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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl

Stargirl
By Jerry Spinelli
ISBN: 97803758233x
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date of Publication: 2000

Reader’s Annotation:
Leo Borlock’s world is turned upside down when he meets the new girl at school.

Plot Summary:
Leo Borlock is an average high school student at an average high school in Arizona. On an ordinary day an extraordinary girl makes her first appearance and instantly captures Leo’s heart. Her name is Stargirl. A former homeschool student, Stargirl decided to enter public school to find out about the high school experience.  She believes in living life to the fullest and looks for any opportunity to find joy in her surroundings.

At first, the school rejoices in her individuality, finding her to be a piece of fresh air. But as the school year progresses, opinions begin to change and soon the school begins to attack Stargirl for being different. Leo finds himself caught in a struggle between his love of Stargirl and the pressures of high school society. Leo finds he must choose between what is considered “normal” and what it means to follow your heart.

Critical Evaluation:
High School can be a horrific place to experiment with individuality. In the beginning you might be judged as the freak and ignored by the majority of the student body. You might be looked upon as a novelty, something to be stared at in amusement before everyone else goes about their day.

Stargirl believes in being herself. She doesn’t know anything different than that concept. When Leo tries to ignore the majority’s negative opinion about Stargirl, he finds he doesn’t like the isolation as much as he thought he did. The need for acceptance is a powerful trait for anyone at any time in their life. While we want to see Stargirl become the jewel of the school, we understand Leo’s dilemma. He wants to bask in Stargirl’s individuality, but the opinions of others stifles his feelings and in the end allows the relationship to whither and fade out of existence.

Any reader who struggles with the concept of individuality or identity will feel empathy over Stargirl’s journey. The same readers will understand Leo’s struggle with group think and high school popularity issues.

Information about the Author:
From Jerry Spinelli’s Webpage, a graduate of Gettysburg College, began his writing career early during his high school years. His first book, Space Station Seventh Grade, was written in between his work as a men’s wear editor.

Spinelli has drawn inspiration from his own childhood and by watching his six children grow up. He is the author of 30 books as well as the grandfather of 21 grandchildren.

Genre:
Realistic Fiction, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Non-confromity

Booktalking Ideas:
What’s your idea of being normal?
What does it mean to be friends with someone outside of the “norm”?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews gives a suggested age range of 11-14.

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?
While Jerry Spinelli is known for books catered to a young age, Stargirl is perfect for young adults due to it’s honest discussion of conformity and group think mentality.

Reference:
Kirkus Reviews. (2000). Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jerry-spinelli/stargirl/

Spinelli, J. (n.d.). About. Retrieved from http://www.jerryspinelli.com/newbery_008.htm

Star Wars Lego for GameCube

Lego_Star_Wars_The_Video_Game_(GC)_(NA)

Star Wars Lego: The Video Game
Created by Traveller’s Tale
Released: 2005
Rating: E for Everyone

Annotation:
Play within the adventures of the Star Wars Prequels, in Lego format.

Summary:
Based on the Star Wars film franchise, Star Wars Lego places fans into the world of Lucasfilm but in Lego form. Play within the story of the prequels or create your own team of characters and free play between story lines. Players are encouraged to find special items that build vehicle replicas. Collect all vehicle pieces and discover the hidden level.

Critical Evaluation:
Star Wars Lego was the second franchise to use Lego as a video gaming format, the first being Harry Potter for PC. The play is simple enough between levels, with each level a different part of the prequel storyline. Each level features key characters used in the film. Some levels feature vechile interaction, allowing players to focus on something other than character play.

The game ends too quickly for those more advanced players. The sequel to the game, which features the original trilogy, created longer game play. The original game is still fun and does provide a challenge for those interested in puzzles.

Information about the Developer:
From the company’s webpage, created in 2005 Traveller’s Tale Games has set out to be the leader in providing quality games for young players. The company was acquired by Warner Brothers Entertainment in 2007. Traveller’s Tale has now expanded into animation with a show currently broadcasted on Nick Jr.

