Staff advisers

Mrs. Sonya Stevens, literacy teacher, sonya.stevens@d128.org
Ms. Monica Tolva, library media specialist, monica.tolva@d128.org

Fri Apr 28: What we talked about

posted Apr 28, 2017, 8:23 AM by Monica Tolva   [ updated Apr 28, 2017, 8:24 AM ]

Thank you Mrs. Stevens for helping Ms. Tolva celebrate her birthday! The Gerbera daisies are beautiful, the cupcake will be delicious, and the card made me smile.
  • Crazy Messy Beautiful by Carrie Arcos
    • Sixteen-year-old Neruda Diaz, influenced by his namesake, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, yearns to fall in love but has yet to find the right girl.
  • Other books with unusually-named characters:
    • The Selection series by Kiera Cass
      • Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection--a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea's prince--but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her.
  • Wildlife by Fiona Wood
    • Two sixteen-year-old girls in Australia come together at an outdoor semester of school, before university--one thinking about boys and growing up, the other about death and grief, but somehow they must help each other to find themselves.
    • Cara says she just likes camping.

Fri Mar 17: what we talked about

posted Mar 17, 2017, 6:31 AM by Monica Tolva

  • We wired circuits to light up LED name tags. 
  • And we talked about our Book Drive to benefit Bernie's Book Bank (April 13-21).
  • And we drank hot chocolate.

Come next week to finish your LED name tag and to learn about making a Chromebook sticker. Maybe the word "READ" or a book?

Fri Feb 24: What we talked about

posted Feb 24, 2017, 6:59 AM by Monica Tolva   [ updated Feb 24, 2017, 7:11 AM ]

  • BOOK DRIVE week of April 14
    • We will be collecting children's books (birth-grade 8) to donate to Bernie's Book Bank when we volunteer there with the Libertyville High School Book Club.
    • Next week during club we will decorate collection boxes.
    • We also need to make hallway signs and write a punny announcement that people will listen to!
  • One of the most fun parts of volunteering at Bernie's Book Bank, where we will be sorting and packing children's books to be donated at Chicagoland schools, is reminiscing about the books we loved best. Such as:
    • The Magic Tree House series
    • The Berenstain Bears
    • Pippi Longstocking
    • Percy Jackson series
    • Rainbow Magic series

Fri Feb 17: what we talked about

posted Feb 17, 2017, 7:20 AM by Monica Tolva

  • How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simon Elkeles
  • Beast by Brie Spangler
    • After falling off the roof, fifteen-year-old misfit Dylan must attend a therapy group for self-harmers where he meets Jamie, a beautiful and amazing person he does not know is transgender.
  • The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
    • Fifteen-year-old Marnie and her little sister, Nelly, are on their own after they bury their parents in the backyard and after a while the old man from next door, Lennie, takes them in but soon their friends, teachers and the police begin to ask too many questions about their parents and the lies begin to stack up.
  • The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones
    • When Evan's father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk--the book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in World War II. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan?
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    • Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.
    • sequel Crooked Kingdom

