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: 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.