The company has expanded their products with other Lego games such as Lego Batman, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, and, most recently, Lego Lord of the Rings.

Genre:
Games, Science Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Game Design

Booktalking Ideas:
Which Star Wars prequel was your favorite?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The game is rated E which means it will appeal to players of all ages.

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues would include slight violence with science fiction weapons.

Why did I include this game in the title selections?
While the GameCube format has been phased out of mainstream play, I still enjoy my GameCube Console. One of my favorite games to relax to is this particular game. It’s fun but isn’t taxing. While modern teens might finish the game quickly, it’s still a fun game to play and worth the time and effort.

Reference:
Traveller’s Tale. (n.d.). History. Retrieved from http://www.ttgames.com/history/

Hunger_gamesThe Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
ISBN: 9780439023528
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date of Publication: 2008

Reader’s Annotation:
When Prim Everdeen is chosen to participate in the 74th Hunger Games, her older sister Katniss volunteers and takes her place.

Plot Summary:
Katniss Everdeen and her family live in District 12, one of the districts that make up Panem. The country is ruled by the great city of the Capitol. Because of an upraising over seventy-five years ago, the Capitol now demands that a boy and a girl from the twelve districts are to be selected for the Hunger Games, a battle in which contestants from ages twelve to eighteen fight to be the lone survivor on live television. The games were created so that all citizens would know that their lives were controlled by the Capitol and that no age is safe from punishment. When Prim, Katniss’s younger sister is selected, Katniss takes her place instead.

The boy selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son who once helped Katniss when her family was starving. As Katniss and Peeta arrive at the Capitol, they face fierce competition from the other districts, especially from District 1 and 2 who train their children to prepare for the games. Katniss is against incredible odds but Katniss was raised to survive, finding food for her family by becoming accomplished with a bow and arrow. When the games begin, Katniss uses all of her knowledge to live and must do everything in her power to see the dawn of the next day.

Critical Evaluation:
Suzanne Collins’s book on a destructive dystopian world was a compelling read. Katniss’s hatred for the Capitol and the situation that her family has been placed in, creates a different female protagonist that doesn’t rely on a romantic scenario. The elements are there for such a storyline but that’s mostly in the background. Humanity continues to be stripped away from Katniss before she even enters the game. It’s compounded by her participation. It’s not an easy concept for anyone to explore but Collins does it nicely, allowing the reader to be eased into the harsh situations.

Survival is the game, but what happens in the end? Is that struggle to survive at any cost worth what you lose; peace of mind? Collins’s examination of power and corruption lead to bigger questions of the state of our own government. What situation would we be in if our nation was threatened? What would we do just to survive in a no-win situation. There are never easy answers to these thoughts, though Collins does attempt to provide pieces for further examination.

This is the first book in a trilogy.

Information about the Author:
Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford Connecticut and is a graduate from Indiana University. Collins double majored in Drama and Telecommunication. Her writing career began with her work on children’s programming. She turned to prose and published the children’s series Underland Chronicles, starting in 2003.

Collins continues to write for television, branching into film starting with the film adaptions of The Hunger Games series. She lives with her husband and family in Connecticut.

Suzanne Collins on IMDB

Genre:
Science Fiction, Dystopia

Curriculum Ties:
Alternative History, Survival Situations

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you do for your family if it meant life or death?
What is dystopian fiction?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews lists this book for ages 11-18. Considering the nature of the material, I would recommend a higher age range of 14-18. It also depends on the maturity level of the reader.

Challenging Issues:


Suzanne Collins is listed as one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st Century.
The book has been challenged and banned due to its use of violence.

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?
This has been one of my favorite books since I first read it a few years ago. I thought of using a different dystopian young adult novel, but I haven’t been impressed with some of the recent genre publications. The Hunger Games holds up after repeated readings and remains engaging, especially in light of the recent film adaptation.

