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is a science fiction book that was written in 1977 but remains timeless. The main plot of the book is that the government on Earth needs a savior to keep the planet from being overtaken by "buggers"-- alien-like invaders from a far-away planet. Ender is carefully groomed to be that savior beginning at the age of 6. He is put through many trials and games, often grueling and cruel, to prepare him for the final battle with the buggers. There is a great twist at the end of this book that even suspicious me didn't expect.

There is loads of symbolism in this book and it has been used to study literary elements in some schools.

I read this book because it is one of the Battle of the Books books for the 2008-2009 school year. I also wanted to read this book because the author was recently under fire for being honored for his lifetime contribution to young adult readers with the Edwards Award. The controversy stems from Card's extremist personal views. To learn more about this, read this School Library Journal article.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl was fantastic!

I finished The Women in Red and I thought it was okay. However, I thought The Other Boleyn Girl was fantastic. Everyone should read it, my mom thought it was a little slow in some parts but I disagree. Has anyone read The Book of Ruth? I am almost done with it and I thought it was really boring.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Three Books Read

I want to share three books that I just finished reading:
Extras by Scott Westerfeld, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Extras is the fourth book in Westerfeld's Uglies series:
Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras
This book is about Aya, who wants to become more recognized (popular), so she can have the status and all that goes along with it in her society. Aya's avenue to popularity is to go undercover with a daring group (Sly Girls) who shun recognition. Aya's plan is to report the story of the Sly Girls and make it public on the feed (sort of like our TV) thus gaining recognition.

I thought this was a fast read. If you like futuristic books (and even if you don't) you might want to pick up Extras. I don't think you need to read the whole series; you can enjoy the books individually.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semiautobiographical novel about Arnold Spirit, a 14-year-old Spokane Indian living on the rez in WA. Arnold, born with "water on the brain," is the frequent recipient of bullies. Arnold transfers to the rich, all-white high school in Reardan where he expects disaster. But he does manage to make friends with geeky and popular kids alike. Arnold grapples with what it means to be an Indian and what it means to be a tribe and have a sense of community.

I really liked this book. Sherman Alexie took a serious topic and was able to tell the story with humor and sensitivity at the same time. (I also liked his movie Smoke Signals...I haven't read the book yet but I saw the video twice!)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a graphic novel that weaves three different storylines in one book. One is the Chinese folk hero, Monkey King who aspires to be a god; another is Jin Wang, a lonely middle school boy who wants to fit in with his white classmates; and the third is a sitcom of Danny, an all-American teen and his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (an ethnic stereotype).

This book is about breaking down stereotypes and self-acceptance. I thought this was a powerful read in a very different format...not only graphic novel but also weaving three different storylines together.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I am glad you liked Nineteen Minutes, Mrs. Bade. And I agree with you that she dragged some stuff out a lot and the book could have been shorter. I just bought The Other Boyln Girl and The Women in Red and I am really excited to start reading both. I think they are going to be good. I also added The Catcher and the Rye to my list of books in need to read.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Nineteen minutes

I finally finished Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It was my pick for the last Cafe Library discussion meeting of the 07-08 school year. The book was about a school shooting where a high school boy who had been a victim of bullying his entire school career finally snaps and shoots and kills ten students and wounding many more. Of course, in Picoult's almost formula manner, there are major twists in the book. I do like those twists and I usually can't guess what they are going to be.

I do think that this 450 page novel could have been just as nicely done in 350 pages.

I would recommend this book. It is a very current issue in our world and Picoult handles it full steam ahead. (Can't think of a better way of putting it!)

Bad Monkeys

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff was a very strange, weird book. It's about Jane, a girl, who gets recruited by a secret organization that fights evil. The organization is called Bad Monkeys...they hunt and kill evil people whom they call Bad Monkeys (I know, confusing...) The whole book is set in a jail's psychiatric ward where Jane is being questioned by a doctor to determine if she is telling the truth, crazy or lying about her involvement in Bad Monkeys. There are major twists in this book and you will need to pay attention to characters. I would classify this book as a psychological thriller.

