Tag Archives: Bullying

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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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, Death, Dystopias, Toxic parents and teachers

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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Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Bibliographic information: Divergent. Veronica Roth. Katherine Tegen Books, 2011. $17.99. 487p. ISBN-13:  9780062024022.
Summary: Beatrice lives in Chicago, but a Chicago that is divided into 5 factions. The factions were chosen because people could not agree on how to live their lives and much fighting took place, so each factions chose a certain aspect of the human personality to follow: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). She was born into the Abnegnation, however when each child reaches the age of 16 they get to choose which faction they wish to be a part of. Choosing another faction than the one you are born into means giving up everything in your current life, your family, your friends, and even your name. Beatrice is now 16 and she must choose her future.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: In a futuristic world where Chicago is split into 5 distinct factions, Beatrice is at the age where she must choose which faction to be a part of. Written in the first person viewpoint, Beatrice, finds her life filled with action, excitement and danger. Leaving her old life behind she begins her journey to find out who she really is. Roth has no regard for her characters and is ruthless enough that readers should not get attached to any one character. This dystopian novel will attract attention of The Hunger Games fans.
Readers’ annotation: She gave up her name, her family, her friends to be somebody else. Does she know who she is? Who is she really?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book can be used by teens to fight their fears. It covers several aspects that will give them perspective and understanding into their fears that are taking place in their lives. Having a character that is able to persevere even in hard times will encourage teens to continue to persevere in their lives. Also, Tris had to decide for herself what she was going to do with her life and when young adults read this book they will be able to understand that they are reaching the age where they are going to have to choose for themselves as well. Going off to college, picking a career, etc.
Issues present:There is a good amount of violence and the casual use of guns that people might object to. But people have to understand that there is violence and the casual use of guns in the real world. This book is giving them exposure so that they are not as surprised or frightened.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Beatrice’s “Tris” character.
Five factions, one choice.
Pg. 47 starting with “Marcus offers me my knife…” until the end of the page. – her choice is made.
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian
Readalikes:  The Hunger Game, The Maze Runner, The Line, The Giver, Delirium, Ship Breaker, Matched, Possession, Bumped
Author’s website: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/
Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Favorite Book of 2011 and for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2011), ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012), Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) for Best Young Adult Romance (2012)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/pid=4560042; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-51633693345175.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-202402-2; Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/veronica-roth/divergent/
Why I chose it: Everybody told me to read this, so I did. They said that is was a great dystopian book and I am inclined to believe them.

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Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

Bibliographic information: Hate List. Jennifer Brown. Little, Brown and Co, 2009. $16.99. 408p. ISBN-13:  9780316041447.
Summary: Valerie created a Hate List. On the Hate List was the names of all the thing she disliked: people, homework projects, situations, etc. Her boyfriend, Nick decided to help with the Hate List and added the things he hated to it as well. After meeting a new friend, Nick started acting weird and decided to take action to end some of the things he hated with a gun. Valerie was just as surprised as everybody else and to stop Nick from hurting anybody else she threw herself on top of him and, consequently, was shot in the leg. He proceeded to shoot himself in the head. Now that school has started up again and Valerie must go back, she is apprehensive about the reaction she is going to get from her fellow classmates since some see her as a suspect int he shooting, some as a victim, and some as a hero.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: age 15 and up
Review: This riveting title will hook you from page one and move you to tears. This story is heart-breakingly sad, but has just the right amount of hope thrown in to keep the reader interested. Brown has captured the tragedy of a school shooting accurately and well. Written in the first person view-point of our protagonist, Valerie, this book jumps from the present to the past and is sprinkled with article clippings to add to the real-life effect. The characters are real and young adults will be able to relate to both the characters and the situation. Highly recommended to parents, teachers, and students alike.
Readers’ annotation: The Hate List has the names of everything and everybody that Valerie hated. Her boyfriend decided to bring a gun to school to end some of those names.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book will be able to lend support for any young adult who went through a similar situation. They will know that they are not alone. Even if somebody did not directly go through the same situation, teens will be able to use this book as a tool to show them the effects of bullying and how much others are hurt by it.
Issues present: There is a school shooting that takes place in this novel and people might object to it because they do not want young adults to read this book and either be afraid that it could happen to them or be exposed to the violent nature of it and get any ideas about duplicating the situation. However, people need to realize that this is a very real situation and it will help teens better understand such issues, it will not encourage them to take such actions. The message of the book is pretty clean that shooting up a school is not the way to solve your problems.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Valerie’s character.
Pg. 97 to end of first paragraph on 98. – describes start of shooting.
Pg. 103 starting with “Oh my God, I thought…” to end of first paragraph on 104. – describes Valerie’s heroics.
Passages from pages 97-105 – describes the shooting.
Genre or subject:Realistic fiction: school shooting, death
Readalikes: Give a Boy a Gun, Endgame, Shooter, Just Another Hero
Author’s website: http://www.jenniferbrownya.com/
Awards: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award (2010), The White Ravens (2010), Voya Perfect Ten (2009), ALA Best Books for Young Adults. for Young Adults Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Louisiana Teen Readers Choice Award, Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award (2012)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Hate-List-Jennifer-Brown/pid=3646354; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-1898884.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-316-04144-7; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jennifer-brown/hate-list/
Why I chose it: I was still in grade school when the Columbine school shooting happened and I thought it would be interesting to read about a school shooting.

