Bibliographic information: Kissing Kate. Lauren Myracle. Speak, 2003. $7.99. 198p. ISBN-13: 9780329588694.
Summary: Lissa and Kate were best friends, they understood each other, until that night at the party. Kate was drinking a lot, but Lissa was 100 percent sober and they started discussing what it would be like to kiss another girl. So, Kate decided to kiss Lissa and Lissa kissed Kate back. That is when their friendship ended. Lissa actually liked kissing Kate, but Kate didn’t even want to talk about it because she was too afraid of what other people would think of her. So, Lissa gave Kate her space and tried to move on. A new girl started at her job, and it just happened to be the annoyingly cheerful outsider from school, and no matter how hard Lissa tried to stay away from her, the girl was too persistent and before she knew it, Lissa had a new friend. One who was helping her through her struggles and hard time, she was there to help Lissa sort out her emotions and feelings towards Kate.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Myracle is known for her controversial materials that tend to make the most challenged books list, but all of her novels are fabulous and Kissing Kate is one of them. This is a story of the relationship between two best friends that went horribly awry after they kissed at a party. Lissa is going through a tough time trying to deal with being a lesbian and losing her best friend at the same time. Myracle does a great job of portraying the struggles that young gay, lesbian, and bisexual go through at school and at home. Even Kate doesn’t want to admit she is a lesbian or at least bisexual because people will think differently of her. Lissa manages to find an unexpected friend who understands her and her differences. This book just goes to show you that sometimes people you never thought could be your friend can and sometimes those you think are your friend are not. This is a wonderful book for young adults who are also struggling to fit in when they feel so much more different from others. There is nothing wrong with any of the sexual orientations you may choose. Some of the more conservative parents may not appreciate the positive views Myracle puts on lesbian relationships, even though it shouldn’t matter who you love.
Readers’ annotation: It all changed the night she kissed her, and liked it. How will Lissa deal with her new-found ideals?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Many teens are struggling to understand their feelings and sexual preferences. Kissing Kate is a great example to show teens that they are not alone with their struggles. It happens more often than they may think. Myracle writes true honest stories that teens can relate to. This book will give them a sense of peace and help them discover who they are and want to be and let them know that they should not be afraid to be who they are.
Issues present: This title portrays lesbianism as positive. Many people do not see lesbianism as positive and will object to this title, but they should understand that there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian and everybody should be allowed to be who they are without conflict. This book gives lesbians hope and lets them know that they can express themselves without being ridiculed. One’s sexuality is not a choice, it is a part of who they were born.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Lissa and Kate’s characters.
She kissed her. That’s how it all ended. – go dramatic.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: GLBTQ, love, relationships
Readalikes: Annie on my Mind, Boy Meets Boy, Alex Sanchez novels, David Levithan novels
Author’s website: http://laurenmyracle.com
Awards: YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award winner (2004), Recommended Reads for Tweens (2003)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Kissing-Kate-Lauren-Myracle/pid=310226; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-525-46917-9; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-1021815.xml
Why I chose it: I had heard a lot of controversy over Lauren Myracle’s novels in another class and wanted to read one but couldn’t get myself to read one of her text message or IM titles, so I chose this one and it seemed pretty interesting. Turned out to be really good.
Bibliographic information: I Was a Teenage Fairy. Francesca Lia Block. Joanna Cotler, 1998. $7.99. 186p. ISBN-13: 9780758795977.
