Friday, November 29, 2002

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anne Brashares

This is a fun book about four friends who are spending their summer vacations apart. They discover that a pair of used jeans that one of them bought, actually fits all of them. It is decided that the pants will be rotated between them during the summer and hopefully they will come back with good stories to tell.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, Baby Be-Bop, Girl Goddess #9 by Francesca Lia Block

The first five are novels that deal with a group of friends and family living in LA. They are edgy, modern-day fairytales for young adults. They are hip and deal with lots of different issues that affect teens. I like them, but the writing style sometimes grates on me.

Girl Goddess #9 is a collection of short stories. They deal with the same kinds of issues but the style was much less grating to me. I really liked them.
Now that I've finished my young adult lit class, this log will not be as structured.

Woodcuts of Women by Dagoberto Gilb

This is a collection of short stories all of which deal with a woman or women. I liked them a lot. I think they are very well-written and down-to-earth. I'd like to read more from this author.

Friday, November 15, 2002

David Almond. Kit's Wilderness. Laurel Leaf, 1999.

Recommended Age Range: 10 and up

Plot Summary: When Kit and his family move back to their ancestral home, the mining town of Stoneygate, he is brought into the fold of the kids from the other old families. Through playing the game of Death, he learns about life and true friendship.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: This book will appeal to kids who like their realism filtered. In this case the filter is a kind of mystical spirituality. The novel is a ghost story, a coming of age, and an adventure all at once. For kids who have the patience for its slow pace, it is a rich, many-leveled novel.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I loved this book. It makes me want to read more David Almond. The first person narrative is a good fit for the novel. I especially liked how the caveman story that Kit was writing ended up being John Askew's metaphorical story. I feel like there are many levels to this book that I do not fully grasp. It won the Printz award.
Sonya Sones. Stop Pretending. Harper Tempest, 1999.

Recommended Age Range: 12 and up

Plot Summary: When Cookie's sister has a mental breakdown, she tries to deal with it the best way she knows how.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: Even though the form is poetry, I think that a lot of kids will read it. The poems are short and deal nicely with the subject of mental illness in the family.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I like this book. I think that the poems are well written and form a cohesive narrative. The style really works well to convey the emotions of the younger sister who feels abandoned and confused by the sudden changes in her older sister.
Stephen Chobsky. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. MTV Books, 1999.

Recommended Age Range: 13 and up

Plot Summary: Charles is a high school wallflower. At the urging of a special teacher, he tries to come out of his shell and learns more about himself than he ever expected.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: This book would appeal the high school students, especially those just starting out. It deals with the problems of adjusting to high school that everyone experiences. It also deals with drug and alcohol use and sex in a realistic manner.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I really liked this book. I think that the style of anonymous letters really works well for the narrative. By telling the story in chunks it made me want to keep reading. I could really relate to Charles and his problems because I have gone through similar experiences. I wished the book would never end because I felt I had really gotten to know the characters, not just the narrator, and wanted to see where they ended up.
Mazer, Anne, Ed. Working Days: Short Stories About Teenagers at Work. 1997. 202p. Persea. $18.95 (0-89255-223-9).

Gr. 6-up. Getting a job is one of the milestones of growing up. In this collection Anne Mazer has pulled together a strong group of stories from different cultures. From dishing out fast food to picking peppers to working at a hotel, these authors show that part time jobs are anything but boring. Whether the job is for pocket money or to help make ends meet, the protagonists of these stories learn a lot about themselves and the world. The engaging prose deals with simple as well as complex issues with an eye for realism. Even though the culture may be different, the lessons learned are the same: working is a part of life that is not always fun but is always there. While most of the authors are obscure, their writing is good and makes the reader want to read more.
Cart, Michael. My Father's Scar. 1996. 204p. Simon & Schuster. $16 (0-689-80749-X).

Gr. 7-up. As Andy Logan struggles through his first year of college, he remembers events from his childhood. From his abusive father to his first love, Andy's memories take the reader on a journey through the mind of an outsider trying to find his place in the world. The flashbacks deal with hard issues about growing up that every teen can relate to and illustrate that Andy has more strength than he knows. Even when he realizes that "[he] can't fly…yet," he picks himself up and keeps on trying. By interspersing Andy's recollections with his struggles in college, Mr. Cart fills in the pieces that make Andy's life a compelling story. Mr. Cart's first young adult novel leaves the reader wanting more. This novel is good choice for teens that are struggling with their identities.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Brock Cole. The Facts Speak for Themselves. Front Street, 1997.

