The Fault in Our Stars- John Green

Mini Review:

I read this book several months ago and- like everything I’ve read by John Green, I loved it.  LOVED.  I of course bawled my eyes out and all that jazz.  But let me take a minute to explain what I liked about it… I liked, that once again, John Green is making smart kids cool.  That the sexual experiences in the book are well thought out and purposeful and not at all gratuitous.  I like the flow of the dialogue.  And, I really liked, that it got students reading.

I have yet to see the movie but I will soon.  Anyways, I give this book a big thumbs up and think it’s definitely a book both tens and adults can enjoy and learn from.

I think this book is most appropriate for high school students.  I do think it could be used as a whole class read but I would probably just keep it on my bookshelf and recommend it to students.

Keep Reading!

Paper Towns- John Green

Paper Towns

Review:

I have been looking forward to reading Paper Towns by John Green since it came out but never got around to it.  While I was at NCTE 2011 in Chicago I had the opportunity to stand in line and have John Green sign a book.  They were selling Paper Towns at a discounted price so I jumped at the opportunity!  I’m so glad I did.  I’ve read other books by Green, An Abundance of Katherines  and Looking for Alaska and enjoyed both so I wasn’t surprised that I liked Paper Towns as well.  I really enjoyed that there was a male protagonist that seemed relatable and that there were significant characters that were male and female which should make this a book that can appeal to all teens.  The book follows one boys quest to find his neighbor, a beautiful girl, whom he has admired for years.  There is quite a bit of mystery and suspense in the novel which appealed to me.  This was not an easily predictable book.  One other thing that I really liked about this book was the including of poetry from Walt Whitman- I like to think that perhaps it will not only expose teens to another form of writing but spark an interest in it as well.

I do not see myself using this book as a classroom read in the future but I would put it on my classroom book shelf.  There is some talk of sex and drinking but in a frank and realistic way that does not glorify it or condemn it.  You will find some “inappropriate” language in the book but again it’s well places and not gratuitous in  nature.  Scholastic labels this book as being a 9-12th grade interest level and I agree.  The characters are seniors in high school and I think the content makes it a high school level book despite it’s lower reading level.

The Lowdown (Via Scholastic)

Interest Level: Grade 9 – Grade 12 (I agree with this)

Grade Level Equivalent: 5.5

Lexile® measure: 850L

Educational Materials Available: SRC! Quiz, AR Quiz

Awards:

2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery

The Mockingbirds- Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds

Review:  I downloaded The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney to my Kindle in anticipation of reading the ARC of its sequel The Rivals.  I am so glad I did.  The Mockingbirds seemed to combine some of the best aspects of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War and Knowles’ A Separate Peace.  At times it even reminded me of John Green’s Waiting for Alaska.   But this book stands on its own and has its own merit.  From the first paragraph on the first page you are thrown into the life of the main character Alex, a junior girl at an elite boarding school, who has been date raped.

What I enjoyed about this story is how it dealt with the rape in a very realistic way.  You see Alex attempting to discern where the responsibility for the rape lies and how to move on with her life.  With such a serious subject this book could have become very dark and depressing very fast.  But it isn’t.  There are times where it is graphic, the imagery and the language may make you squirm but that is offset with the very regular interactions the teen characters have.  Crushes, school work, clubs and more.  Whitney also does a great job of examining what happens when schools have a history of caring more for their record than for their students and what types of change students can initiate.

This is definitely a book written for high school aged students.  I think it would appeal more to females than males, but males could get a lot out of it as well.  I think that if I were to teach a book about a subject such a date rape I would be more likely to teach Speak due to some of the graphic nature of this book.  I could however, see myself recommending this book to students or having it on a list (along with most of the other titles I mentioned earlier) to read alongside Speak for some sort of comparison project.  The Mockingbirds is also one of those books that I will be recommending to my friends who don’t read YA the way I do.  I believe this is a crossover book that adults can read and learn from as much as teens.

