Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Crossover’ Category

record collecting for girls

Record Collecting for Girls: Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Time
By Courtney E. Smith
ISBN: 9780547502236
Publisher: Mariner
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
Gathering over ten years of experience in the music industry, Courtney E. Smith looks back at how music has changed her life

Plot Summary:
Courtney E. Smith has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the major musical bands in the last ten years. Building upon her love of music and her experience as a programming for MTV, Smith has created a memoir that is equal parts love letter to music and equal parts history of the medium. From essential lists to the confessions of guilty pleasure listening, Record Collecting for Girls provides a means for girls to further explore their love of music and to discover hidden gems along the way.

Critical Evaluation:
Smith’s memoir is a fun read. Yet, at times it seems that Smith delves more into the memoir aspect of her book instead of discussing music. Smith usually does bring the conversation back to music, tying her stories with music lists and recommendations.

Smith supports the idea that there are music snobs in everywhere. The chapter on guilty pleasures is an example of this in that Smith can not justify exactly why she loves the group Pussycat Dolls and not other mainstream girl groups. The reality is that it’s fine to like what you like. There’s no real reason for why we love the music we do, we just do.

The book provides great tips on searching for music information, specifically about music blogs. Smith’s knowledge of the music industry is a treat in that she occasionally delves into music history as well as pushing a discourse on the age old argument of who is better: The Rolling Stones or The Beatles.

Overall, Smith is a fun storyteller who has a lot to share about the industry. Young girls looking to expand their musical knowledge should seek this title to read. Not only will they gain an understanding of music history but an understand why it’s important to listen to music in the first place.

Information about the Author:
From Amazon, Courtney E. Smith has worked in the music industry for over a decade. As a music programmer for MTV, she was part of the team to decided on-air programming which set the tone for the music discourse in the last ten years. Her programming has helped increase awareness for bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, and Vampire Weekend.

Smith continues to blog about music and currently is a music producer for CBS.

Courtney E. Smith on Twitter

Genre:
Non-Fiction, Music

Curriculum Ties:
Music, Relationships

Booktalking Ideas:
How can music influence our memories?
What songs would you use for a personal soundtrack?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
This title is a crossover, written for more adult audiences. I would recommend the book for older teens, beginning at 16 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I had picked this book when it first was published last year. As a music fan myself, Smith’s tales of music and life resonated with my own past. As music is a large part of the popular culture, a book describing music as a means of a memoir will connect with teens who use music in their daily lives.

bampw-black-and-white-girl-headphones-music-photography-Favim.com-75270

The local music store

Reference:
Amazon. (n.d.). Record Collecting for Girls: Unleasing your inner music nerd, one album at a time. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Record-Collecting-Girls-Unleashing-Inner/dp/0547502230/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301784494&sr=8-1

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

World War Z
By Max Brooks
ISBN: 9780307346609
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 2006

Reader’s Annotation:
Drawing from interviews from survivors of the Zombie War, Max Brooks presents a comprehensive history of how the war changed human civilization forever.

Plot Summary:
It has been over ten years since the outbreak. It has been over ten years since the beginning of the Zombie War or World War Z. Within this time period, the world has changed dramatically. Nations that were once ignored have become great world powers. The great powers of the past now struggle to maintain their survival.

Drawing from interviews from surveyors across the globe, Max Brooks has created two records for future generations. The first being the official United Nations Post-War Commission Report. The second being this book of memoirs that presents the human side of this devastating conflict. Despite the cold-facts of the first report, Brooks hopes that this human history will shed light onto the zombie conflict so that future generations can prevent another outbreak.

Critical Evaluation:
Max Brooks has been successful in creating a world filled with terror and horror. Brooks was inspired by the journalistic endeavors of author Studs Terkel, who used oral accounts to create a history instead of just mere prose. The interview storytelling method is an effective means for creating this world in that the personal stories of these “survivors” feel realistic. The reader is instantly connected to the story because the interviews feel honest and real.

Brooks also uses the inspiration of George Romero’s zombie horror films. Dawn of the Dead and Romero’s non-zombie film, The Crazies, can be seen through how the plague is spread and the human reaction to the disease.  Brooks’s choice for a Romero inspiration is important in that Romero’s zombie films have always presented a humanistic view to the horror, highlighting the problem of mass consumption and commercialism. Romero’s films have become parables of human society, showcasing that terror usually starts with our own greediness and follies.

