Normal Public Library Teens

TAC Meeting: February 25, 2010

Book Discussion on The Road by Cormac McCarthy, led by Aaron

Questions for those who missed the TAC meeting that were discussed in the meeting:

1.What do you feel is most distinctive about Cormac McCarthy’s style?

2.We talked about why the characters have no name, why do you think Cormac decided to write it this way?

3.The book is very much a story about a father and his son, how do you feel the book portrayed this idea?

4.The father tried to show his son that they were the “good” guys, why do you think they thought of themselves as the “good” guys?

5.Why do you think the mother committed suicide, and do you think from her position it was the right thing to do?

6.It’s left up to us to imagine what the apocalypse was…what do you think actually happened?

7.What morals do you think we should have gained from the book?

8.Did you enjoy the book overall? Why?

9.How do you think you would survive in a post-apocalyptic environment?

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BOOKTALKS: (to choose our next three books for club discussion)

***Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede – Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he’s supposed to possess amazing talent – and she’s supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.

High School Debut by Kazune Kawahara – Haruna Nagashima gave her all to softball in middle school, now that she has made her high school debut, she has decided to give her all for a new goal: getting a boyfriend and falling in love. However, she has one small problem—since she never paid any attention to fashion or trends in middle school, she has no idea how to go about attracting her yet-to-be-found love. But a chance encounter with Yoh Komiyama (who’s the school prince) provides her with the opportunity she needs. If he coaches her in how to become attractive, surely she can find herself a boyfriend.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone. An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him. By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn…

***+ The Sky Is Not The Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist by Neil De Grasse Tyson – Cool, classy, articulate, and brilliant – rarely do all of those adjectives apply at once to an astrophysicist. But Neil de Grasse Tyson is no ordinary scientist; as the director of New York City’s Hayden planetarium, his job is to inspire the public with the beauty and grandeur of the universe, just as he was inspired there in his youth. The Sky Is Not the Limit is his memoir of the events leading from his birth to his acceptance of his dream job and beyond, and is a marvelously entertaining look at one man’s pursuit of his life’s calling. Tyson emphasizes the nurturing roles played by his parents, friends, and teachers, in contrast to the sometimes well-meaning but always disappointing discouragement he experienced from all sides in his quest for his Ph.

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos -Rico Fuentes, 15, hasn’t had an easy life. He spent part of his childhood in a hospital, his mother blames him for her misery, his loving father is a drunk, and, because of his light Cuban skin, he’s hassled by peers. With escalating problems at his 1960s New York City school and his friend Jimmy spiraling dangerously out of control because of drugs, Rico decides to run away, taking Jimmy with him. They head for Wisconsin and Gilberto, who’s gone off to college and is living on a hippie farm. There, in the “land of milk and honey,” Rico saves Jimmy’s life and finds acceptance—by others first and, ultimately, of himself. The protracted narrative is by turns sentimental, humorous, and sad, but Hijuelos creates a memorable character who will resonate with readers wrestling with their own identity issues.

***The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – Things are not what they seem in this story of wit, adventure, and philosophy. Gen, an accomplished thief incarcerated for stealing the king’s seal, is dragged from his cell by the king’s magus, who is on a quest. The prize is Hamiathes’s Gift, said to be a creation of the gods that confers the right of rule on the wearer. During the quest, the magus and Gen take turns telling the youngest member of their party myths about the Eddisian god of thieves. Turner does a phenomenal job of creating real people to range through her well-plotted, evenly paced story. No one is entirely evil or completely perfect. Gen is totally human in his lack of discipline, seeming lack of heroism, and need for sleep and food. The magus makes the transition from smug, superior scholar to decent guy in a believable fashion. Turner also does a neat job of puncturing lots of little prejudices. There are many deft lessons in this story. As absorbing as it is, the best part lies in the surprise ending. Though it is foreshadowed throughout, it is not obvious – its impact is more like morning sunlight than a lightning bolt.

East by Edith Pattou – In the rural villages of Norway, there is an ancient belief that children inherit the qualities of the direction in which they are born. Nymah Rose, the last daughter of eight siblings born to a poor mapmaker and his superstitious wife, was a North-born baby. It is said that North-born babies are wild, unpredictable, intelligent, and destined to break their mothers’ hearts because they all leave hearth and home to travel to the far ends of the earth. To keep her close, Rose’s mother lied and told her she had been born of the obedient and pliable East. But destiny cannot be denied. One day, a great white bear comes to the mapmaker’s door to claim Rose’s birthright. Everything that comes after, as richly imagined by author Edith Pattou, is the basis for one of the most epic romantic fantasies ever told. East is a deftly woven tapestry that melds traditional fairy tale motifs of both Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun and West of the Moon, with the haunting icy lore of medieval northern lands. Told in a changing chorus of voices, including that of Rose, her hopeful brother Neddy, her regretful father, the charmed white bear, and the Troll Queen whose selfish wish is the catalyst that seals Rose’s fate, East will enchant any and all who venture within its pages.

*The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers – Optimus Yarnspinner, a young saurian novelist, embarks on a quest to track down the anonymous author of the most magnificent piece of writing in the whole of Zamonian literature. Traveling to Bookholm, the legendary City of Dreaming Books, the naïve Yarnspinner falls victim to Pfistomel Smyke, a maggotlike literary scholar who poisons Yarnspinner and abandons him in the treacherous catacombs miles below the city’s surface. Stranded in an underworld steeped in terror-inducing myth and home to more than a few bizarre inhabitants, Yarnspinner undertakes a long and perilous journey back to the world above.

*** These were the books that were chosen.
* This is just in case that ***+ is not in paperback.

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That’s it folks! Our next TAC meeting will include a GAME DAY! So please come on March 11, 2010. Please join us!

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