High School Booktalks (I Am Princess X, The Scorpion Rules, The Game of Love and Death)

These are three booktalks I recently put together. They’re very similar to my review content but I thought I’d post them all here for reference anyway since I did shorten everything.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but this time I shortened them. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how much you can distill a plot summary (the answer is a lot!).

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

Here they are!

I am Princess X by Cherie PriestI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest: May and Libby created Princess X on the day they met in fifth grade. Libby drew Princess X while May wrote the stories. Together they made sure that Princess X became an indelible part of their childhood. That was before Libby and her mother died in a car crash. Now May is sixteen and looking at another long, lonely summer in Seattle. That is until she spots a Princess X sticker on the corner of a store window which leads her to IAmPrincessX.com where May finds a webcomic. In the comic, the princess’ story is eerily similar to Libby’s. And filled with clues only May recognizes. Which means that the only person who could have created the comic is May’s best friend–Libby–who is still alive and needs May’s help in I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest with illustrations by Kali Ciesemier.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin BowThe Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: Charged with saving humanity from itself, the powerful artificial intelligence Talis swiftly establishes a series of rules and initiatives to maintain peace. Oh, and he also takes over the world. Four hundred years later, Talis’s every word is recorded in the Utterances and some cultures believe he is a god. They might be right. Talis takes hostages to make clear the exact cost of any declaration of war. The Children of Peace are the heirs to thrones and ruling positions around the world. They are hostages living under the constant threat of execution. If war is declared the lives of both nation’s hostages are forfeit. Greta Gustafson Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a seventh generation hostage. She knows to follow the rules even with her country on the brink of war. Elián Palnik is a new hostage who refuses to accept any of the tenets of the Children of Peace, forcing Greta to question everything she believes and all of the rules as she struggles to save Elián and herself in The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha BrockenbroughThe Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough: Over lifetimes Love and Death have carefully chosen their players, rolled the dice, and waited for any opportunity to influence the Game in their favor. Death has always won. Always. But Love has faith in his latest player Henry Bishop. A white boy adopted by a wealthy family, Henry’s life is easy even in the midst of the Depression that still grips the United States in 1937. His bright future is assured thanks to his adoptive family. All he has to do is claim it. Even without the stakes of the Game and her role as Death’s player, Flora Saudade is an unlikely match for Henry. An African-American girl born just a few blocks from Henry, Flora supports herself as singer in Seattle’s nightclubs while she dreams of following in the footsteps of pilots like Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman. The odds, and the Game itself, are stacked against Henry and Flora. But with true love and free will at play maybe, just this once, anything will be possible in The Game of Love and Death (2015) by Martha Brockenbrough.

High School Booktalks (Open Road Summer, The Screaming Staircase, All Our Yesterdays)

Now that Summer Reading is approaching it’s time to start thinking about booktalks for outreach and class visits. I’m on the YA Steering Committee at my place of employ which means that I present booktalks at every Fall and Spring new books presentation.

This spring we highlighted books from the summer reading list for our library system (which I helped pick and am in love with. You can find the full list online. I helped pick the middle school and high school titles.) and went with a shorter format to talk about more books.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but this time I shortened them. It was an interesting exercise in seeing how much you can distill a plot summary (the answer is a lot!).

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

So here are the three books I presented:

Open Road Summer by Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord: Reagan wants to leave her bad-news ex and her bad girl reputation behind. She just isn’t sure how to do that. Country music star Lilah Montgomery is embarking on her first major solo your–with best friend Reagan in tow. Their plans for a girls’ only summer are quickly derailed when Matt Finch joins the tour as Lilah’s opener. Between his clean-cut good lucks and enough snark to match Reagan barb for barb, Reagan knows her plans for a drama free (and boy free) summer are in big trouble. Over the course of one unforgettable summer Reagan will learn that best friends are forever, mistakes can be left behind, and sometimes love is worth the risk.

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co. Book 1): Unlike most psychic investigation agencies, Lockwood & Co. does not employ adult supervisors who can’t see ghosts anymore. Instead the agency is run jointly by its young operatives who can see ghosts: Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and–often much to her own surprise–Lucy Carlyle. When their latest case ends with a burn down house and threats of legal action (despite the ghost being effectively removed), Lockwood & Co. is faced with the imminent failure of the agency. The trio has one option to keep the agency open: accept a case clearing the most haunted house in London of its malevolent spirits. Lockwood says the case should be easy, he says that a lot. But matters involving ghosts–and murder–are rarely simple matters as Lockwood & Co. is about to find out.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill: Em has tried everything she can thing of to prevent the completion of a time machine that will break the world. All of her attempts have failed, leaving Em with one last, terrible option: She has to kill the man who will build it. Marina has loved her science prodigy neighbor James since forever. More than she loves herself sometimes. After one disastrous night everything Marina thought she knew about James (and even herself) will be thrown into question as she scrambles to protect James at any cost. Em and Marina are on opposite sides in a race to protect time. Only one of them can come out alive.

 

 

High School Booktalks (The Brokenhearted, Proxy, The Scorpio Races, Unspoken)

With Summer Reading, it is time for outreach and booktalks. Here’s another set of booktalks I gave in a high school outreach.

As always I pulled my booktalks from my reviews but I have also been trying to shorten them.

Feel free to use these to present to readers but PLEASE if you are posting them anywhere be sure to credit me and link back to this blog.

So here are the three books I presented:

The Brokenhearted by Amelia KahaneyThe Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney: Anthem Fleet lives in a city a lot like Batman’s Gotham. Everything thinks Anthem is lucky and has everything going for her. Everyone is wrong. When Anthem meets a boy from the bad part of town, it feels like her real life is finally starting. Then everything goes wrong. Then she dies. When Anthem wakes up she has a bionic heart that beats faster and makes her stronger and faster than should be humanly possible. Anthem’s old life is over. She is broken. But maybe her new heart will give Anthem what she needs to find a new life and help Bedlam the way no one else can.

