Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer Reading Begins!

Ah, Summer has returned. The sun shines bright in the sky, brilliant in its golden haze, the heat washes over the land in warm balmy waves, and people rejoice in all the light, greenery and warmth. Well, most people do, but as for myself, this becomes my huddle and hide season. During the summer, I love nothing more than to avoid the sun and heat, and curl up inside- with air conditioning!- and read a good book. I'm just not made for the heat, I suppose- I did grow up in an Arctic Climate (Iceland, anyone?) after all, but that's a story for another day!

Summer provides ample opportunities to indulge in my favorite activity, reading, but my reading is slightly altered during these summer months. As a children's librarian, I feel its my duty (okay, it's really a joy!) to immerse myself in all the new children's literature with an occasional classic thrown in for good measure. After all, summer is the one time of year kids have the chance to read for themselves, and I love being able to converse with my patrons about good books, ones they've read and ones I've read. Its one of the wonderful perks of my job. Therefore, my summer reading list is quite varied, as I jump from genre to genre in an effort to read as much wonderful children's literature as possible before September rolls around.

So what exactly am I reading? This summer is proving especially diverse: I started off with the hot Young Adult title, Twilight by Stephanie Meyers. This was recommended to me by a patron, who said it was a great book, and she absolutely loved it. I have to admit, too, that it was a pretty good, rollicking read. A story of young love with a twist- the main love interest just happens to be a vampire! The story is filled with lush descriptions, some intense action scenes, and a healthy dose of angst-filled romance. Narrated from the first person point of view of Bella, the 17 year old heroine, the tone is both warm and amusing, I found myself reaching for the sequel, New Moon almost immediately, and am anticipating buying the third and final book, Eclipse in the next few weeks.

I followed Twilight with a jaunt into animal fantasy by reading Kenneth Oppel's Silverwing. I have to confess, of all the genres of literature out there, animal fantasy is my least favorite. I just can never wrap my mind around the concept of animals acting like humans. Yet, for all that I am not found of animal fantasy, Silverwing proved to be a rather good read. Once I accepted the fact that I was following the story of a young male bat named Shade, I was quite charmed with his heroic journey to join his colony after being separated from them during a horrible storm. The characters, for bats, were quite diverse and well rounded, the action was gripping, and the bits of mystery scattered about (what are those silver bands some bats have?) were gripping. I might, just might, pick up the other two volumes in this trilogy.

Next up is actually another jaunt into animal fantasy: Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan. This book caught my eye because the author started writing the book when she was 13. The novel is turning into an interesting allegory for peace, using tribes of birds as representatives for the human race. The plot is compelling (how to maintain peace when war is threatening from all corners) and the writing is fairly well done- outstanding, in fact, when you consider the age of the author!

The next few weeks are being claimed by perhaps the biggest phenomenon of the summer for children's literature- Harry Potter. I am an avid fan, of course, and with the seventh and final book about to be released, I want to refresh my memory of all the wonderful twists and turns of the past six books. Already, I have kids coming into the library wanting to discuss theories (is Snape good or evil? Will Voldemort or Harry die? Who is RAB?). It is fantastic to see so many children involved in this book series, and wonderful that, thanks to Harry, many have opened their minds up to other books. Harry Potter might just be the reason we have such a strong generation of readers!

My reading list will continue to grow over the summer as kids and friends and coworkers tell me of must read books ( The Manny Files by Christian Burch just landed into my to-read pile!). It will be interesting to see what the summer brings (just so long as I don't have to go outside!).