Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why I Quit Zombie School

Annotation:  When a young horror fan enrolls in a new boarding school, he learns that his classmates are zombies. His only hope for survival is convincing his parents of the unbelievable truth, but in the meantime he must keep his own secret, that he is alive, before it’s too late!

Book Talk:
Matt Krinsky has always loved horror; movies, gore makeup, collectibles, you name it! But when he arrives at his new boarding school, no amount of horror fandom could have prepared him for the real life terror that awaits! His classmates move awfully slowly, practically stumbling, and they dine on rotten meat and fruit! For fun, they dive off a high balcony, thudding and splatting sickeningly, as they collide with the marble floor below…and then rise to walk away unscathed! The last straw is when a soccer teammate’s leg detaches during a routine play and he carries it away, bloodlessly, to something called “the reviver room.” These kids aren’t kids; they’re zombies!

“I stood there shaking. I realized I had sweat pouring down my face. This is what REAL horror is like, I told myself. I swore to myself if I survived this school, I’d never go to another horror movie. I just had to make it till Saturday. Saturday morning, my parents would arrive. Could I convince them to take me away from here? Could I convince them to save my life?”

Awards: None yet

Stine, R.L. Why I Quit Zombie School. New York: Scholastic, 2011. Print.

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The Giver

Annotation: In a futuristic fantasy world, where many of the contemporary world’s problems have been done away with, one boy is selected to take on an unbearable burden and learns the cost of his community’s supposed “utopia.”

Book Talk:
Jonas grew up in a community where everything was easy and nothing ever hurt. He and his family unit follow all the rules, and all of their needs are taken care of. Like the other kids in his age group, Jonas has put in volunteer hours at different jobs and anticipates the ceremony where they will all be assigned permanent positions within the community. Though his parents assure him that the community’s leaders will choose a role that he is best suited for, he can’t help but be nervous. When the day of the ceremony arrives, Jonas watches as each of his friends is assigned a role that really does suit them. Until it all goes horribly awry. Jonas never could have predicted, or even imagined, this. Now, nothing will be easy for Jonas ever again and everything he always trusted and believed about his community is about to change.

“Jonas did not want to go back. He didn’t want the memories, didn’t want the honor, didn’t want the wisdom, didn’t want the pain. He wanted his childhood again, his scraped knees and ball games. He sat in his dwelling alone, watching through the window, seeing children at play, citizens bicycling home from uneventful days at work, ordinary lives free of anguish because he had been selected, as others before him had, to bear their burden.”

  •  ALA “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000”
  •  ALA “Best Book for Young Adults”
  • ALA “Notable Children’s Book”
  • Booklist “Editor’s Choice”
  • Boston Globe-Horn Honor Book 1993
  • Buckeye Children’s Book Award 1997
  • Heartland Award for Excellence 1997
  • Newbery Medal 1994
  • School Library Journal “Best Book of the Year”
  •  William Allen White Award 1996
Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Delacorte, 1993. Print.

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Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Annotation: A group of suburban teens all reconsider their sexuality when new friends become potential boyfriends and girlfriends and challenge each other’s established sexual identities.

Book Talk: By seventeen, you can assume you have your own sexuality all figured out…right?

“Did you ever hear of this famous doctor-dude named Kinsey? He did research on like hundreds of people back in the fifties. And he found that some people are super-straight, some are ├╝ber-homo, and most people are actually somewhere in between.”

So what if you’re a girl with a steady boyfriend and you meet another girl who reminds you of a dream you once had, in which you maybe, kind of, felt a little attraction toward girls? And what if this new girl, who is definitely a lesbian, writes amazing poetry, shares your passion for manga and gives you a feeling that your boyfriend just isn’t able to anymore? Do you step out of your comfort zone and explore the possibilities with this new girl?

And what if you’ve been a proud gay boy for as far back as you can remember and, though you can be great friends with girls, thinking about them sexually is just not something you have any interest in whatsoever. Your first relationship didn’t go so well because your pseudo boyfriend wasn’t even out, let alone proud of his sexuality like you are, and to make matters worse, now he’s dating a girl! When you meet a new guy online and his profile info claims that he is “bi,” you assume he must just not be out yet. But what if he really is attracted to both boys and girls? Can you really trust him and accept that his sexual preferences aren’t identical to your own?

Maybe sexuality is way more complicated than simply gay or straight and a new person can challenge you to totally rethink everything you thought you already knew about your sexual identity.

Awards: None yet

Sanchez, Alex. Boyfriends with Girlfriends. New York: BFYR-Simon, 2011. N. pag. Print.

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Monday, October 17, 2011


Annotation: Who is Steve Harmon? Is he the wrongly accused teen son of loving parents? The aspiring filmmaker his teacher believes in? Or is he the monster the prosecution is steadily building a case against? All that matters now is who the jury decides he is.

Book Talk: All I know for certain about Steve Harmon is that he’s a young black man from Harlem, on trial for murder. The reality of his life as an accused criminal, with his future now in the hands of lawyers, a judge and a jury, and surrounded by violent and desperate inmates, is unbearable. So Steve turns to his passion, filmmaking, to process the unthinkable experience. The trial becomes a movie in his mind, with a script of dialogue from the characters swirling around him, and camera directions of the action as it unfolds. The suspense builds as the verdict looms ever closer; Steve reflects on his past and the choices that led him to this moment. After listening to all the witnesses and lawyers discuss him, even Steve isn’t sure anymore whether or not he’s the Monster the prosecution is working so hard to convince the jury he is. His only hope now is that the jury will disagree!

  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
  • Arizona Young Reader’s Award
  • Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book
  •  Bulletin Blue Ribbon (The Bulletin of the Center for     Children’s  Books)
  •  Coretta Scott King Honor (Author)
  • Horn Book Fanfare
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award
  •  Michael L. Printz Award
  •  National Book Award Finalist
  • Publishers Weekly Best Book

Meyers, Walter Dean. Monster. New York: Harper, 1999. Print.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Annotation: The journal entries of 13-year-old Anne, a Jewish girl living in hiding during World War Two, have captured the imagination of the world for over fifty years. Anne’s thoughts and feelings about family conflict, first love and cultivating a personal identity are utterly timeless and relatable, despite her most extraordinary situation.

Review: Anne Frank had only just turned thirteen when her family went into hiding abruptly in 1942, after witnessing many other Jewish families in Amsterdam torn apart, sent off to work camps and worse fates, nearly impossible to believe. Over two years, Anne documented her most personal thoughts and feelings in her closest friend and confidant, her journal Kitty. She wrote about everything from the day to day activities in the secret annex the Frank family shared with an another family, their son Peter and a dentist; to more emotional topics like her increasingly critical perspective of her parents and her sudden and then fleeting romance with Peter. Amazingly, Anne managed to experience so much of what most girls her age do, despite the extreme limitations of her situation. The suspense of living in hiding and the very real danger, lurking just around the corner, never fully abates, yet readers may find they are, at times, just as distracted from it as Anne was as they get lost in her thoughtful, descriptive and honest writing style and her faith and hope in the life that she believes lies in front of her.

Awards: None yet

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl. Trans. B.M. Moovaart-Doubleday. 1952. New York: Bantam, 1993. Print.

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