Proxy by Alex LondonProxy by Alex London: The only thing that keeps Syd going is that his time as a proxy is almost over. No more punishments for crimes committed by his patron. No more being seen as less than everything by the system. Two more years and Syd will finally be free. Knox lives in the moment focusing on opportunities to create mayhem and catch a cheap thrill. Sometimes Knox gets caught. But then his proxy gets punished so really, who cares? Drawn together in the wake of a terrible wrong in a world where debts can be lethal, these unlikely allies will have to work together to try and tear down the system if they want to survive.

nthem Fleet lives in a city a lot like Batman’s Gotham. Everything thinks Anthem is lucky and has everything going for her. Everyone is wrong. When Anthem meets a boy from the bad part of town, it feels like her real life is finally starting. Then everything goes wrong. Then she dies. When Anthem wakes up she has a bionic heart that beats faster and makes her stronger and faster than should be humanly possible. Anthem’s old life is over. She is broken. But maybe her new heart will give Anthem what she needs to find a new life and help Bedlam the way no one else can.

Unspoken coverUnspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: Kami Glass knows that every town has a story. Sorry-in-the-Vale is no exception. Kami knows that her town’s past is tied to the Lynburns, the town’s founders, even if their manor house has been empty for years. But no one in town seems willing to tell that story to an intrepid girl reporter. But a lot of people don’t like talking to Kami. That’s what happens when your best friend seems to be an imaginary boy you talk to in your head. When the Lynburns return to town they bring many questions in their wake as well as something more sinister that will force Kami to question everything she thought she knew about her town, her friends, and even herself.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Thisby is never safe. Not when dangerous water horses are drawn to the island beaches. But it is never so dangers as on November first–race day. The racers keep their own counsel as to why they enter the race. All Sean Kendrick wants is Corr–the one water horse he can never have. Until this year–this race–at least. Puck Connolly has already lost much to the water horses of Thisby. But the race might be her only way to hold onto her brother before the mainland spirits him away forever, even if it means challenging Thisby’s most basic traditions as the first girl to ride on race day. Only one rider can win on race day–if they stay alive long enough to finish–and the stakes for Sean and Puck couldn’t be higher.

5th Grade Booktalks #1 (Graveyard Book, Rapunzel’s Revenge, Fake Mustache, Never Smile at a Monkey)

A few years ago when I was just starting library school it occurred to me that this blog could do a lot of things. It had already been a writing sample for my grad school application and scholarship applications. It already worked to demonstrate my expertise. But, I realized, as I learned about outreach and class visits, it could also serve as a repository for book talks.

Which I got to put into practice recently during my first ever class visit where I talked to a group of fifth graders.

After asking them what the library does (and filling in some gaps where they missed some things librarians do!) it was time for booktalks.

To prepare for booktalks I re-read the ones I had ready from blog reviews (or wrote a new one as needed). I then wrote the booktalks on post-its to stick to the back of the book and marked any pages I wanted to highlight. I don’t memorize booktalks and I didn’t read the post-its but just writing them out was a help in getting the salient points into my head for the visit. Since I also knew I’d be presenting to a group (rather than one patron) I also knew I wanted to keep things interactive much as I did for my talk about what the library and librarians do.

The Graveyard Book coverFirst I talked about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Before my booktalk I told students that this book was a riff on The Jungle Book but with ghosts. Almost no one ever knows what that means because I guess The Jungle Book isn’t as popular with kids now as it was when I was a kid but I still like to mention it. Then I warned students that this book was scary and it had one of the scariest first pages I had ever seen. Then I showed them the page. I My booktalk for the students was basically the summary part of my review but shortened slightly (like my booktalk started at paragraph three if you really want to see what I did).

Next I talked about Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger which I have not read. I do know the plot, read reviews and skimmed the book. I’ve also talked it up a lot previously when I was working at the bookstore. In addition to talking about how much trouble a fake mustache can cause when your best friend tries to take over the world, I also showed a couple of the illustrations. Because kids love illustrations.

Rapunzel's Revenge coverAfter that I talked up Rapunzel’s Revenge by all of the Hales (I call them a Hale storm in my free time because it entertains me). Again my booktalk was distilled from my review. I also made sure to mention this was a retelling of Rapunzel with a wild west sensibility and also highlight some illustrations. I showed an early page and one where Rapunzel is using her braids as a lasso.

I rounded out the visit by talking about Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins at the suggestion of Ingrid AKA the Magpie Librarian. I won’t lie, dear readers, I had doubts. But then I picked a couple pages at random talking about what you should and shouldn’t do and it basically blew the kids’ minds. I didn’t do a lot of prep for this one. Just post-it marked the pages and then read from the book about what a terrible idea it is to interact with any animal ever.

I then further blew the kids’ minds by giving them free stuff. Which I don’t actually recommend doing during the visit. It’s a lot easier to show the stuff and then hand it off to the teacher to give out later when the kids are no longer in the library.

The really cool thing (and I’m not taking much credit here because it was mostly the books being fantastic) is that I ran out of books. The kids were jostling to see who could look at or check out every single title I booktalked (which is why it’s also good to pick books that have multiple copies if possible). I’m not a rockstar or a rockstar librarian or anything but it was pretty cool.

As I have other class visits I might talk more about what did and didn’t work for my own reference (and for any readers who are interested) but while we’re all here, what books have you used for 5th grade class visits that were a huge success?