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Thursday, April 17, 2014 home site map printer-friendly


book talk

Go Ask Alice follows a young girl from age 14 to 16 who becomes entangled in the world of drugs. The first-person diary was published in 1971 under the byline “Anonymous.” It was not until later that Beatrice Sparks was indicated to be the author. A therapist and counselor who worked with teenagers, Sparks’ books are based on the diaries of the teens she helped, which explains why the book is in the form of a personal journal. Sparks started her counseling in 1955 after attending the University of California Los Angeles, and Brigham Young University. [read more...]
The first public library in the state of Wisconsin, called the Free City Library, was opened in Madison on the date of June 1, 1875. Madison Mayor, Silas Pinney, who came up with the idea, is still honored through the amazing network of public libraries we have today, including the Pinney Branch Library. [read more...]
The Madison Central Library’s $30 million renovations are changing the definition of a library from a quiet study hall to an incubator of ideas. Additions like the media lab help cultivate innovative ideas into forms of technology, design, art, and education. [read more...]
A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, takes place in the racially divided South in the year 1948. [read more...]
“Poison” by Bridget Zinn, a fantasy novel, revolves around a 16-year-old potions master, Kyra, and her piglet. Kyra must try and complete a deadly mission to save the kingdom. [read more...]
Recently, I along with two fellow Simpson Street Free Press reporters, got an excusive tour of the newly renovated Madison Central Public Library. With all its incorporation of new resources and creative influences, it has become my new favorite library. [read more...]
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on a plane to his father’s house when the pilot has a heart attack. Suddenly, Brian is stuck in the Canadian wilderness with the crashed plane and a dead pilot. He is all alone with only the hatchet his mother gave him for his birthday. Dreams haunt him at night about “the secret” his mother holds, and whether or not he should tell his father. [read more...]
Jean Chatzky, a financial journalist, author and motivational speaker, published Money Rules, a book of guidelines for managing money. The book contains simplified rules with easy to understand explanations. It follows a list-like outline with organized topics including “Saving Money” and “Do’s and Don’ts.” The book is one of the most essential things to own. [read more...]
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a novel told from the perspective of Death. The story follows the young life of Liesel Meminger, her foster parents, her best friend Rudy Steiner and the Jewish man she and her family hide in their basement in Nazi Germany during World War II. [read more...]
The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald takes place in a flamboyant period in America’s history, a time known as the “Roaring 20’s.” [read more...]
To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel set during the Great Depression, touches on love, humor, cruelty and kindness. The mockingbird is an important symbol in the book. It represents innocence accused of wrong doing. [read more...]
The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, is about a 14-year-old Native American boy named Arnold Spirit. Arnold is also known as Junior. He lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in the state of Washington. [read more...]
Meet Addy is the first of a six-book series in the American Girl collection. It tells the story of Addy, a strong, courageous young girl, who lives on a plantation with her family in the 1860s. [read more...]
Matteo Alacrán never had a choice about how to live his life. The House of the Scorpion, a novel by Nancy Farmer, tells a futuristic story about a country located between the United States and Mexico. The country is named after its most popular crop -- Opium. Matt is a clone of El Patrón, the patriarch of the powerful, wealthy, and corrupt Alacrán family. [read more...]
I recently read the book My Life as a Cartoonist. It is the third book in the “My Life as a ...” series, written by Janet Tashjian and illustrated by Jake Tashjian. [read more...]
Samantha: An American Girl tells the story of an orphan who lives with her grandmother in the early 20th century. The story takes place in a six part series. [read more...]
"Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well-dressed. Let me be sincere- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost." [read more...]
The Golden Compass is a fantasy adventure story involving a little girl named Lyra Belacqua. Lyra is an orphan who has been placed in the care of the headmaster of a college in Oxford, England. [read more...]
Reading Education Assistance Dogs aren’t like the average dogs you would find in the nearby park. They are registered as therapy dogs in a new program at Fitchburg Public Library. [read more...]
The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney, is about a 15-year-old girl named Janie Johnson who discovers a picture of a girl named Jennie Springs on the back of a milk carton. [read more...]
