An Abundance of Katherines- John Green

An Abundance of Katherines is a creative and humourous story that centers on a 17 year old boy and his history of dating girls named Katherine.  A child prodigy, Colin tries to use his brain smarts to create a formula for predicting the outcome of a relationship.  While there is a bit of math-speak in this novel, one does not need to love math or understand it in order to enjoy the story.  (I should know- math is NOT my strongest subject.)  Along with dealing with teenage love this story also touches on life goals, friendship- between guys nonetheless, and a little bit with religions.  I really enjoyed reading this book, and think that high school boys and girls would both be able to identify with it.  I especially enjoyed the random facts that are sprinkled throughout the novel.  I would recommend this as a book for individual reading.  I don’t think it would be out of place in a classroom setting- but I also think there are other novels that are better suited for whole class reads.

AWARDS:

2007 Printz Honor Book

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

A Booklist Editors’ Choice

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year

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Maximum Ride – James Patterson (Books 1-4)

James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series is directed towards a young adult audience, and is quite different than the majority of his other books.  These books center on the character of Max who is a strong-willed 14 year old girl who is an avian-human hybrid-i.e. a bird-kid.  She, along with 5 others, can fly.  This series not only deals with the standard issues of being a teenager that is common in young adult literature, but also with not knowing your parents, bio-ethics, global warming, and conspiracy theories.  While definitely fantastical in nature the way in which the books are written is quite realistic- much of what is presented does not seem so far out of the realm of possibility that it is absolutely unbelievable.

I like the fact that there is a strong female protagonist in this series, especially since it is more science oriented.  And, due to the issues presented regarding science, this book could be used in a science class, or in an interdisciplinary unit.  I would recommend this book to girls and boys equally.  Students interested in adventure, action, and or science will be interested in these books.  They are accessible for and appropriate for students from grade 7 and up- though the level of discussion they elicit will depend on the maturity of the student.

There is also an on-line community for kids to get involved with these books and to take action against global warming which is at the center of the fourth book.  http://www.maximumride.com

There is also a site for educators located here: http://maximumread.com/maximum-ride/

I have not used any of these lessons and so cannot vouch for them.

Book 1: The Angel Experiment
Book 2: School’s Out- Forever
Book 3: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
Book 4: The Final Warning

The fifth installment (Max) is due for release mid-March 2009.

Awards:

ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
VOYA 2005 Review Editor’s Choice Book
London Times Children’s Book of the Week
2007 IRA Young Adult Choices title
2006 – 2007 Florida Teen Book Award Master List title
2007 New Hampshire Teen Readers Book Award Master List title
2007 – 2008 Missouri Gateway Teen Book Award Master List title
2007 – 2008 Colorado Blue Spruce Award Master List title