The Lowdown:

RL: 4-5 grade, lexile rating of HL720L (THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT A BOOK FOR 4th or 5th GRADERS)
Interest Level: High School (I could see 8th graders reading it but it might get a little heavy for younger teens)

Awards:

  • A Romantic Times Best Book of 2010
  • A Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • An NPR Best Book of 2010
  • An Association of Booksellers for Children New Voices Pick for 2010
  • Chicago Public Library Best of Best Books for Teens in 2010
  • Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention
  • An Indie Next List Pick
  • A GoodReads Mover and Shaker for November 2010
  • The Books-A-Million teen book club pick for January 2011

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Rivals!

NCTE 2011- Chicago, IL

I attended the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention in Chicago from last Thrusday through this Sunday and I had the time of my life! I had no idea what to expect when attending but I ended up geeking out like an awkward fangirl for the majority of the conference. Why was I geeking out? I got to hear/meet/see so many awesome authors!

On Thursday at the Secondary Section kick off I heard Chris Crutcher (Whale Talk) speak!

I stood in line for 20 minutes to get a copy of Paper Towns by John Green signed! He was just as quirky and funny in person as I’ve seen on his YouTube videos and heard about! I also saw him speak about using Chicago as a backdrop for at least one of his books.

I saw David Levithan speak twice- once also about using Chicago in his books and once about censorship. I haven’t read anything by him, but my interest is definitely piqued now!

Walter Dean Myers (Monster) was signing books, but unfortunately I had a session to get to. I did see him though!

Katherine Paterson (author of Bridge to Teribethia) and Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak) were also on the panel discussion censorship and were extremely interesting!

Laurie Halse Anderson, Katherine Paterson, David Levithan

And here, is a picture of me meeting Angela Johnson (The First Part Last) and Sharon Draper (Battle of Jericho).  Both ladies were super nice and took at least a minute to listen to me tell them just a few things about my students. I had Draper sign a copy of Battle of Jericho to my students because we just finished reading it in our “book club.”  They thought it was pretty cool when I showed them!

Angela Johnson, Me, Sharon Draper

I came away with approximately 30 books- most of which I got for free and which are ARCs.  So keep your eye peeled here for upcoming reviews!   If anyone teaches English and is on the fence about attending the conference next year you should go!  I learned so much, got tons of free books, met lots of authors and generally enjoyed myself!  And, if those aren’t reason enough- it’s in Las Vegas next November!

An update

No excuses, just an update.

I am working with another teacher to start a school library.  Our school services students from age 5 to 22.  We are a school for emotionally disturbed and cognitively delayed students though some do read at grade level.  We’d like to create a levelled library so students can become independent readers.  This is branching out of my YA range so– what do you think?  Do you know of any MUST HAVE books for all age levels?  Any ideas for high interest books for my high school students that can’t read at all, or are at a 3rd grade or lower level?

Secondly I am going to be attending the NCTE conference in Chicago in a month!  I’m so excited.  Several YA authors, John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Chris Crutcher to name a few are going to be there and I’m hoping I can make it to their sessions.  Anyone else going?  I’ve never been to a conference before (other than the Key Club Conference I went to 10 years ago) and am not sure what to expect.  Advice?

Thirdly, I am using The Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper as a read aloud book in my class right now.  We are using it to examine fitting in, bullying/hazing, and relationships.  The majority of my class gets visibly excited when I read it.  It really is making me feel good.  We should be able to finish the book by Thanksgiving, so I need to come up with another book to read that deals with mental health/social-emotional themes.  Suggestions?

That’s all.  I hope my absence hasn’t been too horrible.

A Year in Review: 2008-2009

Well, despite a slow last couple of months, my blog has reached it’s one year anniversary.  And I think the year has been rather successful.  I experimented with different styles of reviews, having polls, and the types of YA lit that I’ve read.  I have plenty more to do, and I am hoping to renew my efforts for year number 2.

