Sunday, May 16, 2010

Alphabetical Index

Below is an Alphabetical list of all the titles in my blog. They are searchable in the search engine located in the left column. I tried to present a variety of resources for teens in this project. This blog includes: manga, graphic novels, poetry, SAT Prep materials, college prep materials, movies, art books, sports books, video games, database/websites, magazines, and books in several genres. Happy Reading!

36. A Maze Me Poems for Girls
40. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
34. Amiri & Odette
50. Anansi Boys
19. Around the World in Eighty Days
14. Been There Should've Done That
28. Big Brain Academy Wii Degree
33. The Block
38. Boy Meets Boy
37. The Breakfast Club
44. Capt. Hook
49. Catcher in the Rye
15. Confessions of a High School Word Nerd
17. The Essential Tomb of Dracula
26. Excite Bike
39. Ghost World
20. The Good Neighbors
11. How to Draw Noir Comics
42. The Hunger Games
8. Kick Ass
48. Little Brother
22. Mad Magazine
12. Make Barrettes and More
9. My College Tips
43. Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
24. Nintendo Power
10. On The Rocks Teens and Alcohol
31. Parrotfish
4. Paul in The Country
32. A Poem of Her Own
18. The Prestige
3. The Prince of Tennis
25. Punch-Out!!
23. Seventeen Magazine
13. The Skateboarding Field Manual
6. Solano Teens
1. South Park Guide to Life
5. Student Research Center
46. The Tale of One Bad Rat
47. Tithe
27. Super Mario Brothers 3
21. Valiant
45. Viminarama
41. The Virgin Suicides
2. WE 3
7. Weird Science
29. Wii Sports
16. Wolf Rider
30. Word Freak
35. A Wreath for Emmett Till

Saturday, May 15, 2010

1. South Park Guide to Life




Parker, Trey, & Stone, Matt. South Park Guide to Life. ISBN: 978-0762435708. Running Press. First Edition, 2009.







Overview
South Park Guide to Life is a comedic book of quotes and scenes from the South Park Television series that presents life lessons for readers through a series of different satiric sections. These sections include lessons on: money, friendship, cultural acceptance, American life, religion, school, drugs, and sex. The book's 144 total pages contain vibrant still images, captured from the television series, that depict the characters engaged in the actions and situations described in the visible quotes. These quotes are presented in large easy to read fonts that are set against solid colored text boxes.

Critical Evaluation
If you don't read South Park Guide to Life figure skater Brian Boitano will kick your ass, or at least that's what he claims in the book's introduction. For fans of the crude and clever humor of the South Park television series, this illustrated coffee table book will be a for sure hit. The guide explores all the important life lessons learned from show episodes, on topics ranging from friendship, religion, money, sex, politics, and even cultural acceptance. The book is divided into separate sections for the different topics discussed and uses still images and quotes from South Park episodes to evoke humor from the printed page. Even if you are not a fan of the show's messages or themes, each page is insightful, honest, and says the kinds of things that most people would never dream of letting slip through their lips.

At times, the book feels like it delves into the American condition in similar way to the Peanuts comics created by Charles Schulz, only with more profanity. When the South Park kids want to change their look, a goth kid says to them, "If you want to be one of the non-conformists, all you have to do is dress just likes us and listen to the same music we do." Trey Parker and Matt stone comment on the realities of American life and subculture in a way that sheds light on the humorous values and standards we have as a society. In the section that discusses American life, the character Uncle Jimbo says, "Everything's legal in Mexico, it's the American way!" The critical and satirical view of the world by characters in Parker and Stone's South Park is innovative, and groundbreaking. They don't limit their comedic attacks on a specific group or political party, instead they show their viewers the hypocritical nature of life in general. This book combines some of the most important lessons to be learned from the show, and while the messages are funny, they are substantial. South Park isn't a brainless show, and this book proves that it makes viewers think about life a little differently.

Reader's Annotation
To many viewers the television series South Park is nothing more than a crude cartoon filled with foul language and senseless violence, but for others it is a show filled with insightful life lessons. In the humor title, South Park Guide To Life, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have compiled together some of South Park's most important life lessons for fans of the show.

Author Information
South Park co-creator Trey Parker is an accomplished animator, director, producer, musician, screen writer, and voice over artist. Parker grew up in the state of Colorado, and would later go to college for both music and film. While in college he produced the cult classic film Cannibal the Musical, and also an animated short that would go on to inspire what is now South Park. The hit animated series South Park first aired in 1997 and is now in its 14th season. Parker has also worked on several movies, including: Orgazmo, Team America World Police, and Basketball. Parker was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001 for his work on the filmSouth Park, Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and he has received four Emmy Awards for his work on the South Park television series.

South Park co-creator Matt Stone, is an American producer, musician and voice artist best known for his work on the South Park television series. Stone grew up in Texas and moved to Colorado for college, where he majored in both mathematics and film. It was in film school that Stone would meet Trey Parker, whom he would become creative partners with for the rest of their film and television careers. Stone and Parker also perform in a rock band called DVDA, whose music is used in many of their films.

Genre
humor, animation

Curriculum Ties
satire, animation

Book Talking Idea
Why are some important lessons that South Park has taught you?
Why do you think South Park is just as popular today as it was when it first aired in 1997?

Reading Level

Grades 10+

Challenge Issues
profanity, violence, sex, racism

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I knew that I wanted to include a humor book that dealt with either The Simpsons, Familiy Guy, or South Park because of the popularity of these shows amongst teen audiences. I can remember being an older teen and being drawn to the crude and offensive humor of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's South Park. The show is just as edgy and popular today as when it first came out.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2. WE 3



Morrison, Grant. WE 3. ISBN: 978-1401204952. Vertigo. First Edition, 2005.










Plot Summary

WE 3 is a science fiction comic book series written for Vertigo comics by acclaimed writer Grant Morrison and illustrator Frank Quitely. WE 3 is the story of Roseanne Berry, a government employee working on a group of three prototype war killing machines. These prototypes are built around the bodies of three stolen pets. These pets include: a labrador named "Bandit" or "1"; a cat named "Tinker" or "2"; and a rabbit named "Pirate" or "3". Together they are WE 3. The government is planning to end manned warfare completely with the implementation of semi-intelligent animal soldiers who can be controlled with a remote control. The government began first with smaller animals like rats, and attached crude weapons like drills to their faces. Bandit, the dog, is equipped with heavy artillery like a small army tank. Tinker is a trained assassin-style killing machine and Pirate is a landmine specialist.

When the government decides that they no longer have a use for WE 3, they decides that the animals must be destroyed. This news is too hard for Roseanne Berry, and so breaking the law, she lets them free. This doesn't sound so bad, but these animals are trained to kill anything that threatens them, and soon they go on a killing rampage against the cruel government that created them.

Critical Evaluation
After reading WE 3 it's hard to look at your pets the same way again. Morrison comments on themes of government power and animal cruelty in this vicious revenge story of animals who fight back against the men who've abused them. What makes this story so compelling, and ultimately so haunting, is that it feels very real. This science fiction take on modern warfare doesn't seem too far away. With all of the government testing done on chimps and other animals to study diseases, making an animal killing machine doesn't seem like that illogical of a step. By creating animal soldiers the lives of men would be saved, but at the cost of torturing innocent creatures. Morrison comments on this by humanizing the animal characters, allowing them to speak through surgically implanted technology in their brains. The animals can't say much, but readers learn that they just want to be together, to be safe, and to eat. Deep down under all of the metal and circuits, these animals are the same kinds of creatures that people take into their homes to become part of the family. Artist Frank Quietly cleverly comments on this fact at the beginning of each of the novel's three sections by including a poster for a missing animal. Each missing animal poster corresponds with the three animals in the story. This added element gives the story another touch of reality that will make it hit home for pet owners.

