Monthly Archives: May 2013

Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Sunrise Over Fallujah

Bibliographic information: Sunrise over Fallujah.Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic Press, 2008. $17.99. 290p. ISBN-13:  9780439916240.
Summary: Robin “Birdy” Perry has signed up for the military in honor of his favorite uncle. He is assigned to be a part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although, that is just the code name. Birdy and his new friends in the military’s Civil Affairs Battalion tend to just call it “War”. Him and his new friends are profoundly changed by the war happening around them. Some of his friends make it and are able to go home or are transferred to a different faction, but some of his newest friends do not make it through to the end.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: age 12 and up
Review: In this novel, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Myers writes about the true horrors and sadness that come with war. His writing is vivid and he doesn’t beat around the bush trying to make something so terrifying and horrible sound better than it is, he outright tells the truth. His characters are memorable and stick with the reader long after the book has been put down. Yet again with a Myers novel, teens will be able to relate to the story and characters and it will give them a sense of camaraderie. A powerful read that should not go unnoticed.
Readers’ annotation: War. Birdy has been ready for this his whole life, but when he gets there it’s not like anything he was expecting.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book talks about war and what it is like for a young man or woman to join the troops. This book will be helpful to young adults who have or are thinking about joining in the military. They will be able to read about Birdy’s experience and gain perspective and understanding about the military and the emotions and actions that go along with participating in the troops.
Issues present: This book has a bit of violence and gun use. People are inclined to object to books that have violence and guns in them and do not want their children reading such books. Although, it is important to remember that you cannot always shield your children from reality and when somebody goes to war there is undoubtedly going to be some violence and many guns. So, Myers is just writing the truth.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Robin “Birdy” Perry’s character.
Pg. 1 letter to his uncle about heading to war and his nervous yet excited behavior.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: war and violence, death
Readalikes:  Other Myers books, Fallen Angels, Feed, Purple Heart
Author’s website:  http://www.walterdeanmyers.net/
Awards: South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2011), Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book (2010)
Reviews: Boolist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Sunrise-over-Fallujah-Walter-Dean-Myers/pid=2420783; School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6551321.html; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-439-91624-0; Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/walter-dean-myers/sunrise-over-fallujah/
Why I chose it: I had never read any books about war before because I was never really interested in it, but I was told by a friend that this was a good book and it would change my views on war books. Boy was she right.

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Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank (Crank, #1)

Bibliographic information: Crank. Ellen Hopkins. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004. $11.99. 537p. ISBN-13:  9780689865190.
Summary: Katrina is a normal kid who never does anything. She is practically the model child. Her parents didn’t stay together very long and she doesn’t know her father at all, other than what her mom has told her: that he is a ne’er-do-well father. Katrina is finally able to convince her mom that she is old enough to visit her father and get to know him. So during spring break she goes, and that is when she is introduced to the Monster.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This shockingly realistic book is uniquely written in verse the entire way through. If you didn’t like poetry before reading this book, you just might be hooked on it after reading this book. Hopkins writes real-life situations and doesn’t hold back, using all the nitty-gritty details and none of the fluff. She tells it like it is. Her characters are real and easy to relate to. They speak to young readers who are struggling with the same situations. Highly recommended to all. Parents and teachers should be reading her books as well as teens.
Readers’ annotation: Her life was fine, if a bit boring, until she met the Monster. The Monster changed her life.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The drug use and struggle that Katrina goes through will speak to teens who are going through the same situation or has a friend who is going through the same situation. This book will show these teens that they are not the only ones going through a difficult situation and there are ways to get past it and move on with life. Reading this book might encourage others to seek help with their problems.
Issues present: They book lays heavy emphasis on drug use and some people might be against the impressions this could potentially make on teens. Although, generally when a teens goes to read a book like this, they are not trying to get ideas on how to live their lives, they are trying to get idea’s on how to cope with the issues in their lives. This book could potentially save a teens life.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Katrina’s character.
P. 1 – defines the plot, simply.
Talk about drug addictions.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: drug addiction
Readalikes:  Other Hopkins books, Go Ask Alice, Cut, Smack
Author’s website:  http://ellenhopkins.com/
Awards: Abraham Lincoln Award (2009)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Crank-Ellen-Hopkins/pid=232295; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-20174758442494.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-86519-0; Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellen-hopkins/crank/
Why I chose it: I have always been a bit curious about Hopkins work and find her writing style intriguing so thought I would give it a try.

