Jul 24, 2013

#TheList, No. 179: The Jungle Book/ No. 730: The Graveyard Book

I had never read The Jungle Book before last week and I still have yet to see the Disney movie (I do know the "Bare Necessities" though).   Going into the book, I only knew that the two were markedly different, Disney having deemed the book version too dark for the animated movie. Other than that, I was clueless.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it because I do approach the "classics" a bit begrudgingly.  But when you read them on your own and not in the confines of school, they are more enjoyable.  Anyway, I enjoyed it! A collection of stories featuring anthropomorphized animals to spell out morals.  They're entertaining, easy to follow, and can be read apart from each other (although the Mowgli-centric tales rely on each other to an extent).

I was incredibly surprised by "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," the story about a brave mongoose protecting his human family from cobras.  Way back in 2nd and 4th grade, I watched an animated version of this story. Every now and then I would flashback to it and want to know what it was called, but would always get distracted and forget to look it up.  Now I know it's from The Jungle Book and I am in awe.  

The chapters are pretty long for storytelling, but I think a great children's librarian could make it work.  If anything, it could be a great theme for a long-running program complete with an amazing bulletin board that kids could help design.  Maybe the kids could come up with their own modernized versions of the morals.

That being said, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is inspired by Kipling's work.  I knew this ahead of time, which is why I read The Jungle Book first.  It's not necessary to do so, but it is nice to see where the two works connect and it's a great tidbit to tell patrons if they ever check out The Graveyard Book.  Sidenote: a huge part of what I do is making sure that someone has read the beginnings of series or is aware of related materials.  A lot of times children or teens pick up something that looks cool or is on the "New Books" shelve without realizing that there are other parts to read first.

Unlike The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book doesn't work in pieces.  It has a narrative that runs throughout, with a clear beginning and end. It does, however, explore the same morals of family and protection that are found in Kipling's work.  In this book, a young boy's family is murdered and the ghosts of a nearby graveyard take in the live baby to protect him.  We follow "Nobody's" growth in the graveyard, the lessons he learns from his ghostly protectors, the friendships he acquires, and the help he tries, with various success, to give to both the live and dead.  It has Gaiman's signature dark twists, but the core of the novel is quite similar to The Jungle Book.  

I would highly recommend it to readers/fans of The Jungle Book, provided they were able to handle the darkness, i.e. children having The Jungle Book read aloud to them probably aren't ready for the Gaiman version.  

Jul 16, 2013

Reader's Response

For completing YALSA's 2013 Hub Challenge, I got to submit a guest blog entry responding to one of the books I read.  It's up today! Check it out!

Reader's Response: I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga

Jul 14, 2013

YA Summer Movies

So far this summer, I've already gone to two movies that really speak to young adults.  Now I'm looking ahead at the movies coming out the rest of this season to see what, aside from the blockbusters, will make for great dialogue with teens at the library.

1. The Way, Way Back (Now Playing)


Duncan is a 14 year old boy forced to spend a summer with his mother's overbearing boyfriend. While his mother, her boyfriend (played by Steve Carrell in a role completely opposite of Michael Scott), and their adult friends regress to teen like behavior, Duncan finds himself a job at a nearby water park and comes into his own.  The movie is hilarious, but hits home with heartbreaking scenes of teens and adults being unsure of their value.

2. The Bling Ring (Now Playing)

This movie is based on real events from 2009: a group of teens repeatedly stole from celebrities who for some reason didn't lock their doors. The movie is great social commentary on our obsession with celebrity, selfies, and labels.  Teens (and most audience members) will mostly recognize Hermione Granger with an American accent in this movie.

3. Girl Most Likely (July 19)

A comedy where a playwright (Kristen Wiig) moves back to her Jersey home after becoming yesterday's news. She has to grow to love her family as a part of her regrouping process. Teens are in that awkward stage where they want to be independent, but have no choice but to listen to their parents. I think they'll relate. Also, Darren Criss from Glee is in it, so there's that.  There's always that.

