Monday, November 30, 2009

Gothic: Ten Original Dark Tales

Book Info
Gothic: Ten Original Dark Tales
editor Deborah Noyes

This short story collection features stories by Joan Aiken, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Celia Rees, Janni Lee Simner, Vivian Vande Velde, and Barry Yourgrau. These tales draw on the dark fantasy as well as horror and wild humor, while paying homage to the gothic tale in 10 original stories of the supernatural and the surreal.

My Thoughts
I have always enjoyed short stories (especially scary ones) and this book was a fun read with scary stories from Neil Gaiman, Vivian Vande Velde, and CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan. I own Vivian Vande Velde's Being Dead and will most likely add this one to my personal library. Scary stories are best told with a suspensful build up and a shocking ending and this short story collection is no exception.

By turns lyrical and bleak and leavened at times with grim, bleak humor or goofiness, the ten stories in this anthology either entertain or terrorize-or both. Although the title conjures up a vision of Victoria Holt-like heroines in peril, Noyes has assembled an exciting variety of dark fantasy and horror stories-all far more sinister and less predictable than formulaic "gothic" tales. ...Consistently well-written, these stories will appeal to many fantasy readers and all horror readers and they will lead to exploration of other writings by the authors. The level of terror, violence, and overt sexual content mark this book for older readers-who will enjoy it mightily.
(Kirkus Reviews)

Grade 9 Up - ...These varied tales take place in the distant past and in the high-tech present. Some are humorous while others have surprising twists or are reminiscent of classic fairy tales full of malevolent characters, but all share a love of the surreal or supernatural. Noyes's insightful introduction defines what a gothic tale is and includes information about the authors and the origins of their stories. A sophisticated, thought-provoking, and gripping read.
(School Library Journal)

This book would make a great Halloween book display called "Short Stories, Not Short Scares" along with:
Being Dead Vivian Vande Velde
THE RESTLESS DEAD: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural edited by Deborah Noyes
Prom Nights from Hell
Vacations from Hell
Love Is Hell
Back of Beyond: Stories of the Supernatural ed. Sarah Ellis
The Call and Other Stories ed. Rober Westall

I would also encourage the teens to write their own scary short story. There would be no limitations- vampires, ghosts, werewolves, witches. The teens would be able to read their story at the Halloween event.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fruits Basket

Book Info
Fruits Basket vol. 1
by Natsuki Takaya

Tohru Honda is living alone in a tent rather than burden her grandfather after her mother dies in a car wreck. However, she is invited to stay with the Sohma's but she must keep their secret- when hugged by members of the opposite sex they transform into animals from the Chinese zodiac calendar. Hijinxs ensue in this first volume of Fruits Basket.

My Thoughts
I chose this manga to review because it is one of my personal favorites and it is a great place to start when looking for a "safe" maga. It has a great plot and engaging characters. I first started collecting this manga after I saw the anime in high school. It is far more indepth and character driven than the anime and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to start reading manga but does not know where to start.

Takaya's romantic comedy brims with teenage melodrama, corny humor and hi-jinks. In the vein of Ranma ½ the work's humor also derives from the transformation of humans into animals. It goes like this: Tohru Honda is unsinkable; when her mother dies and her grandfather denies her a place to live, the homeless high-schooler is determined to make it on her own by pitching a tent alone in the woods. En route to her tent one day, Tohru encounters Shigure, who informs her that the tent is pitched on his family property. He's appalled by her squalid living conditions and invites her to his estate. Tohru becomes part of the household on the condition that she helps guard their family secret: when hugged by members of the opposite sex, Shigure and his family transform into animals from the Chinese zodiac calendar. Tohru soon learns Shigure is the cousin of Yuki Sohma, a quiet, mysterious boy at her high school whom all the girls adore. (Yuki, incidentally, has spurned any female advances for fear of revealing his true form: a rat.) And it's not long before she finds out another cousin, Kyo, transforms into a cat. As an animal left off the zodiac, Kyo feels he's been wronged. As Tohru and Kyo become friends, they realize that as misfits they may have a chance at understanding each other. Similar to other romance manga, this tale's illustration style is cartoonish and whimsical. Each panel-packed page conveys a melodramatic event or upturn, giving the story a fast rhythm.
(Publishers Weekly, March 8, 2004)

When Tokyopop polled visitors to its website on what manga they would like to see translated into English, this charming series was the top choice by a wide margin. Nothing can dampen the optimistic spirit of orphaned high school girl Tohru Honda--not even being forced to live alone in a tent. One morning, she discovers a nearby house, where her popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his older cousin Shigure live by themselves. They invite her to stay with them as their (desperately needed) housekeeper, and she soon learns of the family curse: when the Sohmas are embraced by members of the opposite sex, they turn into animals of the Chinese zodiac. Tohru also meets Kyo, the 13th member of the cursed family, who turns into a cat, an animal ostracized by the zodiac members in an ancient legend. As Tohru brightens their lives, they give her something she thought she had lost: a family. The influence of Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma 1/2 is obvious--but Ranma is a shonen title, emphasizing action, while this is a shojo title, emphasizing relationships. Takaya's artwork is quite appealing, and this 11-volume series is highly recommended for teens and adults.
(Library Journal, May 1, 2004)

