When I committed to the Hub Reading Challenge back in February, I figured if I could reach the halfway point by April, I would be in good shape to finish on time. Well, it’s twelve books down so . . . halfway point achieved! Since I haven’t been reading Hub Challenge titles exclusively, I was pretty pleased that I got this far already.
In the context of important April dates and events, let’s review my current and completed list of Hub Challenge books so far:
- April is National Humor Month and the book I’m currently reading, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, is hilarious, raunchy and told in the self-involved, self-deprecating voice of a teenage boy—not that we’re being stereotypical! With “dying” in the title, one doesn’t usually expect a laugh riot, but so far it’s wickedly funny. Stay tuned.
- April is National Poetry Month and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman is one of my favorite reads so far this year. See my March 5th post for a review. I’m also currently listening to The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf, an amazing audio. Several narrators lend their vocal talents and accents to the passengers, crew and even the iceberg as the Titanic heads toward its inevitable collision. Since it’s the audiobook that’s part of the Hub Challenge, I’m enjoying the sound of the poetry, but readers who choose the book will get the benefit of seeing the verse visually, especially pertinent for the concrete poems.
- April 15, 2012 was the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking and a number of books revisited this tragic event. Deborah Hopkinson’s Titanic: Voices From the Disaster was an excellent recounting of the doomed voyage, complete with photographs, menus, telegrams, and passenger accounts presented in a compelling narrative. The author follows the ship from its departure to the final hours of its sinking, from the rescue of the survivors to the outcome of the investigations. Fascinating stuff.
- April 16th is the feast day for St. Bernadette, a French nun who saw visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. The title character in Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is given a pendant of St. Bernadette by her husband after she wows the architectural community with her ingeniously designed home. This Alex award winner not only answers where she went but how she got there in this satirical send-up to Seattle, the Microsoft culture and brilliantly dysfunctional families. Daughter Bee gets the ball rolling when she requests a trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades. Loved it!
- April is National Frog Month! Celebrate by reading Enchanted by Aletha Kontis. A bevy of fairytales gets reworked in this new mash up featuring a main character who’s been turned into a—you guessed it!—frog.
- April is also National Autism Awareness Month and in the Schneider award-winning book, Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis, main character Ben has an autistic brother who is the only one Ben seems to remember after he suffers a traumatic brain injury from his tour in Iraq. This spare novel explores the repercussions on the talented high school graduate, his family, friends and fiancé after he shocks them all by enlisting.
- National Astronomy Day is April 20th this year and my title tie-in is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. If the main characters from Benjamin Alire Saenz’s book were real, they’d no doubt be celebrating by lying on the bed of Ari’s pickup and stargazing. This multiple award winning book (Pura Belpre author award, Stonewall award, and Printz honor) about two Latino teen boys, unlikely friends from diverse backgrounds, is realistically portrayed and sensitively written. Ari’s internal struggle and voice especially rings true.
- Charles Dickens finished Oliver Twist, begun as a monthly serial, in April of 1839. Both Charles Dickens and his character, the Artful Dodger, get star treatment by Terry Pratchett in his latest young adult novel, Dodger. Dodger is a “tosher” who makes his living prowling the sewers of Victorian London looking for treasures—jewelry, coin, anything of value. When Dodger rescues a mysterious young lady who has leapt from a moving carriage, he comes into contact with not only Mr. Dickens, but later, Sweeney Todd, Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria. This historical fiction has it all—Mystery! Romance! Intrigue! The sights, sounds, and smells of London are all richly imagined in this excellent adventure.
- Lastly, April is Stress Awareness Month and who doesn’t have any of that in their lives? If you were Artemis Fowl in Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl: the Last Guardian, you’d certainly be feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders when pixie arch nemesis, Opal Koboi, tries to destroy all of humanity and uses your ancestral estate as the jumping off point. Or perhaps you’re a new student stressing over the ins and out of school, like Faith Erin Hicks’ main character in Friends With Boys or a love struck middle schooler dealing with a theater club’s production, like in Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, or a love struck high schooler fantasizing about a relationship with an out-of-reach work colleague as in Laura Buzo’s Love and Other Perishable Items. And work! Work can be stressful. Just ask Carlos Duarte from Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright. Carlos has landed a dream job as a makeup artist at Macy’s and now he’s juggling his job with high school and family responsibilities. As one who is beyond fabulous, Carlos is becoming beyond crazy over his sister’s abusive boyfriend.
Okay, so that about wraps it up. Hope you’ve found something in there to pique your interest. April just started, so there’s a lot of month left in which to read . . . . What’s on your reading list?