It is quite different from anything I've read in a long time and therefore I'd recommend it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Catcher in the Rye

Somehow in my years of HS and college English classes, it was never suggested that I read the classic The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. If you don't read it in HS, I suggest that you do read it sometime in your life. Through the narratives of Holden Caufield, you learn a lot about who he is, what has happened to him in his life, and the people who have come in and out of it. All of this takes place in the span of a week. Holden makes you love him and feel sorry for him, while keeping you glued to the page. Salinger's style of writing makes this book a fast read.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Ok, Hanna...
It's your turn to blog.....YeeHa!
Mrs. B.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mrs. Bade, it finally woked!

Mrs. Bade!!!
It finally worked! Next year for Cafe Library I think we should read Angles and Demons and The Da Vinci Code.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Last Cafe Library for the school year

Please join us tomorrow for our last book discussion get-together of the school year. We're going to discuss any Jodi Picoult book you've read. Hope you all have a great summer filled with lots of reading!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Henry's Book Club

Just in case y'all are interested in animal-related books, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has its own book club, called Henry's Book Club.

Also, here's a bit of my latest ASPCA email telling about the special upcoming event organized by Henry's Book Club:

Animal lovers ages 13 and up are invited to attend a live chat with author Cristina Kessler next Tuesday, May 20, from 7:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. EST. The award-winning author will discuss her book, Our Secret, Siri Aang, about a 12-year-old Maasai girl who finds a mother black rhino and her tiny baby hidden in the African bush. Kessler will also be happy to answer young readers’ questions about life in Africa, native wildlife and what it’s like to be a writer. For more information, please visit Henry’s Book Club online. Our Secret, Siri Aang book cover

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Project Paris

Several months ago now (work got in the way :) ), I started reading Project Paris. This week I picked up the book again to continue the story. At first I wasn't hooked, but with the last chapter I read, it has become more interesting. The lead character, Imogene, goes to Paris to work in fashion, her dream. Not everything is so smooth, though. She is almost sent back to New York because fashion week is canceled (quel horreur!) when she stumbles upon a new "designer". I'm excited to see how the rest of the book turns out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hello From Voki

Get a Voki now!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Finished Atlantis Found

You are going to want to come to the next Cafe Library! Mr. Quinn is re-reading his selection, Atlantis Found by Clive Cussler. I didn't think I'd like to as much as I did. There were two distinctly funny things that happened in the book that made me LOL! I told my sister about the funny things (I'm not going to tell you what they are right now!) and we laughed until we had tears in our eyes!!!

I can't wait to see what Mr. Quinn does for the discussion!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Spellman Files was a Fantastic Book!

I just finished The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. It was really a great, satisfying read. I can't wait to read the next one, Curse of the Spellmans. (Yes, I have it on order!!)

The main character, Isabelle, is kind of a scrappy, tom-boyish private detective. She isn't into fashion or saying the politically correct thing very often but I LOVED her and I think it would be a blast to be in her shoes for a day (or longer).

I hope everyone gets a chance to read it before our next meeting which I think I'll schedule for March 31st after spring break.

Be sure to stop by the LMC and pick up a copy. You won't be sorry!

Note the newest Spellman Files book: Curse of the Spellmans, coming to our LMC soon!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Slavery still exists???

I just read a fantastic memoir by Francis Bok about his life as a slave, and later, an escaped slave. It's called Escape from Slavery. Bok is from Sudan, and was captured in 1986 (yes, only 22 years ago!) when he was only 7 years old. Now he lives in the US and works with the American Anti-Slavery Group to end slavery all over the world. His story is so inspiring because he always remained determined to be free and never gave up on himself. This would be a great topic for English 9 students for their Human Rights Project during 4th quarter, but it's also just a gripping read and an important topic for anyone to learn about.

March's Cafe Library book

We will be reading Lisa Lutz's mystery/detective book, The Spellman Files for March. This is a bit of a divergence from our last Cafe Library book. Last month's The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon is a true account of the author's attempted suicide by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting himself on fire. The majority of the book is Runyon's 14-year-old self coming to terms with what he did emotionally, psychologically and physically. See January 25, 2008 blog entry.

While deciding if she should quit working for her family's private investigation firm, Izzy Spellman copes with meddling parents, an alcoholic uncle, the disappearance of her younger sister, and her own problems with men and drinking. (Summary from the LMC catalog.)

