by Moises A. Hernandez, age 16
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, follows the story of a high-school-aged girl named Meg Murry. Along with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O’Keefe, she travels through time and space on a mission to reunite her family. Together, they visit different planets and meet odd characters who help them accomplish their goal.
Meg, who is troubled by her personal insecurities and concerns over her missing father, embarks on a journey with Charles and Calvin using the tesseract—a “wrinkle” in space and time—to travel through the fifth dimension to find her father. There, they meet a group of magical, spirit-like beings called the three Mrs. W’s: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. They tell the three children about the Dark Thing, a great evil threatening the planets of the universe.
The children are transported to Camazotz by the three Mrs. W’s, who advise them to stay together at all times. Camazotz, where Meg’s father is imprisoned, is a planet that surrendered to the Dark Thing and conforms to the rhythmic pulsation of a disembodied brain called IT. Charles tries to fight IT, but is overpowered and becomes under the control of evil.
reviewed by Kadjata Bah, age 16
The book Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is perfect for fantasy and coming-of-age fans. Akata Witch centers on Sunny Nwazue, a young girl living in Nigeria who discovers a secret, lush world of juju. Reminiscent of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, Okorafor brings a fun, rare, and unapologetically African perspective to the fantasy realm.
Sunny was born in America but lives in Nigeria with her family, where she is ridiculed for being an albino. However, behind her condition are magical powers that deem her a “free agent.” Sunny’s friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha—all graced with their own abilities—introduce Sunny to a strange world within her own, hidden from normal society. Sunny finally finds a place where she feels she belongs, but it isn’t long until she uncovers a much darker side to her new life as a free agent. Sunny must not only become familiar with her abilities and surroundings, but find and defeat a cold-blooded serial killer before a dangerous prophecy comes true.
Okorafor defines this specific genre as Africanjujuism, a subgenre of fantasy that blends real African spirituality with imaginative elements. As an African person, I had never read a fantasy novel that was truly African until Akata Witch. I had read folktales and fables, which I loved, but not anything like the fantasy novels that were so prevalent. While I am not Nigerian, seeing West African culture represented was groundbreaking for me—a bit of magic on its own.
reveiwed by Alan Cruz, age 17
Persepolis is a graphic memoir written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi about her childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution in the early 1980s. The Revolution began in 1979 when a coalition overthrew the Iranian government and replaced it with a much more conservative regime.
The protagonist, known as Marji, must navigate these rapid changes while struggling to define her identity as a young girl. The search for an identity is challenging for all adolescents, but it’s more challenging for Marji as she confronts divided views on the Revolution and finds many of her favorite aspects of Western Culture, such as Michael Jackson and Nike shoes, were now forbidden.
Marji was around ten years old at the start of the Revolution. When the new regime took power, many aspects of school became more strict, such as the creation of separate schools for boys and girls and the elimination of courses on Western language and culture. Women had to start wearing veils when they left the house. Marji resisted a lot of these changes, especially having to wear a veil. Her resistance showed through small but meaningful actions; for instance, she didn’t wear her veil quite right by always having small parts of her hair showing. Despite her signs of resistance, Marji was personally very religious, even more so than her parents. She has a special relationship with God, who she often talks to as a friend and discusses her changing identity. Therefore, Marji was conflicted: while she herself was drawn to Islam, she despised the cultural changes brought about by the new Islamic regime.
Reviewed by Yani Thoronka
Following the death of George Floyd and other killings of unarmed black people, artists in the Madison community came together to show their allegiance and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. Their allyship was demonstrated through a series of murals, which lined State Street. These murals were painted on long, wooden boards that covered the windows of shops and other buildings from the State Capitol to Library Mall.
But as stores slowly began to open for business, the murals were taken down. To help preserve this local artwork, the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact published a book. This new book is titled Let’s Talk About It, which is a collection of more than 100 works of art completed this past summer. The book is a coordinated effort by American Family in collaboration with local photographers, participating artists, and Black leaders to create something beautiful and inspiring despite the harsh reality of this grim subject.
Nyra Jordan, the social impact investment director at American Family Insurance, said she is honored to be “a part of telling the story of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
written by J.K. Rowling
reviewed by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 14
People talk a lot about the summer slide, which is a time where many students’ skills slip during summer when schools are out. Because of school closures due to the pandemic, summer slides could be even worse this year. Middle school students can prevent their own summer slide by picking up a good book. Reading is one of the best ways to keep up with your academic skills. For middle school students looking for a good read in fantasy fiction, I recommend the Harry Potter series.
I read my first Harry Potter book when I was in fourth grade and I absolutely loved it. The whole series was exciting, interesting, and hard to put down. Now, as a high school student, I realize how much the books taught me to enjoy reading. These books helped me learn to read for pleasure.
For my younger peers, I recommend starting with the first book in the series－Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. This book tells the story of the main character, Harry Potter. Harry Potter was an odd but normal boy with no clue who he really was or where he came from. All he knew was that his life was miserable and his aunt and uncle despised him. And then Harry’s life turned upside down.
by Leilani McNeal, age 15
Sometimes people use the phrase “I could care less,” which is actually incorrect grammar. Or, at the very least, it’s not what the person meant to say.
Here’s what I mean.
For example, I could care less if you continue to read this article. That is, however, not true. Because I do care. I hope you read this article and I hope you find it interesting.
by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 14
An ancient and remote village in the middle of the Sahara Desert is home to many sacred texts from libraries that were built more than 1,000 years ago. Now the world’s greatest desert threatens to engulf the history and the libraries of this remarkable place.