With minimal text, much of the storytelling relies on the detailed art and digital coloring by artist Frank Quitely. Quitely's signature use of rough lines creates a gritty look for the landscape a cruel men. His bright use of colors gives the story a very urgent feeling as readers race through the countryside with the government military in pursuit. Quitely also presents readers with a variety of double spreads that are visually stand alone stunning pieces of art. The amalgamation of a talented writer and artist on this original story are what making it the innovative work of art that it is.

Reader's Annotation
Sometimes when your dog is missing he's around the corner or at the pound, and sometimes he's been transformed into a genetically altered killing machine.

Author Information
Grant Morrison is a world renown writer in the comic book industry. Stylistically his work has been considered groundbreaking, anti-establishment in nature, counter-cultural, and always innovative. He is best known for his work on the graphic novel Batman Arkham Asylum in collaboration with artist Dave McKean. Morrison is known for taking existing comic book character and teams and then reviving them in new and fascinating ways. For vertigo comics he took the superhero Animal Man and the team Doom Patrol and made them relevant for a new generation of readers.

Morrison is also known for the visionary work on his original series, such as The Invisibles, which details the activities of a time traveling group of revolutionaries as they battle the oppressive occult group the outer church. The Invisibles series is believed to have inspired the ground breaking film The Matrix. Morrison has also worked on successful runs of popular series like The X-men, Justic League, and The Fantastic Four. Morrison is also the proud owner of two Eisner awards for his work on the 30 part series The Seven Soldiers of Victory, and on his run of All Star Superman.

Genre
graphic novel, science fiction

Curriculum Ties
N/A

Book Talking Idea
Do you think it is right to sacrifice animals for military testing?

Reading Level
Grades 10+

Challenge Issues
animal cruelty, violence, gore

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I wanted to include a variety of graphic novels in my blog to showcase the range of different genres that are available for teen readers in the format. WE 3 is a haunting piece of science fiction that shows readers the cruel realities of animal testing. It's easy to let a company test on a rat or mouse, but when the test subjects are our pet dogs, cats, and rabbits new feelings are evoked.

3. The Prince of Tennis



Konomi, Takeshi. Prince of Tennis Volume 1. ISBN: 978-1591164357. VIZ Media. First Edition, 2004.









Plot Summary

12 year old tennis phenomenon Ryoma Echizen has just moved back to Japan from America. His father was a former Japanese tennis star whose career was cut short because of an injury. Ryoma has already made a name for himself in America as a premier player, and now as he enters Seishun Gakuen Junior High School, he has to make a name for himself all over again. Making the 7th grade team is not going to be a problem, but if Ryoma wants to compete in tournament play, he has to find a way to make the 8th and 9th grade varsity squad. This is a problem because 7th graders are not allowed to compete for a place on varsity unless the captain allows it.

Ryoma's natural talent and skill set pose a problem for him on the tennis court because the older players feel threatened. He quickly becomes the target of cruel pranks by those who feel threatened, but Ryoma has the last laugh because no matter the prank, he is able to keep his composure and let his tennis play do the talking. When the captain decides to let Ryoma compete for the squad, things heat up, and tempers fly.

Critical Evaluation

In the world of tennis, Ryoma Echizen is a true gunslinger. He is distant, calm, cool, collected, and at a moments notice he is ready to play. Takeshi Konomi's The Prince of Tennis gives the sport of tennis an exaggerated sense of action and flair that make each page and each panel a thrill to read and watch. Ryoma is able to serve the ball with such speeds that a fireball almost seems to strike the ground as his serves go whizzing past opponents. The heightened exaggeration of action is what makes this title visually compelling. Each match and each challenge for Ryoma gives readers the sense that they are watching actual physical combat like they would see in a boxing match or martial arts event. This focus on physicality and the bravado that comes from success makes The Prince of Tennis series a predominantly male targeted title. Teen girls may also take interest in The Prince of Tennis because of the attractive athletes who romp around in skin tight shirts accompanied by uninhibited muscles.

The dialogue at times seems forced and the simple storyline by no means qualifies The Prince of Tennis into the realm of literary greatness, but the action isn't half bad, in fact, it is down right entertaining. This book and this series work because they are entertaining. The Prince of Tennis is the equivalent of the summer popcorn film, you watch the alluring action, and before you know the movie is over and you weren't really sure what it was about to begin with. The title conveniently ends right when thing are about to get good so that teen readers will be hooked for the next volume. Tennis might not be the most popular sport in the world, but author Takeshi Konomi is on to something special. By taking a sport and intensifying the game play, he can attract both tennis and action fans. I only hope that he writes a croquet series next.

Reader's Annotation
Tennis is a game of skill, stamina, strength, and endurance. For seventh grade tennis player Ryoma Echizen, mastering this skills at age 12 is not going to make life easy amongst the older tennis players at Seishun Gakuen Junior High School.

Author Information

Takeshi Konomi is a Japanese mangaka, or cartoonist, best known for his work on The Prince of Tennis manga series. The Prince of Tennis began publication in 1999 and concluded in 2008 with over forty volumes. In Japan the 40 volume series has sold over 40 million copies. The popularity of this series has led to film adaptations, video games, radio shows, and even musicals in Japan.

Genre
manga, sports

Curriculum Ties

physical education, tennis

Book Talking Ideas
Why are the other players threatened by Ryoma?
Do you feel that sport of tennis is accurately represented in The Prince of Tennis?

Reading Level
Grades 6+

Challenge Issues
N/A

Reason For Selection
Manga is completely unknown territory for me. For years I've seen teens huddled together on Barnes and Noble book store floors reading the puzzling literature. For this blog assignment I wanted to explore materials that I was unfamiliar with and I knew that at some point I would be picking up my first manga title. Now when I see teens reading their books in the opposite direction and backwards I will no longer be in the dark.

4. Paul in the Country



Rabagliati, Michel. Paul in the Country. ASIN: B001NA62LW. Drawn and Quarterly. First Edition, 2000.









Plot Summary
During the fall, Paul takes his wife and daughter Alice on a vacation to his father's cottage in the Canadian countryside. Along the way he notices how things have changed. The countryside has been exchanged for trendy housing developments, and his old escape is becoming a modernized mess. Paul reflects fondly on taking the same journey to the cabin as a kid. He remembers the sights, and the smells of his childhood and is saddened by the way his world is becoming smaller everyday. He remembers the tragedies and happiness experienced during his teen years and enjoys making new memories with his wife and daughter.

Critical Evaluation
Michel Rabgliati's reflection of his life in Paul in the Country, is a refreshing piece of graphic storytelling and art. His comic strip style and use of bold curved lines give his panels a sense of innocence and softness that helps to reflect the gentle nature of his childhood memories. Paul, who is an almost alter ego of Rabgliati, walks through his memories as he makes new ones with his daughter. The almost seamless transition between past and present creates an alluring effect that invites readers into the very personal past of Paul's life. Rabgliati is able to convey his personal memories with tremendous humor through his illustrated characters and their exaggerated facial expressions.

Readers can't help but find a part of themselves in Paul's story. The long car rides playing with siblings, the road trip songs, and crisp country air are universal to the family vacation experience. Paul's trip down memory lane will inspire for many readers their very own. Paul in the Country is the perfect comic book for reluctant readers or those looking for something that doesn't involve a crime and a cape.

Reader's Annotation
In the blink of an eye life changes and it will never be the same. Suddenly you're married, you have kids, and your old vacation getaway in the country is surrounded by modern amenities that attempt to tear down the fond memories of your past.