Summary: Barbie Marks is a model, she has been since she was just a kid. This is what her mother wanted for Barbie, because it is the life that she could never have. When Barbie was still just a kid, her photographer sexually abused her and she told her mother she didn’t want to go back, but her mother made her anyways. One day when she was at the studio she saw a boy who had that look in his eyes, and Barbie knew what had been done to him. That was the only time she saw that boy. As time went on Barbie met a new tiny friend, her name was Mab, and she was a fairy. Mab was always there for Barbie when she needed her, and as she grew up they grew closer. When Barbie was a teenager, Mab talked her into running away from home and to a new life. She moves to the city and meets this guy who she surprisingly really likes. The most surprising thing though is the boy who is friends with the guy she falls in love with, he was the boy from the studio from when she was a kid. Now Mab has her work cut out for her, she is going to have to help both Barbie and the boy move past their childhood traumas, and possibly find love.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Author of the Weetzie Bat series, Block’s inventive tales always have some greater meaning behind the words that what meets the eye. This is a mesmerizing tale of a girl named Barbie Marks, who is a child model who has been sexually abused by her photographer. Forced into this life by her mother, she longs to get away from it all and be the one behind the lens, not in front of it. Barbie takes refuge through her new friend, Mab, a teeny-tiny fairy, to find some solace from her tragic past. Mab symbolizes a few different things throughout the story. First she acts as the anger that Barbie feels towards her mother and her photographer and the life they have given her. Then she acts as the audacity Barbie has to move away from it all and take life into her own hands for a change. Lastly she acts as a match maker and guide for Barbie to be able to have an intimate relationship with a male after all the trauma from her past that she faced when she was sexually abused by her photographer. A beautifully written story that is magical and heartfelt.
Readers’ annotation: Mab is just a tiny, red-haired fairy. Is she even real? Or is she the anger, the courage, and the greatest match-maker for one unfortunate girl named Barbie?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book is great for children who have been abused by an adult, especially sexually. It brings all emotions to the front and discussing ways of coping with the abuse. Through Mab Barbie is able to cope and fight her way to recovering and children will be able to use this book as a way to help them recover from their abuse.
Issues present: There is sexual abuse done to a child that may cause alarm. But this sort of thing happens in life and a book like this would be a great coping tool for abused children. There is a supernatural create as well in Mab the fairy, but she is only there to help Barbie cope with her abuse and if imaginary creatures help children cope then there is no harm because in the end Mab was forgotten and Barbie was able to move on with her life.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Barbie’s character.
Barbie has lived her whole life as a model and her best friend is a fairy named Mab.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: fantasy, fairy, sexual abuse, rape, PTSD
Readalikes: Other Block novels, Living Dead Girl, Speak
Author’s website: http://www.francescaliablock.com
Awards: YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Award winner (1999)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-5010335.xml; Kirkus Review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/francesca-lia-block/i-was-a-teenage-fairy/; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-027747-5
Why I chose it: I am a fan of fantasy books and thought that I would try a novel that mixed realistic fiction with a bit of fantasy. Plus I have heard great reviews on Block.
Bibliographic information: The Maze Runner. James Dashner. Delacorte Press, 2009. $16.99. 375p. ISBN-13: 978-0385737944.
Summary: Thomas woke up in a black box with no memory as to who he was except for his first name. When the black box finally opens he is surrounded by a bunch of other boys about around the same age, not a girl in site. The other boys eventually explain to him that they have no memories either and woke up in this strange place they call the Glade. Upon inspection, Thomas discovers that the Glade is in the middle of a ginormous maze will walls that tower over the Glade. The Glade has everything they need to live, but they have Runners who go out into the maze every day and draw maps so that they can hopefully solve it and leave. Turns out the walls move every day, so it is really hard to solve and at night grievers come out, deadly creatures that are half mechanical half animal. The day after Thomas arrives the black box brings another person. This has never happened before, things run like clockwork in the Glade. When the doors open and there is a girl inside things start to go downhill from there. The end is near.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 11 and up
Review: Harrowing yet hopeful, this dystopian novel is packed with thrilling and suspenseful moments that will captivate the minds of young readers. After being thrown into a deathly dangerous maze and made to take part in these trials, Thomas must take action and think quick to survive. This is a fast paced thriller with tons of unexpected twists, from things such as the grievers, part mechanical and part animal, to a girl showing up in the Glade spouting that it’s the end. Each character is has their unique task they are appointed throughout the trials, but they don’t necessarily stick and seem to jump around from character to character at will. It is written in a narrative with a focus on Thomas, the main protagonist and hero of this story. Don’t be too quick to fall in love with any character because you never know what might happen to them in this hazardous adventure. This book discusses the age-old question of whether it is okay to sacrifice the few for the many and Thomas’s belief on this subject seems to change as the story continues. With a lot of action, intrigue, unanswered questions, and possibly a little love, this story is begging for a sequel.