The Spellman Files has gotten good reviews; always a plus for a book club pick. It also won the 2008 Alex award given by the Young Adult Library Services Association. An Alex Award is given to a book that is written for adults but has appeal to young adults as well.
Find out more about the author, Lisa Lutz on her webpage.
There are copies available for check out behind the circulation desk. Please pick one up!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

3rd Clue to the Mystery Discussion Leader for April

Click on the Gabcast icon to the right to hear the latest clue for the Cafe Library Mystery Discussion Leader for the month of April.

Monday, February 4, 2008

OK now it's working

The Gabcast icon is apparently working now!
Click away!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Second Clue

Click on the Gabcast! Cafe Library #1 on the upper right side of the blog to hear your second clue for the Mystery discussion leader for the month of April.

For some reason I was able to click on the Click to Play icon after I posted my first clue. Hmmm. ..don't know why this changed.

Anyway, hope you listen and try to guess. The next clue will narrow your guesses.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gabcast Clues

Hey everyone!
I added a new Gabcast to the Cafe Library Blog. I'm going to give you several clues in the next couple of weeks to our mystery discussion leader for April. I have a bulletin board with the clues listed by Mr. Schuenke's room. But, I'll reveal the mystery discussion leader here first!

Click on the blue Gabcast icon to the right that says, "click to play", then click on "play" on the next screen.

Sorry this first episode sounds like there is a thumping rabbit in the background. I hope to resolve this problem!

Mrs. Bade

The Moon is Down

I just reread The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck, which is one of the selections the English 9 students can choose from for their 4th quarter Literature Circles. It's about a small town occupied by foreign soldiers during a war.

Every time I read this book, I like it a little more. I love the way Steinbeck creates complex characters who are believable, and how even the "villains" are not flat characters. I also enjoy reading about the history of this novel, which Steinbeck originally wrote as anti-Nazi propaganda. I think it's interesting to read about the controversial reviews, its success in Europe, and to think about how its ideas are still very relevant today.

Friday, January 25, 2008

February's Cafe Library Selection!

January's Cafe Library discussion will center around 5 different books. Members picked one book to read (actually several members read more than 1 or 2!).

The choices were:

My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Can You Keep a Scecret? by Sophie Kinsella
Tongue in Chic by Christina Dodd
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Discussion will be more of a book talk about the book(s) people chose to read. Of course, there will be a yummy dessert (healthy) served.

OK, for February: We're going to read, The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. This is a non-fiction piece about a 14-year-old boy who tried to commit suicide by burning himself. The book is about how he deals with this after the fact.
The book is was reviewed very well! It was also a Starred choice from School Library Journal.

Hope you see many people at that discussion!!

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green was a pretty good read.

I think most high school students would agree.

This book takes place at a boarding school in Alabama. Sixteen-year-old Miles and his good friends pull some awesome pranks but they also search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tongue in Chic

I'm about half way through Tongue in Chic for this month's Cafe Library. I have to admit, when I read the first 50 or so pages, I wasn't convinced this was a book I was interested in, but decided to keep reading. Carina blogged about the book here:

Now that I'm farther into the book, I have to agree with Carina. It does have intrigue. Good choice! I can't wait to find out how it ends.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Stoner & Spaz

Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge is a story about a teen aged boy with cerebral palsy who is trying to find himself and fit in. He reaches self-acceptance with the help of a drug addict girl from his high school.

I thought of using this book for Cafe Library but after reading it, I decided against it. I thought it didn't have enough substance for my seasoned readers. It's a really fast read. I would recommend it.

The Pillars Of The Earth

I started reading The Pillars Of the Earth. Its kind of hard to summarize effectively without giving anything away though. Its also 973 pages. Kind of long but VERY good.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

White Oleander

I read White Oleander by Janet Fitch over break. I read it a number of years ago but I thought I'd read it again because it is one of the selections for Cafe Library for January.

It is quite an intense book. Astrid's disturbed mother murders her boyfriend and is sent to prison. This leaves Astrid to the foster care system. She is abused physically and mentally at several placements. The one placement that seemed perfect came crashing down when the foster mother committed suicide. This is a book about survival and forgiveness.