Thursday, February 14, 2008


Harry Potter may have wrapped up HIS story but the story of Alcatraz Smedry has just begun!
Alcatraz, you see, is a young freedom fighter when we meet him. An orphaned boy, Alcatraz is growing up in modern America - better known in our novel as “the Hushlands” - a land secretly ruled by a cabal of evil librarians.

Unlike other boys his age, Alcatraz has a bizarre talent – Alcatraz often breaks things he touches…and as a result he has been shuttled from one foster family to another. A life time of impermanence has convinced the young teen that love – for him – is impossible; what family could possibly love a boy who breaks what he touches – how do you live with such a boy much less come to love him as one of your own?

Then one day something even stranger happens. Alcatraz is visited by a jolly old man dressed in a tuxedo. The man shows an unusual knowledge of Alcatraz’ life heretofore and introduces himself as Alcatraz’ grandfather – come from a hitherto unknown part of the world - "the Freelands" - and tells the young teen he has come to engage Alcatraz in the adventure of a lifetime – an adventure that will spell the fate of those lands not yet under “evil librarian” rule – the heretofore unknown Freelands!

And so without missing a beat, our would-be heroes are off on an adventure of a lifetime, an adventure that takes them deep into the bowls of that fortress of evil in the modern world, the downtown city Library! Joined by three diverse characters from the Freelands in their assault on the cabal of evil libarians that holds "our" world in their thrall, Alcatraz and his grandfather don their freelander glasses and Alcatraz discovers the incredible usefulness of his Freeland heritage; it turns out breaking things can be a useful – downright life saving - talent!

Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians will appeal to all readers of adventure and certainly to readers in upper elementary and junior high school. The story’s fanciful take on the far reach of society-wide censorship, the power of conventional wisdom, and the often humorous interplay between older and younger generations gives ample interest for young adult and adult readers as well.

Listen to Library Director Nick Schenkel's review on WBAA radio or Check it out @ your library: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson


A BOY NAMED SHEL by Lisa Rogak

Shel Silverstein was a fellow who hugged the tree of life and shook it for all it was worth!
A native Midwestern boy – Chicago by birth and upbringing – Silverstein learned early in life to follow his bliss, even using his required army experience to discover his talent as a cartoonist.

Silverstein’s love of life only grew as he worked his way back into civilian life. He refused to fit into the business life of his father – the newly civilian Silverstein had plans of his own and those plans took him from the offices of the newly minted men’s magazine Playboy where he convinced editor Hugh Heffner to publish his cartoons. With published work to his name, Silverstein quickly moved on to New York City, working his way into the publishing world. Immersed in the post war culture, Silverstein reveled in the developing beatnik culture, writing his own music and penning not a few plays over the years.

What about those children’s books? Silverstein is best known as the author of best selling titles including “A Light in the Attic”, “Falling Up”, The Giving Tree” and many others enjoyed by children, teens, and adults, folks of ALL ages. The books were in part a venue for Silverstein's life-long habit of "people watching", a habit he put to good use in developing the wacky but loveable characters that populate his often hilarious and often emotionally charged writing.

Too, Silverstein was a peripatetic fellow, keeping homes in Chicago, New York City, Key West…. And everywhere he lived he collected books – books of fairy tales, books of short stories, and books of writers he just plain enjoyed.

Never married, Silverstein was what one could refer to as “a ladies’ man”; he had lifetime friendships to show for it – not to mention, we’re told, any number of less lengthy get-togethers. Indeed, A BOY NAMED SHEL makes note (often) that our poety/playright/musician was a frequent guest at the Playboy Mansion in hometown Chicago. Silverstein was also a well known visitor in “music city” Nashville, and in San Francisco (where he was an early adopter of the “flower child” movement in the 1960’s).

A multi talented man whose work lives on in the hearts, the ears, and the eyes of many, A BOY NAMED SHEL is a delightful look at a beloved author’s life and times.

Listen to Library Director Nick Schenkel's review at WBAA radio's archive or Check it out @ your library: A BOY NAMED SHEL

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Enemy's Cradle

s the threat of the Nuremburg Laws begin to descend upon the Jews of Holland, Cyrla and her cousin Anneke have their own problems. Anneke has gotten pregnant and is to leave for the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies. But Anneke's soldier has disappeared, and the only people who can claim the babies are the fathers - or the baby is taken away. Anneke can't stand the depression of her soldier leaving her and the shame she has brought to her father. She takes her own life and leaves her cousin to flounder in the wake of her loss. And the neighbors have begun to whisper. Because Cyrla, though she looks the Aryan, is Jewish. Her father sent her from her home in Poland to live with her non-Jewish family in Holland. But someone knows what she is and her life is in grave danger. After her cousin's death, Cyrla and her aunt decide that she needs to take Anneke's place in the Lebensborn. But can Cyrla, who is nearly identical with her cousin, fool the doctors and nurses and escape before her treachery is discovered?

Check it out @ your library: My Enemy's Cradle by Sarah Young