Read a book about a sport
I read Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson to our Bingo for Books crowd on Monday night; Wimbledon had just concluded with Serena Williams tying Steffi Graff's record for most Grand Slam wins (22) and becoming the oldest women to win a major tennis title (at the age of 34), so reading this stand-out biography of the first African-American to win Wimbledon was a no-brainer. Althea Gibson had a rough start as a youngster in Harlem, but with mentoring and guidance from caring adults, she was able to fuel her temper and rashness into some fierce tennis playing!
2016 marks 40 years since 14 year old Nadia Comaneci scored the first ever perfect 10 in gymnastics (the scoring system has since changed, so no more perfect 10s). I've not read Nadia, The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still because it is constantly checked out; however, I've heard great things about it from Bealeton librarian Ann McDuffie, who read it to her Bingo for Books participants!
With the Summer Olympics fast approaching, What Are the Summer Olympics? has been a hot commodity at our libraries. It's a short read, but very impressive, as it covers a great deal of territory: the ancient Olympics, the emergence of the modern Olympics, the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games, the withdrawal of the United States from the 1980 games and the withdrawal of the former USSR from the 1984 Olympics, doping scandals in track and field, and Greg Louganis's diving injury at the 1984 Olympics. More lighthearted moments such as the Magnificent Seven's team gold in gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics and the incredible achievements of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps are highlighted.
Sports fans and mystery fans should not miss out on John Feinstein's Sports Beat Mystery series, which feature two middle school students who investigate suspicious sports activities and mysteries at prominent sporting events, such as the Final Four in Last Shot.
Kenyans have dominated competitive racing for some time; what's their secret? Adharanand Finn uprooted his family and his professional life to investigate how Kenyans train and live as competitive or amateur runners. This is not just about competitive racing--Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, And the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth (first reviewed in August 2012) is a deeply personal, thoughtful, and entertaining look at a fascinating society.
Read a book that was turned into a movie
I also read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to our Bingo for Books group; this wacky tale of food raining down from the sky is one of my childhood favorites, and tons of fun to read aloud (also a cautionary tale of "too much of a good thing" without being too preachy).
I've never really understood people who say, "The book is ALWAYS better than the movie." (Why do people tell me this and expect me to jump up and cheer? Do they think I hate movies?) First of all, you're comparing two totally different ways of telling stories; it's like saying paintings are superior to sculptures. Secondly, I know of several movies where, in my opinion, the movie is vastly superior: Forrest Gump, Sally Benson's short stories that were turned into Meet Me in St. Louis, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, which inspired The Sound of Music stage show and movie (yes, with liberties), to name a few. Finally, there are quite a few film adaptations of movies that although are markedly different from their source material in various degrees, are just as beautiful and amazing as the books that inspired them, such as A Little Princess (the novel and the gorgeous but very different 1998 movie), Little Women (the original novel and the nearly perfect 1994 version), and The Wizard of Oz (the 1900 novel and the classic 1939 movie). If you and/or your children have never read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you are in for some big surprises!
Soul Surfer is surfer Bethany Hamilton's courageous story of her faith, determination, and courage after losing her arm due to a shark attack. We have both her YA memoir and the movie adaptation (some scenes might be scary for small children).
The Martian is not normally my cup of tea (my eyes risk being permanently stuck in a rolled position when I come across an excessive amount of exclamation points or swear words), but I was so enthralled with Andy Weir's storytelling that I quickly ignored any small factors that irritated me. This story of an astronaut who must survive on Mars is on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading. (This could also count as your "read a sci-fi novel" category).
Read a sci-fi novel
Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist is super fun and super funny; I've known both boys and girls who love the series. Franny K. is an enthusiastic scientist, but her experiments tend to have outrageous consequences.
Galaxy Zack is a cute and appealing easy chapter series focused on a young boy who moves from Earth to planet Nebulon; not only is this a wacky science fiction series for beginning chapter book readers, but it's also a realistic look at moving to a new place and making new friends.
I've only read the first book in the Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast series, so I can't speak for books that follow Aliens on Vacation. I can tell you that it's a hilarious tale of a young boy and his grandmother who happens to run a B&B for aliens. Of course, the town gets a little suspicious of all the activity and unusual guests roaming about the town. If general science fiction is too weighty or serious for you, try this one (perfect for readers not mature enough for YA).
I was so sure that Cinder would not be my thing, but I found this Cinderella cyborg story ridiculously entertaining. I've not read the more recent Lunar Chronicles titles, but I've been told they are just as fab as Cinder.
People not familiar with science fiction often assume it's just about aliens and outer space battles. In fact, science fiction, both literature and movies/TV, often explores ethical and social issues: Ray Bradbury's novels, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and more. Noggin is an extraordinary YA science fiction novel in which cryonics has been realized. After Travis dies, he is preserved until technology can bring him back to life; when his head is attached to a new body, he, his loved ones, and his community must grapple with the new reality of a Travis that looks somewhat the same, but is quite different in other ways. As it is five years after Travis's death, many people (including his girlfriend) have found ways to cope and move forward from their loss, which are now shaken and challenged by Travis being back in their lives. This is a gripping, heartbreaking, occasionally hilarious, and thought-provoking story for mature readers.
We have three more weeks in our summer reading program, so keep reading and bringing in those bingo cards!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library