Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned wagon

This week is ALA's 27th annual Banned Books Week, "celebrating the freedom to read." According to ALA, the ten books most challenged as inappropriate for school and library collections in 2007 were:
1) And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
2) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3) Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes
4) The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
5) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7) TTYL by Lauren Myracle
8) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
9) It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
10) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

You can find all of these books at Curious George, alongside other oft-challenged titles like Bridge to Terabithia, Forever, and Heather Has Two Mommies.

Take a peek at what our fellow bloggers are doing to observe Banned Books Week: Books on the Nightstand has a great podcast about both banned books and kids' books, while the Haphazard Gourmet has a whole series of posts on banned book recipes (with a bonus Sarah Palin cupcake).

Any predictions as to what the most challenged books of 2008 will be? Several of this year's most challenged are no strangers to the Banned Book list (The Chocolate War has been on the list nine of the last ten years). Do you expect any up-and-coming controversial books (cough cough Higher Power of Lucky cough) to roust one of these books from the list?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lady Grace

Brisingr, the final installment of Christopher Paolini's epic dragonrider trilogy Inheritance, will finally be out in just a few days! If you just can't wait, you can watch Christopher read an excerpt from Brisingr here.

At the moment, though, several of us here at the George are seriously engrossed in Kristin Cashore's new fantasy novel Graceling. Lady Katsa is graced with the ability to kill effortlessly. If you think this is a dubious blessing, you're right. Gracelings in general are feared and avoided, but Katsa with her violent grace is practically an outcast, forced to work as hitwoman for her uncle the King. CG staffer Rachel says in her staff pick, "That all changes when she meets Po, a Graced fighter, the only man to hold his own against her skill—but when Katsa and Po become embroiled in dark foreign secrets, even their Graces may not be enough to get them through alive." Katsa and her sci-fi counterpart Katniss (of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, another new title in our chapter book room -- stay tuned for a review!) are our favorite fantasy/sci-fi heroines since Sabriel and Lirael. And you know what high praise that is, coming from us! Kristin's hilarious blog is also great reading; you're probably as likely to lose several hours in her witty entries about her writing process as you are in Katsa's story.

We're ashamed to admit we've been looking at the gorgeous cover art since it came out -- and just realized Katsa's face, complete with one of her mismatched Graceling eyes, is reflected in her sword. Um... awesome design, right? So effective, yet so subtle!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vote for George!

With eight weeks to go until the presidential election, we've just received another wave of election-related books for our picture book, chapter book, and nonfiction sections. A few of the newest and neatest:

Wide Awake by David Levithan, YA fiction
Duncan and his boyfriend Jimmy are thrilled when the first openly gay president is elected in a future America. When the election results are questioned by the conservative Decent Party, the political becomes even more personal for Duncan, Jimmy, and their relationship.

Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian, YA fiction
Eighteen-year-old Josh Swensen committed "pseudocide" when his activist alter-ego Larry began to wreak havoc on his real life. Now Josh resumes his life as Larry -- this time to affect change in America from the inside out by running for president.

Declare Yourself: Speak. Connect. Act. Vote. More than 50 Celebrated Americans Tell You Why, YA nonfiction
As part of the Declare Yourself campaign encouraging everyone 18 and up to register to vote, fifty-five writers, musicians, actors, activists, athletes, and more contributed their political philosophies to this anthology.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, picture book nonfiction/art book
Some of our best-loved authors and illustrators art or writing to this collection, a look at American presidents and their families through the history of the White House itself.

Make sure to check out the Boston Globe's look at presidential candidate picture book bios. (We also love Horn Book editor Roger Sutton's take on these biographies, but then, we love The Rog's take on everything.) The Horn Book has more recommended titles at their newsletter.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Because we haven't said anything about Neil Gaiman in a while...

Three weeks from today, The Graveyard Book will be released!

Cards, clues, and Cahills

Brand-new adventure novel and game series The 39 Clues has just hit our shelves! With both card collecting and online role-playing components, the game allows readers to uncover secrets of the preeminent Cahill family alongside characters Dan and Amy. Come into the chapter book room to pick up Book One: The Maze of Bones, written by CG fave Rick Riordan -- whom you may know as author of the middle grade fantasy series Percy Jackson and the Olympians -- and the first installment of game cards. (Psst... Riordan announced last week that the fifth Percy Jackson book, The Last Olympian, will be out May 5th. Let the countdown begin!)