2002 Speak

2002 Winner - Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I don't know why I called 911 at that August “back-to-school” party. I didn't mean to shut the party down or get all those kids taken in for underage drinking. Why does everyone assume I did it on purpose? Even my friends from middle school won't talk to me, sit near me, or have anything to do with me. Even my ex-best friend Rachel hasn't even tried to find out why I did it. She just pretends I'm not even there.

I never thought being in a crowd could be so lonely, but when I walk into the school cafeteria for lunch, I don't even know where to sit. There's not a single welcoming table. No one wants me. If I could just disappear altogether, I'd be happy--or at least not so depressed. Maybe there's a closet somewhere I can hide in.

And why is this senior football player, Andy Evans, bugging me? Where does he seem to know me from? It's not like we travel in the same social circles. Like I have a social circle. Ha. Ha. I've heard he's asked Rachel to the spring prom, but why do I feel that has something to do with me? Can't I just stay in my closet? Or will I finally have to SPEAK.

By Peg Dombek, Seattle Public Library

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

[Ask your audience: What is poor? Take responses. Confirm or add: ]

Poor can be not enough food. Poor can be no place to live. Poor can be not enough education; not knowing how to read or write. Poor can be not having anyone who cares about you at all.

When you're a kid, that's the worst poverty of all. Bean is that kid. He's homeless, small and weak. The adults treat him like vermin. Bigger kids steal his food. But no one can take away Bean's smarts or his ruthlessness or his ability to plan. He'll survive; he'll win at any cost. Bean uses his wits to organize the other outcast kids into his own little army.

Bean's lucky. His talents don't go unnoticed. He's recruited into the weirdest army in history: An army of kids who train up there [Point to the ceiling] in space. This army of kids is led by Earth's greatest general: Another kid, named Ender Wiggins. It's weird, but the leaders of Earth are desperate; if these kids fail, Earth will be destroyed.

But even in space, Bean is still the unwanted kid. Unloved. Unliked. It doesn't matter. He's still going to win. He'll save Earth, and perhaps one day rule it. But right now, he's just Ender's shadow.

By Kirsten Edwards, King County Library System

Timeline by Michael Crichton

Imagine you are a young historian, working on a project to completely renovate a French feudal castle and its environs, backed by the wealth of a rather unscrupulous billionaire who is a technology genius. In your research, you discover a call for help from the 1300s, but it is in the writing of your professor and mentor! He has gotten stuck in the past, going there through a quantum foam wormhole developed by the tech genius. You and your colleagues are sent to retrieve him, but hold on! This feudal world is full of warts and wrinkles, with inhabitants just as eager to lop your head off with a broadsword as say hello. And even worse, only one of you even knows HOW to say hello to these locals! You must race against the clock to find the professor in time to catch your ride back to the present, swashbuckling your way through many hazards and past feudal fiends. 

Jurassic Park in the middle ages!

By Kathy Gilbreath, Bainbridge Island School District

Jason's Gold by Will Hobbs

They were the Klondike stampeders. From all over they descended on southwest Alaska in the summer of 1897 on their way to strike it rich in the Klondike gold fields of the Yukon. 

Fifteen-year-old Jason Hawthorne was one of them, and for the first time since he'd started north from Seattle he was optimistic. He had signed on as a horse wrangler with two greenhorn stampeders, and now he was sure he would catch up with his two brothers who were days ahead of him on their way to the gold fields.

But his optimism didn't last. The trail to White Pass was choked with people and their pack horses. Rain had made it a sea of mud, and progress was agonizingly slow. As the hours turned into days, Jason lost track of time. Shouts, curses, and gunshots filled the air as more and more stampeders retreated back down the trail. The trail became littered with the bodies of dead horses.

Finally he turned around. As he struggled back down, Jason came upon a terrible sight. A huge man, red with rage, was killing his husky sled dogs after they had collapsed with exhaustion. Risking death, Jason was able to save the last one. He named it King.

Collapsing in Skagway, Jason felt ashamed and sick at heart. But for him there is no going back. Yes, there is another route, the trail through Chilkoot Pass. It is steeper but shorter, and without mud and horses, he and King might just make it. So with thousands of other desperate gold seekers, Jason makes one last attempt to cross the mountains and get down the Yukon River to the gold fields before the he's trapped by the terrible Canadian winter.

Jason Hawthorne's got Klondike Fever! He wants his gold and will try anything to get it. 

Tom Reynolds, Sno-Isle Library System

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

[Suggested props: backpack, Walkman and a baseball.]

The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.