The village of Chinguetti was a stopping off point for pilgrims on their way to Mecca. These travelers would stop in Chinguetti to study religion, astronomy, mathematics, and law. All these topics were included in the texts and kept in the libraries at Chinguetti. People could read and study at the libraries as part of their pilgrimage to Mecca.
Until the 1950’s there were still about 30 family-owned libraries open to tourists and travelers. Today, that number has dwindled to only five as tourists lost interest and the desert closed in. And the sand and dry air of the Sahara is taking a toll on the ancient texts.
by Yoanna Hoskins, age 14
Langston Hughes was an African American poet, playwright and novelist. He became an early cultural icon, and his writing became part of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. He focused on the failed dreams and bright hopes of his world.
Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents separated when he was just a child. His father moved to Mexico, and Hughes was mainly raised by his grandmother. When he became a teen, he lived with his mother in Cleveland, Ohio. He started writing poetry around this time because of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman, and he was involved in the literary magazine in school.
In 1920, Hughes graduated from high school. During this time Hughes created a poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which was published in the Crisis Magazine, and received positive public feedback. He studied at Columbia University where he became heavily involved in the Harlem Renaissance. There, he created empowering works of art. However, he dropped out in 1922 and the next year he signed up as a steward on a freighter. Through this experience he visited Africa and Spain.
by Eva Stouffer, age 14
The word “orange” describes both a color and a fruit. Which one came first might be surprising.
“Orange” when used as the name of the fruit came before “orange” as a word to describe color. While the shade itself existed before the fruit, there was not a name in the English language for the color. Before the introduction of the fruit to English-speaking countries, the color was usually described as a shade of red or yellow.
In the early 16th century, Portuguese traders brought oranges from India to Europe. The Europeans had not seen the vibrant colored fruit before and didn’t have a name for it. The fruits were named “narancia” by Italians and “narange” by the French and were sometimes referred to as “golden apples” by English speakers.
by Leilani McNeal, age 14
Have you ever wondered why periods and commas go inside quotation marks when using MLA style?
According to the MLA Handbook, page 88 states, “By convention, commas and periods that directly follow quotations go inside the closing quotation marks.” The MLA, which stands for Modern Language Association, Handbook is an international handbook that provides the proper fundamentals for understanding punctuation marks.
In 1959, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White wrote The Elements of System. The book stated that “typographical usage dictates the comma be inside the marks, though logically it seems not to belong there.” This context style is traditional in the United States.
reviewed by Abigail Comerford, age 13
The term ‘I’ is not singular. Hundreds of thousands of microbes live in our bodies at all times. These microbes make it so thinking of yourself as a singular being is absurd. You can’t be a singular being if everything you think and do is controlled by living things inside your body. At least this is what Aza thinks.
The main character, Aza, is constantly fighting with her own mind. She struggles to come to terms with the realization that she is not her own being. She is merely the host for thousands of microbes living inside of her. She lives in constant fear of contracting an imbalance in these microbes, leading to her death. This fear controls her life. She feels that her anxiety keeps her from being a normal teenager which she wants so badly to be. However, she begins to change when she meets Davis.
Davis and Aza met many years ago at what they referred to “sad Camp,” a camp for kids who have lost one or both parents. They were very close during the years of this camp. Aza remembers how at camp, she and Davis would hold hands and sit under the stars in silence. She describes it as much more intimate than anything else they could have done. It brought them closer and helped develop a strong relationship that they lost after camp ended.
by Aurora Gutierrez, age 13
If you've ever studied poetry, you've likely read “Phenomenal Woman” or “Still I Rise.” These are only two of the classics written by the talented, inspiring poet Maya Angelou.
Former President Barack Obama once described Angelou as “a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman, with the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer.” A well-known African-American poet, author, Civil Rights activist, dancer, and actress, Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928. She only became “Maya Angelou” after marrying a Greek sailor named Anastasio Angelopoulos, and legally taking her childhood nickname and a shortened version of Anastasio’s surname.
by Leilani McNeal, age 14
Ever wondered why someone says “that’s just a tempest in a teapot” over an event that has nothing to do with tea? This expression is often a response to an overblown situation.
The expression “a storm in a teacup” is believed to derive from a passage in De Legibus written by Cicero, a renowned Roman philosopher, and writer who influenced future Latin prose. His “excitable fluctus in simpulo” translates to “he was stirring up billows in a ladle.”
Many cultures since then have adopted this phrase. For instance, the Dutch interpretation is “a storm in a glass of water;” the Hungarian version is “a tempest in a potty.” The United States, along with other countries, associate more with the teapot phrase which has morphed into “a tempest in a teapot.” In England, “a storm in a teacup” is viewed as a more proper original version.
reviewed by Levi Burris, age 13
By far, one of my favorite series is The Lunar Chronicles. It consists of four books, and I would say that Cinder has to be the most memorable. These books are all based on fairy tales, with each book having its own unique twist. For instance, how Cinder (Cinderella) is a cyborg, or how Cress (Rapunzel) lives in a satellite. And what makes the stories so great, is that they take a subtle approach to the plot line, and makes a story that has small and sometimes unnoticeable references to the original fairytales, without necessarily having a happily-ever-after ending.