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)

Bibliographic information: A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L’Engle. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1962. $6.99. 211p. ISBN-13:  9780312367541.
Summary:  Meg Murry is seen as a troublesome kid by her classmates and her teachers, but her parents she her as a little girl capable of great things. Her mother and father are scientist, her twin ten-year old bothers are athletes, and her five-year old brother, Charles Wallace, is a genius, however, her father is missing in action. One dark and stormy night, the Murry’s are visited by a Mrs. Whatsit, who comes in to dry her feet. Mrs. Whatsit tells Mrs. Murry that the “tesseract” is real, causing her to almost faint with disbelief. The next day Meg discovers the tesseract is a scientific concept that her father was working with before he went missing. Meg, Charles Wallace, and a friend, Calvin, venture out to hopefully find Meg’s father.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 9 and up
Review: This beautifully written novel is the winner of the Newbery Medal of 1963, among other awards and nominees. Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe are wonderful characters that grow and evolve throughout the book. They are brave, intelligent, and sincere characters that can either stand alone or work as a group. The worlds L’Engle has created are artfully crafted from elements of fantasy and science fiction the mingle into a whole new experience that will keep your mind reeling from beginning to end. Children will love the adventure and creative creatures who inhabit the various planets Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin visit. The adventure doesn’t end here, look for the sequels.
Readers’ annotation: Her father has gone missing and now Meg must travel through time and space to find him. What kinds of creatures will she meet on her travels?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book sends the message that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome any obstacle. Meg leads us on a quest of finding out who she is and how she can help others in the world. She started out not able to focus with her studies, but turned out to be able to focus her skills she did have and use them productively. Teens who have trouble focusing in school will see this character and be able to understand that they are not alone, others have the same problem, but there are ways to get passed it.
Issues present: This book has been challenges countless times since it was published in 1962. People thought that it was not appropriate for the age group. There is some violence and even some manipulation. Also, people either felt that it was overtly religious or anti-religious depending on how you looked at it. And the supernatural creatures were seen as satanic. Children are very resilient and a book like this opens the imagination and helps them cope with parts of their lives that they have a hard time explaining.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace’s characters.
Talk about travel through time and space.
A land of many creatures…
Genre or subject: Science fiction and fantasy: supernatural monsters, religion
Readalikes: The Golden Compass, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland
Author’s website: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/
Awards: Newbery Medal (1963), Sequoyah Book Award (1965)
Reviews:  Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/madeline-lengle/wrinkle-time-lengle/
Why I chose it: This book is a classic and has been challenged many times over the years. It is a great addition to anybody’s collection.