Reference:
IMDB. (n.d.). Suzanne Collins. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1056741/

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). The Hunger Games. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/suzanne-collins/the-hunger-games/

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

Red by Taylor Swift

Taylor-Swift-Red-Review

Red
By Taylor Swift
Genre: Country/Pop
Released by: Big Machine Records
Date of Release: 2012

Annotation:
The fourth studio album by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

Summary:
1.    State of Grace
2.    Red
3.    Treacherous
4.    I Knew You Were Trouble
5.    All Too Well
6.    22
7.    I Almost Do
8.    We are Never Ever Getting Back Together
9.    Stay Stay Stay
10.  The Last Time
11.  Holy Ground
12.  Sad Beautiful Tragic
13.  The Lucky One
14.  Everything Has Changed
15.  Starlight
16.  Begin Again

Critical Evaluation:
Pushing past the boundaries of her country beginnings, Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album has combined different genres in creating an album that shows more maturity than her previous work. Swift, who wrote nine of the tracks, continues to lay her heart on the line, bringing honesty to heartache and joy.

Key Tracks:
I Knew You Were Trouble channels Swift’s slight pop mentality with a dance bass background during the bridge. The song is catchy and I found myself humming along before the song finished.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was the first single released from the album. It’s sad anthem of the end of young love. The track is fun but there is pent up anger that Swift releases with each repeat of the bridge. Look to hear this often amongst girls suffering a break-up. The boy band Hanson has covered the song in live performances.

Everything has Changed, featuring Ed Sheeran, is a heartbreakingly, haunting track that has more ties to Swift’s country roots.

Information about the Artist:
Now 22 years of age, Taylor Swift took the music industry by storm when she released her first studio album at the age of 17, having written the majority of the music herself. Swift was savvy in that she used her knowledge of the Internet to connect with her fans via MySpace. Swift continues to connect with her fans with various social media platforms.

Taylor Swift on Twitter

Taylor Swift on Facebook

Taylor Swift on YouTube

Curriculum Ties:
Music, Songwriting

Interest Age:
Taylor Swift is popular amongst teens. She is considered to be both country and pop. Her music has played on Top 40 stations as well as adult contemporary channels.
Why did I include this album in the title selection?
I just discovered Swift’s music. I don’t usually follow country music but I thought I would try this album as Swift is constantly on teen magazines and media. The songs are catchy and fun and would be a great addition to a teen album collection.

Reference:
Swift, T. (n.d.). My life. Retrieved from http://taylorswift.com/

Gale Virtual Reference Library

gale

Gale Virtual Reference Library
Accessed through the San Diego Public Library’s eColletion
Accesible only with a valid San Diego Public Library account number.

Annotation:
Gale Virtual Reference Library provides users with a wealth of information through their eBook collection.

Summary:
With a large selection of subjects, the Gale Virtual Reference Library is a key provider for researchers. Accessible through a library account, the site offers a through search engine of its collection, providing for citation and bibliographies.

Critical Evaluation:
The overall site is very organized, providing popular book resources as examples for the various subjects offered. Within the selection of the material, users have a choice of downloading an audio version of the information or a pdf format to an eReader. The site proves citation tools and the ability to translate articles into twelve languages. Articles can be printed or emailed as well.

The site is only accessible through a library account. A search engine allows users to find different subjects in a very, well organized manner. A search for the subject of coffee provided for definitions and a history of the coffee industry. Within those results, exact pages of the chosen books were provided as well as page numbers for citation. The results also provided a bibliography and links to related articles.

The company’s goal of providing organized information for its users is fulfilled. Teens searching for in-depth research on the Internet will find success in this informative site.

Information about the Company:
Gale, part of Cengage Learning, works with libraries in regards to online research and educational publishing. Macmillan Reference USA is an example of one of Gale’s imprints. The company strives to provide educators and libraries with quality information in a global setting.

Genre:
Non-Fiction

Booktalking Ideas:
n/a

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The site provides assistance to any level of researcher.

