Crayola’s Reading Challenge: Book Reviews

Two more reviews for your delight and delectation!

A book you can finish in a day: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

In Real Life is a graphic novel that features both the real-world and game-world lives of two players: one American girl who plays for fun, one Chinese boy who plays for a living. The expressive characters and unusual concept (plus great worldbuilding!) make this well worth a read, but don’t expect much depth of story. The moral is a little heavy-handed here. That said, it’s still a nice take on a serious topic that doesn’t usually get addressed in light entertainment. Plus, we can always use more positive representation of gamers, especially female gamers.

Skip the foreword, enjoy the adventure for what it is, and read the intro as a postscript for best results. I felt the introduction spoiled the whole thing and brought a tone of “This is an Educational Story” to the tale that followed. Wrapping it up with a message of “you read this story, now know that it’s real and it happens every day” would work a bit better, I think.

Other categories this book fits: A book with nonhuman characters (if you count game avatars), a book by a female author (well, artist), a book set in a different country (partially), a book based entirely on its cover, a book set in high school, a book with magic (in-game), a graphic novel

Other categories this book might fit: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet, a book a friend recommended, a book at the bottom of your to-read list, a book your mom loves, a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit (China), a book by an author  you’ve never read before, a book you own but have never read, a book that takes place in your hometown (China…?), a book written by an author with your same initials (C.D. or J.W.), a book you started but never finished

A book with a color in the title: Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde

Deadly Pink is the latest book by Vivian Vande Velde to feature the Rasmussem Corporation’s immersive video game technology, the first two being User Unfriendly and Heir Apparent. In this one, Grace’s sister has trapped herself in a game, and Grace must go into said game and bring back her sister before the immersive technology fries her brain. An adventure ensues that will be somewhat familiar to Heir Apparent fans—Grace goes into the game, things go wrong, Grace has to restart and figure out another tactic to help her sister, who refuses to be rescued.

Honestly, this book’s biggest problem is that it is so similar in concept to Heir Apparent that it’s hard not to compare the two. And in pretty much every case, Heir Apparent did it better.  Pink is a little predictable and definitely forgettable in comparison — when I picked Pink up this time, I didn’t think I’d ever read it before. Turns out I definitely had, because once I started reading it, I remembered the whole plot right away. It’s still a fun read for fans who loved Heir Apparent and want more! I liked it and at some point I’ll probably read it again. Even so, I only like Deadly Pink – I don’t love it.

Other categories this book fits: A book with nonhuman characters, a book by a female author, a book set in a different country (if you count fictional game worlds), a book based entirely on its cover, a book with magic

Other categories this book might fit: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet, a book a friend recommended, a book at the bottom of your to-read list, a book your mom loves, a book by an author you’ve never read before, a book you own but have never read, a book that takes place in your hometown (Rochester, NY), a book written by an author with your same initials (V.V.V.), a book you started but never finished

It’s time for Peep-o-rama!

diorama, that is! Build an awesome diorama with a shoe-box and marshmallow Peeps and show off your skillz for a chance to win awesome prizes.

Peeps Diorama Contest starts March 20 and runs through April 10

Peeps Diorama Contest starts March 20 and runs through April 10

Rules, entry forms, and your free marshmallow Peeps await you in The Vault. So what are you waiting for?

Teen Tech Week

Are you ready for Teen Tech Week? I hope you are, because it’s here already!

Teen Tech Week

TODAY, 3:30-6:30pm: Tech Open House in The Vault

Drop in to The Vault anytime from 3:30-6:30 today to play with awesome tech toys (including Sphero the Robotic Ball!) and try your hand at programming with Scratch. Stay as long as you like! No registration required.

SATURDAY, 2-4pm: Tech Test Drive (REGISTER - Limited to 30 Teens)

Don’t just play with tech — make it yourself with Brushbots, LEGO WeDo robots and MakeyMakey! Plus, if you didn’t get enough Sphero on Wednesday in The Vault, you can practice your moves on a Sphero-sized obstacle course.

Saturday Bonus! Special Guest Trident Robotics

Trident Robotics from Warren Township High School will stop by the Tech Test Drive on Saturday from 3:30 to 4 to show off their 2014 competition robot Grundventil, designed to complete the Aerial Assist challenge.

 

Grundventil, the 2014 Trident Robotics competition robot

Grundventil, the 2014 Trident Robotics competition robot

2015 Creative Writing Contest

Creative Writing Contest

The deadline approaches for the 2015 Creative Writing Contest. Writers of short fiction and poetry could potentially win up to $50 for having the best work in their age group!

Send in your entries by Sunday, March 15!

