Monday, April 18, 2016

Pizza and Pages: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Type of Book: Fantasy

Plot Summary: From Goodreads"It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen."

Average Teen Rating: 3.375
Being that this is one of my favorite YA books ever, I was absolutely shocked how much my teens disliked this story. They complained about the characters being boring (though they liked Puck slightly better than Sean) and the story being too slow-paced. 

Discussion Questions: Scholastic has a discussion guide with a plethora of questions as well as the University of Dubuque.

Pizza and Pages: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Type of Book: Fantasy

Plot Summary: From Goodreads"Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell—the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her...

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards."

Average Teen Rating: 5.78
The teens were so-so on this one. Some of the die-hard fantasy fans liked it, but my other readers thought that Han was a boring character and disliked his chapters, If you have a lot of fantasy fans in your book club, this is a good pick.

Discussion Questions: I had a hard time finding questions for this title, but the Choose to Read Ohio website has a nice toolkit.

Pizza and Pages: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Type of Book: Historical

Plot Summary: From Goodreads: "Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope."

Average Teen Rating: 8.45
All but one of my teens loved this one. (And the one that didn't only read the first 2 chapters.) They thought it was fast-paced and interesting. We had a lot of great discussion around this one. Highly recommended.

Discussion Questions: I used the Penguin Discussion Guide and the Lit Lovers site.

Anime Club: Fuse Bead Art

It's that time of year for me where I am gung-ho about spring cleaning, which at work means clearing out my craft supplies!

I had purchased a huge tub of fuse beads (or Perler beads to some) for another program last year. In the midst of wracking my brain for easy anime club activities, it came to me: 8-bit art!

All I did was set out bowls of the fuse beads and the set of bead boards we had already purchased.

Then I explained to the teens that they could either look up a pattern online, or make up their own design. Kandipatterns or Perler Bead Patterns or even just Google are all good places to look.

As a teen finished their design, I had them bring it up to me to iron for them. I set my iron on med-high and used the ironing paper included with the beads. You could also use parchment paper. I ironed the first side really well by moving in a circular motion over the beads.

Here are some of the finished designs:

This activity was super easy and the teens seemed to really get into making elaborate designs.

The only things I would do differently: 

I had originally only set out 5 large bowls of beads for the teens to share, but it would have been better for me to give each one their own smaller individual bowl to use. Also, I would purchase a container of black only beads. This was the most coveted color bead as a lot of them wanted to outline their creations in black.