Readers’ annotation: The Gladers live inside a giant maze with moving walls, until Thomas shows up and then everything falls apart. Who is Thomas and how does he fit into it all?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Everybody fears death and most people fear zombies. This book has both of these things and reading it will be a great way for children to fight these fears safely. They will be able to understand the zombies are not real and everybody faces death eventually in their life and there is nothing to fear by these things. The violence in books can be used as a coping tool for children to help them deal with the violence in their own lives.
Issues present: Children are being killed left and right by random horrific events. There is lots of violence and anger. And there are zombie-like creatures. But children have to understand that deaths do occur and not just to adults. Everybody feels angry at times and may have violent tendencies, generally they can hold them back. As for the zombie-like creatures they are great examples of monsters that children fear and will act as agents to help children fight their fears of monsters safely.
Booktalk ideas: Describe the maze and the boys trapped inside.
Introduce Thomas’ character – can’t remember anything except his first name, P 1: all the way down to “That…that was the only thing he could remember about his life.”
P 125: “With a click and a clack…” to the end of page – Matt coming face-to-face with a griever for the first time. Attention grabber.
Genre or subject: Science Fiction: dystopian, post-apocalyptic
Readalikes: The Hunger Games, Ship Breaker, The House of the Scorpion, Incarceron, Divergent, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Giver
Author’s website: http://www.jamesdashner.com/
Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award (2012), Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2009), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), Kentucky Bluegrass Award for grades 9-12 (2011)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-1968266.xml
Why I chose it: I chose this book for my blog because I think that it is one of the best dystopian novels since The Giver. I am highly obsessed with dystopian novels.
Bibliographic information: The House of the Scorpion. Nancy Farmer. Athenium Books for Young Readers, 2002. $19.45. 380p. ISBN-13: 978-0689852220.
Summary: In the future where clones are harvested for their organs, Matteo (Matt) Alacran is such a clone of the drug-lord Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron. He was raised in an isolated cabin far out in the opium fields by a chef, Celia, from the Alacran estate. One day when Matt, six years old now, is home alone he hears children outside, he has never seen other children before. Matt knows he is not supposed to show himself, but curiosity gets the better of him and he goes to the window. Unfortunately the kids see him and try to talk to him. This leads to them coming back the next day and doing the same. Matt ends up breaking the window and jumping out so that he can join them, but he ends up cutting his legs, hands, and feet quite badly on the glass. The kids rush him to the estate to get him a doctor, but when the adults discover who he is they throw him outside and later locked in a cell and treated like an animal for three months after that. When El Patron discovers the condition of his clone and is furious. Afterword, Matt is living like royalty, but still seen as an animal by others. The good life does not last long for Matt and soon his dreams are destroyed and his life is threatened.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 12 and up
Review: This is a captivating novel that is sure to grab the attention of teen readers. Matt is a complex character with a personality that will you will have a hard time not liking. He starts out a bit naive, but compassionate, and turns into a strong-willed, intelligent boy. All of the other characters lend in creating a colorful cast for this novel. Farmer does a magnificent job of laying out the setting and creating a desolate feel to the story that you can only hope will get better. This book brings up a great topic of discussion on cloning and cloning rights. Matt is treated like an animal by everybody because he is a clone. Clones are only grown so that who ever they are the clone for can use them to harvest their organs or other body parts. Is it really okay to bring a being into the world for the full use of harvesting them? Do clones deserve the same rights as non-clones, or since they are a science specimen do they not get those rights? This is a tough one, and I think Farmer does a great job of voicing her own opinion on the matter. She also brings up the topic of harvesting opium that could generate a great discussion as well. A great read that comes highly recommended.
Readers’ annotation: Matt doesn’t know it yet, but he was cloned solely to have his organs harvested to help his donor live for another 50 years
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: There is a lot of abuse and violence happening to Matt in this story and children will be able to read this book and use it as a coping mechanism for fighting their own terrors in life.