Trisha McFarland is only nine years old but she knows that life isn't always fair. She's practical though, and a pretty clear thinker. It was an easy hike she was doing with her brother, Pete, and her mom in the Maine woods. Mom and Pete had been arguing and she was getting tired of listening to them. When she wanders off the trail to go to the bathroom she thinks it will be easy to catch up with them - she'll take a shortcut. She soon realizes that she's gone deep into the woods and is definitely lost. She knows that sometimes when people got lost in the woods they got seriously injured and sometimes they died.

Trisha is a Red Sox fan and her favorite player is relief pitcher Tom Gordon. She always has her Walkman with her and when she is able to tune into the game she gets comfort from imagining that Tom is with her. 

As night falls the fear mounts. Can Tom help her stay safe, especially as the batteries get low and she is left all alone with the sound of the night?

What do you know about surviving alone in the woods? The dark hours are the scariest, and Stephen King doesn't let us down.

By Sally Grant, Sno-Isle Regional Library System

Mary, Bloody Mary by Caroline Meyer

By the time I was ten I had grown so much like him that what happened changed my life forever. I had his fair skin, his blue eyes, and his shinning red-gold hair. I even had his fiery temper.

Oh, I loved my father so much. In my eyes, King Henry was the handsomest man in the world, and I was his "perfect pearl", the Princess of Wales, first in line for succession to the throne.

But all this changed when I turned eleven. For shortly after my birthday, Anne Boleyn came to court. With her dark beauty and clever wit, she beguiled my father. She turned him against my mother, and led him to abandon me. Because of this evil woman who called herself queen, I almost lost my life. And for these crimes, Anne Boleyn deserved to die.

You think me cruel! You think me unjust! Well, before judging me come and hear my story. I lost everything, my position, my honor, my mother's companionship, and my father's love. But I have survived, and now with my father's murderous behavior as the model, I am determined to be queen.

I am Mary, Bloody Mary.

By Tom Reynolds, Sno-Isle Library System

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

My name is Steve Harmon. I'm 16 years old and I'm in jail: on trial for murder. Some people think I'm a monster. But I say I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm not guilty.

Sometimes I feel like I've walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady prosecutor called me - MONSTER.

You be the judge. Is Steve a monster or guilty of hanging out with the wrong friends? He's a good student, a loving son and brother. But a man is dead because of what he and his three friends did.

Is Steve a monster? You decide!

Kathy Gilbreath, Bainbridge Island School District

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

When the well-intentioned, but flaky, King of Lancre plans a party to celebrate the birth of his daughter, he invites everyone including the vampires of Uberwald! Of course, vampires can only go where they are invited, and now that they are there, they have no intention of leaving. No ordinary vampires are these, however! They are modern, garlic-eating, cross-bearing, sun-loving vampires, yet as thirsty as their more traditional ancestors. A trio of local witches is determined to rout them out, joining forces with an odd young priest to do so. This is Terry Pratchetts 23rd Discworld novel laugh-out-loud funny and requiring no previous experience with his books to thoroughly enjoy it.

Kathy Gilbreath, Bainbridge Island School District

Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones

Oh Hi-- Please don't notice me. Please don't take an interest in me. Please don't talk to me. And, especially, don't expect me to answer your questions. Please don't. Please.

If you do, I might just have to face my fears. I might have to admit to you--and to myself--that there is something really awful happening in my life. With my family. With my sister. See. I don't want anyone to know. I don't want to know.  I want to keep pretending that I'm okay, that my family is normal and my sister is just out of town--on vacation.

If you keep asking, I might have to stop pretending that my sister is normal--that she isn't in a mental hospital--that she'll never get better. So please, just don't talk to me; don't ask me any questions. And especially don't joke about anyone being --out of her mind-- because it's just not funny anymore. Just let me write my poems, in my journal because I have to tell somebody.

By Peg Dombek, Seattle Public Library

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

Bob Franke has a song called "Hard Love" that begins:

"I remember growing up like it was only yesterday /
Mom & Daddy tried their best to guide me on my way /
But the hard times and the liquor drove the easy love away /
And the only love I know about is hard love."

John escapes his family's version of hard love by writing. His mom won't touch him – she hasn't since his dad left them. His dad has nothing to do with John, not even when they're in the same room. So what? He doesn't need them! He doesn't need family, he doesn't need friends. He writes.

Unlike most of us, John puts those words out where other people can read them: He publishes his own magazine or ‘zine. His hero is another ‘zine writer, Marisol, creator of the ‘zine "Escape Velocity”.  One day, John hangs out outside Kinkos hoping to meet her, and he does. He thinks Marisol's just this cool writer. She's a lesbian, a city girl, edgy, honest and sharp. She knows who she is and where she's going. John thinks he's so safe behind those walls of not caring, not touching and not loving.

John is about to discover, however, the kind of love that tears down walls. That makes you face up to who you are and what your life is, the good the bad and the ugly.

Hard love.
Read about it.

By Kirsten Edwards, King County Library System