Challenging Issues:
n/a

Why did I include this database in the title selections?
I was impressed with the site’s layout and the wealth of information provided in the search engine.

Reference:
Gale. (n.d.). About Us. Gale Cengage Learning. Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com/about/

ProQuest: Homework Help

proquest_logoProQuest Homework Central
Accessed through the San Diego Public Library’s Kids and Teens: Homework Help Center

Annotation:
Homework Central serves to assist the needs of students and educators.

Summary:
With access to over 9,000 different worldwide publishers, Proquest Homework Central is a handy resource for online learning. The Proquest Homework Central archive is separated by grade level to provide easier access to materials.

Critical Evaluation:
The site’s homework page is quite organized. The site is broken done into different subject categories as well as guides to better assist in study behaviors.

The various subjects are first organized by their larger subject heading, followed by the more specific subject. The wealth of information provided within each area is outstanding and will provide a curious student with a wealth of knowledge.

Information about the Company:
From their home page, ProQuest is a specialized information resource company that works to assist in research and to provide quality information. Originally founded by Eugene Power in 1938, the company continues to be a source of information for newspapers and periodicals.

Genre:
Non-Fiction

Booktalking Ideas:
n/a

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The site provides assistance to any student between elementary school up to high school.

Challenging Issues:
n/a

Why did I include this database in the title selections?
The San Diego Public Library has a great list of different resources for kids and teens. When I accessed this site, I felt the information presented was well-organized and easy to access, something a teen needs when doing homework in a hurry.

Reference:
ProQuest. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved from http://www.proquestk12.com/about/default.shtml

Stoner and Spaz by Ron Koertge

Stoner and Spaz
By Ron Koertge
ISBN: 9780763657574
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date of Publication: 2002

Reader’s Annotation:
Ben Bancroft’s self-imposed sheltered life was cracked when Colleen Minou pushed her way and changed his life forever.

Plot Summary:
Ben Bancroft has cerebral palsy, a disability that renders his left hand useless and forces him to walk with an exaggerated limp. Ben’s used to being on the sidelines, expecting outsiders to ignore him due to his “disability”. It is primarily this reason why he prefers the darkness of the Rialto Theatre, his favorite place to watch films.

One night, during a screening of Bride of Frankenstein, Colleen Minou barges into Ben’s life, demanding his attention and refusing to shy away from Ben’s taboo subject of his disability. Colleen has her own problems though; addicted to drugs and in an unhealthy relationship with a man far too old for Colleen’s teenage year. Colleen has a “devil may care” attitude that pushes Ben out of his comfort zone.

Yet, before he knows it, Ben begins to have feelings for Colleen. Colleen in turn begins to wonder if the straight and narrow path isn’t as bad as she once thought it was. As each deals with their personal demons, dreams and desires, Ben and Colleen must come to grips with who they are and what it means to be different together.

Unshelved book reivew
Critical Evaluation:
Ron Koertege has a simple writing style in that his stories are short and to the point. This style is never more apparent with the snappy dialogue between Ben and Colleen. There’s almost a screenplay-like quality to the dialogue in which the reader could easily see the character’s conversations played out in a visual medium.

The shortness of the story does not diminish its impact though. It’s clear from the beginning that Ben is out of his element in his interactions with Colleen. Readers who feel detected when speaking with the opposite sex, or with someone they wish to have affection with, will relate to Ben’s confusion and his desire to take a chance and make an intimate connection. Young readers will understand Ben’s reluctance due to his cerebral palsy as while the condition is real, it could be used as a symbolization of a feeling out of place from “normality”.

Colleen’s use of drugs doesn’t dilute the story or turn it into a tale of woe. The facts behind Ben’s condition and Colleen’s addiction are treated with respect. There’s never a feeling that Ben or Colleen are individuals that should entice pity. It’s because of these conditions that the characters are who they are and, for better or for worse, it’s what makes them unique.

Koertge’s story is a fun, quick read that Young Adult readers will enjoy, even more so with the honest, harsh realities of the characters’ life and situations.

