Book Review : When She Woke

When she woke by Hillary Jordan.  Algonquin, 2011.  344 p. (FIC Jordan)

In the future, prisons are only for the most dangerous offenders.  Most criminals undergo a process called melachroming: their skin is turned a bright color corresponding to the type of crime they committed.  Murders are turned red … and abortion is considered murder.

Hannah Payne had an affair with her pastor, a famous man of God who has just been named the new Secretary of Faith by the president.  In order to save his reputation, she aborts the baby they had conceived … and pays the price.  Her skin turned scarlet red, Hannah is looked down on by everyone, even her own mother. 

As she struggles to survive as a Chrome, Hannah faces a crisis of faith … in God, in humanity, in herself.  Will Hannah be crushed by her fate or will she come to find her true self and her place in the world?

Just like The scarlet letter, this novel explores the hypocrisy of a society that claims to be pious but allows prejudice to run rampant.   Hannah is judged by the color of her skin, not by the content of her heart.  This book raises important questions about the relationship between church and state, abortion, organized religion and finding one’s personal beliefs.

April is the Cruelest Month



Poetry (Photo credit: Kimli)

National Poetry Month begins this Sunday, April 1st.  Get inspired by browsing our National Poetry Month board on Pinterest.  How many ways can YOU incorporate poetry into your life this April?

  • Read a poem
  • Write a poem
  • Create art out of a poem
  • Recite a poem to family or friends
  • Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 26)
  • Attend an Open Mic night

The Greatest Show on Earth

"The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on ear...

"The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on earth Wonderful performing geese, roosters and musical donkey". Chromolithograph. Français : Affiche originale pour le cirque Barnum obtenue par chromolithographie vers 1900. Traduction du texte "Barnum & Bailey, le plus grand spectacle sur terre. Ses merveilleuses oies et coqs dressées, son âne musicien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Barnum and Bailey circuses merged on this day in 1881, to form the “The Greatest Show on Earth”.  The Barnum & Bailey circus was later bought by the Ringling Brothers which resulted in today’s Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Take a virtual trip to the circus with one of these books:

Water for elephants by Sara Gruen (FIC Gruen) — Ninety-year-old Jacob Jankowski finds himself haunted by memories of his past in the circus and the freaks, exotic animals, and other people he encountered as a performer.

Wonder when you’ll miss me by Amanda Davis (FIC Davis) — Sixteen-year-old Faith Duckle embarks on a journey of discovery when she runs off with the circus after attacking one of the boys who raped her the year before.

Ghost boy by Iain Lawrence (FIC Lawrence) — Unhappy in a home seemingly devoid of love, a fourteen-year-old albino boy who thinks of himself as Harold the Ghost runs away to join the circus, where he works with the elephants and searches for a sense of who he is.

P. T. Barnum : genius of the three-ring circus by Karen Warrick (921 Barnum) — This book traces the life of the man who devoted his life to amazing people in a time when many forms of public entertainment were considered improper.

If I ran the circus by Dr. Seuss (E Seu) — Young Morris McGurk imagines building a Circus McGurkus with jugglers, clowns, acrobats and more behind Sneelock’s Store.

Till Eulenspiegel : the clown by Erich Kastner (398.2 K19) — A collection of stories about a circus clown who wandered up and down throughout medieval Germany, making muddles everywhere he went.



Pinterest (Photo credit: stevegarfield)

Have you seen Pinterest?  It’s a virtual bulletin board where you can “pin” pictures and videos you find on the Internet.  Check out the MHS Library Pinterest boards to see what we’re interested in!  So far I have created boards for Cool Libraries, The Hunger Games, From Page to Screen (books that have been made into movies) and a Virtual Library Cat (because every library should have a cat).  What else should we be pinning?

Remember, everything you pin to your Pinterest boards still belongs to the copyright holder.  Always give credit where credit is due!  Collecting great ideas to share with others is wonderful, but please don’t use any images in a project or on your own webpage without getting permission and/or properly citing the source.

A is for …

English: Hester Prynne & Pearl before the stocks

Image via Wikipedia

One hundred sixty-two years ago today, The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (FIC Hawthorne) was published in 1850.  Set in Puritan times, it’s the story of Hester Prynne, who is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest to show everyone that she had committed adultery.  Even if you haven’t read this classic novel, you have probably seen one of the films based on it (including Easy A, which gives the story a contemporary high school spin).

If you have read The scarlet letter (or you’re just afraid to tackle it) try one of these related books:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (FIC Anderson) — Main character Melinda reads The scarlet letter in English class and compares herself to Hester Prynne.

