Railhead by Philip Reeve
Reviewed by Lorene Forman
Railhead, a new, fast-moving YA cyberpunk adventure, had me hooked from the opening pages. Imagine a universe linked by sentient trains carrying goods and people swiftly and efficiently through hyperspace. Imagine a universe governed by A.I. guardians resembling a pantheon of ancient gods controlling the opulent and pampered puppet human leaders. Imagine an oppressed underclass of sentient androids who are replacing humans as the intergalactic cheap labor force. This is the setting of Railhead.
Zen Starling is a common thief who rides the rails between habitable worlds stealing and hawking goods. He is being followed by an android girl in a red raincoat. He is also being followed by the captain of Railforce who wishes to detain him for questioning. The android helps Zen to escape Railforce only to lead him to her boss, a mysterious man who commissions Zen to steal from the royal family’s train an object that could restructure the very fabric of the universe.
Full of high adventure and ethical conundrums, with nods to ancient Greek mythology, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, and Frank Herbert’s Dune, the rest of the story is a fast-paced, perfectly constructed romp through the universe that is impossible to set aside. For me and for the youths in our library’s Teen Book Club, Railhead provided a very refreshing departure from the more well-worked themes of recent YA literature.
Acclaimed British YA and children’s author, Philip Reeve, will soon release a second book entitled Black Light Express, which follows the further adventures of Zen Starling. Railhead, however, could easily be enjoyed as a stand-alone work. Marketed for young adults between the ages 14 and 18, Railhead would be equally suitable for a broad range of readers from advanced middle grades to adults. Railhead was originally released in the UK by Oxford University Press (October 2015) and re-published (April 2016) in the U.S. by Switch Press.
Contact information and more is available for the featured performers from the 2016 Performers Showcase held at the Salem Library on Saturday, Sept. 24 ... Learn more
Dear Performer Showcase 2016 Registrant,
Thank you for joining us at the 2016 Performer’s Showcase at Salem Public Library on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Salem Public Library is located at 585 Liberty St. SE. Directions can be found at http://g.co/maps/t3mbu
The parking meters at the parking garage by the Library will not be enforced on Saturday the 24th – Yay! If possible, make a smaller environmental footprint and carpool!
The doors to Loucks Auditorium at the front of the Library will open at 8:30 a.m. Performances begin at 9 a.m. and run until close to 4:30 p.m. Coffee, hot water and sweets will be available in the morning.
When you arrive, check in at the registration table in the Loucks Auditorium lobby and get the “final” Performer schedule. If you did not pre-pay, please pay with a check or bring exact change. We will not have much cash and the library opens at 10 a.m. We are happy to help with any issues that arise if we can.
If you are coming for the day, please bring a brown bag lunch with you, as the lunch break (12:15-1:15 p.m.) is your opportunity to visit with performers and other attendees in the Anderson Rooms, located on the first floor of the Salem Public Library (Plaza level). You may also meet and speak (quietly) with various performers in the lobby area of Loucks during the performances.
Please do your part to help the schedule stay on track – every performer is limited to 5 minutes, from the time their name is called to the time they must leave the stage. If a performer is in the middle of a story and time is called, please do not encourage him/her to continue, as they are eating into someone else’s time.
Attendees will have access to Performer booking information through our downloadable Performer Directory, available from this website beginning Oct. 1. The Directory will include some performers that are not able to make the Showcase, but have provided their booking information. Showcase Performers will be e-mailed the list of Showcase Registrants with organization contact information by Oct. 1.
Please contact Karen Fischer if you have questions at 503-588-6039 or email@example.com (email is better!).
The Mighty Odds
Written and illustrated by Amy Ignatow
Review by Taylor Worley
Amy Ignatow — of Popularity Papers fame — is back with a brand new crew in The Mighty Odds. The story begins like many sixth grade tales, on a field trip. The characters are both unique and familiar — a contemporary Breakfast Club sans detention — abounding in diversity and personality. The class is just large enough to require two buses, a large and a small. One thing leads to another and a popular girl and a small group of “outcasts” end up with a single teacher on the small bus on the way home from a field trip. When the weather gets rough, the small bus violently crashes and those involved find that they now have very peculiar super powers. Very. Peculiar.
Ignatow does a phenomenal job in this first book introducing her readers to the highly amusing cast of characters. The diversity is refreshing and issues are handled deftly and in a way that should make perfect sense to middle grade readers and adult alike. The issues raised are very important but don't feel heavy handed at all, which is a note difficult to hit. The pace is quite fast, making for an easy and enjoyable read. Ignatow’s signature illustrations supplement the text and look just like many a sixth grader’s notebook. The only glaring issue with the book is a very abrupt ending, but it’s clear the author is setting the scene for many more stories, so it’s likely that readers will ultimately forgive the cliff at the end of this first story. Here’s hoping for much more from The Mighty Odds!
Finding high quality children’s performances to bring to libraries, schools or groups has just become easier. CSD and Salem Public Library host the 2016 Performers Showcase on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Learn more and register online ...
CSD, OASL, and OYAN are excited to announce that MAGGIE STIEFVATER will be our featured author at the OLA and OASL conferences in April 2017!