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The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier

The Rag and Bone Shop

Bibliographic information: The Rag and Bone Shop. Robert Cormier. Delacorte Press, 2001. $15.99. 154p. ISBN-13:  9780385729628.
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jason is a quiet boy, he doesn’t have many friends and he tends to like kids that are younger than him because they are not as annoying. After visiting his friend, seven-year-old Alicia, she turns up dead later that day. Jason was the last person to see her alive and now he is considered the one and only suspect in her murder. Under the guise of helping the police, Jason is brought to the station for questioning. Only later does he find out that he is a suspect of killing his friend.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 6 and up
Review: Cormier has produced a well written psychological story about a little boy being manipulated beyond the point of return. This book is so well crafted that the reader will genuinely feel anger towards the perpetrator and sorrow for poor Jason. Their heartbeat will rise and they will want to jump into the book to help Jason escape the torture he is going through. The characters are wonderfully developed and will stick with you long after you have put the book down. In the end it leave the reader wondering whether Jason is capable of murder or not. Recommended to young and old.
Readers’ annotation: One of Jason’s friends has been murdered and he was the last person to see her. Now he is the only suspect for the case. Is Jason the murderer?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book covers the horrors of manipulation. Anybody who has been manipulated in any way will feel for Jason and be able to relate to his character. Teens will read this book and understand that others are manipulated and they are not the only one. They will hopefully be able to read this book and get the courage to tell someone else what is happening to them so that it can be stopped.
Issues present: This book has manipulation the likes of which I have never read or seen. People, especially parents, are going to object to the way Jason was treated, but they have to understand that some kids are manipulated by their peers and the adults in their lives. The use of authority to get your way is a common practice and Cormier did a great job of showing this in his work. Kids are vulnerable and should not be taken advantage of, that is what this book is tell us.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Jason and Trent’s characters.
P. 17 – describes murder scene.
Genre or subject: Murder, manipulation
Readalikes:  The Chosen One, Kill Switch, The Interrogation of Gabriel James
Author’s website: no personal website
Awards: ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2002)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-29379041.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-385-72962-8
Why I chose it: I heard that Robert Cormier was a great author and I have a soft spot for murder mysteries, so I decided to try this one. I have to say that he did not disappoint. 

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

Bibliographic information: Speak. Laurie Halse Anderson. Square Fish, 1999. $9.99. 198p. ISBN-13:  9780312674397.
Summary: Melinda is just starting high school. Over the summer break she went to a high school party with her friends. One of the most popular guys in high school took an interest in her and decided to act friendly with her, just to take advantage of her later that night. Melinda having had some alcohol earlier in the night was unable to prevent his actions. Soon after she stumbled into the party-house and called the police, not even thinking about the illegal party. This made all of her friends, and basically the entire school, angry at her so she never got the chance to tell her story. She continues to live in fear and pain for the rest of summer and through her first year of high school until she is finally able to speak out about what happened to her.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up  IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Written through the first person viewpoint of the main character, Melinda, this title captures the true charms and nature of a teenager. As reading, it feels like you are in the head of a very real teenager. After going through the worst experience of her life, Melina shuts down and pull into herself. She has this secret she should tell, she even wants to tell, but she doesn’t know how to do it and is afraid of what will happen if she does. These fears are rationalized and confirmed by her schoolmates and her best friend her who treat her like she has the plague rather than ask what is wrong. A very psychological ride and a true treasure for young adults who went through similar experiences. This book will give teens the courage to speak out about their own horrifying encounters. Highly recommended to all.
Readers’ annotation: She has a secret that she just can’t seem to tell anyone. She has a secret that is eating her alive.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The entire situation that Melinda goes through, being raped and bullied will speak to young adults who went through similar situations or are going through. They will be able to use this book as a way to gain encouragement to speak out about their situation and seek help from family and friends. This book is telling them that they do not need to be afraid to tell others what happen.
Issues present: This book discusses rape and bullying, as well as some under aged drinking. People may object to the violent nature of the rape and bullying that happened to Melinda, however these things happen to teenagers and it is important for them to be able to read about something that will help them cope with their situation.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Melinda’s character.
P. 7 – last paragraph – insight into main character
P. 5-6 – list of ten lies they tell you in high school, so true.
P. 8 fourth paragraph down, high school horror.
P. 198 – describes plot line.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: rape, abuse
Readalikes:  Just Listen, Thirteen Reasons Why, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, Living Dead Girl, I Was a Teenage Fairy, Boy Toy
Author’s website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/
Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (1999), Golden Kite Award for Fiction (1999), BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (1999), Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2000), Printz Honor (2000) South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2002), Horn Book Fanfare (2000), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2000), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2005)
Reviews:  Kirkus Review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/laurie-halse-anderson/speak/; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Speak-Laurie-Halse-Anderson/pid=456480; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-37152-4
Why I chose it: A friend recommended this book to me so I thought I would give it a try. I was very pleased with the results.

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