I would put this in a book display entitled "Read a Great Anime". Other books/anime combinations would include:
Cardcaptor Sakura
Fushigi Yugi
Fullmetal Alchemist
The Wallflower

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Module 12 Journal

Find a biography for children or young adults about a current popular figure. Evaluate the literary elements of good writing as well as the content. Is the book truthful? For what age is it appropriate? Why would you want to buy this book -- or would you? How would you rationalize spending the money for it in your library?

Miley Cyrus recently wrote an autobiography on her life entitled Miles to Go. This book is for tween girls, ages 8 to 12. The book is truthful about Miley’s life. She talks about the pitfalls she had at school and how her life is not normal but she is still living her dream. She does talk about trying to follow one’s dream a lot but some tweens need that encouragement from their idols. I think that Miley was open and honest about love, life, and family. I would buy this for my library because many tweens would want to read about their favorite pop star.

I would rationalize spending the money for Miles to Go by showing how other books about teen stars have been circulating and how often teens have asked for the book. I would also see what review journals have suggested.

Publishers Weekly says in its March 23, 2009 issue: “Cyrus divides her candid if somewhat circuitous autobiography into three sections or "miles." Incorporating details about her time in and out of the spotlight, the teen discusses, with considerable dramatic flair, both the high notes (landing the title role on Hannah Montana, her close family bonds, her much ballyhooed 16th-birthday celebration at Disneyland) and the low (the "social hell" of sixth grade, the death of her beloved grandfather, her breakup with "Prince Charming"). Cyrus's reflections on her celebrity status are also balanced. She acknowledges missing out on the "fun parts of being a normal teenager" yet concludes, "I found my dream early. I'm living it." Tween-pleasing flourishes include behind-the-scenes Hannah Montana minutiae, lyrics, lists of her likes and aspirations, "handwritten" asides in the margins ("Let's keep that between us, though") and the occasional sentence that runs in large bold type, lending the effect of a magazine pull quote. Cyrus doubles back over some terrain-following one's dreams is a recurring theme-but fans will find this an effortless and entertaining read.”

Module 12 Book Review

Book Info
America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle
by David A. Adler
illustrated by Terry Widener

This picture book describes Gertrude Ederle life and how she was the first woman to swim the English Channel.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book and the acrylic drawings. I would have like to see a real picture of Gertude on the Notes From the Author but otherwise they gave the facts and the authors source material. The author's notes were detailed and told that she went deaf at a later age but because of a case of measels not from her long swim. Kids will enjoy the story of Gertrude and her determination to follow her dream.

Kindergarten-Grade 4 ...In the acrylic paintings, characters with large bodies and small heads, suggesting Depression-era art, are set on impressionistic backgrounds. The pictures of the swirling, rough water add fluidity and motion, and the perspectives that show the small figure of the swimmer in the vast sea capture the immensity of Ederle's endeavor. Attractive formatting and large type make this story of achievement as effective and as inspiring to read aloud as this team's Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man (1997) and The Babe & I (1999, both Gulliver).
(School Library Journal)

I would make a picture book display titled Women and Sports with other books including:
Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull
Wilma Rudolph: Olympic Runner by Jo Harper
Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher
Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson by Karen Deans

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Module 11 Book Review

Book Info
Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account Of The 1938 War Of The Worlds Radio Broadcast
by Meghan McCarthy

This picture book relates how an updated radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds brought America into a panic in 1938. The book focuses on a family and how this radio program scared many with news of an invasion from Mars.

My Thoughts
I have always loved this piece of history and how Orsen Wells was partly responsible for the rioting in the streets. It is hard to imagine a time when a radio broadcast was the only way of receiving news. There were no TVs and you could see a news reel at the movie theatre. This was the way Americans heard breaking news. This book is a cute way of introducing an exciting part of history and the authors notes bring the truth behind the story.

Gr. 1-3. ...Using a 1930's art style, and a palette comprising mostly muted grays and reds, McCarthy evokes an era gone by, at the same time creating a cozy nostalgia. Even somewhat older, media savvy kids, who may view the gullibility of the characters with a disdainful eye, will be disarmed by the depictions of panicked faces and slimy Martians, eyes on stalks, that appear amid eerie red light. An abrupt ending notwithstanding, this is packed with age-appropriate thrills and scares. A lengthy author's note includes necessary background on both figures. (Booklist)

This informational book would fit right in a display of famous hoaxs that have happened over the years or a display entitled "Tricks Not Treats" for Halloween. Other books would include:

