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.
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.
Bibliographic information: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1). Jonathan Stroud. Miramax, 2003. $17.95. 462p. ISBN-13: 9780786818594.
Summary: After incurring the wrath of Simon Lovelace, a powerful magician, ten-year old Nathanial, a magician’s apprentice, decides to summon a 5,000 year old djinni named Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace. Bartimaeus could care less what his assignment is, he just wants to get back to the spirit world and be left in peace. The djinni’s sole goal is to get the amulet and then get back at Nathanial for summoning him. Bartimaeus preferred his earlier master, Ptolemy, to Nathanial and takes every opportunity to say so. Although, since this is a rather difficult assignment, Bartimaeus and Nathanial get caught up in a flood of magic, rebellion, and murder that the two have to work together to survive.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: grade 6 and up
Review: Filled with interesting characters and a plethora of magic, this book will catch your attention and pull you in for a tantalizing ride. The tale is narrated by Bartimaues, a 5,000 year old djinni, who takes sarcastic to a new level. His hilarious script paired with the dark and foreboding tale makes for an intriguing story that is sure to lure you in and you won’t want to wait for the sequels. Stroud’s elaborate descriptions and great details make the images of the story pop into your head. While narrating the story Bartimaeus will make side comments that are numbered and can be found at the bottom of the pages in Chicago style writing. Tweens will get a kick out of the crazy tricks that Bartimaeus and Nathanial pull off together.
Readers’ annotation: Nathanial feels confident enough in his magical powers to summon up a 5,000-year-old djinn, but he is in for a rude awakening.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The various supernatural monsters in this book would help children fight their fears. Many teens have monsters in their lives that they are afraid of and reading about some will help them cope and get past these fears whether they be make-believe or real.
Issues present: There is magic and supernatural monsters present in this novel that people may object to. It may go against their beliefs and they will not want their children reading such things, however, children use such books to fight their fears against monsters make-believe and real. Also, different viewpoints on religion gives children a broader scope of the world.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nathanial and Bartimaeus’s characters,
What happens when you summon a 5,000 year old djinni who thinks he’s a know it all?
Genre or subject: Fantasy: magic, djinn/demons, wizards
Readalikes: Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Demon Lexicon, Hex Hall, The Golden Compass
Author’s website: http://www.jonathanstroud.com/
Awards: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2004)
Reviews: Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jonathan-stroud/the-amulet-of-samarkand/; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-11762353.xml; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Amulet-of-Samarkand-Jonathan-Stroud/pid=4545860; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7868-1859-4
Why I chose it: I found this book a the list of challenged books while I was working on one of my projects for class and thought I would read it and add it to my collection.
Bibliographic information: Gemini Bites. Patrick Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2011. $17.99. 240p. ISBN-13: 9780545221283.
Summary: Kyle and Judy are twins, who do not get along. Judy is always trying to win against Kyle. It is a large household and takes a lot to get some attention. Kyle has just told his family he is gay. To his relief, the family accepts it and moments later are distracted. Not to be one-upped by Kyle, a few days later Judy tells her family she is born-again and has found God. However, she is met with the same reaction that Kyle got. Later, over dinner, their father tells everyone that they are having a mysterious guest stay with them until the end of the school year. The mysterious guest is a boy, Garret Johnson, from Kyle and Judy’s class, but nobody knows much about him. Kyle gains information from a fellow student who says Garret is a vampire. After moving in, Garret plays on the vampire thing saying he really is one and gradually he starts to take an interest in both Kyle and Judy. Both intrigued by this, they start to compete for his affections.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 14 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Gemini Bites is a delightful story of sixteen-year-old twins of a family of nine, Judy and Kyle, tend to compete over anything and everything. Kyle is gay, but Judy is born-again. And their newest competition, Garret Johnson, is…a vampire? After moving into their attic, claiming to be a vampire, Garret starts to take an interest in both Judy and Kyle. They can’t figure out whether he is gay, straight, into twins, or if he really is a vampire, but they compete for him anyhow. This book is written so that every chapter alternates between Kyle and Judy in the first person. All of the characters in this book have their own unique personalities that make them easy to remember. Teenagers will have an easy time relating to the language. This is a wonderful story with a twist at the end that may just surprise you. Covering a variety of problems teens may face in life, this book illustrates how you may get through them.
Readers’ annotation: A mysterious character takes up residence in Kyle and Judy’s home claiming to be a vampire, all the while leading them both on. Gay, straight, twinsexual, or vampire? Which one is Garret Johnson?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book encourages teen to be proud of who they are and their sexuality. They do not need to hide behind facades to be excepted by their parents and friends. And they should not hide who they are.
