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.

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.

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.

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