Tag Archives: Bildungsromans

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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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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The Graveyard Book By Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

Bibliographic information: The Graveyard Book. Neil Gaiman. HarperCollins, 2008. $17.99. 312p. ISBN-13:  978-0060530921.
Summary: After his mother and father are murdered by a Jack of all trades, a baby climbs out of his crib and wanders into the night to escape the vicious killer. This is unfortunate for Jack, because the baby was his prime target. Although, the baby ends up in the graveyard where a nice ghost couple, Mr. and Mrs. Owens who had no children of their own, takes him in. It is decided among the other graveyard attendants that the Owenses will raise the baby and they all name him Nobody, or Bod for short.The mysterious Silas helps sponsor Bod’s upbringing and education. Being in the graveyard helps protect Bod from Jack for a good long time, but Jack eventually finds out where Bod is staying and will try anything to get to him. His graveyard family protects Bod as much as they can, but will Jack get to him after all?
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 6 and up IL: age 10 and up
Review: This is a captivating book about a little boy named Nobody (aka Bod). After his parents were killed by a dangerous murderer, Bod, being a baby, crawls to the graveyard and is taken in by a nice ghost couple. He is raised in the graveyard and sponsored by a mysterious man named Silas. The murderer, Jack, who killed Bod’s parents when he was a kid is still after him and will do anything to find his target, Bod. The other members of the graveyard lend Bod their help and keep him protected as much as they can, being ghosts, but Jack is relentless. This book is a wonderful story filled with a delightful cast of ghosts for the characters. Told in a narrative that is sure to reel you in. It may hold a few horrors and dreadful scenes, but the story is a happy one about hope and life. Children will love reading about the little boy named Nobody and discovering the mystery of his past and future. This book is a great choice for all teen readers.
Readers’ annotation: You were raised in a cemetery by ghosts and witches. Will you be able to face the real world?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book will show young adults that they do not need to be afraid of them. They will be able to use this book as a tool to fight their fears.
Issues present: This book has violence and ghosts. Both of which people would object to. Some may think it is too scary for children to read, but it is a good scapegoat for children. They can read the book and be able to face their fears.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nobody “Bod’s” character.
Discuss life as being raise by ghost.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts, death
Readalikes:  Hallow, Anya’s Ghost, The Name of the Star, Paper Valentine, Anna Dressed in Blood
Author’s website: http://www.neilgaiman.com/
Awards: Hugo Award for Best Novel (2009), Newbery Medal (2009), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2009), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (2009) Cybils Award for Middle Grade Fantasy & Science Fiction (2008), Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year (2009), An ALA Notable Children’s Book for Middle Readers (2009), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2009), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2009), Indies Choice Book Award for Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book (Fiction): (2009), Carnegie Medal in Literature (2010), British Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6652617.html; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Graveyard-Book-Neil-Gaiman/pid=2835797; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-053092-1; Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/neil-gaiman/the-graveyard-book/
Why I chose it: This is a long loved book of mine and after working on a topic project about paranormal spiritual beings I thought this would be a good addition to my collection.

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Looking for Alaska by John Green