Author Information

Michel Rabagliati is a graphic designer and illustrator from Montreal, Canada. Growing up, Rabgliati was an active comic book reader and enjoyed French titles such as: Tintin, Spirou, Gaston, and Asterix. Rabgliati would spend hours on end recreating the characters from these comics and this practice would help to shape his design aesthetic. Starting his career as a graphic designer, he found success by publishing his illustrations in The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Advocate, and The National Post.

In 1990, Rabgliati was contacted to create a logo for comic book publishing company Drawn and Quaterly. This job reignited his passion for comics, and in the year 2000 his first comic book attempt, Paul in the Country, was published by Drawn and Quaterly. The success of this title has inspired three further memoir editions that include: Paul Moves Out, Paul Gets a Summer Job, and Paul Goes Fishing

Genre
graphic novel, memoir

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Book Talking Idea
How has life changed for Paul from the time Paul was a child?
Why do we find change upsetting as we get older?
Why do you think Paul is so distraught over killing a bird, but not when he caught ten fish?

Reading Level
Grades 7+

Challenge Issues
N/A

Reason For Selection

I wanted to include a variety of graphic novels in my blog to showcase the range of different genres that are available for teen readers in the format. Until this assignment, I was really only familiar with superhero comics, but now I have discovered the diversity of genres and topics that exist outside the superhero realm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

5. Student Research Center



EBSCOhost. (2010). Student Research Center. Retrieved from Solano County Library official website: http://solanolibrary.com/





Critical Evaluation
The Student Research Center database, by EBSCO Publishing, is successful because it is user friendly. Graphically the web layout is very clean and streamlined, making navigation a simple point and click process. The use of hover effects on the navigable buttons and pull-down menus is an added bonus for the research beginner. The use of a muted purple color pallet creates a calming environment conducive to learning. The use of photographed teenage students engaged in the act of learning for clickable icons helps to create an environment welcoming of student users.

The layout and user friendly navigation features are only the beginning of the praise that this site is entitled to. The incorporation of an online dictionary and encyclopedia make the Student Research Center a one stop learning destination. EBSCO streamlines student needs into a single entity that is able to search through a variety of sources and formats in order to deliver valuable full text articles. The site offers both basic and advanced search options, where students are able to use boolean operators and field specific search limiters. Students also have the option of customizing their Student Research Center experience by customizing their own preferences and also by having the option to save important documents and links in their personal site folder.

The Colombia Encyclopedia that is incorporated into the Student Research Center contains over 51,000 entries and cross references over 84,000 different navigable links. This Encyclopedia is updated daily, making it one of the most comprehensive online encyclopedia's ever produced. The site also features a spotlight topic that touches on important events related to the particular month, and a top searches bar that shows students around the world what topics are receiving the most online traffic. EBSCO takes the database one step further by incorporating a teacher option, that allows teachers to search for curriculum related resources. The wealth of information in this database and the simple design make it a worthwhile tool for educating America's youth.

Reader's Annotation

When you need help with research or homework, the online Student Research Center by EBSCO is here to help. The online dictionary, encyclopedia, and full text search options make this database a student's best friend.

Company Information
The EBSCO Publishing company is a distributor of of full-text content through online databases for library systems around the globe. The software used to facilitate the EBSCO online databases is known as EBSCOhost. EBSCOhost is used to power the Student Research Center database used at the Solano County Public Library. EBSCO databases are some of the most used databases in the world and it is estimated that there are currently over a million active users.

Database Type
online student database

Curriculum Ties
school curriculum

Book Talking Ideas

Who out there has a research paper due?
Did you know that the library subscribes to a database just for students?

Reading Level

Grades 6+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Reason For Selection
I wanted to include at least one online database for teens in my blog. The Solano County Public Library system subscribes to a wealth of databases on different topics and subjects. The Student Research Center database seemed to be the most applicable for our 15-18 year old age group, and after testing it, there are many positive ways that it can help teens in my community.

6. Solano Teens



Solano County Library. (2010). Solano Teens. Retrieved from the Solano County Library official website: http://solanolibrary.com/teens/









Critical Evaluation
The Solano Teens webpage is a great one stop resource for teens living in Solano County for both their information and recreation needs. The site offers links to library social networking opportunities on Myspace and the Solano Teens blog, as well as an opportunity to become active contributors to the library's online content. Along with serving as an information resource for teen materials, the Solano Teens page acts as an interactive bulletin board for teen news and events in the community. Teens can use the site as a means to find out what teen events and services are happening on any particular day, and while they are browsing they can also look at newly listed teen titles, check the teen generated blog for new entries, and download a printable pdf file of the Solano Teens Magazine.

Visually, the site is composed in a way that balances the amount of information presented with an aesthetic sensibility that achieves a sense of balance. Even though the web page is filled with information in almost every inch of visible screen space, it never feels overwhelming or cluttered. The site is extremely easy to navigate, and for teens already familiar with the Solano Library homepage, the teen page will be a walk in the park. One of the greatest benefits of using the Solano Teens page is that it advertises the Live Homework help feature very well with a large and attractive looking icon that screams to be clicked. Teens who frequent the Solano Teens web page can't help but be tempted to click on the alluring button. By incorporating social networking tools, updated links, and an effective layout, the Solano Teens website gets the job done.

Reader's Annotation
The Solano County Library's Solano Teens website takes library services for teens into the digital world.

Library Information

The John F. Kennedy Public Library in Vallejo, California is part of the Solano County Public Library System in Northern California. John F. Kennedy, owned by the city of Vallejo, first opened its doors to the public in 1970 and has developed into a three story building spanning over 47, 000 square feet. The current population the library serves is 116,760 people, with 11,000 ranging in the 12-18 year old age group. The library’s collection of materials spans over 140,000, with a great number of these materials serving the teens and children in the community.

Genre
website

Curriculum Ties
homework help

Book Talking Ideas

What do you feel constitutes "Chick Lit", and why do you think the genre is important in our library? (There is currently a "Chick Lit" contest going on in the summer that is mentioned on the Solano Teens homepage)
If you were going to start a blog, what would it be about?

Reading Level
Grades 6+

Challenge Issues
N/A

Reason For Selection

Becoming familiar with library websites dedicated for teen use is essential for future librarians serving teens. By studying what works and what doesn't work on existing websites, we will be better prepared to help construct the websites of the future.

7. Weird Science


Weird Science. Directed by John Hughes. 94 min. DVD Universal Studios. 1984, ASIN: B00008438V.










Plot Summary
Teenagers Gary and Wyatt are two socially awkward nerds who attend Shermer High School where they are constantly the victims of cruel pranks by class jerks Ian and Max. Wyatt and Gary want nothing more than to have girlfriends of their own, and since the girls at Shermer wont show them the time of day, they decide to make a girl of their own with a little help from Wyatt's state of the art computer. By hacking into the government's computer system, they are able to turn their lofty dreams of a created girlfriend into living breathing reality. They name their created beauty Lisa and she is everything they ever hoped to have in a woman. She has supermodel good looks, the mind of Albert Einstein, and can use magic like a fairy godmother. Lisa is completely devoted to her creators, and she uses her charming abilities to turn Gary and Wyatt from the nerds they are, into the coolest guys in school. With Lisa's help, Gary and Wyatt might actually loosen up and become the kind of guys that high school girls actually want to date.

Critical Evaluation
Critically evaluating a film as insane and wacky as Weird Science is a daunting task. Regardless of the film's merit, Weird Science is embedded into popular American culture whether we like it or not. The film is loosely adapted from the cult EC comics series of the same name, and the theme song by Oingo Boingo is a must have for 80's themed parties and nightclubs. John Hughes takes his comedic style and brings it to another level, by incorporating bizarre fantasy elements like an alien motorcycle gang, and a giant talking pile of feces. Out of this world elements like these give the film a definite unusual flair, and provide a world of humor through awkward situations. Actors Anthony Michael Hall and Ian Mitchell smith standout in their roles as Gary and Wyatt. Their deliverance of the entertaining dialogue is constantly on point, and their subtle quirks, whiny voices, and cartoon-like facial expressions make them right at home in Hughes zany landscape of Shermer High.