Recommended Age Range: 13 and up

Plot Summary: When 13 year old Linda is involved in a murder-suicide, she is taken from her family and sent to a group home. While there, she tells her story to her social worker.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: This book deals with hard issues of sexual abuse, neglect, poverty, and violence in a detached way. The reader is drawn into Linda's world as she relates her life story. The book helps the reader to understand why Linda is the way she is.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I do not know if I like this book or not. The detached first person narration is very effective at showing Linda's emotional problems. By dealing with the issues in such a detached manner, the book made me kind of numb and I do not really think that is the best reaction to these kinds of issues. If the author's intent is to show that these actions are more commonplace than we think, then the book is very successful. The style also realistically portrays the effect that abuse can have on children.
Judy Blume. Forever. Pocket Books, 1975.

Recommended Age Range: 12 and up

Plot Summary: When high school seniors Katherine and Michael fall in love, they think that it will last forever. Little do they realize that love is not that simple.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: This is a realistic story of first love and the loss of innocence that it brings. I think that this book will appeal more to middle schoolers than to older high school students because it feels slightly less sophisticated. It has stood the test of time but I think that some of today's teenagers might feel it is slightly outdated.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I like this book. The first person narrative is very effective since the story is personal. The voice rings true, especially when Katherine is dealing with her conflicting feelings of being attracted to two different people at the same time. Judy Blume has won the Margaret A. Edwards award.
Louis Sachar. Holes. Francis Foster Books, 1998.

Recommended Age Range: 10 and up

Plot Summary: Stanley Yelnats' family has a history of bad luck. So, it is no surprise when he is wrongly convicted of stealing his idol's shoes. When he is sent to a detention camp in the middle of the desert, he learns that there is more than just punishment involved in the holes they have to dig.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: I think this book can appeal to a wide age range because of its plot. It combines mystery, adventure, and historical fiction to create a modern day fairy tale. It also deals with issues of acceptance and teamwork in a non-preachy manner.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I love this book. Even though I was reading it for the second time, I was pulled into the story and could not wait to see what happened next. The omniscient narrator works well to bring together the separate but interrelated storylines. This book won the Newbery medal.
Walter Dean Myers. Monster. HarperCollins, 1999.

Recommended Age Range: 14 and up

Plot Summary: A 16 year old black youth from Harlem, Steve Harmon, is on trial for murder. As the trial progresses he records the events as a film script.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: This book is a realistic portrayal of the moral gray area of what constitutes involvement and culpability in a crime that will appeal to teens trying to define their own moral boundaries.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I love Walter Dean Myers' work and I love this book. The book is well written and the style is engaging. It allows the reader to really see through the eyes of the protagonist. It is a Coretta Scott King Honor book, a National Book Award Finalist, and the winner of the Printz award.
Melvin Burgess. Smack. Henry Holt, 1996.

Recommended Age Range: 13 and up

Plot Summary: When 14 year old Tar runs away from home to escape his abusive parents, he finds a counter-culture community to support him. With his new found friends and his girlfriend, he feels as if his life is on track. Then they start taking heroin and their lives change dramatically.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: Smack is a gritty, realistic drama told from the perspective of a young drug user and his friends and family. Because of the young protagonists and realistic voices, it is appealing to most teens.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I really got into this book. It is well written and the multiple points of view give you a fuller picture of the events that are transpiring. I thought that the subject matter of drug use and abuse was dealt with in a realistic manner without being preachy. It won the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Award for Fiction
An Na. A Step From Heaven. Front Street, 2001.

Recommended Age Range: 12 and up

Plot Summary: When Young Ju and her parents move to the U.S. from Korea, she thinks that it is heaven. She soon realizes the hardships of adjusting to a new culture, both for herself and her parents.

Evaluation of Reader Appeal: This book is a realistic portrayal of an immigrant family trying to adjust to life in the U.S. It deals with issues of poverty, isolation and physical abuse in a sympathetic manner. It would appeal to teens who are dealing with these issues and also with teens who want to learn more.

Evaluation of Literary Merit: I really liked this book. It is well written and I found it easy to relate to and understand the characters' point of view. It won the Printz award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

This will be the start of my reading log which I hope to continue into and throughout my professional career as a librarian.