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 It has stood the test of time but I think that some of today's teenagers might feel it is slightly outdated.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.