Hoaxed! Fakes and Mistakes in the World of Science ed. by Julia Naimska, Kids Can Press
A Treasury of Deception by Michael Farquhar
The Big Book of Hoaxes: True Tales of the Greatest Lies Ever Told! (Factoid Books)
by Carl Sifakis
The Halloween Hoax by Carolyn Keene
Famous Hoaxes (Incredible Histories) by Gail Stewart, ill. Joel Snyder
The Museum of Hoaxes by Alex Boese
The Hoaxes (The Unexplained) by Judith Herbst

Friday, November 6, 2009

Module 10 Book Review

Book Info

Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz and Illustrated by Hudon Talbott


Leonardo's Horse is a picture book that dipicts Leonardo's dream of building the giant bronze horse for Milan. Although Leonardo never gets to see his horse finished another artists vows to see it finished.

My Thoughts

I was a horse nut when i was a kid and would have loved this book! The book was beautifully illustrated and the history woven into the story was interesting. I think it will capture many students interest and maybe send some kids to the museum to see other pieces of sculpture.


*Starred Review* Gr. 4-7. ...Combining biography, history, and art, Fritz's absorbing text is both a lively introduction to Leonardo and a tribute to Dent. The curious shape of the book--rectangular at the bottom and rounded at the top--is reminiscent of the silhouette of a domed building, and illustrator Talbott makes good use of the irregularly shaped pages in his pleasing and occasionally dramatic illustrations, which are done in watercolor, pen-and-ink, colored pencils, and collage. A memorable choice for reading aloud. (Booklist)


This would be a great book for multiple book displays. It contains history, art, and horses. The history display can be paired with other pictures books like Boxes for Katje by Candance Fleming, Rose Blanche by R. Innicenti, and A Band of Angels by Deborah Hopkins.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Module 10 Journal

Choose one of the following periods of time that could be considered "historical"--or will be of historical significance in the future: Vietnam War, Civil Rights era, 9/11; the 1960s; McCarthyism; the depression; the Dust Bowl. Develop an annotated reading list of at least 10 books for one age group--younger elemnetary, older elementary, middle school or high school. Make sure that you read at least one of these (can be from reading list) and add to the annotation why or why not you think this was a "good" (meeting criteria) example of historical fiction.

Vietnam War Book List for Young Adults

Antle, N. (2000). Lost in the War. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Twelve-year-old Lisa Grey struggles to cope with a mother whose traumatic experiences as a nurse in Vietnam during the war are still haunting her.

Crist-Evans, C. (2006). Amaryllis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.
Jimmy and his older brother Frank share a love of surfing and their problems with a drunken father, until Frank turns eighteen and goes to Vietnam.

Hobbs, V. (2006). Sonny's War. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
In the late 1960s, fourteen-year-old Cori's life is greatly changed by the sudden death of her father and her brother's tour of duty in Vietnam.

Jones, A. (1990). Long Time Passing: A Novel. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
In the turbulence of the late 1960s, while his father is serving as a Marine officer in Vietnam, seventeen-year-old Jonas falls in love with a free-spirited flower child active in the peace movement and begins to question his own attitude toward the Vietnamese War.

Lewis, C. (2000). Postcards to Father Abraham. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
When sixteen-year-old Meghan loses her leg to cancer and her brother to Vietnam, she expresses intense anger in postcards which she writes to her idol, Abraham Lincoln.

Myers, W. D. (2008). Fallen Angels. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.
Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.

Nelson, Theresa. (1991) And One for All. New York, NY: Random House.
Geraldine's close relationship with her older brother Wing and his friend Sam changes when Wing joins the Marines and Sam leaves for Washington to join a peace march.

O’Brian, T. (1998). The Things They Carried. New York, NY: Random House.
Neither a novel nor a short story collection, it is an arc of fictional episodes, taking place in the childhoods of its characters, in the jungles of Vietnam and back home in America two decades later. This book should be read by older teens because of the graphic nature of the war. I think that this is a good example of historical fiction because it is based on the life of the author. It is listed as fiction because it is a "story truth" rather than a "happening truth". It conveys the truth of war without the dryness of most history books. I first read this book in college but many of the libraries and lists I looked at had this on their list for teens.

Qualey, M. (2008).Come in from the Cold. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The Vietnam War protest movement brings together two Minnesota teenagers. The year is 1969; the setting is Minnesota. Both teenagers have lost a sibling: Jeff's brother, a Marine, is killed in action; Maud's sister, a war protestor, disappears underground and is blown-up in a bombing on a Minnesota campus. Both Jeff and Maud retreat into themselves until a demonstration against the war brings them together.

Shoup, Barbara. (1997). Stranded in Harmony. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.
While struggling with the changes he faces during his senior year in a small Indiana town, Lucas gains insight through a unique friendship with a former Vietnam war protester.

White, Ellen Emerson. (1997). The Road Home. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.
Rebecca, a young nurse stationed in Vietnam during the war, must come to grips with her wartime experiences once she returns home to the United States.
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