Archives for posts with tag: YA

Ban This Book (Starscape) by acclaimed author Alan Gratz deals with banned books at a school library, and with the efforts of a young elementary school student to read every book on the list for herself, and start up a lending library so that any of her fellow students can also read the books if they want. The young girl, Amy Anne Ollinger, starts off by desiring to simply want to borrow her favorite book from her school’s library, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg.

Amy has read it numerous times before, but loves to reread it over and over again. When she attempts to borrow it this time, however, she finds it has disappeared off of the shelves of the library, and that the mother of one of her classmates, Trey, is planning on talking to the school board to have the book, as well as others, banned from the school library. Amy is determined not to let the banning of books which she thinks her fellow students should have the freedom to read prevent them from having access to the books. For a chance to win a hardback copy of this novel that all book lovers will want to read, just enter this contest by being a resident of Canada or the United States and leaving your name, mention the state or province and city where you live, and follow the few other simple rules below! The last contest I ran was involving winning a hardback copy of the thriller, City of Saviors,(Tor/Forge) by Rachel Howzell Hall. Due to a lack of entries, there was not a winner chosen…it’s so easy to enter these contests, though, so I urge you to enter this one!

At the beginning of Ban This Book, Amy is just an ordinary student, a young lady who loves reading books, and who has several “favorites.” The one she loves the most, however, is the afore-mentioned one, by Konigsberg. Amy has always feared speaking up for herself, and making her opinions known, especially living as she does with her sisters always striving to be the centers of attention. She has always just gone with the flow, wanting to say what her opinions are, but saying something else, instead.

However, Amy finds herself changing and she becomes a stronger person, inside, throughout the course of Ban This Book, as she fights her own battle against censorship. Her father takes her to a local book store where she buys herself a copy of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and she loans it to her best friend, Rebecca Zimmerman, who also loves the book after she reads it, and is intrigued with the idea of reading something that has been forbidden them. Rebecca has another book that is on the banned list, and she lets Amy read it. That is how the idea that Amy gets of creating a lending library of banned books is born.

In Ban this Book, Amy realizes that starting up the lending library could get her and her friends into trouble, if they get caught; but, she feels it is worth it to take a stand for her love of books and the rights we all have under the First Amendment. For the chance to win a hardback copy of this book, besides following the few simple rules above, you just need to be 18 or older, anda person who is not related to me. The contest will run from Tuesday, October 10, 2017, to Friday, October 20, at midnight. I will then chose a winner at random. The potential winner will have five days to get back to me with his/her snail mail address, just so I can let Starscape, the publishers, know where to send the novel. If I do not hear from the potential winner after five additional days, I will chose a new winner, from the rest of the entries. Multiple entries from the same person are allowed, but Spam-related ones will not count as eligible entries. People can also enter by providing the information I mention here to me via a Twitter or Facebook message or via email. Good luck!

Written By: Douglas R. Cobb

This contest has now ended. Nobody entered, so sadly, nobody was the winner of this excellent novel by Alan Gatz.


Skary Childrin and the
Carousel of Sorrow
By: Katy Towell
Published By: Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 978-0-575-86859-7

5 Stars

Welcome to the dreary town of Widowsbury, and the home to three delightfully unique and twisted (if not particularly “skary”) children–or “childrin,” as the youngest one, nine-year-old Beatrice Alfred writes it. She is smarter than most girls even two years older than she is, but she is an atrocious speller. Beatrice likes to–well–talk to the ghosts of dead animals, especially a ghost mouse that she keeps in her pocket. Maggie Borland is abnormally strong, and some kids have given her the cruel nickname “Franken-Mag.” And, last but definitely not least, is Adelaide Foss, who has a very keen sense of hearing, and who some say has “an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf.”

The three “skary childrin” stick out like sore thumbs at Madame Gertrude’s School for Girls. Because of their unusualness and the fact that their headmistress, Mrs. Merryweather, has it in for them, the three are forced to spend almost every recess in detention in the school’s library. It doesn’t matter that the girls don’t generally seem to do anything that actually warrants them getting detentions; Mrs. Merryweather keeps them on more or less permanent detention just because she can.

Widowsbury is a most peculiar town, a place that just hasn’t been the same since a mysterious storm blew in twelve years ago. It ripped through the town for twelve straight days, opening up a gate between worlds. After the storm, there were such things as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and mad scientists who reanimated the dead. The townspeople became understandably suspicious about any strangers who came to Widowsbury. Though fewer in frequency, strange things still happen in Widowsbury, like evil rusty carousels that magically come to life and which result in the unfortunate disappearances of some of the townspeople.

And, there is a stranger who comes to Widowsbury who sets up a Candy Time stand and yet does not like to accept payment for his–candy. Why is it that the people who try out his wares often end up to be the ones who mysteriously vanish? What is the link–if any–between him and the disappearance of Miss Delia, the new school librarian? Mrs. Merryweather blames the inordinate amount of librarians who have quit on the three girls’ being malicious and “skary” children; but, what other factors are at work, that she and the rest of the townspeople refuse to recognize?

Miss Delia tries to behave differently towards the three girls than any other teacher or librarian has before, by acting nicely towards them. She treats them as if they were worth being kind to, as if they were her friends. She doesn’t last long at the school, but not because the girls drive her away, but because…of other reasons. Mrs. Merryweather doesn’t like it that Miss Delia wants to be nice to the girls, and when she catches wind of it, she chews Miss Delia out and tells her that she either needs to change her opinion of them or she’d be fired.

When Miss Delia quits, the three girls suspect foul play, and launch an investigation of their own to learn what happened to her. Mrs. Meryweather believes she is just one of many librarians who quit, and she throws Miss Delia’s bag full of her belongings into a trash can. She doesn’t really like Miss Delia, and is not prone to get the police involved; so, the only way to get at the truth, the girls reason, is by discovering what happened to her and the other townspeople on their own.

Another of the many memorable and cool characters in Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow is Steffan Weller, the son of a cook who works at the nearby Rudyard School for Boys, which I’m guessing is named after the author of The Jungle Book (among many other famous works of literature), Rudyard Kipling. He doesn’t actually attend classes, but is still very intelligent, likes to invent things, and–unlike almost all of the other townsfolk of Widowsbury, he is not afraid of strangers. He is often bullied, like the girls, by some of the boys at Rudyard Scool for Boys, but he is one of the only townspeople who befriends the Candy Time candyman, Lyle Zoethout. And, then there’s another sinister-looking stranger who’s arrived in town, who has spindly legs and long, slender fingertips. Could he be the one causing the people of Widowsbury to disappear?

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow is a brilliantly written cross between the novels of Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl (Matilda, in particular). I look forward to reading more of Katy Towell’s novels in the future. In the meantime, I, like anyone else who needs another “Skary Childrin” fix, can go to the website Childrin R Skary, where she is the writer, illustrator, and sometimes animator. Check out the book today!

–Douglas R. Cobb–

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