As a comedy, Weird Science delivers. Teenage boys are likely to remember the memorable Lisa for as long as they have a computer and a pulse. Don't go into this film expecting any real substance, but expect to laugh, gasp, and have a great time. For fans of comedy and science fiction this film has a definite place in library collections. The violence and sex depicted in this comedy may be a problem for some viewers, but for others it adds to the film's comical depiction of sensationalized high school life.

Reader's Annotation
For teenage nerds Gary and Wyatt getting a date is a nearly impossible task and getting a girlfriend is completely out of the question. When faced with girl problems they do what any other nerd would do, make the perfect one for themselves.

Director Information
John Hughes was an American film director, writer, and producer who worked primarily on comedies and films for teens, until his death in 2009. He started his career selling jokes and working for National Lampoon Magazine, until he found success with his second script for the film National Lampoon's Vacation. His directorial debut didn't come until 1984 with the release of the film Sixteen Candles. This film about high school life would inspire other Hughes' films like Weird Science, Ferris Bueler's Day off, and The Breakfast Club. Hughes enjoyed working on films for teens and is known for saying, "I don't think of kids as a lower form of the human species." Hughes contribution to the film industry was recognized during an Oscar tribute during the 2010 Academy Awards.

Genre
Comedy

Curriculum Ties
N/A

Book Talking Ideas

What would you do if you had your own personal Lisa?

Rating
R, 17+

Challenge Issues

profanity, sex, nudity, violence

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the film in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I am a really big John Hughes fan and I recently had the opportunity to watch Weird Science in a revival movie house. I had not seen the film in a very long time, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how wacky the film really is. By today's standards the film is pretty out there, but I feel that teens today will still get a kick out of the zany antics of main characters Wyatt and Gary.

8. Kick Ass



Kick Ass. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 117 min. Marv Films. 2010.










Plot Summary

Dave Lizewski is a comic book nerd and average in every way that a high school teenager can be average. His muscles are nonexistent, and aside from hanging out with his only two friends, he spends the majority of his time alone on the internet. Tired of being average, and tired of the unfair way that innocent and decent people are treated at the mercy of thugs and criminals, Dave decides to make a difference. By putting on a green scuba diving outfit and ski mask, Dave becomes his super hero alter ego Kick Ass. Kick ass becomes an internet sensation when a group of teenagers film him trying to stop a gang from jumping a man outside of a convenience store. Kick ass becomes an internet and news sensation and this makes him the target of crime bosses throughout the city, and also those looking to overthrow those same bosses. Kick ass becomes mixed up the comic book world that he only used to read about, and he discovers that being a super hero is more painful than he could have possibly imagined.

Critical Evaluation
Why hasn't there ever been a real superhero? With all the comic books, and movies, and fans of Batman, why hasn't somebody put on a mask and cape with the intentions of fighting crime? Truer words have never been spoken. This idea is explored in the film adaptation of the cult comic book smash Kick Ass by Mark Millar. Kick Ass follows the heroic pursuits of an average high school student named Dave Lizewski. Dave isn't a jock, or the funny guy, he's just a skinny kid who's tired of seeing the world abused by criminals and low lifes. After Dave is robbed by neighborhood thugs, he decides to become a super hero, only problem is Dave doesn't have any super powers. The lack of super powers never stopped Batman, and soon Dave constructs a costume, starts training with baton weapons, and sets out to start his double life as the hero kick Ass. Kick Ass' first encounter with real criminals happens outside of a convenience store when a group of men team up to jump a guy. Teenage onlookers watch in shock as Kick Ass proceeds to fight the gang of criminals even though he is repeatedly pummeled. The teen onlookers video tape the event, put the video online, and over night the news of a real super hero spreads like wildfire, and the Kick Ass legacy is born.

At first the fame is great, but Kick Ass soon discovers that with great power comes great responsibility. Local crime bosses want him dead, and real heroes Big Daddy and Hit Girl want him on their side. Kick Ass is in over his head, and the film's humor is evoked in each awkward moment. A great unexpected twist comes when Kick Ass receives a kind of super power when he is jumped, stabbed, and hit by a car. After receiving hundreds of pins and plates, his body becomes stronger, and now he has the advantage of extensive nerve damage, making his body numb to all pain. Kick Ass can now literally get his ass kicked and not feel a thing. This comes in handy when he gets involved in the affairs of crime boss Frank D'Amico, and his son turned super hero Red Mist.

Director Matthew Vaughn details the exploits of Kick Ass in a sensationalized violent romp of blood, batons, and heavy fire arms. For fans of violent action films that aren't afraid to turn the camera, Kick Ass delivers in a way that will have the film on repeat in dorm rooms and high school hangouts across America. The characters are hilarious, the script is well written, and the film does a wonderful job of paying homage to comic book culture. The excessive violence and foul language will be a turn off for many viewers, especially because some of the most offensive scenes involve the very young Hit Girl. Hit girl uses guns and knives like any other girl her age might play with dolls. She kills and curses without mercy, while shocking and delighting audiences simultaneously. This film is not suitable for teens under the age of seventeen because of the R rating given by the Motion Picture Association of America. This rating will not be a deterrent for teen fans of action, comedy, and superhero films. Kick Ass has the potential of becoming the next Super Bad.

Reader's Annotation
Dave Lizewski flies under the radar at his high school. He isn't a jock, or the funny guy, but that all changes when Dave decides to become a superhero.

Director Information
Kick Ass director Matthew Vaughn is an English producer and director best known for producing popular Guy Ritchie films Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Vaughn started his career as a director's assistant and worked his way through the ranks until he began working as a producer.

Vaughn's directorial debut would not come until 2004 with his work on the film Layer Cake. The success of Layer Cake helped Vaughn get the job for his next film X-Men: The Last Stand. The success of this super hero film made Vaughn a hot director for the super hero genre, leading to his role as director on the film Kick Ass. Vaughn is scheduled to direct the films X-Men first class, and Kick Ass 2, which are currently in pre-production.

Genre
superhero, action, comedy

Curriculum Ties
N/A

Book Talking Ideas
Do you think it's possible for a super hero to exist today?
What are some of the challenges that a real super hero would face?

Challenge Issues
violence, language, nudity

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the film in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I wanted to include a film that was currently in theaters for the assignment as a means to see what films were being marketed for teen audiences. When I went to the movies Kick Ass seemed to fit the bill. The main character Kick Ass is a high school teen who decides to become a superhero. This sounded like something that I would have wanted to watch as a teen, and upon finding a seat, I found that I was surrounded by other teens as well.

9. My College Tips



Parker, James. My College Tips. ISBN: 0-9705214-5-6. Walden House. First Edition, 2000.





Critical Evaluation
James Parker has a successful career in the computer science industry, but that wasn't always the case. It was a long road for Parker to get to where he is today, and along the way he learned a thing or two about being a successful college student. Parker took the long road through college, taking eight years to finish his undergraduate degree. He has taken this experience and channeled it into a no nonsense guide for potential college students. Parker doesn't pat teens on the back in this book and tell them that everything is going to be all right, he presents the harsh realities of bad decisions, but also provides encouragement by reinforcing the idea to keep trying.

Parker encourages students to balance career choices with potential salaries, and to find a balance between money and happiness. Parker gives the kind of advice that college counselors and school officials wont give. Several sections in My College Tips give students hard advice, like deferring tuition payments, not taking your advisor's advice, and petitioning your grade if you think you deserve a higher mark. Parker also offers creative advice on ways to make money during college by starting your own business. He encourages students to babysit, start a lawn service, sell art, and build websites. Another interesting aspect of this book is that Parker gives advice on how to find that special someone. He gives dating advice for both men and women, and even offers advice on how to lose that 15 pounds before spring break. The book is graphically dull, incorporating tacky clip art and minimal design elements, which is a shame, because the humor presented in Parker's writing could have been highlighted with proper illustrations and graphics. Overall, this book will give students the hard facts that other college advice books lack, but at the cost of looking boring and unattractive.

