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Stranded on the Red Planet in Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN!

Being left for dead on Mars is only the first challenge that Mark Watney faces in The Martian by Andy Weir. He needs water … he needs food … and he needs a way to contact Earth if he wants to keep even the slimmest hope of rescue alive. And speaking of alive: just think how his crew, and especially his commander, feel when they realize that they mistakenly abandoned one of their own! The Martian won an 2015 Alex Award, which is given annually to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adult readers. And it’s easy to see why The Martian was a winner. It’s equal parts science, survival, sarcasm, and suspense. The final twenty pages are literally heart-stopping! Here’s a preview for the movie version of The Martian, coming this October:

You do not have to be a science fiction fan to gravitate to this novel from self-proclaimed “space nerd” Andy Weir. It’s a book that everyone will love, so beat the space race and check it out from the library on the first day of school!

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Ruby: A Powerful Pick from Oprah

Whenever Oprah announces a new book club selection, it’s big news. A lot of readers consider Oprah’s choices to be “must-reads.” And Oprah seems especially passionate about her latest book, Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Here she is announcing the selection:

Like so many other readers, after seeing Oprah’s powerful reaction to Ruby, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. As I began the book, my main question was whether this book would have appeal for young adult readers. I was seeking a coming-of-age theme, an adolescent main character, first love, a high-interest premise / fast-paced plot, or all of the above.

In other words, could Ruby be considered a contender for an Alex Award, which annually honors ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adult readers? Is it the type of book that would be reviewed on Adult Books 4 Teens, a blog that recommends the best books published for the adult market that appeal to teen readers?

The verdict? While Ruby is a rich and intricate novel, it is ultimately not one that will be a go-to recommendation for teens. The very mature themes (e.g., the legacy of racism), harrowing sexual violence, and the novel’s incompatibility with the teen-appeal categories I mentioned above are among the reasons why. I will keep a copy in the Ridley High School Library, mainly for staff members who have discovered the book by way of Oprah, or for mature readers who enjoy the works of Toni Morrison and Edwidge Danticat.

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Make a Titlewish!

Starting on February 1st and ending on March 1st, the Ridley High School Library is holding a Titlewish “virtual” fundraiser! Students, parents, teachers, alumni, and community members are invited to participate and help us meet our $1000 fundraising goal. 100% of the money raised will go to purchasing brand new books for the school library, and Follett Library Resources will match 10% of every dollar donated! For example, we will buy a copy of In Darkness by Nick Lake, the 2013 Printz Award winner for excellence in young adult literature.

In Darkness

We will also buy the 2013 Alex Award winners, ten books written for adults that have special appeal for teen readers, such as Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Finally, we’ll purchase the most anticipated, sure-to-be-awesome teen books that will be published this spring, such as The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, and The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr.

The Different Girl

Please visit Titlewish and click the Donate button to help make our Titlewish come true!

P.S. The minimum donation on this secure site is $10.

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The Book of the Week will take you from “homeless to Harvard”!

The Book of the Week is Breaking Night by Liz Murray. It’s a 2011 Alex Award winner!

Breaking Night

Murray is famous for going from “homeless to Harvard” and now she’s sharing her story in this amazing memoir. She was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was teased constantly for her dirty clothes and lice-infested hair. She was soon skipping so much school that she was placed in a halfway house for girls. By fifteen she was out on the streets, getting food out of trash cans and riding the subway all night to keep warm. How did she make it off the streets and all the way to Harvard and beyond? There’s only one way to find out – read Breaking Night! If you enjoyed The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, you are sure to enjoy this similar story of triumphing over adversity.