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Monthly Archives: September 2011

The House of the Scorpian by Nancy Farmer

Bibliography:

Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpian. Athenium Books for Young Readers, 2002. 380 pages. ISBN 978-0-689-85222-0

Plot Summary:

In the future where clones are harvested for their organs, Matteo (Matt) Alacran is such a clone of the drug-lord Matteo Alacran, known as El Patron. He was raised in an isolated cabin far out in the opium fields by a chef, Celia, from the Alacran estate. One day when Matt, six years old now, is home alone he hears children outside, he has never seen other children before. Matt knows he is not supposed to show himself, but curiosity gets the better of him and he goes to the window. Unfortunately the kids see him and try to talk to him. This leads to them coming back the next day and doing the same. Matt ends up breaking the window and jumping out so that he can join them, but he ends up cutting his legs, hands, and feet quite badly on the glass. The kids rush him to the estate to get him a doctor, but when the adults discover who he is they throw him outside and later locked in a cell and treated like an animal for three months after that. When El Patron discovers the condition of his clone and is furious. Afterword, Matt is living like royalty, but still seen as an animal by others. The good life does not last long for Matt and soon his dreams are destroyed and his life is threatened.

Critical Evaluation:

This is a cepitvating novel that is sure to grab the attention of teen readers. Matt is a complex character with a personality that will you will have a hard time not liking. He starts out a bit naive, but compassionate, and turns into a strong-willed, intelligent boy. All of the other characters lend in creating a colorful cast for this novel. Farmer does a magnificent job of laying out the setting and creating a desolate feel to the story that you can only hope will get better. This book brings up a great topic of discussion on cloning and cloning rights. Matt is treated like an animal by everybody because he is a clone. Clones are only grown so that who ever they are the clone for can use them to harvest their organs or other body parts. Is it really okay to bring a being into the world for the full use of havesting them? Do clones deserve the same rights as non-clones, or since they are a science specimen do they not get those rights? This is a tough one, and I think Farmer does a great job of voicing her own opinion on the matter. She also brings up the topic of harvesting opium that could generate a great discussion as well. A great read that comes highly recommended.

Reader’s Annotation:

What would you do if you were cloned for the sole purpose that your organs could be harvested? Matt Alacran is having just that issue, but he doesn’t know it yet.

Author:

Nancy Farmer was born in 1941 in Phoenix, Arizona. She went to college at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and got her BA in 1963. She joined the Peace Corps and was sent to India (196301965). Upon returning she went to Berkeley and sold newspapers on the street for a while. She got a job in the Entomology department at UC Berekely and took courses in Chemistry. She then decided to visit Africa. Her and a friend hitchhiked by boat, but the boat they rented ended up being stolen and they were boarded by the Coast Guard just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge. She was forced to buy plane tickets. She spent more than a year living alone on Lake Carbora Bassa in Mozambique, monitoring water weeds. She then helped control the tsetse flies in the dense brush on the banks of the Zambezi in Zimbabwe. She met her future husband in the capital, Harare, there. They married a few weeks later (1976), and now live in Menlo Park, California. They have one son, Daniel, who is in the US Navy.

Nancy has an honors from the National Book Award for The House of the Scorpion and a Newbery Honor for The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, A Girl Named Disaster and The House of the Scorpion. She wrote eight other novels, three picture books, and several short stories. Her books have been translated into 26 different languages.  From nancyfarmerwebsite.com

Genre:

Science Fiction/futuristic/dystopian

Curriculum Ties:

Science/cloning
Ethics

Booktalking Ideas:

What would you do with your clone?

Reading Level/Interest Level:

11 years and up/YA

Challenge Issues:

N/A

Why I include this book:

Somebody highly recommended it to me and after reading it thought it would be a great addition to my collection. Didn’t realize the reading level was so low until I looked it up, but the content level I believe is much higher.

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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog

 

Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan

Bibliography:

Ryan, Patrick. Gemini Bites. Scholastic Press, 2011. 231 pages. ISBN 978-0-545-22128-3

Plot 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 whole 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.