The scarlet letterman : a Bard Academy novel by Cara Lockwood (FIC Lockwood) — Miranda, starting her second semester at Bard Academy, a Gothic boarding school where all the teachers are famous dead writers, is feeling confident about her dealings with the faculty, her new boyfriend, and a paper on “The Scarlet Letter” that she just turned in, but things start to fall apart when Parker Rodham claims to have been attacked in the nearby woods and teachers start disappearing.

When she woke by Hillary Jordan (FIC Jordan) — Hannah Payne has devoted her life to her church and family, but when she is accused of murdering her unborn child and turned into a Chrome, transplanted into a new body that matches the color classification of her crime–red for murder–and left in a bare room where cameras broadcast her every move to the public for their entertainment, Hannah vows to protect the identity of her child’s father, a public figure who would be ruined if their affair is revealed.

Look for a review of When she woke when we get back from Spring Break (I’m reading it right now).  It’s a dystopian interpretation of the classic story.

Dirigio (I Lead) – State Motto of Maine


Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine, the cente...

Image via Wikipedia

Maine became the 23rd state on this date in 1820.  Celebrate with one of these novels set in the The Pine Tree State:

Pregnant pause by Han Nolan (FIC Nolan) – Married, pregnant, and living at a “fat camp” in Maine, sixteen-year-old Eleanor has many questions about her future, especially whether the marriage will last and if she should keep the baby.

The view from the top by Hillary Frank (FIC Frank) – Anabelle and her fellow high school graduates navigate their way through a disastrous summer of love and friendship in the small coastal town of Normal, Maine.

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (FIC Fitzpatrick) – Nora, concerned that she seems to be in danger more than the average high school student, and having decided she relies too much on her guardian angel, Patch, sets out to investigate what really happened the night her father left for Portland, Maine, and never came back.

Dishes by Rich Wallace (FIC Wallace) – Nineteen-year-old Danny spends an eventful summer in Maine, looking for romance, working as a straight dishwasher in a gay bar, and trying to reconnect with his estranged father.


Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt (FIC Schmidt) – Fourteen-year-old Henry, wishing to honor his brother Franklin’s dying wish, sets out to hike Maine’s Mount Katahdin with his best friend and dog, but fate adds another companion–the Cambodian refugee accused of fatally injuring Franklin–and reveals troubles that predate the accident.

Perfect match by Jodi Picoult (FIC Picoult) – Assistant district attorney Nina Frost has always prided herself on the fact that she protects the city’s children from abuse and crime, but when her own son is sexually abused, she finds herself overcome with rage and sets out to find his attacker and exact justice for her son.

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (FIC King) – Four friends’ association with a mentally handicapped boy with supernatural abilities leaves them with special gifts that come in handy when they unite as adults for an annual hunting trip in Maine and find themselves in the middle of an alien invasion.

A country doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (FIC Jewett) – The story of a woman’s independence and how she must choose between marriage and commitment to her vocation as a country doctor in Maine in the late 1800s.

Hit the Road, Jack

English: Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palu...

Image via Wikipedia

Today would have been Jack Kerouac’s 90th birthday, if he hadn’t died at the age of 47 in 1969.  Kerouac was a founding member of the Beat Generation (along with Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady), a counter-culture that flourished in the 1950s.  His most famous book is the novel On the road.

To learn more about Kerouac and the Beats, try one of these books:

Jack Kerouac : “the road is life” by Richard Worth (921 Kerouac) – Writer, poet, father of the Beat Generation, man of the road-Jack Kerouac just wanted to tell stories. But his stream-of-consciousness writing style and problems with authority made this a difficult dream to achieve. So Kerouac took to the road, traveling, writing, making friends, and getting by, until it all resulted in the publication of ON THE ROAD, making him a literary figure who would not be forgotten.

Jack Kerouac, king of the Beats : a portrait by Barry Miles (921 Kerouac) – Chronicles the life of writer Jack Kerouac and discusses what his influences were, how he found serenity in Zen Buddhism, what his family life was like, and other related topics.

Atop an Underwood : early stories and other writings by Jack Kerouac (813.54 Ker) – Before Jack Kerouac expressed the spirit of a generation in his 1957 classic, On the road, he spent years figuring out how he wanted to live and, above all, learning how to write.  Atop an Underwood brings together more than 60 previously unpublished works that Kerouac wrote before he was 22, ranging from stories and poems to plays and parts of novels.

On the road by Jack Kerouac (FIC Kerouac) – A fortieth-anniversary edition of the novel that defined the beat generation of the 1950s, in which Sal Paradise tells about his travels throughout the North American continent in search of belief and meaning.