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Shelftalkers: Off the Page

Once upon a time, there was a book.  Not content to just be a book, it decided to come alive.  Its characters jumped off the page, defying convention.  They chose to be other than what they were written to be.  They chose to make the fairy tale come true.

Some fairy tales are so magical, they come alive – literally.  While reading Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, Samantha van Leer, I was reminded of those enchanted fantasy books that blend the lines between the real and make believe, well real in the world that the fantasy novel takes place at least.  Here are 5 of my favorite fantasy novels where characters come off the page.

Between the Lines
by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Delilah spends day after day reading her favorite book, a fairy tale, when one day its main character, Oliver, speaks to her from the page.  Oliver is tired of living the same story over and over again and yearns to know what is out there, beyond the page.  Together the two scheme to find a way to rewrite the story.  This is a sweet, enchanting tale of true love, destiny, fate, and hanging on to your favorite book.

The Neverending Story
by Michael Ende
Here is the story within a story of Bastian, the only boy who may be able to save the stunning world of Fantastica.  All he has to do is reach the Childlike Empress and give her a new name, but in the world of fantasy no journey is as easy as it seems and there are a variety of magical creatures and stumbling blocks on each whimsical page.

by Cornelia Funke
We all have our favorite books, our favorite characters; those that we would love to spend some time with in real life.  What if you learned that your father can “read” characters to life by simply reading their story out loud?  Years ago, Meggie’s mom disappeared.  Together, they will venture into the world of books to try and find her.

by Neil Gaiman
A boy sets out on a quest to find a fallen star and the star turns out to be a beautiful woman, giving new meaning to the concept of wishing on a star.  Technically, if you were going to play a game of one of these things is not like the others, this book would be it.  But Stardust reminds me of the next book on our list, and I like it.  Plus, it’s my list.  So I’m giving it a thumbs up.

The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
A young boy, home sick in bed, is visited by his grandfather who offers to read him a story.  At first he protests, it’s one of those stupid fairy tales, but his is soon drawn into the pages of adventure, giants, revenge, and love twue love.  If you don’t love this book you have no heart and deserve to be wed to Prince Humperdink. That is all.

Join the conversation:
What are your favorite twisted fairy tales?
What character would you like to “read” to life?
What fantasy world would you like to visit?

Booktalk This: Teary Reads

As a teen (way back in the early 1990s), my friends and I sighed over a story about one our crushes when he was in 4th grade: that was the year his teacher read Where the Red Fern Grows to him and his classmates (including our storyteller). The whole class was overwhelmed by that books’ ending, including our crush, who put his head down on his desk to hide his tears. Sigh. Actually, I don’t know a single soul who has read (or been read) this book who hasn’t cried. Unless you are me, and have successfully avoided reading it simply because I don’t often want to sob through books if I can help it. I do know, however, that there are many readers out there who love a good book-induced cry, so this list is for you! 

My Sister’s Keeperby Jodi Picoult (Washington Square Press, 9780743454537). This book is an older read, but it’s a good one. Anna’s older sister, Kate, has leukemia, and as Anna was purposely born to be a genetic match to her sister, she’s spent all of her 13 years undergoing the same surgeries – when Kate needs bone marrow, Anna goes under the knife, too. But then, one day, Anna decides she’s had enough, hires a lawyer and sues her parents for control of her own body and any future medical procedures. But what does this mean for Kate’s health? Now, I sobbed through this book from a mother’s point-of-view, but making the sorts of decisions Anna does are pretty painful from a flat-out human being’s point-of-view. Fact: Picoult’s own son read this book, and was so devastated by the ending, he refused to talk to her for hours after. 
Anna is alive for one reason, to save her sister’s life.  Year after year she undergoes surgeries, tests, needles and more to save her sister’s life.  Until the day she decides she can’t do it any more and hires a lawyer.  If you knew that you could save your sister’s life, would you choose not to?
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press, 978-0763639310).  Todd is pretty miserable, living in his noisy, all-male town. When you can hear your neighbors’ thoughts, day and night, and quite a few of them seem to have gone more than a little crazy…it’s no wonder that Todd would rather wander the swamps with his annoying pup, Manchee, whose thoughts, unfortunately, are also audible. And then, one day he hears a pocket of nothing in the swamp. When he investigates, he discovers that pocket of silence is a girl. The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of those books that everyone everywhere seemed to be telling me to read, but I just didn’t. And then my book club read it. And I couldn’t put it down. And it made me SOB. It’ll make you cry, too, but it’ll also make you laugh, and make hold your breath with fear and tension. This one’s a keeper, for sure.
There are no girls. None.  And the men who live can hear one another’s thoughts.  The animals too.  One day Todd enters into the swamp and hears nothing, glorious silence.  It turns out this means only one thing: Todd has found a girl.
The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Dutton, 978-0525478812). Hazel is dying. She’s 16-years-old, she has cancer, and she is definitely going to die young. This she’s managed come to terms with, but it’s the people she’s leaving behind that weigh heaviest – how will her parents get through this? Her friends? That adorable new guy, Augustus? And, why, exactly, does she have to deal with all this? What good will a cancer support group do her, really? Why does she have to have cancer at all? Hazel is a completely lovely character, funny and heart-breaking, and the journey she takes you on WILL put a major dent in your Kleenex-fund.

Pretty much any book by Lurlene McDaniel (Delacorte Press). Lurlene McDaniel books have been around for a LONG time, and there’s a good reason for that: these books are depressing. Someone is dying of something in nearly every one of her books, and it’s often right after the main character falls deeply in love with his/her one true love. Now, I’m not spoiling any endings for you, since the point of her books isn’t necessarily the plot twist: it’s the very cathartic sob-inducing situations of the characters within. And I don’t have a particular title to suggest. I just recommend sitting down with a shelf of her books and reading the back cover blurbs to get a sense of which will make you cry the most. Just last week I asked one of our teen volunteers to pick out the saddest Lurlene McDaniel she could find. She came back with four.

And finally, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (Bantam Dell, 978-0-553-27429-5). Seriously. If what you’re looking for is a cry, and haven’t yet read this classic about a boy and his two beloved hunting dogs, do it. Just make sure you’re in a safe space with plenty of tissues for your tears.  It’s a book with a dog, you know what is probably going to happen.

Karen would add Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson and If I Stay by Gayle Forman to this list.

Note: for some reason the graphics button isn’t working at the moment on Blogger.  I will go in and add pictures when it is fixed.