4. The Spectacular Now (August 2)

The preview for this movie played before both The Way, Way Back and The Bling Ring, and it's safe to say that I am now on board and must see this movie. 1. Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights) is in it.  2. From the writers of 500 Days of Summer.  3. It just looks good.  Sutter, a high school senior whose philosophy on life is to party hard and live in the now, meets a "nice girl" who changes his viewpoints.  It's based on the novel of the same name which hands you a nice book vs. the movie discussion to hold at your library.

5. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (August 23)

Speaking of potential book vs. the movie discussions, the hugely popular YA series is finally coming to the big screen.  Clary discovers that she comes from a line of Shadowhunters when her mother is captured by demons.  She has to dive into the world in order to save her mother, learning about her true past along the way.

What other movies are coming out this summer that you think teens would love? What movies are you looking forward to?

Jul 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best/Worst Book to Movie Adaptations

I'm always a grump about movies becoming books, but looking ahead at movies in the works, it's the way of the world now.  Sometimes it works (usually when you don't know ahead of time that it was a book first), but more often than not it is a disaster.  I'm already dreading the film adaptation of Ender's Game...enough that this past semester, every student who asked for a good book to read was handed a copy because I fear that they will have ZERO interest if the movie bombs. Anyway, here's my

Top Ten Best/Worst Book to Movie Adaptations


1. Clueless (based on Jane Austen's Emma)

Okay, technically not a direct book to film adaptation, but it is a film retelling of Emma and a remarkable one at that.

2. The Hunger Games
I would have never guessed how great this movie could have turned out.  Not only did it give me and the rest of the world a love for Jennifer Lawrence, but it also gave me hope for movie adaptations of books.  It definitely gives me hope for the upcoming Divergent film (but Ender's Game, like HP, is too complex for film...at least for one film).  Fun fact: at the midnight showing, my friend kept pointing out all the changes from the book, leading me to discover what it's like watching a HP movie with me.  I'm sorry everyone.

3. The Princess Bride
I found out that this was a book after I had watched the movie and still loved both of them more than anything.

4. Life of Pi
Oddly enough, I hated the book and loved the movie.  The visuals are just too incredible not to love and I couldn't bring myself to imagine what Ang Lee brought to the big screen.

5. Hugo (The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
I didn't believe that it could be anything spectacular because the visuals in the novel are already unbelievable. I was wrong.


6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Okay, I'm not really being fair here because I actually really like the movie series and think they did a decent job with the material. The books are obviously way better.  But this particular movie was an abomination.  I remember throwing a pillow at the TV when the Weasley's Burrow burned to the ground.  NOPE. There's no need to add action to a movie when there's plenty of it that was ignored from the book.  Also, Dumbledore meeting Harry in a muggle tea shop when the world's most evil wizard is trying to kill him? Sure that makes sense.

7. The Da Vinci Code
Tom Hanks' hair.

8. Ella Enchanted
This isn't an I hate Anne Hathaway bandwagon jumping thing.  I actually love Anne Hathaway and loved her performance.  But some of the female power present in the book didn't translate to the Hollywood version and that disappointed me.

9. The Cat in the Hat
It's difficult to reinvent something that's already a cultural icon.  Thus, another notch on the bedpost where the downfall of Mike Myers' career sleeps.

To be fair, I didn't get past the first 20 minutes.  But from what I saw, I don't think finishing the movie was necessary.

Check out more lists over at The Broke and the Bookish!!

Hub Reading Challenge

If you can't grasp from my super-awesome badge, I finished the 2013 YALSA Hub Reading Challenge! You can check out the books I read for the challenge and find the list of qualifying titles here.

Now that the challenge is complete, I can get back to reading my always growing stack of books and focus on #TheList some more!  It's going to be a great summer for reading! I can't wait.