Cinder takes place in the year 126 T.E. (Third Era) 126 years after the end of World War IV, in the city of New Beijing (old Beijing having been destroyed in WWIV). The main protagonist of the story is 16-year-old Cinder. For as long as she can remember, she has lived in New Beijing as a cyborg. Unfortunately, the world looks down on cyborgs because people who are “enhanced” should not be treated as equally as people without cybernetic enhancements. This is what the general population thinks, including Cinder's stepmother and stepsisters. They are fine with putting Cinder and her best friend Iko, an android who has a programming glitch that gives her a personality, to work as mechanics in a booth. She has earned the title of “best mechanic in New Beijing” which is somewhat helped by her unlimited access to most all information. Even with her title, Adri (Cinder's stepmother) treats her like she is nothing but a machine. Besides Iko, the only other person who treats Cinder like a person is Peony, Cinder's other stepsister.
Recent Book Talk Articles
A Wrinkle in Time
, by Madeleine L'Engle, follows the story of a high-school-aged girl named Meg Murry. Along with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O’Keefe, she travels through time and space on a mission to reunite her family. Together, they visit different planets and meet odd characters who help them accomplish their goal. [read more...]
follows the story of Brian two years later; U.S. government researchers want Brian to replicate his Northwoods survival tactics so that they can be observed and taught to [read more...]
The Book of Three
is a novel written by Lloyd Alexander. The story is set in a fantasy world where a union of kingdoms has been established to defend against Arawn, the lord of death. The book tells the tale of an Assistant-Pig Keeper named Taran and his introduction to the world of heroics. Now without delay, let’s delve into this tale of heroes. [read more...]
Following the death of George Floyd and other killings of unarmed black people, artists in the Madison community came together to show their allegiance and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. Their allyship was demonstrated through a series of murals, which lined State Street. These murals were painted on long, wooden boards that covered the windows of shops and other buildings from the State Capitol to Library Mall. [read more...]
is a graphic memoir written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi about her childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution in the early 1980s. The Revolution began in 1979 when a coalition overthrew the Iranian government and replaced it with a much more conservative regime. [read more...]
The book Akata Witch
by Nnedi Okorafor is perfect for fantasy and coming-of-age fans. Akata Witch
centers on Sunny Nwazue, a young girl living in Nigeria who discovers a secret, lush world of juju. Reminiscent of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, Okorafor brings a fun, rare, and unapologetically African perspective to the fantasy realm. [read more...]
People talk a lot about the summer slide, which is a time where many students’ skills slip during summer when schools are out. Because of school closures due to the pandemic, summer slides could be even worse this year. Middle school students can prevent their own summer slide by picking up a good book. Reading is one of the best ways to keep up with your academic skills. For middle school students looking for a good read in fantasy fiction, I recommend the Harry Potter series. [read more...]
An ancient and remote village in the middle of the Sahara Desert is home to many sacred texts from libraries that were built more than 1,000 years ago. Now the world’s greatest desert threatens to engulf the history and the libraries of this remarkable place. [read more...]
Sometimes people use the phrase “I could care less,” which is actually incorrect grammar. Or, at the very least, it’s not what the person meant to say. [read more...]
Jacob Riis was the living definition of a muckraker who devoted his life to exposing the harsh living conditions of the New York tenements. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered why periods and commas go inside quotation marks when using MLA style? [read more...]
Langston Hughes was an African American poet, playwright and novelist. He became an early cultural icon, and his writing became part of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s. He focused on the failed dreams and bright hopes of his world. [read more...]
Do you know how gravity makes tides? I read a book called High Tide, Low Tide
by Jason Cooper and learned that there are different types of tides and that gravity pulls them. [read more...]
The word “orange” describes both a color and a fruit. Which one came first might be surprising. [read more...]
Cinder takes place in the year 126 T.E. (Third Era) 126 years after the end of World War IV, in the city of New Beijing (old Beijing having been destroyed in WWIV). The main protagonist of the story is 16-year-old Cinder. For as long as she can remember, she has lived in New Beijing as a cyborg. Unfortunately, the world looks down on cyborgs because people who are “enhanced” should not be treated as equally as people without cybernetic enhancements. This is what the general population thinks, including Cinder's stepmother and stepsisters. They are fine with putting Cinder and her best friend Iko, an android who has a programming glitch that gives her a personality, to work as mechanics in a booth. She has earned the title of “best mechanic in New Beijing” which is somewhat helped by her unlimited access to most all information. Even with her title, Adri (Cinder's stepmother) treats her like she is nothing but a machine. Besides Iko, the only other person who treats Cinder like a person is Peony, Cinder's other stepsister. [read more...]
Don't Shoot the Dog
by Karen Pryor describes big ideas in training everything from rodents to people. Pryor, an expert in animal training and behavior, writes about many of her own experiences with the subject. [read more...]
Author Min Jin Lee says, "You can hear the crackle of heat and the roar of a powerful fire burning..." through the pages of Kate Wisel's first short story collection, Driving in Cars with Homeless Men. Out of 530 applicants for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, the Boston-born Monona writer won the honor along with $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The prize, one of the most prestigious in the country, was started by the former publisher of The Paris Review and co-founder of Ecco Press, Drue Heinz, in 1981. [read more...]
Ever wondered why someone says “that’s just a tempest in a teapot” over an event that has nothing to do with tea? This expression is often a response to an overblown situation. [read more...]
The term ‘I’ is not singular. Hundreds of thousands of microbes live in our bodies at all times. These microbes make it so thinking of yourself as a singular being is absurd. You can’t be a singular being if everything you think and do is controlled by living things inside your body. At least this is what Aza thinks. [read more...]
