Thursday, December 27, 2007

Field Guide to High School

A Field Guide to High School
by Marissa Walsh
Andie's older sister, Clare--now a college freshman, wrote a book about high school for Andie by pasting pages over an old Petersen Field Guide. Andie and her friend Bess read through it together reflecting on Clare's suggestions and contrasting them with Clare's own behavior in high school. A secret chapter at the end just for Andie, explains a little more.

As an information book, the information is pretty stereotypical high school stuff. Suggested books and movies are fun, but personality type characterizations stick to the hollywood clicks. As a ficition book, the story is pretty scrawny...really just comments on the information. I would really have like to see a story where Andie was trying to follow the advice and what resulted. Still, it was fun to read and at 133 pages, it was a quick read. It does seem like Clare needed the book more than Andie did, but since Clare did fine with out it....

Really, what I think would be the most fun is to create your own field guide to school either as a class project or with a group of friends.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Need a Last Minute Gift for a Teen?

Need a last minute gift for a teen? The Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) has put out a list of gift suggestions for teens. The books are listed in categories according to who may enjoy reading them. There are books listed for the Comedian, the Athlete, the Artist, the Techie, the Musician, and the Romantic.

If you can't find what you're looking for at the first link, YALSA has lists of Teen Awards, popular paperbacks and much more.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Get a Hobby!

Get a Hobby!

by Tina Barseghian

(790.13 BARSEGHI)

Get a Hobby is a cool book that surveys over 100 different common hobbies. Ideas are diverse from athletic hobbies like caving, cooking hobbies like candy making or oil infusing, to nature hobbies like bonsai tree shaping. A forward explains the possible health benefits of hobbying--sorry, video gaming doesn't count as a hobby for a very simple reason.

Each hobby is presented in a two-page spread. Information about the hobby includes a summary of the activity itself, materials needed to get started, a history of the activity, directions for getting started, and resources for additional information. In many cases a personality profile, a list of similar hobbies, or a beginning project are also included. The idea of the two-page spread is to give readers enough information to sample a hobby and see if it really does suit them. To really delve into any of these hobbies, most people would need to gather much more information.

Barseghian has made picking a hobby that suits you much easier. First, readers can take a short quiz. The thing to know about this quiz is that it is asking about extremes. For example, the question about pets that includes an answer with snakes isn't trying to find out whether or not you like snakes. Rather, the question is trying to determine how extreme your devotion is to the animal kingdom. The quiz helps you identify your own personality traits which is useful when you start flipping through the hobbies. Personality traits are listed at the top of each hobby two-page spread. The traits that would be useful for the hobby on that page are in bold. The introduction to the quiz explains that hobbies with two or more of your selected personality traits in bold print would likely be a good match for you.

If none of the 101 hobbies appeals to you there are additional ideas for hobbies at the back of the book including alturistic hobbies, cerebral hobbies, and travel related hobbies.

At first I was disappointed that the author didn't include a spreadsheet of the personality traits identified with each hobby. However flipping through each hobby one-by-one and considering the suggested personality traits was interesting in and of itself. After reading this book, I can't say that I'm ready to go out and take up a whole new hobby, but it did open my mind up to a few new possiblities. Also, reading this reminded me of past hobbying efforts that for one reason or another I had put aside. I'm thinking that now would be a good time to take them up again. I really hope that Barseghian will follow this up with either a second book or a website. Reading this has made me curious about a few things, and I'd love to hear about other people's experiences beginning a new hobby.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dark Water Rising

Dark Water Rising

by Marian Hale


Set during the Hurricane of 1900, which completely devestated Galveston, Dark Water Rising presents a coming of age story amidst horrifying circumstances. Seth is not happy when his father decides that their family will move to Galveston. His father wants Seth to go on to college and become a doctor. Seth already knows that he wants to become a carpenter. After arriving in Galveston, a night's stay at his uncle's home provides him both with the chance to work as a carpenter and his first glimpse of Ella Rose Montgomery. Seth quickly settles in to his new job as a carpenter working with Josiah, the grandson of his uncle's servant. When the storm sets in, people come to the beach near where Seth works to watch the turbulent water. Finally the water gets too high, and Seth and Josiah must cross flooded streets and flying debris to make it to his uncle's house.

The historical details seem acurate. There are mentions of many of the more well known details about the storm, such as the the wall of debris that scraped away everything in its path. The variety of dangers people faced, such as a man dying, not from drowning, but rather from climbing a tree that was already full of snakes. And the things that lingered in memories long afterwards: the stench of mud and decaying bodies and the bodies that washed up on the beach for days afterwards.

Seth's desire to chose his own destiny and prove himself to his father very much become part of Seth's expereience. The author keeps the story from becoming too dark by alotting some of the worst horrors to the people around Seth. Even so, as a capable young man, Seth sees enough of the devestation to convey the tragedy and misery of the disaster that changed Texas forever. The author touches on racial inequalities as well as the role of women during that time. An author's note at the end of the book explains the author's interest in the events and also gives more detailed information.

For further reading on the Hurricane of 1900, visit our local history collection. Moore Memorial Library has several books about the hurricane, including Isaac's Storm, (976.4139 LARSON) which provides an interesting account of the representative of the National Weather Bureau, Isaac Cline, who was working in Galveston at the time of the storm.