Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kid Konnection: Lititz Kid Lit Authors

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you a few books written by authors who will be attending the 2010 Lititz Kidlit Festival -- Cyn Balog, Josh Berk, and Mitali Perkins. I'm getting so excited about this event and can't believe that it's only a week away!

Summary: Morgan Sparks has always known that she and her boyfriend, Cam, are made for each other. But when Cam’s cousin Pip comes to stay with the family, Cam seems depressed. Finally Cam confesses to Morgan what’s going on: Cam is a fairy. The night he was born, fairies came down and switched him with a healthy human boy. Nobody expected Cam to live, and nobody expected his biological brother, heir to the fairy throne, to die. But both things happened, and now the fairies want Cam back to take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Even as Cam physically changes, becoming more miserable each day, he and Morgan pledge to fool the fairies and stay together forever. But by the time Cam has to decide once and for all what to do, Morgan’s no longer sure what’s best for everyone, or whether her and Cam’s love can weather an uncertain future. -- Delacorte Press

I'm usually not a big fan of romance books (or paranormal books for that matter), but I have found that I can enjoy these genres when they are written as young adult novels. Case in point... FAIRY TALE by Cyn Balog. I admit that I might not have picked up this book, despite its gorgeous cover, if Ms. Balog wasn't attending the Kidlit Festival next weekend; however, that would have been a shame because I would have been missing out on a very good read!

I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed FAIRY TALE. I think that's a credit to Ms. Balog, especially since I don't read a lot of this genre. I haven't even read The Twilight books yet! What I liked so much about this novel is that I found it so believable despite the occurrences of magic and fairies. In addition, I just loved the characters especially Morgan and Cam, but I think my favorite character was Pip. He was just so naive and sweet.

While I enjoyed the romance in this story, I really liked the fairy parts -- much to my surprise. When Cam realizes that he is going to return to the fairy world and become the Fairy King, Morgan and Pip decide to plot to keep Cam in the real world. I liked the dilemmas that all of the characters faced as well as how they worked together to resolve them. I don't want to give anything away, but I especially happy with the ending!

I have already put this book away for Booking Daughter because I have a feeling that she is going to love it in a few years. In fact, I think many tween and teen girls will adore this book. There is just the right amount of romance (and pretty clean romance at that) along with fairy magic. It's definitely a treat to read!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this novel.

Summary: Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)

Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut. -- Knopf

Last February, I had the pleasure of meeting Josh Berk at Aaron's Books where he was doing a signing for his debut novel THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN. I am a little embarrassed to say that I took my signed copy (well actually my kids' signed copy) and put it away for almost six months. Thank goodness for the Kidlit Festival because it "forced" me to finally read it! Thanks goodness because I just loved this book!!!

As I was reading THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN, I knew I was reading something special, but here's more proof that I wasn't alone in my praise of this novel. In July 2010, named THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN one of the Best of 2010... So Far and Parents' Choice awarded it a Silver Medal. In addition, the novel received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus. It really is that good!

First of all, how unique is the premise of this book? A chubby kid, who also happens to be deaf, is the new kid at Coaler High. Will doesn't really fit in with the popular kids and he's not quite sure he wants to be friends with the one kid who likes him. As if Will isn't facing enough problems, the super-popular quarterback gets murdered during a field trip to the local coal mine. Will, along with some friends, decide to solve the mystery!

This book was just so entertaining in so many ways. I loved Will and thought Mr. Berk did a wonderful job of developing his character. His insights, insecurities, and his normal teenage angst were so realistic and honest. In addition, THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN was an extremely funny book. I found myself laughing at Will and his friends quite often.

I also really liked the mystery aspects of this story. Besides the murder mystery that Will and his friends were trying to solve, there were also questions surrounding Will's relative -- was he a ghost or wasn't he? I appreciated the occasional twists and turns, and I think they will keep readers of all ages interested in the story. I wasn't exactly surprised with the conclusion, but it didn't keep me from being totally satisfied with it.