The Sun and Her Flowers
by Rupi Kaur is a tender poetic book that signifies the author journey to self-empowerment. This is the sequel to Milk and Honey
, and is currently a #1 New York Times
Bestseller. She explores multifarious themes such as love, loss, trauma, healing, migration, and revolution —all of which connect to the chapter titles. [read more...]
“There is no bigger illusion in the world than the idea that a woman will bring dishonor into a home if she tries to keep her heart and her body safe,” Rupi Kaur writes in Milk and Honey
. Kaur’s raw work of art is an all-time favorite book, articulating the experiences of abusive relationships, violence, love, and loss. For me, this collection of poetry paints an insightful portrait to female empowerment. [read more...]
Greg Gaines thinks he knows it all. He has officially figured out how to survive high school. He decides that all he has to do is remain unanimously unimportant to everyone at his school except Earl, his sort-of-friend. He thinks this is what he must do to answer the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? [read more...]
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
tells the intriguing story of 16-year-old Jacob Portman. Jacob grew up listening to stories told by his grandfather, Abe, with whom he had a very strong relationship with. This changes when Jacob’s dad declares that Abe is mentally disturbed due to his past. Abe would tell Jacob story upon story about a wonderful place called Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. Miss Peregrine’s home housed many children with abilities that were unheard of, such as creating fire with their bare hands and being able to fly. Abe also showed pictures of these mysterious children, which Jacob would later find fascinating. [read more...]
Jason Reynolds’ novel Long Way Down starts with the three rules of a troubled neighborhood: no crying, no snitching, and always get revenge. After somebody shoots Will’s brother, Shawn, Will, 15, follows the third and most important rule. He sets off to kill the man who shot his brother because he knows who did it. Or does he? [read more...]
So B. It
is a novel that centers on twelve-year-old Heidi It, who is eager to find out more about who she is. Living with her mentally disabled mother, So B. It, and her neighbor, Bernadette, Heidi feels as though a puzzle piece is missing. She ventures out to find that missing piece. [read more...]
Lies My Teacher Told Me
is a thought-provoking book which reveals just a few of the most common lies and misconceptions taught in today's history classrooms. Professor James Loewen studies not one, not two, but 12 of the most used American history textbooks and concludes that not one of them does a semi-decent job of making history memorable or interesting. As a student, I am outraged that I am only just now learning the other side of the story that I have been learning about my entire academic career: American History. [read more...]
I recently read Nailed
by Patrick Jones, a fictional book which takes place in Flint, Michigan and focuses on Bret Hendricks, a junior at Southwestern High School. He, like many teenagers, faces challenges such as heartbreak, toxic friendships, bullying, and home issues. [read more...]
“Janae works every day at her Granny’s Strange Goods Superstore, selling lucky rabbits’ feet and other useless junk. And every night, after closing up shop, she dominates the courts with her boys,” summarized a reviewer from Kirkus Reviews of Black Top: Janae. [read more...]
If you've ever studied poetry, you've likely read “Phenomenal Woman” or “Still I Rise.” These are only two of the classics written by the talented, inspiring poet Maya Angelou. [read more...]
I recently read the book Home of The Brave
. It is a novel written partially in verse. This book is about a boy named Kek, who lives in Africa. [read more...]
“Thou shalt kill.” With those words, Citra's and Rowan's lives changed forever. [read more...]
Milestone Media started writing comic books in 1993. Their focus was different from big publishers like DC Comics and Marvel.
In the beginning, they wanted to make more significant characters of color so minority kids had heroes to look up to that looked like them. Milestone tried to depict characters of all races with integrity and wanted more accurate descriptions of other races instead of the innocuous character of color that most comic books show. [read more...]
The book The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald takes place during the early 1920’s. Wealthy and high social standards were important in those days. Fitzgerald describes the way the rich were often identified as the “old” or the “new rich.” The old rich was demonstrated as the East Egg, being in a community born into money, and the new rich, achieving riches. [read more...]
During the fall semester of 2017, the students of Badger Rock Middle School made books for students in Guinea. The teacher who began this project, Maya Kadakia, is the English-Language Arts teacher at Badger Rock. [read more...]
Dolly Parton was born and raised in Appalachia, one of the poorest regions of the United States. After a long career as a singer, songwriter, and movie actress she works hard to help others, especially children. Now, with help from an anonymous donor and the local United Way, this generosity will be felt in Dane County. [read more...]
Written by Julie Kagawa, New York bestselling author, Talon
is a retelling of the classic war between knights and dragons. It is written through the perspectives of the individual characters. Her story shows both sides of the war and the disagreements in-between. [read more...]
When I was younger, I loved reading Magic Treehouse
, The Baby-Sitters Club
, and The Boxcar Children
books. I loved how these stories were full of talking animals and inanimate objects coming to life. But I noticed that all of these series’ protagonists
, another word for main characters, were white. When I realized this, I also noticed that in the rare times I did read about a young person of color, it made me feel important and almost special in a way. It took me quite a while to pinpoint why. [read more...]
by Bridget Zinn is an intriguing book. It is set in a fantasy world with castles, magic, no-good princes, and best friend princesses. [read more...]
The way people have learned to read and interpret written language is something that scientists have studied for a long time. How is it that simple marks on a mere piece of paper can convey mind-changing ideas? [read more...]
American Girl will host its annual benefit sale to help the Madison Children's Museum and its own Fund for Children this summer. This sale is a very popular event and typically brings in nearly 1 million dollars each year. [read more...]