Issues present: Not only is there a couple of gay boys in this book, but one of them claims to be a vampire. People may object to these two things thinking they are wrong and possibly too frightening for children to handle. However, we should be able to encourage children to be who they are and not balk at their sexuality. Also, supernatural monsters in books help children fight their fears in a safe way.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the twins and Garret’s characters.
Gay, straight, twinsexual, or vampire?
Genre or subject: GLBTQ, twins, relationships
Readalikes: Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Totally Joe, Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Rainbow Boys
Author’s website: N/A
Awards: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Debut Fiction Nomination, Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult Nomination
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Gemini-Bites-Patrick-Ryan/pid=4491838; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-19814097900108.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-545-22128-3; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/patrick-ryan/gemini-bites/
Why I chose it: This book had a different way of introducing gays into the book and Ryan threw in a popular topic by using vampires to twist up the story a bit. I couldn’t hold back from reading it.
Bibliographic information: Clockwork, or, All Wound Up. Philip Pullman. Scholastic, 1996. $5.99. 144p. ISBN-13: 9780439856232.
Summary: In the old day in Germany an apprentice clockmaker named Karl, an innkeeper’s daughter named Gretl, and a writer named Fritz start the gears turning on the story of Clockwork. The townspeople gather the night before the unveiling of the new figure for the town clock, although, Karl has failed to make the figure. Fritz reads his latest story about a local aristocrat, Prince Otto and his son, Prince Florian. When Prince Otto dies on a hunting trip his heart is replaced by clockwork that helps him find his way home. Fritz is at a loss for an ending. However, his story starts to come true when the evil Dr. Kalmenius comes to the tavern, leaving Fritz to run in fright. The Dr. offers Karl a clockwork figure named Sir Ironsoul and Karl accepts.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 12 and up
Review: This is a haunting tale of a writers made up story that ends up becoming a true nightmare. Fritz never expected to see one of the characters from his story in flesh and blood, but when Dr. Kalmenius walks through the door of the tavern, he can’t believe it and runs in terror. Accepting Ironsoul for his apprentice’s clockwork piece was a bad move for Karl. Gretl, in an act of unselfishness saves Ironsoul from death. All of the stories of the characters start to come together to form one story and when they meet in the end it is not what you were expecting at all. This fast-paced nightmare of a tale represents the sacrifices that humanity has taken with becoming mechanical, quite well. You could read it several times over.
Readers’ annotation: What started out as a bedtime story, turns into a real life nightmare.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: We have all had to sacrifice one thing or another in our lives, whether it be small or large, and it is not an easy thing to do. This book lends readers insight into the sacrifices, the good and the bad ones. It lets them know that they are not the only ones who have had to sacrifice something in their lives.
Issues present: This book is quite scary and it has violence. Some people might be against these topics. However, children use such topics in books to help them cope this these things in their daily lives.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce individual characters.
What if the story you thought was fiction became real?
Genre or subject: Science fiction: steampunk
Readalikes: Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Graveyard Book, Leviathan, The Girl in the Steel Corset, Soulless
Author’s website: http://www.philip-pullman.com/
Awards: Whitbread Award Nominee for Children’s Book (1996), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (1998), New York Public Library Best Book of the Year (1998)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Clockwork-Philip-Pullman/pid=379878; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-8999500.xml; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/philip-pullman-2/clockwork-2/
Why I chose it: This book looked incredibly interesting and I discovered that it was very eery and then wanted to add it to my collection.
Bibliographic information: The Halloween Tree. Ray Bradbury. Yearling, 1972. $5.50. 145p. ISBN-13: 9780375803017.
Summary: A group of eight friends, all boys, get all dressed up in their best costumes and head out to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. They soon discover that a ninth Friend, Pipkin, has been taken away on an adventure that could be the end of his life. With the help of a shrouded guy named Moundshroud, the boys chase after their friend across space and through time. Traveling through such places as Ancient Egypt and Greek all the way to Mexico on the Day of the Dead. The origins of Halloween is revealed through their travels, as well as, the role of death and how it has shaped civilization.Will the boys reach Pipkin in time to save him and will he be the same in the end?