This is another book that I have put away for my kids. I think THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN will appeal to both boys and girls as well as adults too! There are a few things which keep me from sharing it with Booking Daughter right now; however, I highly recommended this book to the teen set!

I purchased a copy of THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN from Aaron's Books.

Summary: Narrated by two teenage boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of Burma's many ethnic minorities, this coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma.

Chiko isn't a fighter by nature. He's a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion when the boys' stories intersect. -- Charlesbridge

Last year, I reviewed SECRET KEEPER by Mitali Perkins and I just adored it. Ever since, I have been a huge fan of Ms. Perkins and I feel as if I've gotten to know her a bit through her tweets. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Ms. Perkins speak at BEA and I liked her even more (if that was possible!) And then, I actually got to meet her and talk with her at ALA! As far as I'm concerned, Ms. Perkins is just an amazing woman! I can't even express how excited I am to see her again at Kidlit!

Her latest novel BAMBOO PEOPLE  is absolutely fantastic. Not only did I find the story to be extremely interesting, but this book affected me deeply. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I knew next to nothing about what was going on in Burma. Naturally, I am now appalled and outraged, but also just saddened that there are so many people out there who exist in such horrific living conditions. As I read this novel, I realized how very much I take for granted and how fortunate I was to be born in the United States.

One thing that I absolutely loved about this book is how Ms. Perkins decided to tell this story. The book is divided into two parts -- the first half is Chiko's story and the second half is Tu Reh's. Chico is a Burmese boy who is forced to join the Army -- he doesn't even really believe in (or understand) what he's fighting for. Tu Reh is living in a Karenni refugee camp and he has seen the devastation that the Burmese soldiers inflicted on his people. The boys should be "natural" enemies; however, when they meet after a very violent event, they both realize that things are much more complicated.

It's difficult for me to fully explain how powerful this book is. There is truly so much to think about and discuss pertaining to BAMBOO PEOPLE. One thing I appreciated was seeing both sides of the conflict through each character's story because I think it made the war more real to me -- and it definitely allowed me to put a face and personality with each side. BAMBOO PEOPLE reiterated for me that war (and life in general) is never clear cut -- and issues definitely aren't black and white or purely good versus evil. Furthermore, BAMBOO PEOPLE made me realize that war is just so sad and that there are so many innocent victims on both sides of the conflict.

BAMBOO PEOPLE is just perfect for a book club discussion. I think tweens and teens alike need books like this to make them aware of conditions around the world. Since the characters in this story are so human, there is also a great deal to discuss about their actions and motivations. I can't recommend this book enough, and I hope teachers consider using it in their classrooms as well.

I could probably let Booking Daughter read BAMBOO PEOPLE right now. I actually think it is geared towards middle graders as well as young adults (and even old adults like me for that matter!) I'm not sure that she would fully appreciate it yet because it deals with some very serious issues that she probably doesn't even know exist. But I think that's the real beauty of this novel... it brings to light the conditions in Burma and war in general. I think that Booking Daughter and I should read and discuss this book together, and I can use it as an opportunity to educate her about other parts of the world!

I received a copy of BAMBOO PEOPLE at the Children's Authors Breakfast at BEA.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love the cover of Fairy Tale! I have been waiting to see just one review that doesn't say Bamboo People is fantastic and it's impossible - I don't think they exist!

By the way, I'm not home and my travel computer won't let me link The Giver to your post (even though I am actually remembering!) so that's why I'm not!

bermudaonion said...

I've read Hamburger Halpin and Bamboo People and agree with you that they're both fantastic!!

I'm with you and Jill on the cover of Fairy Tale - I'd pick the book up just for the cover.

Laura Fabiani said...

I am going to have to take note of ALL these books because I would love to read them to my daughter later on or just share them. So many good YA books out there!

Sandy Nawrot said...

See this is the beauty of your blog. If I would have read the description of Fairy Tale, there is no way I would have given that a chance. That'll teach me! I too have never read a bad review of Bamboo People...