Writers can enter up to two entries per category in Short Story (Fiction) or Poetry. Short stories by authors in grades 3-8 must be 1-4 pages, double-spaced, while short stories by authors in high school and above must be 3-5 pages, typewritten and double-spaced. Poetry must be a minimum of 8 lines for all age groups.

How to enter:

Submit a print copy of your original work with a cover page containing the following info:

  • name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • student information: age, grade, teacher’s name AND school attended
  • category (short story or poetry)

DO NOT write your name on Poetry or Short Story entry pages, ONLY on the cover page.

Then mail or deliver to:

Friends of the Warren-Newport Public Library
224 N. O’Plaine Road, Gurnee, IL 60031

Need more info?

For more information, check out the Creative Writing Contest page on the main WNPL website.

Crayola’s Reading Challenge Reviews

A book you started but never finished: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

Meh. A good concept with poor delivery. Too many things going on, not enough character development, mixed messages. Why is the time travel subplot in there anyways? What does it add apart from some hokey “different time periods are different” misunderstandings? Oh, right, a convenient (yet wholly unconvincing) romantic interest. A few twists and turns in the plot managed to keep my attention, but that was about the only reason I finished it.  Add in my personal nitpicky issues with the costumes–such as characters who literally have gears stuck on their clothes–and I’m left with no plans to continue this series, despite some tantalizing worldbuilding that showed up in the second half of this installment. Finishing this book made me remember why I’d put it down in the first place.

Other categories this book fits: A funny book (for certain definitions of “funny”), a book by a female author, a mystery or thriller, a book set in a different country (unless you are in England right now), a book based entirely on its cover, a book with bad reviews (this one counts)

Other categories this book might fit: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet, a book a friend recommended, a book at the bottom of your to-read list, a book your mom loves, a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit (London), a book by an author you’ve never read before, a book you own but have never read, a book that takes place in your hometown (are you from London?), a book written by an author with your same initials (C.G.)

A popular author’s first book: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

I really liked this book. I felt so much sympathy for Sahar. I could see the ending coming but there were enough twists and turns along the way that I was still intrigued–and at times, I was not at all sure that my inklings would turn out to be correct. It’s a solid, well-crafted novel with a lot of heart. I really enjoyed it, and I can absolutely see why it’s an award-winner. I doubt this book will reach many people for whom it would be a perfect “mirror” book, since I doubt it’s been published in Iran or translated into Persian, but I think it could be a mirror for anyone living in areas where gay relationships are illegal, especially those few where being transgender is acceptable but gay is not. But as a window book? I got sucked in. I’m bi myself, with fairly conservative (though loving) parents, so it was easy for me to extrapolate my regular, minor fears of prejudice into the extreme fear of deadly repercussions. At the same time, I was thankful that I live somewhere with protective laws. This was a window book that made me glad to be indoors.

Other categories this book fits: A book written by someone under 30 (Farizan was 29 when this book was released), a book by a female author, a book set in a different country (Iran), a book based entirely on its cover, a book that made you cry (you WILL have feels, many of them, if not all), a banned book (okay, I can’t find proof, but it’s kind of sadly inevitable that this book will be challenged)

Other categories this book might fit: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet, a book a friend recommended, a book at the bottom of your to-read list, a book your mom loves, a book that scares you (hey, oppression is terrifying!), a book you can finish in a day (it’s fairly short), a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit (Iran), a book by an author you’ve never read before, a book you own but have never read, a book that takes place in your hometown (are you from Tehran?), a book written by an author with your same initials (S.F.), a book you started but never finished

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet: Writer to Writer

So you read Writing Magic (also by Gail Carson Levine) and you’ve got the writing bug. But now you want more. You don’t just want to write stories, you want to write GOOD stories—or maybe you want to write different stories, or more stories, or stories in verse.

Writer to Writer has you covered.

Where Writing Magic will help any writer get started, of any age, Writer to Writer is more like a troubleshooting guide than a how-to book. Need character development? Gail Carson Levine has suggestions to help you figure out who your people are, really. Want to push some important poetry into your books? Gail Carson Levine has tips and tricks to help you out.

Like Writing Magic, this book is now a staple of my (very small) writing-help bookshelf. This is a great “next step” for anyone looking to write better or differently. Whether they read all the way through or in chapters and chunks as needed, any writer should be able to apply the advice given in this book to improve their work!

Other categories this book fits: A book of short stories (technically there are lots of very short stories in the examples, plus it’s a collection of essays, which are basically nonfiction stories), a nonfiction book, a book based entirely on its cover, a book with a color in the title (if you think “ink” is a color),

Other categories this book might fit: A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet, a book a friend recommended, a book at the bottom of your to-read list, a book your mom loves, a book by an author you’ve never read before, a book you own but have never read, a book written by an author with your same initials (G.C.L.), a book you started but never finished