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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Module 15: Go Ask Alice

Module 15: Censorship Issues

Go Ask Alice
Author: Anonymous

Book Summary:
      Go Ask Alice is based on the actual diary of a fifteen year old girl. It begins with her “normal” teenage problems of moving to a new school and finding new friends. However, when she goes back to her hometown to visit her old friends, she is invited to a party and inadvertently tries LSD. After that incident, drugs become a huge part of her world. The rest of the book follows her through the times she ran away from home, her weeks of being sober and then using again, and her various friendships and sexual conquests.
APA Book Reference:
Anonymous. (1971).Go ask Alice. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

     I hate the idea of censorship and book challenges. However, while I think teenagers should have the right to read this book, I can see why people would challenge it. It mentions a lot of controversial topics, mostly drugs. The book goes into detail about the girl’s drug use and what happens to her when she’s on the various drugs. She even becomes a dealer at one point and sells to a nine year old boy. Despite the controversial content, I do not think this book should be banned or challenged. This book is marketed as being a real diary and an honest story. If nothing else, it could even be a cautionary tale considering what happens to the girl as a direct result of her drug use. 

Professional Review:
Kirchhoff, H.J. (2006, February 18). Paperbacks. The Globe and Mail (Canada). Retrieved from: http://libproxy.library.unt.edu:2052/hottopics/lnacademic/?verb=sr&csi=303830
“Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous, Simon Pulse, 214 pages, $9.50
This is the 35th-anniversary edition of this young adult classic, in which the anonymous teen diarist tracks her own fall from middle-class comfort to the mean streets that, ultimately, killed her.”

Library Uses:
     Go Ask Alice could be used in a library program about writing. It could be used to encourage people to keep diaries or journals as part of the writing process. The book could also be used to start a discussion about controversial topics; it could be used in a display with other books with the same type of subject matter.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Module 14: Exposed

Module 14: Short Stories and Poetry 

Module 14: Exposed
Author: Kimberly Marcus

Book Summary:
Liz Grayson is a high school senior who seems to have it all, a “forever best” friend named Kate, a loving older brother in college, a boyfriend, and enough talent to go to college to be a photographer. However, when a Liz and Kate have a fight at their Saturday night sleepover, something happens that will change Liz’s relationships with everyone. Kate accuses Liz’s brother of rape, and Liz is forced to choose sides. Who does Liz believe- her brother or her “forever best?”
APA Book Reference:
Marcus, K. (2011). Exposed. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books. 

      I liked that this novel was told in verse. I’ve always been a fan of poetry, so this book caught my attention. The subject matter of the book was best told in verse. There easily could have been more detail in a traditional novel, but since the author seemingly wanted the reader to make their own decision about whether the rape occurred, the verse allowed for those details to be left out. Every poem in the book was relatively short, so while Marcus says a lot in the poems she does not exaggerate details.
     The poetry is not only good at leaving ambivalence; it also shows the emotions that Liz goes through. I think that teens can relate to this book on the emotional level even if they cannot relate to the situation itself. 

Professional Review:

“This provocative first novel, told in free-verse poems, offers a nuanced view of the ramifications of a rape, as seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Liz, an avid photographer. Marcus captures Liz's divided allegiances between the accused-her brother, a college student with whom Liz has an ambivalent but loving relationship--and her best friend, Kate, the victim ("My brother is a track star./My brother is a partier.... My brother/ is not/a rapist"). The stages of grief are well developed, as Liz negotiates the social consequences of the alleged rape, the loss of Kate as a friend, and her guilt for leaving Kate alone after a fight at a sleepover. In one poem, "Distraction," Liz claims to accept the loss, but says, "And except for a few times/every few minutes,/I hardly think about Kate/at all." Liz's relationships with her parents and peers offer poignant moments, such as when she lies to protect her mother from the rumors she hears at school. Marcus presents a thought-provoking portrait of rape and its irreparable impact on victim and community. Ages 14-up.”

Library Uses:
This book could be used in a library program about poetry. It could be used as a tool to show that poetry does not always have to rhyme; even free verse poetry about controversial issues can be beautiful.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Book Talk (Assignment C)

  For SLIS 5420 Assignment C, I chose to conduct a book talk program for high school juniors and seniors. The theme of the book talk was male outcasts.

  The books that I talked about were: 

Anderson, L.H. (2007). Twisted. New York, NY: Viking. 

Crutcher, C. (1993). Staying fat for Sarah Brynes. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

McNamee, G. (2003). Acceleration. New York, NY: Wendy Lamb Books.

