Beauty Queens- Libba Bray

Beauty Queens

Review:

This was one of the books I downloaded onto my Kindle to read while on vacation this summer.  It was by far my FAVORITE summer read.  I   found this book to be laugh out loud hilarious and ended up reading excerpts aloud to my parents while we were on a 12 hour car trip.

The story follows a group of teen beauty queens who have been stranded on a desert island.  The cast of characters is incredible.  Girly girls, pretty boys, gay, straight, transgender, black, white, and more.  The references to current pop culture are abundant and cleverly done.  Bray examines our cultural norms in such a way that we can laugh at ourselves.

This book is definitely a book for females.  There are some strong discussions about sexuality that are extremely well done, though may make some young people who have not yet started to explore that area of themselves uncomfortable.  For that reason, and for many of the references I think this book is best suited for older high school students, and even first or second year college students.  I would be comfortable having it in my classroom.

This really makes me want to go back and read Going Bovine, Bray’s Printz winning novel that I never finished.

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 9th grade

Grade Level: 5.3

AWARDS:

A 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Young Adult Literature

2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author

2012 Audie Award Nomination for Best Teen Audiobook

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So Not the Drama- Paula Chase


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So Not the Drama is a light easy read that still talks about some serious issues.  Mina is entering high school along with 3 best friends (1 girl, 2 boys) and is very concerned with becoming one of the “popular” crowd.  Throughout the novel Mina deals with keeping up her friendships, forming new ones, popularity, race issues, and more.  I enjoyed reading about Mina and her friends, and thought that the issues presented were done in a light interesting way.  There are a few swear words but I don’t think that they’re over done or too explicit.  I’d say this book is appropriate for students in grades 8-10.  I do not see this book appealing to teenage boys or being used in a classroom, though there are discussion questions at the end of the book.  This is book 1 of a 5 book series, and I hope to read the rest within the next 2 months.  

Tangerine- Edward Bloor

  Tangerine kept me interested for the entire novel.  Paul, the seventh grade protagonist, is an engaging character with whom I was able to empathize.  One of the story lines that kept me the most intrigued throughout the book was the mystery of how Paul’s eye sight was harmed.  There is just enough mystery and intrigue in this book to keep you guessing.  There is also a focus on soccer, fitting in, and differences between social class in the book.  This book is very appropriate for middle school students and I think could be used for individual reading or whole class reading. 

 

 

Awards:

ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults

Horn Book Fanfare Book

An American Bookseller Pick of the List

NYPL “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing”

A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

Cuba 15- Nancy Osa

Nancy Osa’s Cuba 15 centers on a 15 year old Cuban American girl named Violet.  Violet doesn’t know much about her Cuban roots until her grandmother (Abuela) decides that she needs to have a Quincenera.  Throughout the book Violet learns more about the tradition of the Quince, her roots, her family, and her friends.  Violet also deals with having a crush, and becoming a member of the speech team at her school.  The book is humorous and informative.  This would be a book that I would recommend to girls to read for fun.  I don’t see much of an appeal for teen males.  I also do not see it being used in a classroom setting as a whole class assignment.

Awards:

2006 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee
Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel


House of the Scorpion-Nancy Farmer

This novel was really interesting.  It is futuristic, science fiction, and deals with the moral issues of cloning. It is set in a future, dystopian, Mexico.   I think this book could be used in 8-10th grade.  The issues presented can be linked to science and social studies courses as well.

Awards:

Newbery Honor 2003

National Book Award 2002

Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book 2003

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award finalist 2003

Sequoyah Young Adult Award 2004-05

Volunteer State Award 2006

Arizona Young Readers Teen Award 2005

South Carolina Junior Readers Award 2005-2006

Rhode Island Teen Book Award Winner 2005

Young Hoosier Book Award Middle Grades 2006

Nevada Young Reader’s Award in the Young Adult category 2005

Senior Young Readers Choice Award Pacific Northwest Library Association 2004-05

Romiette and Julio-Sharon Draper

I have liked every single one of Drapers books that I have read.  This book is great because it plays off of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by having two teens of different races dating.  It has gangs, some violence, and deals with race issues in a very real way.  Draper catches readers’ (esp teens) attention quickly and moves the story along.  This story is told through a variety of genres.  I would use this in a 9th or 10th grade classroom.  It is very easy to read, but has important themes.

Draper has a study guide for this novel on her website.