22 February 2011


by Ellen Hopkins

Honestly, I have been avoiding reading this book since it came out.  I know how controversial it is, and I know how much kids love it and that it never stays on the shelf for more than about a day.  In fact, I had to ILL request it from Eagle Valley just to get a copy to read.  There are two reasons that I have been avoiding reading this book: first, I really don’t like books written in verse.  I’ve never been much of a poetry person, so I always assumed I’d hate books written in verse.  Second, I’m pretty much the quintessential good girl and have zero desire to do or try drugs (thank you Nancy Reagan, for teaching me to give hugs not drugs).

Now that I’ve read the book, I will say that I’m glad I read it.  I can see the appeal in the book and in the format.  And I do believe that the format of the book enhances the reading experience.  Though I am a self-proclaimed goody two-shoes and have never been on drugs, I did consult an acquaintance that has dabbled in the world of illegal substances and asked him to read some of the book.  He said that being under the influence was sometimes like the writing in the book – somewhat choppy and all over the place.  And did anyone else notice the hidden messages in some of the poems?  In many of the entries, the words that are set apart tell their own little story.  Take, for example the entry “GUFN Again”.  The words set apart on the left side read “I didn’t belong to my mom anymore”.  Another example is “I Went Home”.  Down the right side reads “Scott insisted, Chase invited, Brendan inflated, Leigh instigated, Mom finally noticed, Bree swore”.

Though, as I said before, I’m glad I read the book, I cannot say that I enjoyed it.  Not only did I start dreaming weird, verse-like dreams about drugs, the book left me with a very icky feeling every time I picked it up.  I suppose that’s a good thing –Hopkins doesn’t glamorize the drug (or glamorizes it as little as she can) in order to show the truth about drugs to readers.  And I am the one who is very much against happy endings that are unrealistic, so the ending – which leads readers to believe that Kristina/Bree is/was unable to stay away from meth after her son was born – made me appreciate the book more.  But I found it really difficult to relate to Kristina/Bree.  When she talked about her life pre-drugs, she didn’t make it sound terrible or horrible, so I have trouble understanding how she was so willing to throw it all away.  But then again, I suppose that’s one of the risks of drugs that kids should think about/know about before they even try it once.  In any case, this book will not go on my list of favorite reads ever.

When it comes to books in verse, I’m not sure this book would be as effective if it weren’t written in verse.  However, I was a little afraid that I’d associate all books written in verse with this book, so I read Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ronald Koertge (Candlewick Press, 2003) and I actually liked it.  So I promise I won’t give up on books written in verse completely.  However, I probably won’t read anymore Hopkins books…sorry.

Hilarious book song

Here's a fun little song that will not only get stuck in your head, but make others think twice about interrupting your precious reading time...

While the guy in this video is quite scary, as Cathy Nelson shared in her post about this video, he's supposed to be scary so that you don't interrupt him...

20 February 2011

Buh Bye Borders, Hello Public Library?

Well, it's official, Borders is closing over 200 stores.  Of course, a normal person might have read about this in the newspaper or seen it on TV, but I read it on one of my favorite blogs:  Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  Then, a teacher friend of mine informed me today that she'd been over there and bought some of the last books they had.  Ouch.

So the interesting question is, will another bookstore come up and fill in the void?  Honestly...I hope not.  And really, I don't understand why people are willing to pay for books twice.  Yep, I said it:  you all pay for your books TWICE.  You pay taxes in your hometown and some of those tax dollars go to funding the public libraries in your area, then you drive yourselves to the bookstore and pay for books again.  Why?  I'm sure there are lots of reasons that people prefer to go to bookstores, but in our economy, I'd like to make the argument for using public libraries.  Here are my reasons:

  1. They're FREE.  If you're good with due dates, using public libraries cost you NOTHING.
  2. You can reserve books from home.  I assume you have the internet if you're reading this post - did you know you can look for and reserve books online?  Yep, super easy.  If you need a tutorial, just let me know - I can teach you.
  3. Libraries have more than books now.  They have DVDs, books on CD/tape/playaway.  And again, FREE.
  4. Public libraries also have awesome programming.  Yes, I'm a little biased in this area - I just spent the last two months putting on technology programs for families at the public library.  But they also have family reading nights, poetry readings, and at the Mesa County Public Library, they have fly fishing lessons (how freakin' cool is that?!?!)
  5. If they don't have the book you want, they will request it for you from another library.  Awesomeness.
  6. Did I mention the books are free?

There are a few downsides, but, they're minor.  Yes, public library books can be, uhm, germy (read funky).  And some of the patrons in the public library can be...uhm...pungent.  And the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System can baffle even this librarians mind.  But on the other hand I've had massive trouble finding books in my local bookstore (heck, even the apron-and-earphone clad store assistant didn't know where to look) and using the patron initiated hold system at your public library can make your library visits darn fast (I can be in and out in two minutes flat, it's that fast).

So I beg you, in this time of tight budgets and shrinking pocketbooks, use your public library.