Critical Evaluation:

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 real life, this book illustrates how you may get through them.

Reader’s 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?

Author:

Patrick Ryan was born in Washington, D.C., in 1965 and he grew up in Florida. He got his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and his Master of Fine Arts from the Writing Program at Bowling Green State University in 1990. He wrote short story for about 10 years before his first publication. His stories have been published in many journals including Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, The Nebraska Review, One Story, Ontario Review, and The Yale Review.

He also writes under the name P.E. Ryan on occasion. His first novel was Send Me, a book for adults that takes a look at three decades in the life of a dysfunctional family. His previous novel, In Mike We Trust, 2009, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult literature, and was named by Booklist to its Rainbow List in 2010.

Genre:

GLBT

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Gay, Straight, or Vampire?

Reading Level/Interest Level:

YA/8-12 graders

Challenge Issues:

Potential gay relationship issues, but I don’t think libraries have anything to worry about putting this book on their shelves.

Why I include this book:

I had a 17 year old recommend it to me when I told her I was looking for materials on GLBT.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog

 

Totally Joe by James Howe

Bibliography: Howe, James. Totally Joe. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005. 189 pages. Tr. $15.34, ISBN 978-0-689-83957-3

Plot: Joe Bunch is not your average Joe. Joe is twelve years old and gay and proud of it, he does not care who knows. When his English teacher, Mr. Daly, assigns the whole class to write an alphabiography, Joe goes all out. Joe takes us through his life and everything meaningful to him starting with letter A, for Addie, his best and oldest friend and ending with letter Z, for Zachary, his newest friend.  Throughout his 7th grade year, Joe experiences his first crush and boyfriend, Collin. However, Collin is not as open about his being gay as Joe is and does not want anybody else to know. This puts Joe in a difficult situation and he has to decide if keeping their relationship a secret is worth the trouble.

Review: Totally Joe is written through the perspective of Joe Bunch, a gay twelve year old and he may not be popular, but he who is proud of who he is and so are his closest friends and family. The whole story is an alphabiography written by Joe, so each new chapter is the next letter in the alphabet. Joe is witty, fun and full of life; his personality really brings the book to life. Joe is so infectious, by the end of the book you will want to be his friend too. This book is great for helping tweens and young teens who are struggling with their sexuality. It will show them that it is okay to be gay, bi, or straight and they will still be accepted by society.

Genre: GLBT

Reading Level/Interest Level: 4.8/5-8 graders

Similar Materials: Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan, Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

Reader’s Advisory: This book discusses issues of homosexuality, but I think it is done in such a way that it would be hard to be controversial. Joe is such a likable character that I found myself wanting to be his friend. This book was so fun I finished it in one night.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in LIBR 264-10 Digital Record

 

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Bibliography:

Lyga, Barry. Boy Toy. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. 410 pages. ISBN 978-0-618-72393-5

Plot Summary:

Joshua Mendel is 18 years old. It started when he was twelve and continued until he was thirteen and in the 7th grade. His history teacher, Evelyn Sherman (Eve), molested him. It began as a friendship that turned into much more. Josh had believed he was in love with Eve, she claimed to loved him. Before long, their relationship progressed into a sexual one. At the 13th birthday party for Rachel, Josh’s friend, he practically raped her in the closet because he was just doing what Eve taught him. This caused everything about Eve and Josh to be revealed. Eve was sent to jail and Josh was left to struggle through life with flickers of memories from his time with Eve and everybody always judging him. However, five years later, Eve is out of jail and Josh is panicking. He was just trying to get through school with good grades and play baseball so that he could go to college, far from home. Now he has to worry about running into Eve, which dredges up a lot of memories. Not to mention, he just ran into Rachel, whom he has not talked to in five years.