Reader's Annotation

College can be a tough road if you don't know what you're doing. For students nervous about making the wrong college decisions, author and long time student James Parker, is here to make life a little easier with his advice book My College Tips.

Author Information
James Parker is what you might call a professional student. In his undergrad career he attended five different colleges, changed his major several times, and finally graduated after 8 years of continuous education. After receiving his B.S. in computer science from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Parker went on to pursue his masters degree in the same field.

Parker has always considered himself to have a creative business mind, and in pursuing his computer science degrees he also minored in entrepreneurship. His entrepreneur spirit is what led him to pursue publishing his college advice book My College Tips. Parker currently works as a project manager for technology company The Tennessee Base Authority

Genre

nonfiction, college prep

Curriculum Ties
college prep

Book Talking Ideas

What mistakes did the author of this book make that you hope to avoid?

Reading Level

Grades 7+

Challenge Issues
N/A

Reason For Selection

I wanted to include a couple of books on college advice for teens in my blog because not only are they relevant for teens, but also for myself as a college student. I liked the idea of Parker's My College Tips because it is written from the perspective of an unsuccessful student who made all the wrong decisions. Parker attended 5 different colleges before he graduating with his undergraduate degree. A veteran student like Parker is a great resource for teenage readers.

10. On The Rocks Teens and Alcohol



Arletha, David. On The Rocks Teens and Alcohol. ISBN: 978-0531179765. Children's Press. First Edition, 2007.









Critical Evaluation
Author David Aretha's non fiction title On The Rocks explores the terrible problem of alcohol abuse by American teenagers. Aretha explores the topic of alcohol abuse by giving readers a complete overview of the subject. He begins On The Rocks by detailing the early history of alcohol in America and proceeds to discuss the problems that it poses for teenagers and society today. This useful teen resource is divided into six chapters which discuss relevant topics, including: youth alcoholism, binge drinking, drinking and society, and support groups and treatment options. Aretha explores these topics through the use of sobering statistics, quotes from teenage substance abusers, and brief informative passages in each chapter. The statistics presented are often shocking, for example, 40% of all traffic related deaths are the result of alcohol use. Alcohol abuse in America is not a new phenomena, by the year 1800 there were already over 2,000 breweries in America. Statistics like these help to open the eyes of teen readers as to the history and severity of substance abuse in our country.

Aretha also helps to define specific alcohol abuse terminology for teen readers by using a larger and more bold font to highlight specific vocabulary words. These terms are later defined in a detailed glossary at the conclusion of the title. Not only are important terms defined, but Aretha also makes sure to instruct readers about the differences between terms. For many teens alcoholism and alcohol abuse may be viewed as one in the same, but Aretha makes sure to clarify misconceptions like this in On The Rocks. Graphically, On The Rocks is very pleasing to the scrutinizing eye. The use of simple fonts, aged photo effects, and the scrap book style of presentation, complete with faux scotch tape, creates an invisible sense of unity that ties the work together. The important facts and statistics scream to be heard with almost graffiti-like fonts attached to their strewn sentences.

Aretha explains to readers about the hazards of drinking and how to spot signs of depression, suicide, and other risky behavior. The simple look and even easier to understand passages, make reading On The Rocks an undaunting task for reluctant readers. On The Rocks presents just the right amount of factual information and statistics to keep reader interest. For a nonfiction title, Aretha does a great job of trying to make the subject matter as interesting as possible. Teens will appreciate the time and consideration made to get actual teens to voice their opinions on the problem of alcohol abuse in America. A brief overview of the problem might be just enough of a push to get teens involved with making a difference in programs like AA, MADD, and SADD.

Reader's Annotation
For teens interesting in learning more about alcohol use, abuse, and treatment, author David Aretha's On The Rocks is here to help. With sobering statistics, real abuser stories, and comprehensive information on all aspects of alcoholism, readers are informed about a very threatening problem for American teens.

Author Information
David Aretha is a graduate of the University of Michigan, who works as a regular editor on both sports and history books. He has also written several other books about substance abuse, including books on cocaine, party drugs, and steroids.

Genre
nonfiction, substance abuse

Curriculum Ties
alcoholism, teenage drinking

Book Talking Ideas
Why do you think American teens have a greater binge drinking problem than teens in European countries?
Do you think that the drinking age should be lowered to 18?

Reading Level
Grades 7+

Challenge Issues
N/A

Reason For Selection
A blog about materials for teens wouldn't be complete without a book about alcohol use and abuse. For teens struggling with alcohol abuse, or for teens living family abusers, this guide will help them understand their options for treatment, as well as why the problem exists and persists.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

11. How to Draw Noir Comics



Martinbrough, Shawn. How to Draw Noir Comics. ISBN: 978-0823024063. Watson-Guptill. First Edition, 2007.









Critical Evaluation
Noir is the French word for black, and for artist Shawn Martinbrough, the noir art style is a celbration of all things black. How to Draw Noir Comics is a guide for experienced artists who want to expand their style to encompass the noir look. Author Shawn Martingbrough, a critically acclaimed artist in comic noir, presents readers with eight detailed chapters that discuss and illustrate the necessary steps for creating a bleak urban world, with rampant crime and cynical characters. This masterfully crafted book begins with an introduction to noir style and also to the types of materials needed to create the necessary look. What's great about this volume is the vast personal insight that Martinbrough gives readers. From the preface onward, it's clear that Martinbrough isn't hiding any trade secrets. Through his detailed descriptions and passages, he reveals everything he knows about the subject, from what brand of pens to buy, to how to collaborate successfully with different kinds of writers.

In each chapter, several different art exercises are presented to readers. The goal of these exercises is to help artists hone crucial noir applications, such as the use of blacks, perspective, texture, line, and composition. Martinbrough provides his own examples of each exercise given, and shows his different stages of completion. By demonstrating his progress, he gives readers a better idea of how the addition of a silhouette, or inclusion of a background image, can change the meaning of any given composition. Outside of these exercises, Martinbrough also displays his striking original artwork in accompaniment to relevant sections. Because of the harsh beauty of his art, each page has the ability to captivate readers, and inspire them to work towards greatness. Another wonderful inclusion in this title is Martinbrough's constant references to the artists and films that have inspired his style. Reader's interested in his style and art, now have further research to delve into, should they choose to expand their styles even further.

This volume also prepares aspiring comic book artists for the types of things they will need to know for their first jobs in the business, and the tasks they will have to perform. Martinbrough began as a painter, and then worked his way up toward inker, and then eventually he became a full on artist. The sheer amount of information in this art book is what makes it so valuable. Martinbrough discusses the simplest details expansively, and by the end of the text, readers will know everything they need about lighting, staging action, and building reference collections. The valuable personal insight of this industry verteran, guides readers on the path to becoming a master, if only they'll put in the time necessary to do so.

Reader's Annotation
For artists and illustrators interested in taking their artwork down a dark alley of crime and cynicism, look no further than the title How to Draw Noir Comics, from acclaimed artist Shawn Martinbrough.

Author Information
Shawn Martinbrough is an illustrator and graphic artist who's work has been showcased in various Marvel, Vertigo, and DC comic book series. Starting as a painter, and then working his way up through the ranks as an inker, Martinborough would eventually illustrated the critically acclaimed titles Batman: Detective comics and also The Losers, which has recently been adapted into a full length motion picture. Martinbrough's distinct noir art style is demonstrated in his most recent comic book run of Luke Cage Noir for Marvel comics, and in his instructional art book How to Draw Noir Comics.

