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.
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: 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.
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.