 

For now, here’s a recap of all the books I’ve reviewed here on YA Lit, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

October 2008

Cut- Patricia McCormick

Out of the Dust– Karen Hess

Leaving Fischers- Margaret Haddix

A Hero Ain’t Nothing But A Sandwich– Alice Childress

Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

Looking For Alaska- John Green

November 2008

Romiette and Julio– Sharon Draper

House of the Scorpion- Nancy Farmer

Seek- Paul Fleischman

Scorpions- Walter Dean Meyers

I am the Cheese- Robert Cormier

Twisted- Laurie Halse Anderson

Monster- Walter Dean Meyers

 

December 2008

Copper Sun– Sharon Draper

 

January 2009

I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

Slam– Nick Hornby

 

February 2009

Maximum Ride– James Patterson

An Abundance of Katherines– John Green

 

March 2009

Boy Proof- Cecil Castellucci

Room in the Heart- Sonia Levitin

Confessions of an Not it Girl- Melissa Kantor

How Ya Like Me Now?– Brendan Halpin

Cuba 15- Nancy Osa

Bullyville- Francine Prose

Tangerine- Edward Bloor

Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson

Beauty Shop For Rent- Laura Bowers

 

April 2009

The Battle of Jericho- Sharon Draper

Persepolis– Marjane Satrapi

A Step From Heaven– An Na

Kit’s Wilderness- David Almond

The White Darkness- Geraldine McCaughrean

American Born Chinese- Gene Luen Yang

Nation- Terry Pratchett

 

May 2009

The Chocolate War – Robert Cormier

Dead is the New Black- Marlene Perez

Jellicoe Road– Melina Marchetta

Tears of a Tiger– Sharon Draper

Being Nikki- Meg Cabot

 

June 2009

Ghostgirl– Tonya Hurley

Max- James Patterson

 

July 2009

The Hunger Games– Suzanne Collins

So Not The Drama- Paula Chase

Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes- Chris Crutcher

 

August 2009

Ghostgirl:Homecoming- Tonya Hurley

 

September-October 2009

No new book reviews- though I did re-read Tears of A Tiger and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes during these months.

 

I’ve made it through 45 reviews.  I hope to top that during my second year.  Stay tuned!

 


 


Ultimate YA Bookshelf

YALSA has come out with their “Ultimate YA Bookshelf” which has 50 books, 5 magazines, and 5 audiobooks.  The premise behind it and a link to the pdf can be found here.

Here are the 50 books-  I am interested in how many of them I’ve read- and whether most of them are specifically YA lit or just books that Young Adults might enjoy…

Just so I can keep it straight I will BOLD the ones I’ve read and UNDERLINE the one’s I’ve never heard of- as, I’m afraid to admit there are many!

  1. Acceleration by Graham McNamee
  2. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  3. All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
  4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  5. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  6. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  7. Black and White by Paul Volponi
  8. Blizzard! The Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy
  9. Bone series by Jeff Smith
  10. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
  11. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  12. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  13. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank
  14. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  15. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  16. Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
  17. Feed by M.T. Anderson
  18. Fruits Basket series by Natsuki Takaya
  19. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
  20. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  21. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  22. The Guinness Book of World Records
  23. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  25. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  26. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  27. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
  28. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  29. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
  30. The Killer’s Cousin by Nancy Werlin
  31. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
  32. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  33. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
  34. My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
  35. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  36. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  37. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  38. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  39. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  40. Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer
  41. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  42. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
  43. Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
  44. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  45. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
  46. Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
  47. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  48. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  49. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
  50. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Wow, I’ve read only 16 out of the 50.  Oh, and I’ve gone through The Guinness Book of World Records, but have not read it cover to cover… has anyone?  That’d put me at 17.  I’m glad that several of the books are already on my to read list!

I’ve never heard of 22 of the books.  I have heard of many of those authors though.

updated: 8/13/09