Martinbrough is currently working on a comic book series based on the Daredevil Villain Bullseye, which is set against the backdrop of professional baseball. Aside from the wold of comics, Martinbrough's has also worked as an artist for Coca Cola, Vibe, Playboy, and Bad Boy Entertainment. Martinbrough is also the owner of Verge Entertainment, a film production company that has worked in the genres of romance, science fiction, and thrillers. Verge also works on developing original ideas for television and advertising.

Genre
nonfiction, instructional art

Curriculum Ties
art, illustration, comics as literature

Book Talking Ideas
Discuss Noir style in art and cinema.

Reading Level
Grades 8+

Challenge Issues
violence, crime

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I knew I wanted to include an instructional art book of some kind in my blog. I can remember being a teenager and repeatedly checking out books on how to draw my favorite superheroes. With the popularity of darker comic books in the cinema, like Batman Begins and Sin City, I felt that this noir take on comic book illustration would be relevant for teen use today.

12. Make Barrets & More


Moody, Jo. Make Barrets & More. ISBN: 1-56496-285-7. Quarry Books. First Edition, 1997.










Overview

Welcome to the world of homemade art and hair accessories. Fashion journalist Jo Moody separates her sixteen different jewelry craft projects in Make Barrettes and More, into sections: clips and combs, beautiful bands, and hair slides. This instructional book introduces readers to all the basics of jewelry construction. Moody discusses the necessary tools to get started, proper materials to use, and the design process through easy to read text, tip sections, and explanatory photographs.

Critical Evaluation
Make Barrettes and More is a wonderful introductory book about jewelry construction. The bright colors and encouraging words in the book's composition make the task of creating jewelry a pleasant experience. The simple steps, accompanied by relevant and easy to understand photographs are what make this volume an excellent choice for the beginning jewelry maker, but the appeal doesn't stop there. The variety of craft projects explored would be suited for more advanced jewelry makers as well. Some crafts utilize advanced techniques such as metal working, and clay firing, that are demonstrated in a crocodile hair slide and shining star barrette. While some of the techniques and materials to use are harder to work with than others, readers have the option to focus on the craft projects that they feel comfortable with. Each design project is introduced with the materials needed, the steps to get started, as well as a few informative tips that Moody shares from personal experience. The end of the book also fortuitously includes a section where readers can sketch their own ideas for jewelry and craft projects, and after reading Make Barrettes and More readers will be more than inspired to do so. After reading the pages of the vibrant text, one can't help but want to pick up some rhinestones and glitter and start crafting and creating.

Reader's Annotation
Making homemade hair accessories has never been easier with the help of Make Barrettes & More by stylist and jewelry aficionado Jo Moody. Through step by step instructions and wonderfully detailed photographs, craft newcomers will quickly join the ranks of the accessorizing expert.

Author Information
Make Barrettes & More author Jo Moody is a fashion and craft journalist, whose passion for jewelry making has inspired several books, including: The Book of Jewelry (1994), Keepsake Crafts Beads (1994), and Keepsake Crafts Buttons (1994). Currently, Moody works as a freelance writer and stylist and continues her love and fascination of crafts,

Genre
nonfiction, hobbies, fashion

Curriculum Ties
fashion

Reading Level
Grades 8+ (some instructions may be too difficult for younger readers)

Challenge Issues
N/A

Reason For Selection
I knew that I wanted to include hobby books for both male and female teens in my blog, and the wonderfully photographed instructions in this title are what sold me right away. Jewelry is an important part of teenage life for many girls, and so is creative expression. Make Barrettes and More combines these two aspects of teenage life in a step by step artists guide for making fashionable jewelry.

13. The Skate Boarding Field Manual



Stutt, Ryan. The Skateboarding Field Manual. ISBN: 978-1554073627. Firefly Books. First Edition, 2009.









Overview
The Skate Boarding Field Manual by Ryan Stutt is an introductory guide to skateboarding that explores not only the proper tools and mechanics to accomplish basic skateboarding tricks, but also the subculture, history and lifestyle. Stutt explains everything that you need to know to get started, from how to purchase the proper board, tools, and safety gear, to skateboarding stances and board assembly. The book contains information on how to accomplish 33 different tricks of varying difficutly, and includes photographed snapshots to demonstrate the "how to" steps. This wonderful beginners guide also features a glossary defining skateboarding terminology that new skaters will need to be familiar with. Starting with the basics and history and finishing with more complicated tricks, this manual explores the world of skateboarding inside and out.

Critical Evaluation
Ryan Stutt, author of The Skateboarding Field Manual, is by no means an expert skateboarder, but luckily for readers it doesn't take an expert skateboarder to scribe an informational guide of trick basics, proper skating tools, techniques, and a history of the sport and subculture. Stutt describes the purpose of his manual as a means to get skateboarding newcomers up to speed with the sport and the culture, so that they'll be ready to go out and skate with the more experienced skateboarding community. Stutt leaves no stone unturned in this tell all of skateboarding life. He discusses everything from the proper shoes, the names of obstacles, and even the ever important skate park etiquette. His history of the sport is abridged, but gives newcomers a basic understanding of how the sport has evolved to present day.

At no point during the course of this manual will readers question Stutt's knowledge of the subject. Having worked in the world of professional skateboarding, Stutt made sure to get information and input from skaters of various skill levels. He presents 33 different tricks for new skaters to tackle, in the categories of grinds, slides, transitions, flips, and flat ground tricks. Each of these different tricks is presented with an introduction about the history and complexity of the trick, as well as a diagram for foot placement, and the "how to" steps for execution. The various stages of the trick are wonderfully captured by the photography of the talented Harry Gils. These photographs are numbered to correspond with the various "how to" steps. Gils' photography is also artfully placed throughout the manual, showcasing the art of skateboarding in the urban landscape it thrives. Graphically, the manual mimics and pays homage to the styles of popular skateboarding magazines like Thrasher, and Transworld. Each double spread features text in bold and bright colors contrasted against stark whites. Stutt tries to make the text lively and entertaining by throwing in the occasional pop culture reference, which teen readers are sure to get a kick out of. Overall, this beginners guide delivers on a variety of levels. Newcomers will appreciate the wealth of beginner knowledge, and skateboarding pros will marvel at the skilled photography. The Skateboarding Field Manual has a little something for everyone.

Reader's Annotation
The world of skateboarding has changed a lot since the 50's, and for newcomers to the sport there is a lot of catching up to do. Ryan Stutt's The Skate Boarding Field Manual is here to get skaters up to speed.

Author Information
Ryan Stutt is an active skateboarder and skateboard enthusiast. He has spent the majority of his professional career as the managing editor of SBC Skateboard magazine, and he is currently working with Elemental Skateboards on the non-profit organization Elemental Awareness. Elemental Awareness is an organization that seeks to educate and inspire young people to develop self-esteem in order to lead successful lives. Elemental Awareness offers skateboarding events, workshops, seminars, and scholarships to attend skateboarding camps.

Genre
sports

Curriculum Ties

physical education

Book Talking Ideas
Where will the sport of skateboarding be 10 years from now?

Reading Level
Grades 7+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Reason For Selection

Skateboarding is a popular sport amongst the teenage crowd. I frequently take my dog to the local dog park, which is situated directly across from the busiest skate park I've ever seen. This skate park is filled with teens riding skateboards, bicycles, and even scooters. I wanted to include a couple of sports titles somewhere in this blog and with the popularity of skateboarding in my area, this skateboarding manual seemed to be the perfect fit.

14. Been There Should've Done That



Tyler, Suzette. Been There Should've Done That. ISBN: 978-0965608619. Front Porch Press. Second Edition, 2001.