Out of My Mind
by Sharon M. Draper is a very deep and thought-provoking book about an 11-year-old girl named Melody who has Cerebral Palsy. Melody isn't able to walk, talk, or write. However, she has a photographic memory: her brain remembers everything she hears and sees. [read more...]
The Phantom Tollbooth
, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, is a whimsical tale full of imagination and adventure. It all starts when Milo, a curious and bored-with-life 11-year-old, discovers a mysterious tollbooth in his bedroom. With nothing better to do, Milo hops in his toy car and drives through the tollbooth. [read more...]
Malina Pies Fríos escrito por David Fernández es un libro sobre una niñita que vive en el polo norte y tiene los pies fríos. [read more...]
Be yourself. Accept who you are. These words of advice are easy to say, but Gabriela “Gabi” Hernandez learns to live them in the book Gabi: A Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero. [read more...]
Today's average college student spends up to $1,000 a year on textbooks. Most students also cover other expenses such as room, board, phone bill, laundry, and car payments; tuition alone can cost an additional $10,000 to $70,000 a year. So while it can be tempting not to pay for a bunch of glossy pages you may never use again, purchasing a textbook is a smart investment. It's just how you make the purchase that makes all the difference. [read more...]
I was at the Simpson Street Free Press office, chatting with a few of my friends. One of the editors, Eleazar, asked us what we were doing. After stuttering for a while, trying to think up an excuse, I settled on saying “oh, we were just, you know, shooting the cow.” At this, Eleazar laughed. “You mean shooting the breeze?” he asked. I quickly agreed, feeling embarrassed about the fact that I totally butchered the phrase. My only consolation was that you can also say, “shooting the bull,” and that bulls are the male counterparts to cows. [read more...]
J.K. Rowling is regarded by the world as a highly successful writer due to her creation of the Harry Potter series. But before Rowling achieved fame, she went through a dark period. During this time, she faced many challenges that threatened not only her writing career but also her well-being. [read more...]
Does the language one think in or speak in determine how one perceived events? Does it affect how one notices things? A debate has raged on for over 70 years about whether language affects how people think. [read more...]
It was a bustling day at the Free Press when our director, Jim Kramer, hung up his cell phone and sighed. I glanced over at Jim. He turned to me with his cell phone still in hand and a quizzical look in his eye. [read more...]
, by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr, is the first in a five book series based on a Norse myth called “Ragnaroc.” In the myth, the Norse gods battle to stop the end of the world. But in this retelling of the story, the gods have already died off because of their foolishness, so it's up to their teenage descendants to save the world. [read more...]
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, the first book of a nine part series by James Patterson, is truly amazing!
Maximum Ride is about a girl named Max and her “Flock.” There is something special about those in the flock – they can fly! The Flock has been experimented on since birth, at a place known as “The School.” People called “White Coats” changed the Flock's DNA; so, instead of being 100 percent human, they are only 98 percent human and two percent avian, or bird. [read more...]
In the third book of the Uglies series, Tally Youngblood has become a superhuman fighting to keep “Smokies” out of the city. Smokies are a group who want to allow people to keep their individuality. The very people she used to fight, the “Specials,” have become Tally’s friends and peers. [read more...]
Very Funny Elizabeth
by Valerie Tripp, one book in the beloved American Girl Doll series, tells the story of two mischievous girlfriends—Elizabeth and Felicity—who are growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1775. [read more...]
2015. The year of Black Lives Matter, Caitlyn Jenner, same-sex marriage, and Rachel Dolezal. It seemed that with each passing month, 2015 continued to push, question, and challenge social norms and issues. [read more...]
The Witch Hunter
is a fantastical story about black magic, pirates, warriors, witches, and—you guessed it—witch hunters. The novel’s protagonist, Elizabeth Grey, is a gifted witch hunter. This unique occupation requires her to arrest people who use magic and hand them over to the authorities to be imprisoned or executed. [read more...]
I recently read The Breadwinner
by Deborah Ellis. This book is about a resilient girl who overcomes many obstacles in Afghanistan. [read more...]
The Beyonders: A World Without Heroes
is the first novel in a series by Brandon Mull. A mix of adventure, humor, monsters, and magic, this story unfolds in the mythical alternate universe of Lyrain. [read more...]
The Giver is a celebrated book by Lois Lowery. It melds dystopian fiction with action and drama to make a great combination. In fact, The Giver paved the way for the entire genre with help from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451; together, these texts started a movement for this once unrecognized and even unpopular part of science fiction writing. [read more...]
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson details Melinda Sordino’s struggle as an outcast during her freshman year of high school. Everyone at school hates Melinda because of what they think she did at an end-of-summer party. But, they do not know the truth of what happened at that party – a truth that Melinda can’t tell anyone. [read more...]
Dogs by Sarah Phillips is an informative book about different kinds of dogs. This book also offers advice about what humans should do to take care of their dogs. [read more...]
In Sister Soljah's novel The Coldest Winter Ever, protagonist Winter Santiga is the teenage daughter of a famous drug lord. She has only the nicest things and expects nothing but the best. Though she used to live in the hood in Brooklyn, her dad recently moved Winter, her mom, and her three sisters out of Brooklyn into a community of mansions. [read more...]
Are print books becoming obsolete? Some say that electronic devices are challenging the popularity of books, newspapers, and magazines. Many readers prefer the adjustable screens of cell phones, tablets, computers, or eReaders to the pages of a printed book. [read more...]
The Barrymore Theatre played host to special guests this past Mother’s Day: Ann Imig and the cast of “Listen to Your Mother.” [read more...]
