The Librarian's Corner--March 21, 2016

The Librarian's Corner--March 21, 2016
With April - National Poetry Month! - just around the corner I wanted to highlight some of my favorite novels written in verse. These novels have all different styles and forms of poetry, letting readers explore the written word in new ways. I hope librarians can use these for their displays and reading suggestions, and if you have recommendations of your own please share in the comments! 
 
 
Teeny Little Grief Machines by Linda Oatman High
http://www.yabookscentral.com/yafiction/17326-teeny-little-grief-machines

Told entirely in poetry written by the narrator, Lexi, TEENY LITTLE GRIEF MACHINES is a heartfelt personal journey through hardship, drama, and pain. I loved the poetry. It told Lexi's story so well, in a way that will be easily accessible to readers of any level. While those looking for a deep, complex story with some intense poetry might be disappointed - that isn't the point of this book. "Gravel Road" stories are about being accessible - to readers at a low level, with only a little time, or with a lot more on their mind than just books. TEENY LITTLE GRIEF MACHINES is a great little book with a lot to say about staying positive no matter what life throws at you.
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank
This novel-in-verse—at once literary and emotionally gripping—follows the unfolding friendship between two very different teenage girls who share a hospital room and an illness.
Chess, the narrator, is sick, but with what exactly, she isn’t sure. And to make matters worse, she must share a hospital room with Shannon, her polar opposite. Where Chess is polite, Shannon is rude. Where Chess tolerates pain silently, Shannon screams bloody murder. Where Chess seems to be getting slowly better, Shannon seems to be getting worse. How these teenagers become friends, helping each other come to terms with their illness, makes for a dramatic and deeply moving read.
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton 
Mimi is not going to settle for less than her dreams. Despite the difficulties she faces after moving to a predominantly white town in Vermont, the young Mimi confronts all challenges with her own unique brand of enthusiasm and strength. 
FULL CICADA MOON had lovely poetic writing in a style that is very fitting to the protagonist and her worldview. Mimi is a force to be reckoned with, but she has a light touch and knows how to get along well with people. She also learns a lot over the course of the story, and you can feel her changes in the writing style throughout the book. Mimi also makes some fantastic friends, and they have very strong personalities of their own. The depth of the wide variety of characters, classmates, friends, neighbors, antagonists, really lends the same depth to the whole story. A story that would appeal to both middle grade and adult readers, I highly recommend FULL CICADA MOON to those looking for a strong story about change, hope, and personal strength.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander 
Told in striking verse, THE CROSSOVER never gets boring. Let's be honest, here: I don't like sports. I don't play sports, I don't like watching sports, I don't talk about sports, and I know almost nothing. About. Sports. But that didn't stop me from reading this entire book in one sitting. I was hooked. I was a rough, orange ball spinning around on Josh Bell's fingertip, following his every move. I couldn't stop reading. The prose is twisty, windy, rhythmic and addicting. It mirrors Josh's thoughts, his frame of mind, his emotions and needs and it's like a rollercoaster that you don't want to get off. 

There wasn't anything I wanted more from this book. It was a great story, told in a perfect way, and it ended with just the right amount of drama and emotion. I would highly recommend THE CROSSOVER to any and all sports fans, to middle grade students looking for a fast read, and to those looking for something new and interesting that's outside of your comfort zone.
The Language Inside by Holly Thompson 
A nuanced novel in verse that explores identity in a multicultural world.
Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it's the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma's family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts, to stay with Emma's grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment.
Emma feels out of place in the United States.She begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother's urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena's poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return home early to Japan.
The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder 

One moment can change everything.

Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.

Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.

The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him.  And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

http://www.yabookscentral.com/yafiction/16069-freakboy

From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?
In Freakboy's razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

Eden Grey is a User Services Librarian at the Jessamine County Public Library in central Kentucky. Eden is a contributor to Teen Services Underground, and reviews books for YABC and School Library Journal. Eden can be found reading, knitting, sewing, cosplaying, and playing Pokemon. You can always find her on Twitter (@edenjeangrey).

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