Overview
Been There Should've Done That is a compilation of quotes from college students, graduates, and professors, that give a wealth of advice to prospective college students. Author Suzette Tyler organizes her collected quotes into a variety of helpful sections that detail useful topics ranging from freshman orientation and roommates, to time management and choosing a major. These topics and more are explored in the book's twenty six different sections. The sections are separated by a gray title page and large quote to represent the topic discussed. Each of these sections details an aspect of college life that former college students can relate to, but for new students, the advice provided is new, fresh, and informative.

Critical Evaluation

"The Problem with college is that you figure it out about the time you're ready to graduate." This opening quote from Suzette Tyler's Been There Should've Done That, reveals the tragic truth that many college students are under prepared for the paths they've chosen. Tyler, a former college adviser, seeks to put an end to the under prepared college freshman by putting together a book of advice, not from her many years of experience dealing with students, but from the actual mouths of college students, graduates, and professors. Her compilation of gathered quotes explores a range of useful topics for future freshman about choosing classes, living life, and utilizing college to its full potential. The variety of quotes in the book's twenty six different sections express a unifying message that college is a different experience for everyone. Some students find their fit in clubs and organizations, while others in study abroad programs or Greek life. Not every program is for everyone, but the advice of students encourages teens to get out there and explore all of their options, because you never know who you want to become until you get out there and start exploring. The advice on study habits, taking classes outside your major, and professionalism will help teens to become prepared for the exciting challenges that await them. I only wish that I could go back, read this book, and experience college with new insight.

Reader's Annotation
College can be a scary place full of uncertainties. For prospective students worried about their transition into college life, Been There Should've Done That, makes things a little bit easier by providing real advice from college students, graduates, teachers aides, and professors.

Author Information
Suzette Tyler is a former college adviser, turned author of books designed to assist high school students as they transition into college life. Her other books include: Been There, Should've Done That: 995 Tips for Making the Most of College (2008), Been There Should've Done That: 505 Tips for Making the Most of College (1997), and Been There, Should've Done That II : More Tips for Making the Most of College (2001).

Genre
college prep

Curriculum Ties
college prep

Book Talking Ideas

What are your plans after high school?
If you could have any job in the world what would it be?

Reading Level
Grades 8+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Reason For Selection
I wanted to include a couple of books that provided tips and advice for teenagers entering college. After browsing through a couple of different books in the library, I eventually chose this title because of the simple format and use of real student and faculty quotes. I only wish that I would have had a survival guide like this before I began my first semester at California State University Northridge.

15. Confessions of a High School Word Nerd





Cohen, Arianne and Kinder, Colleen. Confessions of a High School Word Nerd. ISBN: 978-0143038368. Penguin. First Edition, 2007.







Overview
Confessions of A High School Word Nerd is a SAT prep tool disguised as a collection of essays for teenage readers. This collection of ten essays written by recent college graduates details interesting and often embarrassing high school memories that teens today can laugh at, and in doing so, learn important vocabulary words through bold text and easy to locate definitions. Each essay contains over 100 vocabulary words helpful to raise SAT scores for teen test takers. Each essay is presented as a confession, with many authors revealing that their stories have never been told until now. The massive amounts of defined vocabulary on each pages is revived at the end of the title in a glossary of all the combined terms. This book, meant to educate and entertain, adds a new element to traditional flash card and memorization study.

Critical Evaluation
Who said that studying had to be boring? Confessions of a High School Word Nerd, throws out the traditional flash cards and boring SAT strategy guides in exchange for entertaining and humorous essays on memorable high school experiences from recent college graduates. These enjoyable stories are filled with useful and important vocabulary words necessary for building a strong base for SAT success. By fusing prep words into the context of a story, teen readers will not only have the opportunity to read prep words in context, but will be able to enjoy the learning process as stories unfold. Each of the ten essays in this collection deals with a different aspect of high school life, from the dread of the first kiss, to the horrors of the college application process. These high school moments are remembered with witty reflection. The awkwardness that comes from calling boys and attending band camp will appeal to teens experiencing the same kinds of awkward experiences themselves. The variety of obscure and difficult vocabulary words used in this title and the easy to read bold text and definitions will help teens tremendously with learning the challenging terms presented. The humorous essays included in this valuable resource provide teens with an alternative and entertaining way to study for an otherwise very dry task.

Reader's Annotation
The solution to SAT flash cards and practice tests is here! Confessions of a High School Word Nerd interweaves SAT vocabulary and definitions into hilarious essays on high school life.

Author Information

Confessions of a High School Word Nerd co-editor and contributing writer Arianne Cohen is a very interesting woman. The 6 foot 3 inch tall journalist spends her professional time as a contributing writer for reputable publications Marie Claire, the New York Times, Vogue, and Popular Science. Cohen also acts as a contributing editor for Woman's Day magazine. She has published two other books in addition to Word Nerd including: The Tall Book, and Help it's Broken. The Tall Book explores the world of difficulties for tall people and the Help it's Broken acts as a do it yourself bible for beginners, giving advice for the average joe before an expert is needed.

Confessions of a High School Word Nerd co-editor and contributing writer Colleen Kinder is a New York native who has traveled and lived in a variety of locations including: Poland, Liberia, Mexico City, and the Dominican Republic. Her essays and articles have appeared in publications such as Salon, The New Republic, The New York Times Travel Section, and The Washington Post. When she's not busy writing guidebooks on travel for twenty somethings, Kinder spends her free time collecting globes, and taking excessive amounts of photos on her travels.

Genre
SAT prep

Curriculum Ties
SAT prep, English, vocabulary

Book Talking Ideas
Teens and pressure.
Reading and how reading can build vocabulary.
Preparing for the SAT doesn't have to be boring.

Reading Level
Grades 9+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Reason For Selection
I wanted to includes some SAT prep materials in my blog, because I know that this is an area of materials that I will need to be responsible for knowing as a future young adult librarian. After glancing through the bulky SAT prep volumes on my library's shelves, I spotted this little gem that seemed to call my name from between their overpowering pages. I really enjoy the fact that this collection of essays functions as a means to help students prepare for SAT vocabulary, so that students can be entertained while they study for their exams.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

16. Wolf Rider















Plot Summary
Andy Zadinski is new to Madison. He's an average 15 year old, and on an average night, a horrific phone call changes his life forever. The phone rings three times before Andy answers and hears the chilling voice of a man who calls himself Zeke. Zeke confesses to Andy that he has just murdered a woman named Nina Klemmer. Andy is shocked but keeps Zeke on the phone so that his friend Paul can call the cops in order to trace Zeke's call. Andy remains calm and is able to persuade Zeke to reveal more details about the murder. Andy learns that Nina was a student at the local college, around 5 feet six inches tall, thin, with dyed black hair. Zeke wanted to take Nina out, but she repeatedly refused, so Zeke felt the need to punish her. Zeke confesses to entering her home and stabbing her to death while she pleaded for her life. Suspecting the call is being traced, Zeke hangs up before Andy can find out any more details. Andy becomes obsessed with the call even though nobody believes that the story could possibly be true, not the police, not his father, and even his best friend Paul has doubts about the credibility of the call, but Andy is convinced otherwise.

Andy realizes the extreme odds of a killer randomly dialing his home number. His number is not listed, and the only person his father gave their number to was his secretary at the college where he works. Andy can't let the phone call go, even when the police inform him that no murder or missing person's cases have surfaced. While browsing through a Madison College directory Andy discovers that Nina Klemmer attends the university, and Andy makes it his responsibility to warn her about Zeke and the horrific call. Andy calls her, then tracks her down in the library, and her description is exactly as Zeke described. After following a series of clues, Andy suspects that college professor Phil Lucas is in fact Zeke, and when Andy tries to prove it, he finds himself caught up in the horrifying storyline he knew was true all along.

