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!

Banned Books Week Part 1

Banned Books Week started on September 25th.  Due to this I decided to start looking at the most frequently challenged books from the past decade to see what I have read, what I haven’t read and if I agree or at least understand the challenging of any of them.  I’m thinking I might get some good titles for my “to-read” list as well!!

Here’s the list:

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 (from the ALA)

Bolded books I have read, links go to my reviews

1 Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4 And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5 Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

7 Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8 His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9 TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11 Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12 It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13 Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

15 The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16 Forever, by Judy Blume
17 The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18 Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19 Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20 King and King, by Linda de Haan
21 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22 Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23 The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24 In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25 Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28 Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29 The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney

30 We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32 Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33 Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36 Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37 It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38 Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39 Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40 Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41 Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42 The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43 Blubber, by Judy Blume
44 Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45 Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46 Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48 Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51 Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52 The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53 You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54 The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55 Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56 When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57 Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58 Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59 Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60 Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61 Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62 The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63 The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64 Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65 The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67 A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68 Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69 Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70 Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71 Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72 Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

73 What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74 The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75 Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76 A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77 Crazy:  A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78 The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79 The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80 A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81 Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82 Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83 Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84 So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86 Cut, by Patricia McCormick

87 Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88 The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89 Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90 A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91 Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Graighead George
92 The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93 Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94 Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95 Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96 Grendel, by John Gardner
97 The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98 I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99 Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100 America: A Novel, by Frank, E.R.

I should note that this is not a list of YA books specifically, though you may notice that MANY of the titles are YA books.

None of the books I read are what I would consider controversial.  I know why most of them were probably challenged, but all in all none of them offended me or gave me much pause! Take this last opportunity to vote in my Book Banning Poll.

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

May Recap

May wasn’t my greatest month for reading.  But, I did get some good books read. So in case you missed it- here’s what I read:(Numbers correspond to their placement on my list of books read so far for the entire year.)

24. Being Nikki– Meg Cabot 
25. The Chocolate War– Robert Cormier 
26. Dead is the New Black– Marlene Perez
27. Jellicoe Road– Melina Marchetta
28. Tears of A Tiger– Sharon Draper
29. The House on Mango Street-Sandra Cisneros 

Total YA Books in May: 5

Total Adult Books in May: 1

Total Books in May: 6

Total Books for Year: 29

Oh and I still haven’t finished 1984… I just need to sit down and power through the rest of it I think.  I am over half way through!

 

Reading The House on Mango Street officially started my summer reading.  You can see my ever growing “to be read” summer list here.

The Chocolate War- Robert Cormier


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The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is a story about a boy at an all boys Catholic high school who decides to rebel against a school tradition.  He also gets involved with a secret high school society.  The book addresses friendship, bullying, and teacher student relationships.  I enjoyed this book, and I think that it would be a good choice for teen boys.  There are several mentions of male arousal and self-pleasure, but they aren’t overly explicit and some students might not pick up on them.  For that reason I might not use it in a classroom, but I think with parent permission it would be fine.  This book is best for early high school in my opinion.  There is another novel, Beyond the Chocolate War which Cormier also wrote that continuing the story of the secret society and students at the school.  I will read and review it sometime in the future.

Awards:

An ALA Best Books for Young Adults
A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Choice
A New York Times Outstanding Books of the Year
Margaret A Edwards Award 

Results for Poll #5- Favorite YA Authors

Here are the results from last week’s poll about who your Favorite YA Authors are.

1.Laurie Halse Anderson 40% (6 votes)
2.Other: 27% (4 votes) 
3.John Green 13% (2 votes) 
4.Robert Cormier 7% (1 votes)
4.Sharon Draper 7% (1 votes)
4.Chris Crutcher 7% (1 votes)

It wasn’t a very big sample… but interesting results nonetheless.  Check back tomorrow for a new poll, and feel free to give me suggestions for future polls.