Critical Evaluation:

Boy Toy is a riveting title that will suck you in and keep you engrossed for hours. The story is powerful and sheds light on issues you do not normally come across. This story is written in the first person view point of Joshua Mendel; he speaks from the present and from his past. Josh is a character who a lot of teenagers can relate to on a basic level. He likes to play baseball and get good grades in hopes of getting into a decent college. However, (and this is where he is different) being molested by his history teacher makes it hard for him to fit in with other teenagers. Although Lyga did a great job writing Boy Toy to catch the attention of older teens, library media centers will have to be careful about putting this title on their shelves. This story has a lot of controversy that could easily be challenged by parents.

Reader’s Annotation:

Five years ago Josh’s life changed all because of one person, his history teacher, Eve. Everybody thinks they understand what Josh is going through, but they don’t.

About the Author:

Barry Lyga graduated from Yale with a degree in English. He then worked in the comic book industry for ten years. He wrote comics part time, but was also responsible for developing Free Comic Book Day. During those years, he was a spokesperson for comic industry. In 2006, he wrote his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, it got great reviews. His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, and got critical ratings. His third novel, Hero-Type, came out in the Fall of 2008, and was reviewed as fresh, new and interesting.

He has now also written Goth Girl Rising (a sequel to his first novel), and the Archivillain series for middle-graders. “His upcoming books include more Archvillain, the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran), and the series I Hunt Killers. Publisher’s Weekly named Lyga a “Flying Start” in December 2006 on the strength of his debut. Lyga lives and writes in the big city. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.”   From: barrylyga.com

Genre:

Realistic Fiction/Controversy

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Student-teacher relationship

Reading Level/Interest Level:

YA/10th grade and up

Challenge Issues:

There is the issue of a twelve year old having sexual relations with his history teacher. Library media centers would have to be careful about this title, but it is clearly for older teens.

Why I included this title:

I read about this book when I was writing a paper on censorship in libraries and I thought it would be an interesting read and a great addition to my collection.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog

 

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Bibliography: Blume, Judy. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1970. ISBN 978-0-689-84158-3

Plot: Margaret is eleven, lives in New York City, about to go into sixth grade, and her parents have just made her move to a small town in New Jersey. Margaret likes to talk to God in private, but openly she states that, “She is no religion.” Her father was Jewish and her mother Christian, therefore, they settled on no religion. Margaret is bombarded with questions of her religion when she moves to New Jersey and struggles to find a religion, as well as, going through the typical problems of a growing young lady. Talk about pressures.

Review: Classic children’s author Judy Blume has done a fantastic job again. This book is wonderfully written through the eyes of a distraught eleven year old, going on twelve, who is just trying to get through the sixth grade, but is having to deal with religion on top of regular developing tween issues. She has to deal with new boys, the ever pending period, having a small bust, and her new friends, who she hopes she can trust. The plot is one that most growing tweens and young teens can relate to. Margaret is a delightful young lady and makes the story quite enjoyable with her inner thoughts and amusing dialect. This book is a great read for those who are struggling to discover who they are.

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Religion

Reading Level: 3.6, Interest Level: 3-6 graders

Similar Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis are both religion related. Summer Eleven directed by Joseph Kell

Reader’s Advisory: This book is a fun book to read, I really enjoyed it and thought that Margaret really made me feel like I could be in her shoes. This book has been around for quite some time and is still going strong, Judy Blume is a great author of many books. This book could pose some controversy because of it’s main topic on religion and whether she believes or not in God, and Margaret trying to choose between religions.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in LIBR 264-10 Digital Record

 

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Biblography:

Meyer, Stephenie. The Host: a novel. Little, Brown, 2008. ISBN 978-0-316-06804-8

Plot Summary:

Earth has been taken over by parasitic aliens who use the body as a host, taking over both body and mind. Melanie Stryder one of the few remaining “wild” humans, was on the run from the aliens with a few others and has just been captured. She is now the host to an alien named Wanderer. Wanderer had been warned of the difficulties of having a human host, such as the emotions, many senses, and vivid memories, but she never expected the difficulties of the host body not giving up her mind. Now Melanie is struggling to not fade away while Wanderer is struggling to possess Melanie’s mind. After many attempts to extract the location of the remaining “wild” humans from Melanie’s mind, Wanderer has failed. Instead of giving away their location Melanie has been giving Wanderer memories of the man she loves, Jared. Now Wanderer has started to yearn for Jared, just as Melanie does. However, Jared is in hiding, therefore, when outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie become allies, they set off on a dangerous adventure to find Jared.