Fri Feb 10: what we talked about

posted Feb 10, 2017, 6:49 AM by Monica Tolva

  • VOTE for your favorite book nominated for the Illinois Teen Choice Award! 20 books are up for this honor, and your vote will help high school students across the state pick the best book for teens. Pick up a paper ballot in the LMC, or vote online here.
  • Book Club will join with LHS book club to volunteer at Bernie's Book Bank in April. We don't want to show up empty-handed, so we're hosting a book drive Mar 13-24. Details to follow!
  • How important is the first line of a book? VERY!
    • Although we acknowledged that, as good readers, we may persevere beyond a shaky start, knowing that better pages will come.
    • But for struggling readers, the first line and first page are critical to hook them in!
    • The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider has a great first page, which includes a roller coaster ride and a decapitation
      • Star athlete and prom king Ezra Faulkner's life is irreparably transformed by a tragic accident and the arrival of eccentric new girl Cassidy Thorpe.
  • Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
    • A male-to-female trans teen, Jess, and her male best friend, Chunk, take a road trip across country to attend Jess's father's wedding to her mother's former best friend.
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
    • In the early 1990s, when gay teenager Cameron Post rebels against her conservative Montana ranch town and her family decides she needs to change her ways, she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center.
  • When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
    • Ali lives in Bed-Stuy, a Brooklyn neighborhood known for guns and drugs, but he and his sister, Jazz, and their neighbors, Needles and Noodles, stay out of trouble until they go to the wrong party, where one gets badly hurt and another leaves with a target on his back.
    • According to the author, the cover image (shown below) was meant to portray the hard and soft sides of street life.
    • Avery reminded us all that a library should have all sort of books, regardless of how some people may perceive the content. Preach it!
    • Author Jason Reynolds is visiting VHHS on Mon Oct 23, 2017. His other books here include The Boy in the Black SuitAll American Boys, and My Name is Jason, Too; Our Story, Our Way with co-author Jason Griffin.
  • The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones
    • When Evan's father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk--the book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in World War II. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan?

Fri Feb 3: what we talked about

posted Feb 3, 2017, 6:34 AM by Monica Tolva   [ updated Feb 3, 2017, 6:37 AM ]

Some winners of the American Library Association best books of 2016 awards:
  • Printz Award winner (excellence in literature written for young adults): March: Book 3 by John Lewis, also by Andrew Aydin and art by Nate Powell
    • A graphic novel account of some pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Printz Award honor: Asking for It by Louise O'Neill
    • Emma O'Donovan is eighteen, beautiful, and fearless. It's the beginning of summer in a quiet Irish town and tonight she and her friends have dressed to impress. Everyone is at the party, and all eyes are on Emma. The next morning Emma's parents discover her collapsed on the doorstep of their home, unconscious. She is disheveled, bleeding, and disoriented, looking as if she had been dumped there in a hurry ... [Relates] the devastating effects of rape and public shaming, told through the awful experience of a young woman whose life is changed forever by an act of violence.
  • Printz Award honor: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    • Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel has always been a good son and good student. But when he sees Natasha he forgets all that and believes there is something extraordinary in store for both of them.
  • Printz Award honor: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
    • In mid-thirteenth century Provence, Dolssa de Stigata is a fervently religious girl who feels the call to preach, condemned by the Inquisition as an "unnatural woman," and hunted by the Dominican Friar Lucien who fears a resurgence of the Albigensian heresy; Botille is a matchmaker trying to protect her sisters from being branded as gypsies or witches--but when she finds the hunted Dolssa dying on a hillside, she feels compelled to protect her, a decision that may cost her everything.
  • Morris Award (debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens): The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
    • The son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self.
  • Schneider Family Award (embody an artistic expression of the disability experience): When We Collided by Emery Lord
    • Can seventeen-year-old Jonah save his family restaurant from ruin, his mother from her sadness, and his danger-seeking girlfriend Vivi from herself?
  • Stonewall Award (books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience): If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
    • Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.
Also, coincidentally, we're reading books by Swedish authors:
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
    • Hacker Lisbeth Salander assists Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, with the investigation of Harriet Vanger's disappearance decades earlier, and the two uncover a dark world of secrets about a wealthy Swedish family as well as a surprising connection between themselves.
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
    • From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales.