I recently had the opportunity to interview historical fiction author Kekla Magoon at the Madison Public Library. [read more...]
novels, written by Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller, are a three-book murder mystery series about a dysfunctional family. The family includes twins Sydney and Lauren Duke who are completely the opposite but equally strong-willed. Sydney is a prim and proper straight-A student, while Lauren is a wild child whose main focus is boys. [read more...]
Our former president’s life and hopes for his country are presented in the historical book High Hopes: A Photo Biography of John F. Kennedy
, written by Deborah Heiligman. This book follows the life and death of John F. Kennedy, allowing a young reader to have new perspectives on our fallen president. [read more...]
"The Stepsister's Tale" by Tracy Barrett, published in July 2014, is a twisted medieval version of the classic tale "Cinderella." Instead of following "Cinderella" as the protagonist, however, it centers on one of the stepsisters, Jane Montjoy. [read more...]
William Shakespeare, one of the most famous writers of all time, is known worldwide for his plays, sonnets and poems. Also called the ‘bard,’ or the ‘upstart crow,’ Shakespeare is best-known for his works "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," and "A Midsummer Nights Dream." In fact, these works are still performed today all over the world. [read more...]
Julie Ann Peter's heart-warming novel Luna, was named a 2014 National Book Award finalist. While the book did not win the award, it presents an interesting and important narrative. [read more...]
Written by Arthur Flowers and illustrated by Manu Chitrakar, I See the Promised Land
is a graphic novel that explores the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s involvement in it. [read more...]
The First Part Last is an award winning book written by Angela Johnson. This novel tells the story of character Bobby's life as it flips upside down. On Bobby's 16th birthday, his girlfriend Nia tells him she is pregnant. Following this news, Bobby's life completely changes. [read more...]
The E.D. Locke Public Library of McFarland has been my favorite library since it was built in 2005. This library houses numerous books, audio books, movies, and magazines. It also has many different features that make it a great place to read, study, and relax. [read more...]
Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner is a poignant novel that examines turmoil in Afghanistan. It presents the story of two Afghani boys, Amir and Hassan. [read more...]
In Patricia McCormick's novel Sold, a 13-year-old girl named Lakshmi experiences dramatic changes and adversity throughout her childhood. Living in a poor area of Nepal, her family struggles to put food on their table. Therefore, they decide to send Lakshmi to work as a maid in India in hopes that she can earn extra money. [read more...]
When confronting problems regarding race and ethnicity, many attempt to challenge stereotypes with protests, heated discussions, and even aggression. While these options may be effective, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins, uses a different tactic against racial prejudices—humor. [read more...]
Arthur Miller’s novel Death of a Salesman is a great American tragedy. Originally written as a play, this text is set in the 1940’s and tells the story of aged, traveling salesman Willy Loman. Willy is an optimistic man who believes in the romantic ideal of the “American Dream.” [read more...]
Yin Chang Compesine's novel Revolution is Not a Dinner Party tells the story of nine-year-old Ling Chang and her upper-class family during the 1960's Cultural Revolution in China. Led by the Chairman of the Communist Party Mao Zedong, the Cultural Revolution was a social-political movement that lasted from 1966-1976. The goal was to enforce communism and replace capitalist, traditional, and cultural ideals from Chinese society. [read more...]
Ancient Rome was not only a place of power and wealth, but also home to a unique form of entertainment. In Gladiators Battling in the Arena
, Katherine Frew introduces us to the history of gladiators and their importance in Roman entertainment. [read more...]
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatly Snyder is an exciting story of imagination and friendship. The flamboyant April has just moved in with her grandmother, and isn’t very happy about leaving the excitement of Los Angeles. But when April meets Melanie, a friendly neighbor, everything changes. They notice they share a very strong interest in ancient Egypt. [read more...]
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz that takes place in New Mexico. The story follows two boys as they discover who they are and who they want to be. Reading this book helped me understand the personal struggles some people face and the distances they have to travel to find a true and genuine version of themselves. [read more...]
The book Fire in the Streets is a work of historical fiction that explores the Black Panthers movement. The Black Panthers Party was a political organization that stood against structured racism in America during the sixties. [read more...]
Eleanor and Park, written by Rainbow Rowell, is filled with romance and suspense. It is about a boy named Park, who is a simple boring guy, and Eleanor, a new girl at school, who is a bit of a misfit. These two characters form an unlikely alliance. [read more...]
Go Ask Alice follows a young girl from age 14 to 16 who becomes entangled in the world of drugs. The first-person diary was published in 1971 under the byline “Anonymous.” It was not until later that Beatrice Sparks was indicated to be the author. A therapist and counselor who worked with teenagers, Sparks’ books are based on the diaries of the teens she helped, which explains why the book is in the form of a personal journal. Sparks started her counseling in 1955 after attending the University of California Los Angeles, and Brigham Young University. [read more...]
The first public library in the state of Wisconsin, called the Free City Library, was opened in Madison on the date of June 1, 1875. Madison Mayor, Silas Pinney, who came up with the idea, is still honored through the amazing network of public libraries we have today, including the Pinney Branch Library. [read more...]
The Madison Central Library’s $30 million renovations are changing the definition of a library from a quiet study hall to an incubator of ideas. Additions like the media lab help cultivate innovative ideas into forms of technology, design, art, and education. [read more...]
A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, takes place in the racially divided South in the year 1948. [read more...]
“Poison” by Bridget Zinn, a fantasy novel, revolves around a 16-year-old potions master, Kyra, and her piglet. Kyra must try and complete a deadly mission to save the kingdom. [read more...]