Information about the Author:

From Ron Koertge’s Webpage, Koertge began to write young adult literature when his beginning writing career began to flounder. Koertge is in his early seventies and continues to write books and poetry for teens, specifically for young male readers. Koertge’s misspent youth serves as a reminder of the teen mentality, providing a solid foundation for believable characters.

Koertge has written over a dozen young adult novels. Koertge is also a poet, whose poems have been published since the early 1970s.

Ron Koertge on Twitter

Genre:
Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Cerebral Palsy, Addiction

Booktalking Ideas:
What are some methods you cope when you are stressed?
Do you have a safe place you turn to when you need comfort?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Koertge has mentioned in interviews that this book should be read by an older audience.

Challenging Issues:
Stoner and Spaz has been challenged and banned due to drug use, language concerns, and sexuality. In an interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books, Koertge expected to be banned because of the material. He doesn’t expect that his troubled characters are role models but characters in which life lessons can be obtained. What’s interesting about the interview is Koertge’s experience with challenges has not changed what he feels is the constant reality of the situation.

“Years ago I agreed to sit on panels on censorship. After all, even in my fifties I was still the Bad Boy of Young Adult fiction. And here’s what I noticed: at the end of the evening nobody had changed his or her mind. In fact, most of the debaters were more firmly convinced of their rightness than before. It was a phenomenon I’ve learned to call Hardening the Collective. Nobody had a good time, nobody laughed, nobody went out afterward with the opposition and had a drink” (LARB, 2011).

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?
After reading Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I noticed the blurb that Koertge wrote on the back of the book. The blurb listed Koertge as the author of Stoner and Spaz. I was curious about the wording of the title and decided to pick up the book at my library. Though it was a quick read, I liked the story and felt it would be worth sharing to teens.

Reference:
Koertge, R. (n.d.). A word from Ron Koertge. Retrieved from ronkoertge.com

Koertge, R. (2011).  Hazardous Material. Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved from http://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/post/24379220832/getting-banned-writers-on-the-worlds-oldest-solution

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Mini Sequel Review!

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I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip
By John Donovan
ISBN: 9780738721347
Publisher: Harper & Row (Flux for the reprint edition)
Date of Publication: 1969

Reader’s Annotation:
After the death of his grandmother, Davy adjusts to his new life with his mother in New York City.

Plot Summary:
Davy’s grandmother has just died, leaving Davy and his dachshund Fred, without a home. Eventually his mother takes Davy and Fred back to New York City, enrolling him in a private school. Davy is unsure about his future and the path of his new life. Davy’s mother is happier at a party with a cocktail in hand. Davy’s father has a new girlfriend who connects better with Davy than his own mother.

When Davy enters his new school, he meets Douglas Altschuler, a competitive jock who slowly becomes Davy’s friend. As the boys grow closer, a question begins to form in Davy’s mind: Why do I care so much about this boy? Breaking through the taboo topic of homosexuality, John Donovan’s landmark novel is the story of what it means to grow up and to become an adult in a already confusing world.

Critical Evaluation:
John Donavon’s tale of friendship and maturity is a quick but interesting read. At times the story seems too simple in that Davy’s voice is more childlike instead of a young teen’s voice. As the novel progresses, the first-person voice improves, highlighting Davy’s entrance into maturity.

In regards to the sexuality of the book, the homosexuality act between Davy and Douglas is conducted off the page. From a 21st Century perspective, this seems too tame. Yet, to even suggest such an act, especially in Young Adult fiction, would have been an incredible risk in the late 1960s. Donavon almost treats it like an afterthought. The parental reactions are a true reflection of their characters and it would have been surprising if the parents had acted differently.

Donovan’s themes of childhood maturity doesn’t just stem from sexual identity but from family situations. Davy acknowledges that his life was better because of his grandmother and that his parents will never achieve that inspirational status. One might question why Davy was placed in the care of his grandmother but it becomes apparent with Davy’s interactions with his parents that his brief encounter with his grandmother was a blessing. Towards the end of the novel, it’s clear that Davy was actually better off without either of them, which is why Davy’s maturity will be stronger than he could imagine.