Young Adult readers will enjoy the zombie element of the book, while mature Young Adult readers will be engaged at the challenging pieces of world political dynamics.

Information about the author:
Max Brooks is the son of legendary director Mel Brooks. A former writer for Saturday Night Live, Brooks’s prose writing career has focused primarily on his love of the zombie horror sub-genre. Brooks is also a voiceover actor and has appeared in various live television programs.

Genre:
Horror/Thriller

Curriculum Ties:
History, Journalism, Alternative History

Booktalking Ideas:
How does history affect our perception of our present?
What would you do to survive the end of the world?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
World War Z is a crossover title. It’s themes of violence would warrant an older teen audience, starting at 16 and Up.

Challenging Issues:

There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would include violent situations.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
The Zombie sub-genre is currently a popular trend in television (The Walking Dead) and in literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Warm Bodies). Brooks’s novel is set to be adapted into a film next year. World War Z is different from other zombie books in that its merging of journalistic storytelling techniques with fiction provides a genuinely engrossing read. It’s a great book to entice reluctant readers as the book is primarily interviews instead of just prose.

Reference:
IMDB. (n.d.). Max Brooks. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0112150/

Bonus Features!

Survival Handbook!

(more…)

Read Full Post »

The Complete Persepolis
By Marjane Satrapi
ISBN: 9780375714832
Publisher: Pantheon, a division of Random House
Date of Publication: 2003/2004 (Originally published in the United States in two volumes)
Reader’s Annotation:
Young Marjane Satrapi’s family adapts to the changing politics of Iran in the 1970s and the 1980s.

Plot Summary:
It is the early 1980s and Iran has entered the Cultural Revolution. Women are veiled or must wear a head covering in public. American Capitalism has been denounced and the nation turns its eyes onto Islamic Fundamentalism. Dissidents are arrested, inprisioned or executed.

In the midst of all this political and religious upheaval, a girl by the name of Marjane Satrapi is witness to the changes in her country, and then in her family. Marjane is an only child with an active imagination and a curious mind. Her family’s history is tied to the country’s history and these changes are felt intimately. As the years go by, young Marjane must reconcile her choice of freedom and her love of her country and family. Spanning decades and two continents, Persepolis is the story of how a young girl becomes a young women and how a country struggles to find it’s voice in change and conflict.

Critical Evaluation:
Drawing on her personal history, Marjane Satrapi weaves an artistic masterpiece. The art is bright and illuminating, even in black and white shadowing. In the parts describing the history of Iran, there is a magical, mythical quality, despite the horrific nature of the country’s history. Beyond Satrapi’s art, the story that Marjane presents feels honest and true. Satrapi’s family is a supportive bunch of individuals who want nothing but the best for young Marjane. Their conversations on politics and religion are meant to educate Marjane, though it leads to dire consequences later in her life. The path of change is not easy and Satrapi is honest in her assessment of her history and the power of Iranian politics.

Many memoirs expected some form of sympathy from their readers, grasping for pity as a means to feel supported. Satrapi expects her readers to be open-minded to her history and her country’s history. She doesn’t expect pity for her tale but convey what it meant to live in Iran and how the changes of the Cultural Revolution changed her family’s life. An example of this could be found in Satrapi’s conversations with God. When God does not answer, Satrapi begins to realize that the price of her decisions is her own and no one else’s. This concept is highlighted later when Satrapi is sent abroad to study. Satrapi’s tale could be a parallel history of the new Iran. As Satrapi begins to find her voice, so to does Iran in regards to its policies and actions. Mistakes are made but how we handle the mistakes define who we are as a person or as a nation.