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

Bibliographic information: Paper Valentine. Brenna Yovanoff. Razor Bill, 2013. $17.99. 304p. ISBN-13:  9781595145994.
Summary: Hannah’s best friend, Lillian, died a few months ago, but that doesn’t deter her from hanging around, in the form of a ghost. Little girls start showing up dead in the park, which is the center of her small town, and now with the urging of Lillian, Hannah puts herself to the task of catching the killer. With the help from the ghosts of the murdered girls and through the crime scene photos she was able to sneak a look at, Hannah has found a lead.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This haunting tale weaves a story filled with friendly ghosts out to catch their murderers. It’s sad when your best friend is a ghost, but Hannah doesn’t seem to mind. Nobody may be able to see her but she is always there to lend advice, even when a string of murders attracts Hannah’s attention. Through her ghostly friend, Hannah develops into a strong-willed character who takes charge when she normally would have followed. Everybody hates losing a friend and Hannah’s character shows what happens when you try to hold on to somebody who isn’t there anymore. But she is able to cope with her loss and move on with her life while still respecting her friend in a much healthier way. Teens will be able to relate to Hannah’s situation and they won’t want to put this book down. Mystery, horror, fantasy, and humor. This book has it all.
Readers’ annotation: With the help of her best friend, who just happens to be a ghost, Hannah is able to pursue the serial killer who is haunting her town.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book are helpful and friendly. They will give readers the sense that they do not need to fear such beings because they will not harm you. It is a great coping mechanism for someone who is frightened by ghosts. Also, it does a great job of show how a teen has had to cope with the loss of her best friend and will give teens in similar situations some perspective on the matter.
Issues present: This book has both ghosts and serial killers/murders both of which are objectionable topics in a teen book. However, children can use this book to help them fight their fears and understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. Also, serial killers are not very common but they are real and children should understand this.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Hannah’s character and her friend Lillian.
P. 14 from “It used to shock me…” to “…I was the only one who ever seemed to miss her.” – introduces parts of plot.
P. 126 second full paragraph to end of page. – describes crime scene, adds to plot.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts and serial killers, death
Readalikes:  Name of the Star, I Hunt Killers, Game, Hollow series
Author’s website:  http://brennayovanoff.com/
Awards: Recommended Reads List for Young Adults (2013)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Paper-Valentine-Brenna-Yovanoff/pid=5834338; School Library Journal: http://blogs.slj.com/teacozy/2013/01/08/review-paper-valentine/, http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=20274153.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59514-599-4
Why I chose it: Brenna Yovanoff is a favorite author of mine and I thought this one would be a great addition to my collection because it discussed serial killers and ghosts.

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The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Name of the Star. Maureen Johnson. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. $16.99. 372p. ISBN-13:  9780399256608.
Summary: Aurora “Rory” is from a small swamp town just outside of New Orleans and she has just moved to London for her parents work. She will be starting at the Wexford boarding school in just a few days. However, upon arrival in London there appears to be a Jack the Ripper copycat and her school just so happens to be in the neighborhood. All Rory wanted to do was be a normal girl and get through high school, but she is soon swept up in the Ripper murders and becomes an unlikely target in an unexplainable string up murders.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This thrilling tale of ghosts and murder will captivate young readers from page one. Rory is a strong female protagonist who is down to earth and easy to get along with. Readers will find themselves becoming her friend. She is depicted as an American Southern who moves to London and cannot seem to stay out of trouble or keep her mouth shut. Talking is a sport for Rory. The friends she meet are as realistic as Rory even among all the fantasy happening around them and they will speak to teens on a personal level. Johnson writes with skill and the words flow off one another pooling together to create a wonderful story. An addictive book that will be enjoyed by young adults.
Readers’ annotation: Rory just moved to London in Jack the Ripper territory. 100 years later, the murders are occurring again.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book will be great at helping children understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. The book depicts them as mostly harmless, lost souls. This will lend help to children who fear ghosts.
Issues present: This book has both serial killers/murderers and ghosts. People might think that this book is too scary for their children and object to the title. Also, people tend to feel highly against supernatural monsters in children books. However, children use books to help fight their fears of ghosts as well as understand that bad people are out there, but there are also a lot of people there to protect you.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Aurora “Rory’s” character.
Pg. 43 starting with, “I took a big, deep breath to prepare for my angel voice…” until the paragraph ends on the next page – Describes her near-death experience.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts, serial killer, Jack the Ripper
Readalikes: Hallow, Paper Valentine, The Christopher Killer, Anya’s Ghost
Author’s website: http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html
Awards: Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2012)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Name-of-the-Star-Maureen-Johnson/pid=4922969; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-05-62791-1120889.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4418-6636-3; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/maureen-johnson/name-star/
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows how much I like books about ghosts and serial killers.