Recently, I along with two fellow Simpson Street Free Press reporters, got an excusive tour of the newly renovated Madison Central Public Library. With all its incorporation of new resources and creative influences, it has become my new favorite library. [read more...]
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on a plane to his father’s house when the pilot has a heart attack. Suddenly, Brian is stuck in the Canadian wilderness with the crashed plane and a dead pilot. He is all alone with only the hatchet his mother gave him for his birthday. Dreams haunt him at night about “the secret” his mother holds, and whether or not he should tell his father. [read more...]
Jean Chatzky, a financial journalist, author and motivational speaker, published Money Rules, a book of guidelines for managing money. The book contains simplified rules with easy to understand explanations. It follows a list-like outline with organized topics including “Saving Money” and “Do’s and Don’ts.” The book is one of the most essential things to own. [read more...]
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a novel told from the perspective of Death. The story follows the young life of Liesel Meminger, her foster parents, her best friend Rudy Steiner and the Jewish man she and her family hide in their basement in Nazi Germany during World War II. [read more...]
The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald takes place in a flamboyant period in America’s history, a time known as the “Roaring 20’s.” [read more...]
To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel set during the Great Depression, touches on love, humor, cruelty and kindness. The mockingbird is an important symbol in the book. It represents innocence accused of wrong doing. [read more...]
The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, is about a 14-year-old Native American boy named Arnold Spirit. Arnold is also known as Junior. He lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation in the state of Washington. [read more...]
Meet Addy is the first of a six-book series in the American Girl collection. It tells the story of Addy, a strong, courageous young girl, who lives on a plantation with her family in the 1860s. [read more...]
Matteo Alacrán never had a choice about how to live his life. The House of the Scorpion, a novel by Nancy Farmer, tells a futuristic story about a country located between the United States and Mexico. The country is named after its most popular crop -- Opium. Matt is a clone of El Patrón, the patriarch of the powerful, wealthy, and corrupt Alacrán family. [read more...]
I recently read the book My Life as a Cartoonist. It is the third book in the “My Life as a ...” series, written by Janet Tashjian and illustrated by Jake Tashjian. [read more...]
Samantha: An American Girl tells the story of an orphan who lives with her grandmother in the early 20th century. The story takes place in a six part series. [read more...]
"Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well-dressed. Let me be sincere- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost." [read more...]
The Golden Compass is a fantasy adventure story involving a little girl named Lyra Belacqua. Lyra is an orphan who has been placed in the care of the headmaster of a college in Oxford, England. [read more...]
Reading Education Assistance Dogs aren’t like the average dogs you would find in the nearby park. They are registered as therapy dogs in a new program at Fitchburg Public Library. [read more...]
The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney, is about a 15-year-old girl named Janie Johnson who discovers a picture of a girl named Jennie Springs on the back of a milk carton. [read more...]
The Hunger Games, the first in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, is a futuristic fictional account of Panem, post-apocalyptic version of North America. [read more...]
I recently read a biography of Muhammad Ali written by Randy Gordon. Ali is one of the most famous American boxers in history. [read more...]
Slaughterhouse-Five, also known as The Children’s Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., is an anti-war novel revolving around events that took place in Dresden, Germany during World War II. Dresden is a small city that was firebombed near the end of the war, killing 135,000 civilians. [read more...]
What would you do if you received $10,000? Would you spend it on yourself, your friends and family, or a total stranger? Lorraine Hansberry explores this question in the play A Raisin in the Sun. I read this play for my honors English class. [read more...]
Macon “Milkman” Dead III, in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, was the first African-American baby born in whites-only Mercy Hospital. He was the result of his aunt’s love potion that his mother slipped to his father. He is the grandson of Dr. Foster, the town’s first black doctor, and of Solomon, the flying slave. He was born on the same day a life insurance agent publicly leapt to his death with light-blue cloth wings on his back. [read more...]
The Tale of Desperaux is a funny, surprising story that captures the essence of courage through the story of a mouse named Desperaux. He lives within the walls of a castle. At first, Desperaux is not very brave. One day, the king plays his guitar and sings to his daughter, princess Pea. Desperaux listens to the music and traces the voice all the way to the king’s feet. Then, the princess spots him. When the princess touches him on his head, he falls in love with her. [read more...]
These days it seems everything is available through technology, even reading material. In recent years, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have developed e-readers, and made available thousands of books for purchase and download online. [read more...]
Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to have a computer that has all the answers. In Isaac Asimov’s short story “The Last Question,” humans in 2061 have already created Multivac, a self-adjusting, self-learning and all-knowing computer. Multivac manages to temporarily solve the problem of Earth’s limited energy resources by harvesting the sun’s energy. Humankind then wonders what will happen when the universe runs out of energy. Multivac answers, “INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.” [read more...]
Ever since I moved back to Wisconsin, my family and I have been attending the Fitchburg Public Library. I came to love this library because it has great study places, friendly people, and a welcoming, and beautiful atmosphere. [read more...]
There is a new jewel on the Southside of Madison: the Goodman South Madison Library. Members of the South Madison Community love the new building space it provides. They also love the expanded resources and variety programs. [read more...]
The Sun Prairie Public Library is one of my favorite libraries to visit because it’s so big and beautiful. When I enter the building, the atmosphere is welcoming and it makes me feel at home. [read more...]
With the fast-growing trend of e-readers in stores and online, it stands to reason that libraries will follow suit. If other providers can scan books, why can’t libraries? Nevertheless, authors and publishers disagree. [read more...]