There will be an author talk and book signing on Friday, April 21 at 5:00 PM, followed by a session at the OASL Conference on Saturday, April 22. Both events will be held at Salem Public Library. Ticket cost and purchasing information will be coming later in 2016.
Most of you are probably already jumping up and down with joy, but here are more details about Maggie for the uninitiated:
Maggie Stiefvater is the author and illustrator of multiple bestselling books for kids and teens, including the Raven Cycle series, the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures (with Jackson Pearce), and Hunted (Book 2 of the popular Spirit Animals series). She won a Printz Honor in 2011 for her stand-alone novel, The Scorpio Races, which has also been optioned by Katzsmith Productions and Focus Features.
Maggie lives in Virginia with her family, several very fast cars, and a menagerie of animals that includes nine goats. You can find her online at http://www.maggiestiefvater.com/.
Saroj Ghoting’s preconference “STEP Into Storytime” at OLA was wonderful and left me with many ideas that I would like to incorporate into my preschool storytimes. One of her main ideas was scaffolding and early literacy. Since we are not able to adapt each task in storytime to the individual child, we must get a sense of the group as a whole while presenting our material. Depending on the group’s reaction, we should adjust to make the task simpler or more challenging for the group. In general, we can use different levels of the same task that are developmentally appropriate for different ages (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) in order to foster early literacy skills at different levels of a child’s advancement.
Here is an example she provided.
Eensy Weensy Spider
Actions to the words:
Babies- adult crawls fingers (the spider) on baby’s stomach
Toddlers- move their hands up the arm (spout) of their adult
Preschoolers- do the traditional finger motions
Based on this concept, I came up with the following scaffold.
Choo Choo Clickety Clack by Margaret Mayo
Actions to the repeated phrase “Off they go”:
Babies- adult raises baby up
Toddlers- repeat the phrase while making the action that goes with the page (pull whistle for the choo choo, zoom hands for race cars)
Preschooler- storyteller asks the group “What sound does each vehicle make?”
Not every activity, song, and story needs to have a scaffold; doing some scaffolds in a mixed-age storytime helps foster a positive interaction for all ages involved, so that the more advanced children do not feel unchallenged and children who have not fully developed their skills have activities they can competently participate in yet still have the opportunity to improve their early literacy skills. A mixture of skill levels will have the younger children not only learning from us but from their older peers.
Here is a list she provided that lists developmental stages of the early literacy skills.
Children Services Librarian
Douglas County Library System
1409 NE Diamond Lake Bl.
Roseburg, OR 97470
Phone: (541) 440-6009
Guerilla Storytime at the OLA Conference 2016
By Bethany Grabow, bethanygrabow.com
Out of all the things at a library conference, my favorite type of session is idea sharing. So imagine my delight when I saw Guerilla Storytime advertised as one of the options for the first breakout session of the conference. We sat in a large circle and shared our best ideas and practices for storytime. Some of the discussion involved brainstorming solutions to real life problems encountered in storytime. Other time was spent sharing something that works for you, such as your favorite flannel board or book. One idea I can’t get out of my head is singing, “All the single babies. Put your hands up!”
Here are some other great things I learned from this session:
Tune: Are You Sleeping?)
Watch it drip.
Watch it drip.
Up & down my elbows.
Up& down my elbows.
Spit out the pits!
Spit out the pits!
You put the oil in the pot and you let it got hot.
You put the popcorn in and you start to grin.
Sizzle, sizzle… (crouch down while repeating the word sizzle)
And here are some favorite books for storytime:
The Nest is a modest novel at 244 pages, but those pages pack quite a punch. Steven is a child riddled with anxiety. For those who have experienced anxiety as a child, Oppel's representation is incredible. The fear, doubt, stress, and nightmares are poignant and unsettlingly familiar. Don't hesitate to give this to mature children struggling with their own anxieties or to parents and caregivers trying to better understand the plights of their children. When we're young it's hard to know what is real and what isn't - something Oppel has masterfully rendered here - and how to process the complexities of anxiety, sickness, and family strife. A beautiful and compelling novel.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Review by Bethany Grabow
The story begins as Ada is punished for looking out the window of the dingy, one-bedroom London apartment she shares with her mother and younger brother Jamie. Ada is nine years old and has never been allowed to leave the apartment. Her mother tells Ada that people would be disgusted by her twisted foot. She accepts her lot in life because at least she has Jamie to keep her company. But when Jamie starts school and spends more and more time away playing outside with his new friends, Ada realizes the little she has in life is slipping away.
Ada begins to prepare for the unknown. She teaches herself to walk on her crippled foot. It is painful, but she is used to pain. When Jamie comes home from school one day, he says a war is coming and they are sending the children away from the city into the safety of the country. Ada realizes this is her chance to escape her cruel mother and the nights spent locked in the cupboard as punishment for the slightest infraction, the life spent trapped. She and Jamie run away and find themselves thrust into the home of Susan Smith, a strange but kind woman. Ada finally has a life of freedom, but can she really trust that things are as good as they seem? Or do all good things come to an end?
This was an outstanding historical fiction novel about vulnerability, trust, and redemption. Ms. Bradley’s books pack an emotional punch and present history in an interesting and relatable way. I would recommend this to older children and teens. I also think this would be a great read aloud for a classroom.