Strasser, T. (2000). Give a boy a gun. New York, NY: Simon Pulse. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Module 13: The Clique

Module 13: Graphic Novels and Series

The Clique
Author: Lisi Harrison

Book Summary:
     Claire Lyons moves into the guest house of the Block family. She thinks that she can be friends with Massie Block because of their close proximity, but Massie has other plans. Massie and her clique, Kristen, Dylan, and Alicia, try their best to alienate Claire. But Claire fights back. She tries to turn Massie’s clique against her and break Massie’s heart by introducing her to her crush’s girlfriend. The Clique shows both good and bad sides of the two main characters personalities, Massie and Claire, but both girls come off as superficial and petty. Will they be friends, or will the rivalry continue?
APA Book Reference:
Harrison, L. (2004). The clique. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

     This book was a very quick read; I read the whole thing in one sitting. However, I found myself bothered my all of the characters. Usually there is a protagonist the reader can route for, but this book was lacking in that aspect. I suppose the protagonist is supposed to be Claire, the new girl being bullied by her neighbor. However, Claire even stoops to the level of the clique of popular girls when she sneaks into Massie’s room at night and impersonates her through instant messenger.
     Not only were all of the characters unlikeable, they were not really relatable either. Even though these characters are supposed to be rich kids, I find it unbelievable that they would have their own credit cards and be able to shop for their 600 dollar tank tops with no supervision while they’re only in the seventh grade. The dialogue and some of the girls’ actions were perhaps indicative of someone so young, but the rest just seemed over the top to me. Perhaps it was just a tool the author used to show how different the clique really was from Claire, but I was not deluded by it.
     A lot happens in this short book, but there is really no resolution. The reader gets to see that maybe Massie is not all that bad, but she still does not know what to do about Claire in the end. This book was obviously set up to be part of a series from the beginning. 

Professional Review:
Pierce, D. (2004). The clique (book). School Library Journal, 50(6). 143.
Gr 5-8-- Claire Lyons moves with her parents from Florida to wealthy Westchester County, NY. Until they can get settled, the family stays in the guest house of Mr. Lyons's college buddy, who happens to have a daughter who is also in seventh grade. Expected to welcome her, Massie instead chooses to make Claire's life miserable for no other reason than she's the new girl. Massie enlists her clique of friends at Octavian Country Day School, all part of the beautiful and popular crowd, to help with the harassment, which ranges from catty comments on Claire's clothes to spilling red paint on her white jeans in a conspicuous spot. Tired of it all, Claire tries to fight back, but then the abuse worsens. The book has trendy references kids will love, including Starbucks in the school, designer clothes, and PalmPilots for list making. However, this trendiness doesn't make up for the shallowness of the characters or the one-dimensional plot. Nor is the cruelty of the clique redeemed with any sort of a satisfying ending. The conclusion leaves one with the feeling that a sequel is in the works. Amy Goldman Koss's The Girls (Dial, 2000) shows the same cruelty of girls with a more realistic story and resolution.

Library Uses:
     This book could be used in a book talk about books involving cliques. This book could be incorporated into a library program where young girls talk about cliques and bullying.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Module 12: Hole in my Life

Module 12: Biography and Autobiography

Hole in my Life

Author: Jack Gantos

Book Summary:

   Jack Gantos in his autobiography, Hole in my Life, writes about his journey through a hard time in his life. He got involved in a drug smuggling operation and, although he was young and was slated to just get probation, was sent to jail. He always wanted to be a writer, but never considered any of his ideas pursuable. His time in jail though, while writing in his “journal:” the cramped spaces between the lines of an existing novel, allowed him to realize his writing potential. Although a hard time in his life, it became a turning point. After jail and college, he began writing children’s books.

APA Book Reference:
Gantos, J. (2002). Hole in my life. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

     This was a relatively short book, so it was a very quick read. I read it within the span of a few hours. I liked the book in terms of the writing about writing, but parts of it did get kind of boring. The chapters set on the boat were boring to me, but perhaps that’s because those were the truest parts of the book. Gantos was not just writing those chapters from memory; he kept a ship log, and it seems the passages were straight from that. Gantos also referenced many books and book characters that I was not familiar with, but I understand the device of comparing life to fiction as the author was interested in reading and writing at the time. I did enjoy this book though; it was short and to the point. It was about a bad time in the author’s life, but he did not dwell on the bad. He simply stated the facts.  
Professional Review: 

Gr. 8-up. Jack Gantos' riveting memoir of the 15 months he spent as a young man in federal prison for drug smuggling is more than a harrowing, scared-straight confession: it is a beautifully realized story about the making of a writer. As Gantos himself notes: "It [prison] is where I went from thinking about becoming a writer, to writing." His examination of the process--including his unsparing portrayal of his fears, failings, and false starts--is brilliant and breathtaking in its candor and authenticity. Particularly fascinating is his generous use of literary allusions to everything from Baudelaire to Billy Budd, which subtly yet richly dramatize how he evolved from a reader who became a character in the books he was reading to a writer and a character in his own life story. Gantos' spare narrative style and straightforward revelation of the truth have, together, a cumulative power that will capture not only a reader's attention but also empathy and imagination. This is great for every aspiring writer and also a wonderful biography for teens struggling to discover their deepest, truest selves.

Library Uses:
     This book could be used in a library writing workshop. Gantos describes how he writes and formats his journals, and this could be helpful to burgeoning writers. This book could also be paired with other “jail” literature (as the author refers to).