While the book is not primarily focused on LGBT issues, it’s still a great book to suggest to a young LGBT audience. Audiences might feel a connection with Davy’s confusion and gain an understanding of the history of LGBT issues.

Information about the Author:
From his Obituary in the New York Times, John Donovan was a graduate of  the College of William and Mary. He gained his law degree from the Univeristy of Virginia and worked with the Library of Congress in their Copyright Office.

He served as the executive director of the Children’s Book Council. He was the author of four books and two short plays. He died in 1992 at the age of 63.

Genre:
Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Family Relationships, Sexual Identity

Booktalking Ideas:
Who do you turn to when you need to talk to someone?
Is there a place you like to escape to when everything becomes overwhelming?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
14 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 homosexuality, substance abuse, and poor family relationships.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
This was the first book that addressed homosexuality in a neutral fashion. This would be a great addition to any teen seeking advice about their sexuality identity.

Reference:
New York Times. (1992). Obituaries: John Dovovan, 63; Wrote, Books and Plays. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/01/obituaries/john-donovan-63-wrote-books-and-plays.html

Drama
Written and Drawn by Raina Telgemeier
ISBN: 9780545326995
Publisher: Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic
Date of Publication: 2012

Reader’s Annotation:
During her school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, Callie finds that the drama of the stage can follows her off stage.

Plot Summary:
Ever since her parents took her to a performance of Les Miserables, Callie has loved the theatre. While she might not be gifted in the area of musical talent, she maintains her love of performance art by working behind the stages. As the set designer for her middle school’s annual play, Callie has been assigned to transform a blank stage into a Civil War setting.

With the help of her fellow stage crew members, Callie is set to take the drama world by storm. Yet, admits this backstage adventure, the drama of the front of the house begins to merge with the back, creating tensions amongst all the players. New friendships are forged, love is lost and won and all the players learn that in theatre the show must go on.

Critical Evaluation:
Using elements from her own middle school and high school drama classes, author and artist Rania Telgemeier has created a believable story of what it’s like to be on and off the stage.

Telgemeier’s characters are drawn in a way that there’s no confusion about who is who, which could have been an issue with a large core of characters presented. The romantic storyline is an interesting part of the book in that the romance does not primarily focus on Callie. The dynamics between Callie and the twin brothers, Justin and Jesse, highlights that sexuality in theatre is not always black and white. Telgemeier handles the questions and concerns of sexual identity with care, never making judgements or assumptions about one’s worth in a potential relationship or in sexuality. As the entire idea is treated in a positive, affirming manner, the story would be a great recommendation for any LGBT teen looking for relatable material to read.

Overall, Telgemeier’s tale of stage hijinks is a fun read. While the setting is in middle school, high school audiences will still be able to connect with Telgemeier’s themes and situations.

Information about the Author:
From Raina Telgemeier’s Webpage, a current resident of New York City, specifically Queens, Telgemeier is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts. Telgemeierhas adapted and illustrated the first four Baby-Sitters Club books in graphic novels. She has worked on art for X-Men.

Telgemeier grew up in San Francisco. Her previous work include an autobiographical graphic novel called Smile.

Raina Telgemeier on Twitter

Curriculum Ties:
Art, Theatre

Booktalking Ideas:
Have you ever talked to a crush?
What is your artistic talent?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 10-14. Due to the content of the story, this can still have an impact on older audiences, specifically high schoolers.

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 include homosexuality.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I thoroughly enjoyed Telgemeier work on the Baby-Sitters Club adaptations. While this book is set in middle school, the situations can easily be transferred to a high school setting.

References:
Kirkus Reviews. (2012). Drama. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/raina-telgemeier/drama-telgemeier/

Telgemeier, R. (n.d). Info. Retrieved from http://goraina.com/info.html