The Hunger Games, the first in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, is a futuristic fictional account of Panem, post-apocalyptic version of North America. [read more...]
I recently read a biography of Muhammad Ali written by Randy Gordon. Ali is one of the most famous American boxers in history. [read more...]
Slaughterhouse-Five, also known as The Children’s Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is an anti-war novel revolving around events that took place in Dresden, Germany during World War II. Dresden is a small city that was firebombed near the end of the war, killing 135,000 civilians. [read more...]
What would you do if you received $10,000? Would you spend it on yourself, your friends and family, or a total stranger? Lorraine Hansberry explores this question in the play A Raisin in the Sun. I read this play for my honors English class. [read more...]
Macon “Milkman” Dead III, in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, was the first African-American baby born in whites-only Mercy Hospital. He was the result of his aunt’s love potion that his mother slipped to his father. He is the grandson of Dr. Foster, the town’s first black doctor, and of Solomon, the flying slave. He was born on the same day a life insurance agent publicly leapt to his death with light-blue cloth wings on his back. [read more...]
The Tale of Desperaux is a funny, surprising story that captures the essence of courage through the story of a mouse named Desperaux. He lives within the walls of a castle. At first, Desperaux is not very brave. One day, the king plays his guitar and sings to his daughter, princess Pea. Desperaux listens to the music and traces the voice all the way to the king’s feet. Then, the princess spots him. When the princess touches him on his head, he falls in love with her. [read more...]
These days it seems everything is available through technology, even reading material. In recent years, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have developed e-readers, and made available thousands of books for purchase and download online. [read more...]
Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to have a computer that has all the answers. In Isaac Asimov’s short story “The Last Question,” humans in 2061 have already created Multivac, a self-adjusting, self-learning and all-knowing computer. Multivac manages to temporarily solve the problem of Earth’s limited energy resources by harvesting the sun’s energy. Humankind then wonders what will happen when the universe runs out of energy. Multivac answers, “INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.” [read more...]
Ever since I moved back to Wisconsin, my family and I have been attending the Fitchburg Public Library. I came to love this library because it has great study places, friendly people, and a welcoming, and beautiful atmosphere. [read more...]
There is a new jewel on the Southside of Madison: the Goodman South Madison Library. Members of the South Madison Community love the new building space it provides. They also love the expanded resources and variety programs. [read more...]
The Sun Prairie Public Library is one of my favorite libraries to visit because it’s so big and beautiful. When I enter the building, the atmosphere is welcoming and it makes me feel at home. [read more...]
With the fast-growing trend of e-readers in stores and online, it stands to reason that libraries will follow suit. If other providers can scan books, why can’t libraries? Nevertheless, authors and publishers disagree. [read more...]
I am one of the few people I know who loves great white sharks—or as scientists prefer to call them, white sharks. While most people fear their slit-like gills, rows and rows of sharp teeth, and fierce hunting skills, I cannot help but marvel at these features. [read more...]
Stuck in Neutral is a book by Terry Trueman. The book tells the fascinating story of a 14-year-old boy named Shawn. Shawn has cerebral palsy, a condition that occurs at birth, and results in severe muscular dysfunction. His condition is so bad that Shawn cannot control any parts of his body. [read more...]
On winter Sundays, I love to curl up with a good book and lose myself in a fictional story. This past Sunday, I decided to try a new genre: non-fiction. I picked up a copy of Blue Covenant by Maude Barlow and after just a few pages, I was engrossed in a tale just as exciting as a fictional novel. [read more...]
The book, Touching Spirit Bear, is about a 15-year-old boy named Cole living in Minneapolis. All his life, he commits crimes because his dad beats him and his mother ignores him, making him feel unwanted and alone. When Cole robs a hardware store, Peter Driscall, a classmate, reports him. Seeking vengeance, Cole smashes Peter’s head onto the sidewalk. [read more...]
It’s no secret that the teenage years are hard. The combined stress of school, extra-curricular activities, and pressure from peers and parents often stretches us thin. Omnipresent thoughts of the future are sometimes scary, but it’s a thrill to grow up. And as we gain independence, our choices and decisions start to define our character. With this combination of stressors, anxiety is totally normal for teens. [read more...]