Reading level and interest level: RL: ages 10 and up IL: ages 12 and up
Review: Ray Bradbury’s work always has a meaningful core that slaps you in the face and makes you understand things on a whole new level and that is just what The Halloween Tree does. The Halloween Tree represents the influences for the traditions of different cultures have about Halloween and how they all merge into one. Pipkin is taken on a journey of life and death and his friends chase after him trying to keep him alive, along the way they learn the origins of Halloween and how other cultures celebrate the holiday. In the end, each boy gives up a year of his life for Pipkin so that he can live. Children will love this story’s lyrical text and learning about the origins of Halloween.
Readers’ annotation: On the night of Halloween 8 friends are swept away by the devil on a fantastical adventure to chase after a ninth friend who is battling death.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book discusses the death of a friend. Teens can read this book as a way to cope with a friend of theirs who may be struggling with a terminal disease or with a friend who has died. The kids in this book are brave and able to look death in the eye as a way to help their friend through this tough time. This will encourage kids to not be afraid of their situation.
Issues present: Many people may think that this title is too scary for young adults. It mentions death casually and has some scary creatures that could be considered frightening to some. However, children could use this book as a way to fight their fears of death and dying and be able to look at it with a different perspective. Also, they can fight their fears of things that go bump in the night be reading about these courageous kids and their adventures.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce various characters. – especially Pipkin.
Talk about general idea of Halloween, then how it used to be.
Would you take a ride with the devil, Death himself?
Genre or subject: Fantasy: Halloween, death
Readalikes: A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Secret of the Indian
Author’s website: http://www.raybradbury.com/
Reviews: Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ray-bradbury/the-halloween-tree/
Why I chose it: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a long known challenged book. Many of his other works are just as likely to be challenged and I wanted to add something of his to my collection, but Fahrenheit 451 is long overdone, so I decided on this one for my collection. Not as many people have heard of it, and it was a favorite movie of mine when I was younger.
Bibliographic information: Wonderland. Tommy Kovac. Illustrated by Sonny Liew. Disney Press, 2008. 159 pages. $19.99, ISBN 978-1-42310-451-3
Summary: Mary Ann is the housemaid to the White Rabbit in the wonderful land of Wonderland. She absolutely hates for anything to be dirty, she cannot stand grime, grease, or grit. If something is dirty she will take her trusty feather cleaner and clean to her heart’s content. The White Rabbit is sentenced to have his head chopped off by the Queen of Hearts’ card soldiers because he was found in the presence of the Alice Monster. Mary Ann is forced to flee for her life with the White Rabbit and ends up running into a lot of messes that she is having to deal with. She is not happy with her situation, but she tries to make the best of it, until she is forced to move to the next one. The Mad Hatter, the Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, and the Queen of Spades all play a role in this madness Mary Ann must face.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 10 and up
Review: This graphic novel is based on Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland story, particularly the White Rabbit’s housemaid, Mary Ann. Mary Ann takes us on an adventure through Wonderland that is sure to be remembered, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. This twist on Lewis Carol’s original story is just as good and just as illogical and whimsical. Every page is done in beautiful full-colored artwork done by Sonny Liew, who has created pictures that are just as senseless as the story and add an extravagance of their own. You still get to see the Hatter and the Hare, the Cheshire Cat, and the lovely head-chopping-off Queen of Hearts. Kovac and Liew work well together and have created a whimsy, nonsensical work of art that is not for those looking for something normal.
Readers’ annotation: The entire cast of Alice in Wonderland comes to life as the White Rabbit and his trusty maid run through Wonderland trying to escape the Queen of Hearts soldiers.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Supernatural creatures are a great addition to books because they help teens understand that and fight their fears. They may project other fears onto the characters and be able to fight those fears. When you have courageous characters like Mary Ann children tend to project themselves onto such characters and use them as a way to get past something that is troubling them in life.
Issues present: People may object to the violence in this book and think that it is not appropriate for the age group. They also might object to the supernatural creatures being present in the novel. However, children can use this book to show them that these things are not scary and are make-believe. There is no such thing as talking animals, and no reason to fear them.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Mary Ann’s character.
Do you like Alice in Wonderland? Then you are going to love this graphic novel…
Genre or subject: Fantasy: adventure, supernatural monsters, violence
Readalikes: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Looking Glass Wars, Pandora Hearts, Alice in the Country of Hearts
Author’s website: http://www.tommykovac.com/
Awards: YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens: 2010; Recommended Reads Folklore in graphic novels (Older kids); Recommended Reads for Teens: Graphic Novels and Manga
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-7161383.xml; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Wonderland-Tommy-Kovac/pid=3512211; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4231-0451-3; Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/Tommy-Kovac-89194/wonderland-2/
Why I chose it: I have always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland and thought that this would be a nice twist on the story. The illustrations we magnificent.