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.