The Hamline Midway Teen Book Club meets at the Hamline Midway Library at 1558 Minnehaha West in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Club is open to teens ages 12-18. New members are always welcome!


***Our next meeting will be on Saturday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!***



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teen Lit Con (and more!)

Hello Teen Readers,

Teen Lit Con is right around the corner! Join us on Saturday, May 9 at Henry Sibley High School to celebrate teen literature and connect with some great authors.

The 2015 authors include:

Kirstin Cronn-Mills (author of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, one of the books we’ll be discussing at our May 30 meeting)

Gene Luen Yang (author of American Born Chinese, one of our first Teen Book Club reads, and also Boxers & Saints, a favorite in last year’s Battle of the Books)

E. Lockhart (author of We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)

And also:
Matt de la Peña
Gayle Forman
Steve Brezenoff
Jonathan Friesen
Rebecca Hahn
Patrick Jones
Pat Schmatz

You can learn more about Teen Lit Con on the website, teenlitcon.org.

Our next Teen Book Club meeting will be on Saturday, May 30 at the Hamline Midway Library from 2:30 to 3:30. We will be discussing two books:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Also, remember to check out the Battle of the Books here on our blog!

We hope to see you at Teen Lit Con, hear from you on the blog, and/or discuss great books with you on May 30! Happy Spring!

~Caryl & Jean

Thursday, April 16, 2015

We Were Liars vs. West of the Moon

Which of these books would you choose to win?

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.


We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.


Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

"Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose, Lockhart spins a tragic family drama, the roots of which go back generations. And the ending? Shhhh. Not telling. (But it’s a doozy)." --Booklist (starred review)



Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Margi Preus expertly weaves original fiction with myth and folktale to tell the story of Astri, a young Norwegian girl desperate to join her father in America.

After being separated from her sister and sold to a cruel goat farmer, Astri makes a daring escape. She quickly retrieves her little sister, and, armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, they set off for America. With a mysterious companion in tow and the malevolent "goatman" in pursuit, the girls head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.

"Norwegian history, fiction and folklore intertwine seamlessly in this lively, fantastical adventure and moving coming-of-age story." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


This One Summer vs. The Volcano Beneath the Snow

Which of these books would you choose to win?

It's a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens - just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy - is caught up in something bad... Something life threatening.

This One Summer is a tremendously exciting new teen graphic novel from two creators with true literary clout. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of childhood - a story of renewal and revelation.

"A summer of family drama, secrets and change in a small beach town... Keenly observed and gorgeously illustrated - a triumph." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)



John Brown is a man of many legacies, from hero, freedom fighter, and martyr, to liar, fanatic, and "the father of American terrorism." Some have said that it was his seizure of the arsenal at Harper's Ferry that rendered the Civil War inevitable.

Deeply religious, Brown believed that God had chosen him to right the wrong of slavery. He was willing to kill and die for something modern Americans unanimously agree was a just cause. And yet he was a religious fanatic and a staunch believer in "righteous violence," an unapologetic committer of domestic terrorism. Marrin brings 19th-century issues into the modern arena with ease and grace in a book that is sure to spark discussion.


"Marrin has done a brilliant job of providing readers with a full-length biography of this extraordinary man who 'raised questions that are as valid today as they were in his lifetime.' --Booklist (starred review)


The Port Chicago 50 vs. The Story of Owen

Which of these books would you choose to win?

An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.

This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.


"Sheinkin delivers another meticulously researched WWII story, one he discovered while working on his Newbery Honor book, Bomb.... Archival photos appear throughout, and an extensive bibliography, source notes, and index conclude this gripping, even horrific account of a battle for civil rights predating Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)



Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers.

Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition.

But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim's fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard.

Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

"Humor, pathos and wry social commentary unite in a cleverly drawn, marvelously diverse world... It may '[take] a village to train a dragon slayer,' but it takes an exceptional dragon slayer to deserve a village—and a storyteller—like this one." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


The Madman of Piney Woods vs. Poisoned Apples

Which of these books would you choose to win?

Bestselling Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis delivers a powerful companion to his multiple award-winning Elijah of Buxton.

Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends. They don't even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?

In a tale brimming with intrigue and adventure, Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the vibrant world he brought to life in Elijah of Buxton. Here is another novel that will break your heart -- and expand it, too.

"Woven throughout this profoundly moving yet also at times very funny novel are themes of family, friendship, community, compassion, and, fittingly, the power of words"--The Horn Book Magazine (starred review)



Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.


“Caustic, witty, sad, and angry, Heppermann articulates... the false promises, seductions, and deathly morass of popular culture’s imagery of girls’ bodies. What makes Heppermann’s poetry exceptional, however, is not the messages it carries but the intense, expressive drive that fuels it.” --Horn Book (starred review)


Grasshopper Jungle vs. The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza

Which of these books would you choose to win?

This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean. 

In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

Funny, intense, complex, and brave, Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner from the author of The Alex Crow and Winger.


“Grasshopper Jungle is a rollicking tale that is simultaneously creepy and hilarious. It’s propulsive plot would be delightful enough on its own, but Smith’s ability to blend teenage drama into a bug invasion is a literary joy to behold… Smith may have intended this novel for young adults, but his technique reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s in Slaughterhouse Five, in the best sense.” —New York Times Book Review


The fifth and final book in the groundbreaking Joey Pigza series brings the beloved chronicle of this wired, wacky, and wonderful boy to a crescendo of chaos and craziness, as everything goes topsy-turvy for Joey just as he starts to get his feet on the ground. With his dad MIA in the wake of appearance-altering plastic surgery, Joey must give up school to look after his new baby brother and fill in for his mom, who hospitalizes herself to deal with a bad case of postpartum blues. As his challenges mount, Joey discovers a key that could unlock the secrets to his father's whereabouts, a mystery that must be solved before Joey can even hope that his broken family might somehow come back together--if only it doesn't pull him apart first.

"Joey takes on his toughest set of challenges yet in this heart-rending, triumphant series finale... Dark, funny and pawzzz-i-tively brilliant." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


El Deafo vs. The Family Romanov

Which of these books would you choose to win?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.

"A standout autobiography. Someone readers will enjoy getting to know." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)



[A] superb history.... In these thrilling, highly readable pages, we meet Rasputin, the shaggy, lecherous mystic...; we visit the gilded ballrooms of the doomed aristocracy; and we pause in the sickroom of little Alexei, the hemophiliac heir who, with his parents and four sisters, would be murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.” —The Wall Street Journal

Here is the tumultuous, heartrending, true story of the Romanovs—at once an intimate portrait of Russia's last royal family and a gripping account of its undoing. Using captivating photos and compelling first person accounts, award-winning author Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Lincolns) deftly maneuvers between the imperial family’s extravagant lives and the plight of Russia's poor masses, making this an utterly mesmerizing read as well as a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.


"For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience." —Booklist (starred review)

The Crossover vs. Egg & Spoon

Which of these books would you choose to win?


"'With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering,' announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander." --He Said, She Said


Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

"Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heat and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk."—School Library Journal, starred review




In this tour de force, master storyteller Gregory Maguire offers a dazzling novel for fantasy lovers of all ages.

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.


"Like the matryoshka doll Elena carries, there are a lot of layers to Maguire’s story. Rich, descriptive language will reward readers who like to sink their teeth into a meaty story."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Click here to see which book author Isabel Quintero chose to move forward in the battle!