Critical Evaluation

Avi's Wolf Rider is a horrifying mystery that deals with the theme of obsession from both sides of the spectrum. When 15 year old Andy Zadinski receives a phone call from a man named Zeke who confesses to committing the murder of a student named Nina Klemmer, he becomes obsessed with the possibility that this call may be more than a late night hoax. Zeke details his obsession for Nina during his brief conversation with Andy, and goes over in detail how he brutally murdered her with a kitchen knife. Andy in turn becomes obsessed with the call and this obsession takes over his life for the next couple of weeks. Andy contacts the police and tells his father, but nobody believes his story. Readers learn that earlier that year Andy's mother was killed by a drunk driver, and the adults in the story suspect that this Zeke and Nina story is really just a cry for help. Andy realizes that if he is going to stop this murder from happening he has to do everything alone and in secret.

Piece by piece Andy puts together the puzzle surrounding the late night phone call. Readers follow Andy's detective efforts as he becomes more and more intertwined in Zeke's grim storyline. Each new break in the case brings Andy one step closer to meeting the man who's voice has been echoing in his head through the long and endless nights. Avi pens a quick pace for this tale of supsense, by sectioning his story into an array of short stabbing paragraphs, that often leave readers with a cliffhanger feeling as new evidence is revealed. Avi also adds to the horror of the story by alternating between both Andy's and Zeke's perspectives of the unfolding events. The suspense builds until the novel's conclusion, which may leave reader's scratching their heads as to what Avi's intentions might have been. Both Andy's and Zeke's obsession reveals a haunting side of the human condition that leads to disastrous outcomes. Andy's silenced cry will resonate with teen readers who are used to being ignored by adults and authority figures. This lack of concern from the adults in the novel at times borders on the comedic side, but the results of their lack of concern makes the effect even more chilling. The grim subject matter and murderous plot make this novel suitable and more enjoyable for a much older teen audience.

Reader's Annotation
The phone rings and the man on the other end has called to confess a horrible murder. This murderer isn't calling the police, he's calling you.

Author Information

Avi is the bestselling author of over 60 young adult novels and children's books. He spent the first 25 years of his career as a librarian and it wasn't until the birth of his first son that he started writing for children and young adults. Avi is a unique author in that he works in a variety of genres, including: mystery, comedy, sports, fantasy, historical fiction, and horror. His writing has won numerous awards including the Newbery Medal for his historical fiction title Crispin: Cross of Lead (2002), and a Newbery Honor for Nothing but the Truth. (1991).

Genre

mystery

Curriculum Ties
N/A

Book Talking Ideas
Did Andy make the right decision in pursuing Zeke?
Do you think the depiction of adult behavior in response to Andy's story is accurate? Why do you feel adults are quick to discredit teens, and how does that make you feel?

Reading Level
Grades 9+ (The vocabulary and story are an easy read, but the horrific undertones of the murder are more suitable for high school students and older readers)

Challenge Issues
violence, murder

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I wanted to include a mystery title somewhere in my blog, and after reading the first couple of pages of Wolf Rider I was hooked. Wolf Rider opens with a horrifying phone call between a murderer and a teenage boy whom he happened to call. The idea of receiving a phone call from a murderer out of the blue was something I found shocking, and before I knew it I had read the first couple of sections while still standing in the young adult section.

17. The Essential Tomb of Dracula
















Plot Summary
Dracula has lofty dreams of taking over the world by turning the living into an undead army who will obey his every beck and call. Marvel comics revives the infamous Dracula character in this collection of vampire stories in The Essential Tomb of Dracula. This Essential volume includes 25 original Tomb of Dracula issues, as well as an issues of Werewolf By Night and Giant-size Chillers. In each issue Dracula is confronted by a team of vampire slayers who seek to destroy him before his plans come to fruition. Dracula's plans for world domination are repeatedly foiled by the slayers, but not before he can claim a new victim or two. The group of slayers consists of Dr. Rachel Van Helsing, descendant of Dracula's Frank Drake, the wheel chair ridden Dr. Quincy Harker, the exceptionally strong Taj Nital, and the urban sensation known as Blade. Each of these slayers bring a unique skill to the table in their quest to destroy Dracula and the vampire community.

Critical Evaluation
Marvel Comics' Tomb of Dracula is a chilling series of horror fiction that deserves its place alongside other great Dracula stories that came before it. The first couple of issues in the series serve as back story and are ultimately forgettable until writer Marv Wolfman got involved and put his signature macabre stamp on the series. Wolfman's first issue, "Night of the Death Stalkers," details Dracula's plan to use an army of children to thwart the group of troublesome slayers who consistently seek to destroy him. Dracula uses his mental power of persuasion to control the minds of a group of young boys, and turns them into a vicious pack of weapon toting murderers. This chilling story arc also introduces the character Blade, who goes on to become one of the most infamous vampire slayers in the history of modern vampire fiction.

The horrifying "Death Stalkers" storyline features the detailed and intense illustrations of artist Gene Colan. Colan turns the blank expressions on the faces of the controlled young boys into the kinds of images that nightmares are made of. What Tomb of Dracula lacks in gore it makes up in haunting imagery. Colan's grotesque portrayal of the undead and his use of shadows, set the mood for Wolfman's distinctively ominous storylines. The lettering also sets an eerie mood using fonts reminiscent of the kinds used in classic horror films. The marvel style of storytelling popular in the 70's is not missed in the issues of Tomb of Dracula. Characters narrate their actions before committing them, and dialogue at times verges on the hokey. Despite the changes that have been made to comic book storytelling since Tomb of Dracula's publication in the 70's, the issues are still entertaining to read and surprisingly scary. The depiction of women in the series is not acceptable by today's standards, with Dracula often commenting on the feeble minded nature and inferiority of women. This flaw doesn't overshadow the wonderful amalgamation of chilling storylines, art, and text composition that bring Dracula to life in the masterful Marvel way.

Reader's Annotation
Dracula is back and ready to take over the world, if only there weren't a group of devoted vampire slayers to stop him in his illustrated tracks. Marvel comics has once again taken a legendary series and re-released it in an Essential volume for fans of horror comics and Dracula himself.

Author Information
Tomb of Dracula writer Marv Wolfman is a comic book legend. From the time he was a child in the early 50's, Wolfman has been a die-hard comic book fan. This devoted interest in comic books is what led him to pursue a career as a writer. Wolfman's first job in the comic book industry came as an editor for Marvel Comics. Wolfman would eventually trade his editing responsibilities for writing, and would go on to create some of the most memorable characters in the Marvel and DC universes. Wolfman is credited with creating several important comic book characters, including: Blade the vampire slayer, The Teen Titans, Nova, Bullseye, and Black Cat.

Wolfman also penned the storyline for the important DC series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which celebrated DC comics 50th anniversary. This groundbreaking series rewrote the entire history of DC comics, and in doing so, helped to bring unity to previous continuity issues. Wolfman's characters and comics have been adapted for television and film, and he continues to write for comic book fans today. He is expecting to release an all new Teen Titans graphic novel by Christmas of 2010.

Genre
graphic novel, horror

Curriculum Ties
comic history

Book Talking Ideas
Discuss Dracula history.
Describe the "Death Stalkers" storyline.
How has Dracula changed through literature and cinema?

Reading Level
Grades 7+

Challenge Issues
violence, gore, sexism

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
After reading some fantasy graphic novels for my author/genre study paper, I knew that I wanted to read more non-traditional comic book genres. The library had a collection of Dracula comics and I had never read horror in the graphic novel format before. The experience proved to be both interesting and entertaining. With the popularity of vampire fiction today because of titles like Twilight, this collection of older vampire fiction might find a new use.