The Complete Persepolis is both a beautiful art piece and a moving story. It is a great example of how art can influence a story and vice versa.

punk is not ded

 

Information about the Author:
Marjane Satrapi was born in Iran and was raised in Tehran. Satrapi studied Decorative Arts in Austria and eventually moved to Paris where she lives today. Satrapi has become an internationally recognized artist in part due to her work in comics but in the film adaptation of Persepolis. Satrapi has adapted her book Chicken with Plums to film and is working on third film that will be released in the Winter of next year. Her art work has appeared in various print media across the globe. (Barclay Agency)

Genre:
Memoir, Non-Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Iran History, Modern Islamic History, Art, Personal Stories

Booktalking Ideas:
What is the role of religion in politics?
What would it be like to leave your family to live in a different country?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Persepolis is a crossover title. This title would be perfect for ages 15 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book in America. The book has been banned and challenged in Satrapi’s home country of Iran and the neighboring country of Lebanon on the basis of religious reasons. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be religion, violence, language, and sexual situations.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
As a fan of Satrapi’s art, I can’t help but be excited to talk about her books and films to anyone willing to try something new. Satrapi’s memoir focuses primarily on her youth and what it means to find an identity in a climate of political and religious change. Young readers who feel alienated from their peers and their family will find a kinship to Satrapi’s tale.

Reference:
Adnkronos International. (2008). Iran: Oscar-nominated film branded ‘anti-revolutionary’ by authorities. Adnkronos International. Retrieved from http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/CultureAndMedia/?id=1.0.1914777928

Barclay Agency. (n.d.). Marjane Satrapi. Retrieved from http://barclayagency.com/satrapi.html

France 24. (2008). Lebanon lifts Persepolis ban. Retrieved from http://www.france24.com/en/20080328-lebanon-lifts-persepolis-ban-film-lebanon

Bonus Features!

Mini Film Review:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
ISBN: 9780307887443
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
In the year 2044, orphaned Wade Watts has found a clue that could change everything in the OASIS gaming system.

Plot Summary:
Wade Watts is an orphan who lives in the stacks. He spends the majority of his day plugged into the OASIS, an extensive online simulation. The OASIS is were Wade can access games and his classroom. The only friends Wade has exist within the OASIS, where identity is created by the user.

The year is 2044 and the world is in ruin. The poor economy has taken a toll on the world and the majority of its citizens suffer in vain. Food and other resources are scarce, which is why more people plug into the OASIS as a means to escape.

At the time of his death, OASIS co-creator James Halliday was a lonely man who left no heirs to his empire. Instead, he left instructions that his legacy would be inherited by the winner of a game by Halliday’s design. Unfortunately, the rush to find the pieces of the game, or the Easter Eggs, produced nothing. Egg Hunters, or Gunters, now devote their time learning everything about Halliday’s past times in order to find clues towards Halliday’s fortune.

Years go by without any progress. Until one day, when Wade Watts stumbles onto an unexpected clue, and changes everything. And as Wade unlocks that first clue, he discovers that there are others out there that will do anything to win the contest.

Anything.

adventure

Critical Evaluation:
A love letter to the 1980s and nerd culture, Ernest Cline’s first novel is a pop culture fanatic’s dream. Cline has created a fun world, despite the various economic hardships endured by the characters. Such examples of financial ruin are more likely inspired by the poor economic conditions of the past five or more years. Cline’s insight into entertainment and economics almost seems prophetic as more humans plug into the Internet for their news and social interaction.

But towards the middle of the book, the story seems to falter. It’s as if Cline was confused as to how he could bridge the story’s enticing beginning with the exciting ending. Even with audio narration by Wil Weation, the story moves at a slower pace with too much explanation and not enough action. Pop culture fans will still push through, enjoying the heavy references. At times the various cultural references seem too much for those unfamiliar with the different historical materials. Cline’s strength as a reader is that he endeavors to explain such history with patience and ease.

The novel’s many video game references are a great selling point to reluctant readers who prefer video gaming. Interested readers might go beyond the book to seek the materials in the book. The book’s Wikipedia page provides a great list of all the different cultural references mentioned.

Audio Evaluation:
Wil Wheaton, Weasley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, provides the audio narration for Ready Player One. A profiic member of modern geek and nerd culture, it seems fitting that Wheaton should be the one narrating Wade’s tale. The audiobook is a delight as it seems that Wheaton genuinely enjoys the material. Unfortunately, the problems with the second act of the book is not diminished withe Wheaton’s narration. He still gives the story his full attention and the audience might be inclined to forgive Cline’s offensive with Wheaton’s devotion to the material.