Bibliographic information: Looking for Alaska. John Green. Dutton Juvenile, 2005. $18.99. 160p. ISBN-13:  978-0525475064.
Summary: Miles, nicknamed Pudge, at the age of 16 has not friends and lead a very boring life, so he has decided that he wants to seek the “Great Perhaps” and signs up for boarding school. He soon meets his roommate Chip, known as the Colonel, and Chip’s friend Alaska Young, who is described as the most beautiful girl around. As a traditional welcoming prank, Pudge is thrown into the lake, but first he is duct taped, which is not customary. This leads Chip into believe there is more behind the prank than there should have been.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 9 and up  IL: 14 and up
Review: Wrote as a first person narrative by our protagonist Miles “Pudge” Halter. Green does a great job on creating a plot and characters that catch your attention and make it hard to put the book down. Readers will be able to relate to Green’s characters and their situations that speak truths to the young adult nature. I instantly found myself relating to Pudge’s character because he is funny, sarcastic and exudes an “I don’t really care” type of personality that I think is relative to many teens. Riddled with alcohol and cigarette use, this is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss that will stick with the reader well after they put it down. I recommend it to people who are struggling to understand their lives and the people around them.
Readers’ annotation: Miles is looking for the “Great Perhaps,” so he signs up for boarding school and meets, Alaska, a girl who changes his life.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: First, this book would be helpful to young adults who are struggling with self identities and are trying to make something of themselves. Green does a great job with describing Mile’s struggles to grow into something more than what he is. Second, this book could be a good source for somebody struggling with the death of their friend a how to cope with such a tragedy.
Issues present: This book has smoking, alcohol use, and explicit sex scenes that could offend somebody else and they may object to it. However, these are common occurrences among young adults and people need to understand that just because a young adult may read about book with such content does not mean that they are going to pick up on the habits. And more than likely they have already had to deal with these issue in their daily lives.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Pudge, Colonel, and Alaska.
Pg 4. Starting with “That’s cool.” to the end of that paragraph – sums up Miles character well.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: love relationship, Bildungsromans
Readalikes: Other John Green books, Paper Town, Perks of Being a Wallflower, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, 13 Reasons Why.
Author’s website: http://johngreenbooks.com/; sparksflyup.com
Awards and lists: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2005), Booklist Editors’ Choice (2005), NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2005) Printz Award (2006), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2005), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2007), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2009)
Links to reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-35885691.xml
Why I chose it: I wanted the chance to read John Green’s first novel. I always expect more from his novels than I actually get. 

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Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Bibliographic information: Boy Meets Boy. David Levithan. Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. $8.99. 185p. ISBN-13:  9780375832994.
Summary: Paul’s school is unlike any other. His best friend since kindergarten, Joni, is dating a new guy that puts a strain on their relationship. His other best friend cannot leave his home unless it is with a girl. Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend suddenly becomes too friendly. And Rip, the school bookie, is placing bets on who Paul will end up with. Things are not looking good for Paul. But the biggest distraction is Noah, who changes everything in Paul’s life.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 8th grade and up
Review: Cleverly written in the first person point of view by Paul, the protagonist of this story, Boy meets boy is a wonderful book about being comfortable with who you are, just the way you are. Paul brings the story of his life to the forefront and carries the reader through with humor and poise. It has great character development because you get to see Paul and his friends grow into young adults and discover who they are on the inside and out. The text flows and grabs your attention making it hard to put the book down. The positive influence will speak to young readers who are facing similar choices and situations about their identities and gender.
Readers’ annotation: Paul has a dilemma. A new boy moved into town, his best friend is not speaking to him, his other friend is on house arrest, and his ex-boyfriend has had a change of heart.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is a great book that expresses the positive side of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers. It shows that some parents are loving and accepting of their children’s choices while other parents are in a bit of denial, but they are all working through their feelings in hopes of a positive outcome.  It shows that no matter what choices you make their will be some road blocks, but you will be able to overcome them. Teens can read this book and feel good about their sexual identities and genders.
Issues present: There are persons of every sexual orientation and gender in this book and some parent may not like their teen reading a book that makes these out to be a positive thing. However, every person has a choice to like and dislike whomever they choose. Sometimes a child feels like they are different from everybody else just because they might like somebody of the same-sex, or maybe people of both sexes, and that shouldn’t matter. Books like Boyfriends with girlfriends are great examples that will give that child confidence in their identities and gender even if they are not getting it from their friends and family. Perhaps the parent should even read the book so that they may understand where their child is coming from.
Booktalk ideas: The start of page 8 where it describes Paul finding out that he is gay at age 5.
On page 3 when Paul first meets Noah, “I look up. And there he is.”
Talk about the variety of Paul’s friends, one is gay, one is bi, one is a drag queen, one is a lesbian, one is a bookie, one is straight, etc.
Genre or subject: GLBTQ; coming of age or Bildungsromans
Readalikes: Boyfriends with Girlfriends or anything by Alex Sanchez; Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle; John Green books.
Awards and Lists: Lamba Literary Foundation Award (2003); ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2004); Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2008).
Links to reviews: Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-375-82400-5
Why I chose it: Based on the back of the cover it looked like it would be an entertaining book that had great growth as well as humorous. The writing style seems like it would be fun and intelligent at the same time. These are all things that tend to interest me in a book.

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