The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place written by E.L. Konigsburg tells a story about one girl, Margaret Rose Kane, and her mission to save three towers her uncles fondly constructed over a span of 45 years. [read more...]
Unhealthy eating habits: the bane of the 20th and 21st century. Part of the reason for sky-rocketing obesity rates is the success of fast food restaurants. In Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, he digs into all the terrifying facts about our country’s system of food production. These are facts that large industries do not want the public to know. [read more...]
Although the Steenbock Library is not the closest library to my dorm, it is my library of choice on campus. Located right by the scenic lakeshore, the fifteen-minute long walk from the Memorial Union presents a feast for the eyes; the green is lush and the lake is calmingly clear. It’s kind of like walking through an Impressionist painting. [read more...]
Ever since I was kid, the Madison Central Library has been my favorite library. My dad and I would always walk up the large staircase to the kids’ section, and there, he would read out loud to me from a picture book. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of times I was at the library with my dad. [read more...]
Verona Public Library is my favorite library to visit. Located on 500 Silent Street, it is right by the Verona Area High School. This is a new library that was recently opened in 2006. It is a very open and welcoming place. [read more...]
The very word Twilight causes girls, and boys, to scream with excitement. Obsessed fans, having chosen their side, can be seen sporting team Edward or team Jacob t-shirts. The Twilight phenomenon has sunk its poisonous claws into teens and adults alike. Personally, when I hear the word, I cringe internally. [read more...]
I glance down at the book in my hand, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. It is the story of Bella Swan, a clutzy, intelligent girl who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to live with her dad in Forks, Washington. At her new high school, she meets a strange, yet gorgeous boy named Edward Cullen. Bella soon discovers that Edward is a vampire and, despite this, falls madly in love with him. Twilight intertwines the tale of their love, the history of vampires, and the legends of werewolves while explaining the challenges Bella faces as she dates a vampire. [read more...]
The Sequoya Branch of the Madison Public Library system is an exceptional library. Located on the West side of Madison, this library is conveniently situated on Midvale Boulevard, not far from the beltline. It is right on the bus line, which makes it only about five minutes from my house. [read more...]
There are hundreds of libraries in Wisconsin, but the one closest to my heart is the Monona Public Library. I have been going to this library since before I could even walk. The Monona Public Library started off with only one floor, with books squeezed into every crevice. But, as the book selection expanded and membership grew, the building matured as well. [read more...]
A common characteristic of the modern high school curriculum is a canon of classic literature: a list of books all teens must read before they enter adulthood. But each school year, as perspectives, technology, and entertainment change, the stories of those classic novels become less accessible to today’s teens. [read more...]
In Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, Katie Scarlett O’Hara is the most sought after girl in the Georgian region she calls home. Her pretty green eyes, slender waist, snow-white skin and charisma attract all the young men to her. As the daughter of a rich plantation owner, Scarlett does not need to worry about chores; she has slaves for that. The only thing she is concerned with is winning the heart of Ashley Wilkes, the man she sees as her true love. [read more...]
Just Like Josh Gibson, is a wonderful little book by Angela Johnson, and is perfect for young girls aspiring to become baseball players, or just about any other career traditionally thought of as “man’s work.” In this book, a little girl tells the story of her grandmother’s love for baseball as a child growing up in the 1940s. [read more...]
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, is a book about a young Japanese-American girl, Katie Takeshima and the hardships her family has to face when they are forced to relocate to Georgia. This Newbery medal-winning book tells the tale of one family’s journey to a new place, their experiences with racism, and the ability of people to persevere through hard times. [read more...]
They walked hundreds of miles across desert and wilderness, in blisteringly hot daylight and in the blind darkness of night. They were hunted by lions, pursued by violence, threatened by disease. Some were slowly claimed by death. They walked to escape a brutal war, to find freedom, to find peace, and to find hope. These were the lost boys of Sudan, boys who lost their homes, their parents, and their childhoods to a bloody civil war. [read more...]