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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)

Bibliographic information: Ship Breaker. Paolo Bacigalupi. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. $17.99. 326p. ISBN-13:  9780316056212.
Summary: Nailer works as a scavenger for copper wiring on beached oil tankers. He spends his days climbing through poisonous dangerous crawl spaces to make a little money to survive because his violent drug addicted father is not use. One day he ends up falling into an oil well in the tanker he was stripping and gets stuck. When his work buddy finds him, she leaves him there to die in hopes that she can claim the oil for herself and get rich. Nailer apparently has a lucky side and finds a way out by breaking through the oil well door and landing in the ocean, oddly enough, in one piece. This means he doesn’t get to claim the oil, his boss does, but at least he is still alive and the work buddy who left him behind is shunned away. Not long after that there is a huge storm that lands a lot of beached ships on their shore. Nailer finds a beached clipper ship with a sole survivor, a girl about his age. Now Nailer has to decide whether he is going to kill the girl and strip the ship or save the girl and potentially gain a new life. It all depends on whether he can trust the girl or not.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 7 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Winner of the Printz Book Award for 2011 as well as Notable Children’s Books, Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Children’s Books of the Year. This young adult dystopian novel is a little different from what you may be used to. The characters of this story are complex, but incredibly realistic and loyalty is one of their main attributes. Nailer is struggling to survive in a dystopian society based solely on harvesting goods from beached oil tankers. He puts himself at risk each day so that he can make a little money to live from. When he is faced with a difficult decision, his conscience wins out and he can only hope it was the right choice, but it does bring him on a life changing journey that will only add to his character. Morals seem to be fickle things in this story and Nailer seems to have the brunt of them. This trilling adventure will captivate the minds of teen readers and pull them into a vivid world of brutality and hardship that will keep their attention all the way through.
Readers’ annotation: After a huge storm blows through, Nailer is left with a choice of life or death. And it all hinges on a girl he found.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book shows teens that there are other young adults in the world that are struggling through life and that they are not alone in their struggles. Also, of all the characters Nailer sets some great morals for children to follow.
Issues present: This book kind of reminds me of Lord of the Flies where everybody is just brutal savages and everybody is out save themselves and nobody else. Parents and even teacher might object to the blatant violence and savagery in this book. However, the real world is brutal and savage, maybe not as much as in this book, but it will prepare kids for the real world and make them less afraid.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nailer’s character.
If you had to choose between money or saving a girl’s life who could potentially kill you, what would you do?
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian, toxic parent
Readalikes:  Ashfall, Tankborn, Uglies, The House of the Scorpion, The Hunger Games
Author’s website:
Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2010), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book (2011), Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2010), Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2010), Printz Award (2011) YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011), Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013), Andre Norton Award Nominee for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (2010)
Reviews:  Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Ship-Breaker-Paolo-Bacigalupi/pid=4069799; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-98870566942063.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-316-05621-2; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/paolo-bacigalupi/ship-breaker/
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend and the concept sounded intriguing so I gave it a go.

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Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies (Uglies, #1)