Issues present: This book has cloning, opium harvesting, and what might be seen as child abuse. However, it does a standup job of describing human ethics and human nature that children will be able to understand and take note of what not to do with similar situations. Also, it could create a great discussion on the ethical values of cloning.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Matt’s character. –
P 43: “The days passed with agonizing slowness, followed by nights of misery.” to the end of the page. – Matt’s life in prison.
P 230: Matt’s struggle to escape his death.
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian, clones
Readalikes: The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, The Giver
Author’s website: http://www.nancyfarmerwebsite.com/
Awards: National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2002), Newbery Honor (2003), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2003), Buxtehuder Bulle (2003), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2005) Printz Honor (2003), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2006), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2005), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Senior (2005), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2003), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2003), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2008)
Reviews: Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-85222-0
Why I chose it: Somebody highly recommended it to me and after reading it thought it would be a great addition to my collection.
Bibliographic information: Tantalize. Cynthia Leitich Smith. Candlewick Press, 2007. $16.99. 310p. ISBN-13: 9780763627911.
Summary: Quincie Morris and her uncle have taken over the family restaurant and have decided to create a new theme that will catch more attention, vampires. Quincie is working hard to get the restaurant done in time for it to reopen, but a series of gruesome murders, that seem to have been animal attacks, puts things at a stand still. Quincie’s best friend, and love interest, is a half werewolf and may just be the prime suspect for the murders, and he is looking to leave town soon anyway so that he can study how to be a werewolf. When the restaurant’s chef is murdered, it leaves Quincie and her uncle scrambling to find a new chef that can create a new menu and pull off the vampire ensemble. The new hired chef, Henry Johnson, seems to be the perfect fit for the job and he plays the role of the vampire quite well, almost too well.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 14 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Taking you back to a more traditional vampire tale, Tantalize will captivate you. You can tell Smith did a lot of research into her vampire and were myths. Told in the first person point of view of protagonist Quincie Morris, this is a love story but with so much more. Smith does a great job with developing her characters, especially with Quincie and Kieren. Quincie is trying to get a grip on the news of soon becoming a vampire, while her best friend Kieren is struggling with being a half-breed werewolf and his impending departure to go study with other were-people. One of the wonderful things about Smiths were-people is that there are more than just werewolves, there are also were-possums, were-armadillos, and others, all native to Texas. The format of her novel is delectable and creative, with its sections that come from a menu, starting with your appetizer all the way to your dessert and wine. This was very clever of Smith; it fits right in with the main setting of the book, a vampire themed restaurant. The ambiance she sets is one that makes you feel like you are participating in an elaborate and elegant play.
Readers’ annotation: Meet Bradly, Vampire Chef. Try the creamed squirrels, they are delectable. Although, there is a slight side effect, you’ll turn into a vampire.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book is filled with supernatural monsters and would be a great place for children to face their fears of any monsters they may have in their life and fight back against them, just like Quincie does and defeat them. Being able to read about monsters will give children courage to fight their fear of monsters, whether they be real or imagined monsters.
Issues present: Books with supernatural monsters tend to be challenged and this book has vampires, were-creatures, and angels, but books such as this one are a great place for children to fight their fears they may have of monsters, real or imagined.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Quincie’s character.
Come sit down for dinner and meet our vampire chef.
Genre or subject: fantasy: vampires, supernatural monsters, angels, were-creatures
Readalikes: Twilight series, A Touch Mortal, The Vampire Diaries, City of Bones
Author’s website: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/
Awards: Top Ten pick, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) list of 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in the “What’s Cooking?” category (“tasty reads to fill your belly and warm your soul”); Borders Original Voices Nominee, March 2007; Featured title, 2007 National Book Festival; 2007-2008 Tayshas List; Chapters (Canada) Junior Advisory Board (JAB) pick; Featured title, 2007 Texas Book Festival; BBYA nominee; Featured title, 2007 Kansas Book Festival; Cybils nominee; Featured title, Readergirlz 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens
Reviews: Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-2791-1; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-42637131.xml
Why I chose it: I was interested in how angels and vampires went together because you do not often see them in the same novels.