Fri Jan 27: what we talked about

posted Jan 27, 2017, 6:56 AM by Monica Tolva

  1. This week, the American Library Association presented many awards to books; next week Ms. Tolva will provide a summary.
  2. LMC buys only book 1 of any series; if you want to read on in the series, all you have to do is ask!
  3. 1984 by George Orwell is at the top of Amazon's best seller list this week. Summary: The cautionary tale of a man caught in a political nightmare in which the power of a totalitarian state is pitted against the personal freedom of the individual.
  4. Author Jason Reynolds will visit VHHS on Monday, October 23, 2017. He is the author of:
    1. All American Boys
      1. When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend
    2. The Boy in the Black Suit
      1. Nominated for the 2017 Illinois Teen Choice Award.
      2. Soon after his mother's death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    • Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel has always been a good son and good student. But when he sees Natasha he forgets all that and believes there is something extraordinary in store for both of them.
    • Named Printz Honor Book, runner-up for the best young adult book of the year
  • The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones
    • When Evan's father dies, Evan finds a hand-bound yellow book on his desk--the book his father had been reading when he passed away. It is the diary of a Japanese soldier stranded on a small Pacific island in World War II. Why was his father reading it? Who was the American soldier also stranded there? And what could this possibly mean for Evan?
  • The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (famous as Mrs. Stevens's mother's brother-in-law's cousin's son's friend :-))
    • In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents' expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public: postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age.
  • March: Volume 3 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell
    • A graphic novel account of some pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement.
    • Winner of 2017 Printz Award for best young adult book
  • Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
    • Poor Creel. She can't believe her aunt wants to sacrifice her to the local dragon. It's a ploy to lure a heroic knight so that he will fight the dragon, marry Creel out of chivalrous obligation, and lift the entire family out of poverty. Creel isn't worried. After all, nobody has seen a dragon in centuries. But when the beast actually appears, Creel not only bargains with him for her life, she also ends up with a rare bit of treasure from his hoard, not gold or jewels, but a pair of simple blue slippers-or so she thinks. It's not until later that Creel learns a shocking truth: She possesses not just any pair of shoes, but ones that could be used to save her kingdom, which is on the verge of war, or destroy it.
    • Nica: the series continues in Dragon Flight, then book 3 is called Dragon Spear.
  • Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
    • From the Sydney, Australia, home of a grandmother she believes is a witch, fifteen-year-old Reason Cansino is magically transported to New York City, where she discovers that friends and foes can be hard to distinguish.
    • Cara: LMC will help you get book 2 Magic Lessons and book 3 Magic's Child. There is also a books 1-3 compilation called The Magic of Reason.

Fri Jan 20: what we talked about

posted Jan 23, 2017, 6:17 AM by Monica Tolva

  • Shout out to Benny and Max Liber for being awesome ambassadors for Book Club at 8th Grade Orientation! We have 12 incoming freshmen who signed up as interested.
  • Working on a joint LHS/VHHS Book Club volunteer date at Bernie's Book Bank, where we would help sort, sticker, bag donated books to be redistributed to low-income students around Chicago area. Probably 3:30-5:30 p.m. on a Friday in March; bus transportation to and from VHHS provided. Stay tuned for more details!
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    • Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here. It's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.
    • Based on fan fic written by a character in Rowell's Fangirl
      • Feeling cast off when her twin sister outgrows their shared love for a favorite fictional character, Cath, a dedicated fan-fiction writer, struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words, and worrying about her fragile father.
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    • Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel has always been a good son and good student. But when he sees Natasha he forgets all that and believes there is something extraordinary in store for both of them.
    • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
      • The story of a teenage girl who's literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she's ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