Bibliographic information: Uglies. Scott Westerfeld. Simon Pulse, 2005. $9.99. 425p. ISBN-13:  9781-416936381.
Summary:  Fifteen year old Tally lives on the Uglies side, but once she turns sixteen she will be able to get plastic surgery like all other sixteen year olds and then she can live on the Pretty side. Her best friend has already been made pretty and is living on the Pretty side, so she is feeling kind of lonely. Then she meets a new friend, Shay, who says she doesn’t want to be made pretty and is planning on running away to the Smoke, an abandoned town on the outside. Tally is struggling to choose between her new best friend and becoming pretty. When Shay talks Tally into coming with her to the Smoke, Tally learns a whole new side to becoming pretty. When they do the cosmetic surgery to make you pretty, they also do a lobotomy on you so that you are no longer the same person you were before, and nobody remembers it. Now that Tally knows she wants to run away, but the Special Forces are on to her and things get heated.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: grade 6 and up
Review: This is a futuristic dystopian science fiction novel. There are two kinds of people in Westerfeld’s Uglies novel and that is ugly people and pretty people. And they don’t even generally live together. Once you turn sixteen you get to go under a cosmetic operation and be pretty afterward, however the down side to this is they also do a lobotomy on you to dumb you down so you are not the same person you were before. Becoming ‘pretty’ is what everybody wants, except for Shay, Tally’s new best friend. Tally can either follow Shay into the Smoke and stay ‘ugly’ or turn Shay in to the authorities and become ‘pretty’ like everyone else. However, circumstance change after Tally meets David, an ugly outsider, who fills her in and changes her mind about becoming pretty. Westerfeld does a great job on highlighting government conspiracies and the evils of Big Brother as well as urging people to be individuals and not conforming to a standard uniformity. Just because other people may do it doesn’t mean you should do it, personal free will is a gift that should be used. Also, you shouldn’t judge people by how they look.
Readers’ annotation: At age 16 you get to become drop dead gorgeous and go live with the Pretties. Instead of becoming pretty Tally decides to run away.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book does a wonderful job of showing young adults that they should not worry about looks and should instead look inside a person before they judge them. Almost every teen worries about how they look and after reading this book they will better understand that looks are not always the most important thing about a person.
Issues present: The heavy positive emphasis on plastic surgery and judgment on people’s’ looks could easily be objected to in this novel. The plastic surgery issue could go either way, people could be offended that Westerfeld made it look so good, or that he made it seem so terrible in the end. Such things could influence young minds, however, teens know what they want and can make their own choices without a book. Besides Westerfeld does not overtly say that plastic surgery is good or bad. It just is.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Tally’s character.
Ugly and pretty, those are the only types of people around.
Could becoming pretty really be that bad? Tally didn’t think so, until she met Shay.
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian
Readalikes: Bumped, Crossed, Possession, Divergent
Author’s website: http://scottwesterfeld.com/
Awards: South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2008), Georgia Peach Honor Book Award (2008), Abraham Lincoln Award (2007)
Reviews:  Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Uglies-Scott-Westerfeld/pid=235325; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-62134443832648.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-86538-1; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/scott-westerfeld/uglies/
Why I chose it: The concept of this book sounded interesting and I thought it would add a great book to my collection.

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The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders

Bibliographic information: The Outsiders. S. E. Hinton. Speak, 1967. $8.99. 192p. ISBN-13:  9780140385724.
Summary: Three brothers, Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop, are trying to survive on their own after their parents’ death. Ponyboy is a member of the Greasers gang and their rivals are the Socs. When leaving a movie theater one night Ponyboy is jumped by the Socs and his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, save him. However, the next night Ponyboy and his friends meet up with a couple of girls associated with the Socs at the drive-in. They realize that the girls are nothing like the Socs and offer to walk them home, but Bob and Randy from the Socs gang run into them. The girls willingly leave with Bob and Randy to prevent a fight, but when Ponyboy gets home late Darry hits him. So, Ponyboy runs away and meets up with his friend Johnny and things start to go downhill from there.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 8 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This is a classic that all teens should read. A coming of age story for a group of boys trying to survive on their own in a dangerous neighborhood. Two gangs who are rivals are at constant end with each other and even when their friends get hurt of killed they keep going at each others throats. Even though things get worst for Ponyboy when he runs away, he discovers that his brothers really care about him and he tries harder. Hinton’s writing is fluid and mesmerizing, you get pulled into the story and feel for the characters, especially Ponyboy. Overcoming so many hardships and working towards a better life, Ponyboy is a strong-willed character. Step into the shoes of Ponyboy and read The Outsiders.
Readers’ annotation: Two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, fighting over the same turf and Ponyboy, a Greaser, is just trying to survive.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is a great coming-of-age story that shows a strong-willed boy who will fight to overcome his hardships and this will encourage coming-to-age teens to fight to overcome their hardships. Also, the realistic characters and situations in the book will speak to teens who are in similar situations and lend them a coping mechanism.
Issues present: The strong presence of gang violence, alcohol and drug use, and guns in this novel make it objectionable, especially by parents and teachers. However, this book shows how somebody put into a hard situation can overcome those hardships, this will encourage young adults to do the same.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Ponyboy’s character.
Talk about gang wars.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: gangs, violence
Readalikes:  Getting the Girl, Feels Like Home, Breaking Rank, We All Fall Down
Author’s website: http://www.sehinton.com/
Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991); Oprah’s Kids’ Reading Lists – Classics: 12 Years and Up; Virginia Readers’ Choice Award: High School (Grades 10-12)
Reviews:  http://www.cmlibrary.org/readers_club/reviews/tresults.asp?id=997; http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-outsiders
Why I chose it: This is a classic challenged book that almost every teen ends up reading because it is part of the school reading list. I thought it would be a great addition to my collection.

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