I am one of the few people I know who loves great white sharks—or as scientists prefer to call them, white sharks. While most people fear their slit-like gills, rows and rows of sharp teeth, and fierce hunting skills, I cannot help but marvel at these features. [read more...]
Stuck in Neutral is a book by Terry Trueman. The book tells the fascinating story of a 14-year-old boy named Shawn. Shawn has cerebral palsy, a condition that occurs at birth, and results in severe muscular dysfunction. His condition is so bad that Shawn cannot control any parts of his body. [read more...]
On winter Sundays, I love to curl up with a good book and lose myself in a fictional story. This past Sunday, I decided to try a new genre: non-fiction. I picked up a copy of Blue Covenant by Maude Barlow and after just a few pages, I was engrossed in a tale just as exciting as a fictional novel. [read more...]
The book, Touching Spirit Bear, is about a 15-year-old boy named Cole living in Minneapolis. All his life, he commits crimes because his dad beats him and his mother ignores him, making him feel unwanted and alone. When Cole robs a hardware store, Peter Driscall, a classmate, reports him. Seeking vengeance, Cole smashes Peter’s head onto the sidewalk. [read more...]
It’s no secret that the teenage years are hard. The combined stress of school, extra-curricular activities, and pressure from peers and parents often stretches us thin. Omnipresent thoughts of the future are sometimes scary, but it’s a thrill to grow up. And as we gain independence, our choices and decisions start to define our character. With this combination of stressors, anxiety is totally normal for teens. [read more...]
The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place written by E.L. Konigsburg tells a story about one girl, Margaret Rose Kane, and her mission to save three towers her uncles fondly constructed over a span of 45 years. [read more...]
Unhealthy eating habits: the bane of the 20th and 21st century. Part of the reason for sky-rocketing obesity rates is the success of fast food restaurants. In Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, he digs into all the terrifying facts about our country’s system of food production. These are facts that large industries do not want the public to know. [read more...]
Although the Steenbock Library is not the closest library to my dorm, it is my library of choice on campus. Located right by the scenic lakeshore, the fifteen-minute long walk from the Memorial Union presents a feast for the eyes; the green is lush and the lake is calmingly clear. It’s kind of like walking through an Impressionist painting. [read more...]
Ever since I was kid, the Madison Central Library has been my favorite library. My dad and I would always walk up the large staircase to the kids’ section, and there, he would read out loud to me from a picture book. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of times I was at the library with my dad. [read more...]
Verona Public Library is my favorite library to visit. Located on 500 Silent Street, it is right by the Verona Area High School. This is a new library that was recently opened in 2006. It is a very open and welcoming place. [read more...]
The very word Twilight causes girls, and boys, to scream with excitement. Obsessed fans, having chosen their side, can be seen sporting team Edward or team Jacob t-shirts. The Twilight phenomenon has sunk its poisonous claws into teens and adults alike. Personally, when I hear the word, I cringe internally. [read more...]
I glance down at the book in my hand, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. It is the story of Bella Swan, a clutzy, intelligent girl who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to live with her dad in Forks, Washington. At her new high school, she meets a strange, yet gorgeous boy named Edward Cullen. Bella soon discovers that Edward is a vampire and, despite this, falls madly in love with him. Twilight intertwines the tale of their love, the history of vampires, and the legends of werewolves while explaining the challenges Bella faces as she dates a vampire. [read more...]
The Sequoya Branch of the Madison Public Library system is an exceptional library. Located on the West side of Madison, this library is conveniently situated on Midvale Boulevard, not far from the beltline. It is right on the bus line, which makes it only about five minutes from my house. [read more...]
There are hundreds of libraries in Wisconsin, but the one closest to my heart is the Monona Public Library.
I have been going to this library since before I could even walk. The Monona Public Library started off with only one floor, with books squeezed into every crevice. But, as the book selection expanded and membership grew, the building matured as well. [read more...]
A common characteristic of the modern high school curriculum is a canon of classic literature: a list of books all teens must read before they enter adulthood. But each school year, as perspectives, technology, and entertainment change, the stories of those classic novels become less accessible to today’s teens. [read more...]
In Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, Katie Scarlett O’Hara is the most sought after girl in the Georgian region she calls home. Her pretty green eyes, slender waist, snow-white skin and charisma attract all the young men to her. As the daughter of a rich plantation owner, Scarlett does not need to worry about chores; she has slaves for that. The only thing she is concerned with is winning the heart of Ashley Wilkes, the man she sees as her true love. [read more...]
Just Like Josh Gibson, is a wonderful little book by Angela Johnson, and is perfect for young girls aspiring to become baseball players, or just about any other career traditionally thought of as “man’s work.” In this book, a little girl tells the story of her grandmother’s love for baseball as a child growing up in the 1940s. [read more...]
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, is a book about a young Japanese-American girl, Katie Takeshima and the hardships her family has to face when they are forced to relocate to Georgia. This Newbery medal-winning book tells the tale of one family’s journey to a new place, their experiences with racism, and the ability of people to persevere through hard times. [read more...]
They walked hundreds of miles across desert and wilderness, in blisteringly hot daylight and in the blind darkness of night. They were hunted by lions, pursued by violence, threatened by disease. Some were slowly claimed by death. They walked to escape a brutal war, to find freedom, to find peace, and to find hope. These were the lost boys of Sudan, boys who lost their homes, their parents, and their childhoods to a bloody civil war. [read more...]