Those looking for more family-friendly entertainment can head to the original inspiration. L. Frank Baum wrote the well-known classic Wizard of Oz on which Maguire’s books are based. The original is available at the library in many formats—book, graphic novel, CD, movie score, DVD, and streaming video. But did you know he wrote at least a dozen other titles in the series? WPL has many of them, including Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, and Glinda of Oz. Go back to the source and find out where all the popular characters originated and what happened to them!
So read up, then check out the musical Wicked this summer! You won’t regret it!
September 12, 2014
e. lockhart is one of my top favourite “read every book multiple times” teen authors. Her characters get inside your head and stay with you for a long time.
The Ruby Oliver series (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys and Real Live Boyfriends) is a great examination of what happens when you lose all your friends and have to start learning how to cope and rebuild your life. Though the titles all mention boyfriends and boys in the title, the real heart of the books is female friendship. Ruby Oliver was a happy, mostly well-adjusted teenage girl who was generally well-liked in high school. A falling out involving her ex-boyfriend and best friend leads to her becoming, in her words, a “social leper” and now she has started therapy because of panic attacks. Her therapist helps her work out how she got to where she is and shows her that she has the tools she needs to start the recovery process. As a therapy assignment, Ruby starts writing a list of the boys in her life—those she has dated, kissed, or just had a crush on--but it unfortunately falls into the wrong hands and she goes from “social leper” to “famous slut” as people assume entirely the wrong thing about her list of boys. Ruby learns that while some friendships can be salvaged, some are simply too damaged to ever repair. However, she finds that she can still make peace with those she is no longer close with. Even with all the difficulties Ruby faces, she still faces everything with a healthy dose of humour and is a cool, interesting and complex girl to read about.
Before the summer before sophomore year, Frankie Landau-Banks went mostly unnoticed by her family and nearly everyone around her. She was always intelligent but was seen as someone who needed to be protected. That summer her appearance changes drastically—she’s “hot” now—as well as the kind of attention she starts to receive. When she goes back to her prestigious boarding prep school, Matthew, the cute, funny and smart guy in the in-crowd takes an interest in her and they begin dating. However, she starts to notice how patronising he can be towards her. She starts to realise that the girls in her new group of friends are expected to stand aside while the guys have all the fun and monopolize conversations at the lunch table. When she finds out Matthew has been lying to her about an “old boys club” type of secret society he is a part of, the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, she makes a plan to infiltrate it and by doing so finds out just how deep gender discrimination is ingrained in her school and the larger society around her. This book is by far my favourite of all Lockhart’s books, and Frankie is one of my favourite literary characters I have ever encountered.
Dramarama is an good read for anyone in theatre, or just anyone who has an interest in theatre. Unfortunately I never went to drama camp but I love learning about it. Sarah is a self-described “supersonic, hydrophonic, gigantic person, only no one could see it.” She lives and breathes musical theatre and doesn’t fit in at high school in her boring hometown of Brenton, Ohio. When she hears about the Wildwood Summer Institute (a prestigious drama camp) is holding auditions, Sarah signs up right away. She cuts her hair and invests in a new wardrobe. At auditions she runs into Douglas Howard, aka Demi in whom she discovers a kindred spirit. Being gay and African American, he also feels out of place at their high school and shares her love of musical theatre. They become best friends and are overjoyed to both be accepted at Wildwood for the summer and he helps her decide on a new name for camp—“Sadye”. When Sadye and Demi get to camp, they meet all sorts of likeminded, talented people. Demi finds his place at Wildwood and really starts to shine. Sadye, however, has more difficulty. She’s opinionated and outspoken and it does not endear her to many of her peers or the staff. She does not get the parts she hoped for in the plays. Sadye learns a lot about herself and what she wants from theatre, which might not be exactly what she first thought she wanted. There is no shortage of glitter, lamé, jazz hands, humour, and of course, drama, in Dramarama.
Ever hear someone say “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for THAT conversation”? Well, Gretchen Yee ends up experiencing that very thing. Gretchen is having a rough time. It’s hard to fit in when everyone at your artsy high school wants to stand out. Her parents have announced they are divorcing. Her best friend Katja has been pulling away for some reason. Her art teacher is disdainful of her love for Spider-man and comic book art. On top of all that, she just doesn’t get boys; in particular, Titus, who is in a group that call themselves the Art Rats. One day, she wakes up and slowly realises that she has been turned into a fly on the wall of the boy’s locker room at her high school! After her initial horror over her Kafka-inspired transformation starts to hear exactly what kinds of conversations go on inside the locker room and she’s intrigued. Gretchen finds out that boys are, in fact, human, and have fears and insecurities like her own.
We Were Liars is Lockhart’s latest title, and it is a lot darker than her previous novels. It’s also the one that has gotten the most attention—already it has been optioned for a movie adaptation! It is not my favourite of hers, but if you’ve never encountered an “unreliable narrator” in literature before, this is a fun place to start. (I would also recommend Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood as well as The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler.) Cadence Sinclair was born into a life of wealth and privilege. Every summer, she would go to her family’s private island along with her mother, her grandmother, her domineering grandfather, her aunts, her cousins, and the nephew of one of her aunt’s boyfriend’s nephew, Gat Patil. Gat comes from a very different background and Cadence’s grandfather has always seemed to resent him. Cadence, her cousins and her beloved Gat, who she loves the most, were very close and called themselves the Liars. They never saw each other during the rest of the year but summers were theirs. During their fifteenth summer, something terrible occurs to Cadence that causes her to hit her head—something that she doesn’t remember. Her memories are damaged and she has shrunk into herself. She finally convinces her mother to take her back to the island, hoping things will be back to normal, but everyone is acting so differently. Cadence makes it her mission to piece together what exactly happened that fifteenth summer, though the truth might be too awful for her to bear. We Were Liars examines the toll that privilege takes on those who don’t have it and those who can’t imagine living without it.