Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Time's Running Out! Week 5 of Soaring Eagle nominees

Oops!  It's March already, and the voting period for this year's Soaring Eagle Book Award is open.  I still have three great books to talk about . . . and teens who read three of this year's nominees still have until March 15 to vote for their favorite.

This week's set of nominees have little in common, other than the fact that they're the most unusual books on this  year's list, in my opinion.  Although we've had nonfiction nominees on this list before -- last year's I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai  is a great example -- we've never seen a graphic novel on the list.  This year, we have a nonfiction book, a graphic novel, and an unusual horror book that blends history with fiction. Here are the last three nominees for this year:

Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
(the Young Adult adaptation)
by Laura Hillenbrand

This nonfiction title is an adaptation of the adult book by the same name; you might know that the adult book has been produced as a movie, as well.  This is the fascinating, and hard  to forget, story of Louis Zamperini, whose life story serves as an inspiration.

Louis Zamperini started running as a teenager to help control his anger, and keep him from the life of trouble he was living.  The running took him to the Berlin Olympics where he ran in front of Hitler. He had hopes of competing in another Olympic games . . . until World War II changed his plans forever.  When the war broke out and the 1940 Olympics were cancelled, Louis enlisted in the Air Force as a young lieutenant. He flew with a bombing crew who became like family to him; Louis' role was the bombadier, and he was involved in several successful raids.  However, one day, while on a rescue mission to search for a missing plane, Louis and his crew went down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Louis and two other men survive, and then are forced to live on a crowded lifeboat.  They endured sharks, starvation, thirst, sun, cold, even the death of one soldier, for 47 days -- the longest recorded castaway experience on account.

When Louis and his crewman are finally rescued, the ordeal didn’t end.  His rescuers are the feared Japanese, whose actions in the Pacific theater threaten all American soldiers. Louis was taken prisoner, and endured inhuman conditions in three separate prisoner of war camps.  To read about Louis' horrible experiences -- and, particularly, how he overcame them in the end -- is both an inspirational and an educational experience.  This is a book not to miss.

by Raina Telgemeier

Callie's life is filled with middle school drama of all sorts.  She thinks she really likes Greg, but Greg is pining over Bonnie, who seems to want nothing to do with him.  When Greg and Callie kiss, she thinks life can’t get better; when he ignores her the next day, she thinks life can’t get worse.  Drama!
Thankfully, she has her best friend, Liz, and her love of theater to distract her from the rejection. This year, the school is producing Moon over Mississippi, a musical; Callie knows she won't try out for acting parts, but she is dying to try her hand at set production.  Callie has a close group of friends in the theater, and makes new friends when twin brothers become involved. 
Drama  is a graphic novel; we learn the story through picture and dialogue. Through the drama of romantic ups and downs, set failures,  a disastrous eighth grade formal, and even a bothersome little brother, Callie knows the "show must go on."  

by Madeleine Roux

Dan Crawford is ready for an eventful summer of learning at New Hampshire College Prep summer course, and he gets exactly that.  When Dan arrives, he learns that his dormitory used to be an asylum for the criminally insane.  Dan finds an old photograph with the eyes scratched out, and his curiosity compels him to investigate.  He and two of his friends begin to search the old office and uncover terrifying details of the patients, staff, and the procedures done there. 

Dan tries to forget about the pictures and the secret office, but it seems the dormitory won't let him.  He learns that he and this two new friends are entangled in the past of the hospital, Dan more than anyone. As the dormitory building goes from being just creepy to truly dangerous, Dan must confront his own part of the horror. In Asylum, Roux blends storytelling with authentic historic photographs to create a truly chilling horror story.

Asylum is the first book in this trilogy; the sequels, already released are Sanctum and Catacomb.

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