Gratuity, or Tip for short, is a terrified, angry, badass eleven-year-old. Ordinarily, Tip is used to handling all sorts of situations, having grown up managing her absent-minded mother. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances. The main reason she’s terrified is because an alien race, the Boov, have taken control of Earth and are forcing all humans in the United States to relocate to Florida, and no one knows what fate awaits them there. The main reason she’s angry is because her mother was abducted by the Boov last Christmas Eve, and Tip hasn’t seen or heard from her since.
And as for the badass part? Tip has decided that instead of boarding the Boov rocketpods to Florida along with everyone else, she is going to drive the family car across the country herself.
Adam Rex creates that great mixture of page-turning, immersive action and wry, self-aware humour that I loved so much in Douglas Adams’ writing. (When I finished, I felt like I needed to read it over again to catch all the satire and social commentary that I missed while I was barreling through to find out what would happen to Tip.) The True Meaning of Smekday is peppered with laugh-out-loud scenes and earworm phrases that I found myself chuckling at days after I had finished reading. Whether you read the book, which has accompanying illustrations by Adam Rex, or – like I did – listen to the audiobook narrated by the incomparable Bahni Turpin (you will be thinking in a Boov accent for weeks), you really cannot go wrong with this quirky, irreverent, giddy romp of a book. (Submitted by T. Thomas)
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Best book for girls about to start high school! This book was really hard to put down – the setting is very contemporary with lots of appeal for young people. I read this book out loud to my reluctant 12-year old daughter, and she begged for “one more chapter” every night. It sparked some great conversations about everyday life experiences – how friendships change, staying true to yourself, even the tricky world of texting and snapchat. I’ve recommended it to all my mom friends with daughters about to start high school. We borrowed the ebook from the library, but since then my daughter wants a copy of her own to keep and reread. This is a stand-alone book, not part of a series, but there are other great books by the same author. This author has really captured something special – I feel like I got inside the head of a young teenager and was better able to understand their joys and challenges. Not too preachy. Not too sugar-coated or scary. Just right. (Submitted by Sara)
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This Dark Endeavour is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always a bit skeptic about prequels that are written a century or more after the initial novel. Yet, this book is a pleasant surprise: it is believable (as if indeed it is the real pre-story to Frankenstein). This Dark Endeavour is like a triple-flavoured ice-cream. The novel literally has lots of layers: history, science, magic, love, integrity – just to name a few. All of these subjects are covered deeply enough to create a sense of realism, but not too deep to instill a sense of boredom. Kenneth Oppel does a marvelous job depicting 18th century Europe: I submerged into it head and toes! There is never a dull moment; the novel is always moving forward. There are three main characters: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein (twin brothers) and their cousin Elizabeth. The three of them grew up together and were happy playmates until they reached their adolescent years. Very soon, they learn too many things at once: love and friendship don’t always go together, jealousy knows no boundaries, passion and duty are often on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there is never a good or smart way to outwit death… (Submitted by Mariya)
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Young Adult book, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli transports you to the fictitious town of Mica, Arizona. The narrator, Leo Borlock, attends high school and leads a very ordinary life just like all of his classmates. The normal lives of these students are shaken up when eccentric home school student, Stargirl Caraway, transfers and captivates the entire student body with her unusual antics. While at first the students are fascinated by her, they quickly turn on her when her peppy demeanour causes her to cheer for the school’s rival basketball team and she becomes a traitor. When the students start to shun her and anyone who is close with her, Leo is forced to decide on whether he will side with the students and once again live a normal life, or stand by Stargirl’s side and defend her non-conformity.
This is one of my favorite reads, especially in bad weather, because of the way Spinelli transports the reader into the hot Sonoran desert, where cacti grow tall and Stargirl spends her time exploring, meditating, and conversing with the wise paleontologist, Archie, and his dying cactus, Senor Saguaro. The characters are also a huge factor in my enjoyment of this novel because of their many layers and quirks. The theme of the book deals with the student body’s herd mentality and their reaction to someone who is different, which is always a relevant and relatable topic. This is a beautifully written story, packed full of desert imagery and meaningful life lessons, perfect for any age. (Submitted by DC)
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New York Times Bestseller, Parents Choice Gold Award Winner, ALA Top Ten Best Books Award winner, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year
Sequel – Love, Stargirl
This booked really stuck with me. Nine year old Polly must come to terms with yet another life change; this one the hardest yet. Not only does she face a new life with her grandmother in British Columbia without her older sister Maud, who will be at boarding school; most difficult of all is the secret that she must never tell. I highly recommend it. (submitted by CDB)
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What Are Library Staff Reading Right Now?
Surrinder is enjoying Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy.
What happens when aliens arrive and claim ownership of Earth? After her mother is kidnapped by the alien Boov, eleven-year-old Gratuity decides to drive to the humans’ relocation area in Florida, by herself along with her cat, Pig. Along the way, she meets a Boov named J-Lo, who turns her car into a hovering vehicle. Things get even weirder when another alien race comes along. I read this book alone the first time, then to my family over the summer holidays. I was reading it aloud on one of the BC Ferries when a stranger came up and asked about the book. Fantastic and fun! (submitted by SB)
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