Critical Evaluation:

Stephenie Meyer (1973-) is the bestselling author of the Twilight Saga. The Host is her first novel for adults and is considered a science fiction novel, however, it is science fiction for people who are not science fiction fans. The greatest science fiction aspect of this book is the fact that it has aliens who possess technology far in advance from our own technology. Other than that, it appears to be a story about friendship and love. The Host is easy to follow and carries a sense of hope throughout the story. Told in the first person point of view, with Wanderer as the main character and voice of the story, although, Wanderer and Melanie speak to each other in their minds throughout the story giving a sense that there is a second main character. The story progresses slowly in the beginning, but picks up speed as you go along. The script is well thought out, detailed, and written at an adult level that would appeal to young adult readers, as well. The ending suggest a possible sequel.

Reader’s Annotation:

Parasitic aliens have invaded Earth and now Melanie Stryder struggles to keep her mind as her own. An unsuspecting ally helps Melanie fight against the aliens.

About the Author:

Stephenie Meyer’s life changed dramatically on June 2, 2003. The stay-at-home mother of three young sons woke up from a dream featuring seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head.
Twilight
was one of 2005’s most talked about novels and within weeks of its release the book debuted at #5 on The New York Times bestseller list. On May 6, 2008, Little, Brown and Company released The Host, Meyer’s highly-anticipated novel for adults which debuted at #1 on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. The Host still remains a staple on the bestseller lists more than a year after its debut. Stephenie lives in Arizona with her husband and three sons.

Genre:

Science Fiction/Cross-over

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Nice aliens?
Wanderer and Melanie struggle.

Reading Level/Interest Level:

Adult/Young Adult-Adult

Challenge Issues:

None

Why I included this book:

I thought it was interesting how a young adult writer wrote a novel for adults, but young adults still read it.

 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Bibliography: Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Illustrated by Mary GrandPre. Scholastic Inc., 1997. 309 pages. Tr. $6.99, ISBN 078-0-7300699-1

Plot: Harry Potter is the sole survivor of the infamous Voldemort, dark wizard, but he doesn’t know it quite yet. After Voldemort killed Harry’s parents he was sent to live with his horrible aunt and uncle, the Dursley’s, until his eleventh birthday. Now he gets to go to wizard’s school, where he meets new friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Together they end up in Gryffindor Tower and the dangerous adventures to fight off Voldemort and survive begin. In The Sorcerer’s Stone they must save the stone before somebody steals it. Harry suspects it might be Professor Snape after the stone because of his behavior towards Harry. But who’s really behind it? Harry, Ron, and Hermione each get to practice some of their strengths in magic while searching for the stone.

Review: This is the first book in the Harry Potter series. Rowling has created a lasting series that is great for young and adult readers. Harry Potter is magical and extraordinary, where wizards do not generally mingle with non-wizards, but hide in the background secretly protecting them. Voldemort, the lead antagonist, has created havoc among the wizards, and Harry and is friends come to the rescue. This story is fast-paced, easy to read, and a fun adventure that continues to progress as the series goes on. In this first segment Harry, Ron and Hermione experience their first real fight against the dark wizards. This is only their first stumble upon misfortune that they will experience.

Genre: Fantasy

Reading Level: 5.3, Interest Level: 5-8 graders

Similar Materials: Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage

Reader’s Advisory: The first book in a 7 book series. In my opinion they get progressively better as they go. They were also made into films, the last book being split in two; eight films total. Although the books are better than the films, which generally seems to be the case. Winner of the 1997 Gold Medal Smarties Prize. Winner of the 1997 National Book Award (UK). A bestseller throughout the USA. This is a book that is hard to put down.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in LIBR 264-10 Digital Record