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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Koertge’

lies knives and girls in red dresses

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses
Written by Ron Koertge
Illustrated by Andrea Dezso
ISBN: 9780763644062
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date of Publication: 2012

Reader’s Annotation:
An illustrated, poetic retelling of various beloved fairy tales.

Plot Summary:
Based on popular fairy tales, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses are retelling of those tales in poetic form. With art by Andrea Dezso, these modern adaptions show that the stories still have dark relevance in modern times.

Critical Evaluation:
Ron Koertge’s poetry is more whimsical with out a pattern. At times the poetry feels like a Beat Generation adaptation. This doesn’t detract from the poetry, but shows that poetry doesn’t have to be a conformed format.

Andrea Dezso’s art is based on wood prints and gives an unearthly feeling when accompanying the art. It adds to the poetry and serves to remind the reader that fairy tales are often horror stories as well.

Information about the Author and Artist:
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

Andrea Dezso is an Assistant Professor of Art for Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is a graduate from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary. Her work has been published in various art magazines and has served as a faculty member at Parsons School of Design and other art schools on the East Coast.

Dezso possesses a large artistic focus from animation to paper blocking, as well as crafts such as embroidery. Her work has been displayed in various galleries across the world.

Andrea Dezso on Facebook

Genre:
Poetry, Fantasy

Curriculum Ties:
Poetry, Fairy Tales

Booktalking Ideas:
What is your favorite fairy tale?
How can fairy tales become modern?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests a reading age of 14-18.

Challenging Issues:
Koertge’s book have been challenged and/or banned in the past due to drug use, language concerns, and sexuality. This particular book has not been banned (yet). 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

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
Poetry is a genre that gets readily ignored by teens, mostly because it’s something that is forced in school instead of used for entertainment purposes. Koertge’s reinterpretations of fairy tales through poetry is a great way to introduce reluctant poetry readers into a new genre.

Reference:
Dezso, A. (n.d.). Home Page. Retrieved from http://andreadezso.com/

Hampshire College. (n.d.). Andrea Dezso. Retrieved from http://www.hampshire.edu/faculty/adezso.htm

Kirkus Reveiws. (n.d.). Lies knives and girls in red dresses. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ron-koertge/lies-knives-and-girls-red-dresses/

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

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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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