Information about the Author:
Ernest Cline’s webpage is more of a fun, nerdy slideshow. What visitor’s to the page can discover is that Cline’s background has been soaked in science fiction and video games. His love of Science Fiction/Fantasy films led him to become a screenwriter. Cline’s obsession with Star Wars led him to write the screenplay that would eventually become the film Fanboys.

Ready Player One is Cline’s first novel and continues to be amazed by the novel’s success. Cline has continued to cultivate his love of the 80s pop culture. His most recent book tour involved traveling from each location in a Delorean automobile, similar to the one used in the film trilogy Back to the Future.

Cline and Wheaton
(Ernest Cline and Wil Weaton with a Delorean)

Genre:
Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Popular Culture History, Future of Technology, History of Video Games

Booktalking Ideas:
What is your favorite video game and why?
What is the role of social networking and internet use in your life? Personal and professional?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
This is a crossover title in that it was written for an adult audience but does have mass appeal for younger readers. The novel would be recommended for a 16 and up audience. The book was a 2012 Alex Award winner. The Alex Award is given to adult written books that have young adult appeal.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential issues would include violent situations.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Ernest Cline’s book is a treat for anyone who has any awareness of popular culture history, specifically history from the 1980s. As a child of the 80s, much of the material presented were relevant to my upbringing. The story is not condescending to those readers who lack previous popular culture knowledge and does explain situations and history in a manner that will excite readers to explore more about nerd culture after they finish the book. This is a great book to use for those reluctant readers who prefer video gaming to recreational reading.

Reference:
YALSA. (2012). Alex Awards. Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/yalsa/alex-awards

Cline, E. (2012). About Ernie. Ernest Cline. Retrieved from http://www.ernestcline.com/blog/about/

Ready Player One Poster

Read Full Post »

Weetzie Bat (Dangerous Angels)
By Francesca Lia Block
ISBN: 978-0-06-200740-7
Publisher: Harper Teen, an imprint of HarperCollins
Date of Publication: 1989

Reader’s Annotation:
Weetzie Bat juggles friendship and love in the enchanted city of Los Angeles.

Plot Summary:
Published in 1989, Francesca Lia Block’s tale of romance and friendship proves a mythical, whimsical tale set in the heart of Los Angeles. Weetzie Bat and her best friend Dirk must endure the challenges of love and friendship as they struggle to understand what it means to be an individual in a large and strange world.

Critical Evaluation:
Block’s work has known its share of controversy, primarily due to the wide range of topics presented in the less than 100 page story; sexual abuse, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse. Block presents Los Angeles as both a fantasy land in which dreams can come true and as a harsh reality in where pain is part of even the most happiest of existence. While the material might have a whimsy tone in terms of writing style, it’s because of said writing style that the story becomes endearing. Block’s story is meant to show how a family can be created and how a city can become a playground. Overall, despite the large issues presented, the story is a fairytale and is a fun fast read for anyone interested in magical realism.

Information about the Author:
From Francesca Lia Block’s Webpage, a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, Block is the author of over thirty books. Renouned for her realistic portayl of the city of Los Angeles, Block’s stories have been called mythical, with shades of magical realism scattered throughout her tales.

Francesca Lia Block on Twitter

A recent interview with Francesca Lia Block with the Los Angeles Review of Books

Genre:
Realistic Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Modern Mythology, City Histories

Booktalking Ideas:
Why does Weetzie and her friends feel that Los Angeles is a magical place?
What makes a book a fantasy or a realistic title?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Weetzie Bat was originally published for adult audiences. It has now found a home amongst young adult readers. A suggested age range for this book would be fifteen and up.

Challenging Issues:
Block’s Los Angeles fairytale has been challenged several times since it’s publication. Issues such as homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse have been the more cited reasons for the challenges.

The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why was this book chosen?
Weetzie Bat was another book that I was assigned to read for my Materials for Young Adults course through San Jose State University. The book was a short read (less than a 100 pages) but the material included in the book was very dense. The various issues the characters endure are relate-able to any age group.

weetzie

Reference:
Block, F.L. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.francescaliablock.com/bio

Kirkus Reviews. (1989). Weetzie Bat. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/francesca-lia-block/weetzie-bat/

Read Full Post »