Fri Jan 13: what we talked about

posted Jan 13, 2017, 9:37 AM by Monica Tolva

  • How many books did you get to read over Winter Break?
    • Caralynn may take the prize at 6 books! She had a lot of travel time and beach time, so we're super jealous.
  • 8th Grade Orientation 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tues Jan 17 in Main Gym
    • Please come hang out at the Book Club table, meet 8th grade readers, and convince them to join our club!
    • Come for as litte or lot of time as you can
    • Thank to Jacky, Benny, Max and half of Avery for volunteering. See you then!
  • Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet by Jesse Itzler
    • Living with a SEAL is like a buddy movie if it starred the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air... and Rambo. Jesse is about as easy-going as you can get. SEAL is...not. He even shows up at Jesse's apartment with an inflatable raft just in case the Itzler family ever has to escape Manhattan by crossing the Hudson River. Jesse and SEAL's escapades soon produce a great friendship, and by the time SEAL leaves, Jesse is in the best shape of his life, but he gains much more than muscle. At turns hilarious and inspiring, Living with a SEAL ultimately shows you the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone.
  • Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
    • They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose--Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life--steady boyfriend, close family--who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident.
  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
    • Signed, sealed, delivered…While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue! Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…
  • Audacity by Melanie Crowder
    • A historical fiction novel in verse detailing the life of Clara Lemlich and her struggle for women's labor rights in the early 20th century in New York.
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    • The story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is told from her point of view, beginning with the story of her mothers, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah. These wives of Jacob give her the gifts that are to sustain her through a damaged youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land.
  • Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    • Seventeen-year-old Greg has managed to become part of every social group at his Pittsburgh high school without having any friends, but his life changes when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school who has leukemia.
  • Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
    • From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak? In Freakboy's razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons. 
  • Liar by Justine Larbalestier
    • Compulsive liar Micah promises to tell the truth after revealing that her boyfriend has been murdered.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
    • In early nineteenth-century England, a spirited young woman copes with the courtship of a snobbish gentleman as well as the romantic entanglements of her four sisters.
    • An adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice," in which Meryton is overrun with zombies and Elizabeth Bennet does what must be done to rid the world of the flesh-eating fiends, but she is distracted by the arrival of Mr. Darcy, a rich man who harbors an air of arrogance.
    • It's your choice
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
    • Computer science professor Randy Pausch, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, discusses how to overcome obstacles in one's life and achieve one's dreams.
  • Still Life with Tornado by A, S, King and other books by same author
    • A heartbreaking and mindbending story of a talented teenage artist's awakening to the brokenness of her family from critically acclaimed award-winner A.S. King. Sixteen-year-old Sarah can't draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has "done the art." She thinks she's having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she's finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can't quite recall. After decades of staying together "for the kids" and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah's parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
    • Everybody Sees the Ants
      • Overburdened by his parents' bickering and a bully's attacks, fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War, but during a visit to Arizona, his aunt and uncle and their beautiful neighbor, Ginny, help him find a new perspective.
    • Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
      • As her high school graduation draws near, Glory O'Brien begins having powerful and terrifying visions of the future as she struggles with her long-buried grief over her mother's suicide.
    • Please Ignore Vera Dietz
      • When her best friend, whom she secretly loves, betrays her and then dies under mysterious circumstances, high school senior Vera Dietz struggles with secrets that could help clear his name.
    • I Crawl Through It
      • A surrealist novel about four teenagers who find unconventional ways to escape standardized tests and their perilous world, and discover that the only escape from reality is to face it.
    • Ask the Passengers
      • Astrid Jones, who realizes that she is a lesbian, deals with the gossip and rejection she faces by sending love up to the people on airplanes as they pass over her.

What we talked about Fri Dec 16

posted Dec 16, 2016, 6:30 AM by Monica Tolva   [ updated Dec 16, 2016, 6:30 AM ]

Good luck with finals! Remember to take home a stack of book for break!
  • The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
    • Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion. On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person—a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action. Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice.
  • Good books you can buy in airport book stores:
    • Mrs. Stevens found The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
      • Mitch Albom creates a magical world through his love of music in this remarkable new novel about the power of talent to change our lives. This is the epic story of Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings. Frankie, born in a burning church, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, until war rips his life apart. At nine years old, he is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings. His amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, with his stunning playing and singing talent affecting numerous stars (Duke Ellington, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley) until, as if predestined, he becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But Frankie Presto’s gift is also his burden, as he realizes the power of the strings his teacher gave him, and how, through his music, he can actually affect people’s lives.
    • How appropriate that Cara found Moloka'i by Alan Brennert in Hawaii
      • Rachel Kalama, forcibly removed from her idyllic Honolulu home in the 1890s when it is discovered she has leprosy, grows up in the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i where she forms a family of friends, and meets the man who will one day become her husband.
  • Who saw "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them?" Good connections with Harry Potter world

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