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Posts Tagged ‘Urban/Modern Fantasy’

Beastly
By Alex Flinn
ISBN: 9780061998669
Publisher: HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Date of Publication: 2009
Reader’s Annotation:
Kyle Kingsbury has two years to break the curse that has made him into a beast. The cure? To fall in love and to be loved in return.

Plot Summary:
Kyle Kingsbury has it all. He’s handsome, smart, rich, and is the most popular boy at Tuttle Private School. His father is a famous news anchor and provides Kyle with anything he needs. One day, Kyle notices a strange girl in his English class. She’s dressed in strange, dark gothic clothing and is vocal in her dislike of Kyle’s selfish behavior. On a whim, Kyle asks this girl, Kendra, to the school’s dance, plotting a way to humiliate Kendra in front of the entire school. Kendra says yes, though she remains wary of Kyle’s intentions.

As planned, Kyle ditches Kendra at the dance, mocking her in front of the attendees. Kendra’s reaction frightens Kyle in that she offers no revenge but a warning. When Kyle arrives back home after the dance, he discovers Kendra is waiting for him. She is actually a witch and curses Kyle to become a disgusting beast; a creature who matches Kyle’s ugly soul. Kyle now has two years to find love and to be loved in return, for that is his only cure for the curse. As time slowly melts away, Kyle finds himself learning what it really means to give your heart to someone, that love is how we protect and care for another, and love is not merely a feeling but an action that changes us forever.

Critical Evaluation:
Alex Flinn’s modern take on the Beauty and the Beast story is a delight. It is a quick read and slightly predictable, but still entertaining. Flinn presents Kyle as a genuinely selfish boy, but we can’t help but sympathize with his character in light of his father’s neglect. It is clear that Kyle’s behavior and opinions stem from his father’s influence. There are glimpses of hope for his behavior, but when Kyle is changed into the beast, the reader can’t help but be glad for this inevitable transformation.

The character of Beauty, Lindy, is portrayed as a strong-willed young woman who has been forced to survive on her own. While fairytale mentality often showcase young women longing for a knight in shinning armor to rescue them, Lindy is neither weak or stupid. Her intelligence is celebrated in the book and is a trait that Kyle uses in order to woo her heart.

The ending of the book, which I will not spoil, is very much on par of the original fairy tale. Lessons are learned and everyone involved become better people. But it’s an important lesson in that in shows that people CAN change and that our preconceived notions of our friends or strangers can be altered with time. While the book is not one based on the premise of bullying, it does highlight how being different should be celebrated. And that it is our differences that make us great and beautiful.

Information about the author:
From Alex (Alexandra) Flinn’s Webpage, Flinn was raised in Miami, Florida, where she lives today. After witnessing the after effects of dating violence during an internship with the State Attorney’s Office, Flinn was inspired to write her first book, Breathing Underwater. From the success of her first book, Flinn continued to write realistic fiction and has found continued success in her fairy tale adaptations.

Alex Flinn’s Webpage is a great resource for reading guide for teens and educators.

Alex Flinn on Facebook

Genre:
Fantasy, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Fairy Tales, Self-Image and Self-Worth

Booktalking Ideas:
How important is a first impression?
Who are we when no one is looking?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews provides an age range of 19-20. Flinn’s prose is geared towards a younger age range and would be ideal for ages 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 be drug abuse.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
When I was looking over my selections for this assignment, I realized that I was lacking the fantasy genre. I found this at my local library branch and decided to take a chance as the story of Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. Retelling of fairy tales seems to be a trend in popular culture and this version of Beauty and the Beast was nice addition to the myth of that tale.

Reference:
Flinn, A. (n.d.). About Alex. Retrieved from http://www.alexflinn.com/html/bio.html

Kirkus Review. (2010). Beastly by Alex Flinn. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/alex-flinn/beastly/

Bonus Features!

Lindy’s Story

(more…)

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
ISBN: 9781594744761
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
After witnessing the gruesome death of his grandfather, Jacob Portman travels to Wales to learn the truth about his grandfather and to discover the meaning of his grandfather’s collection of strange photographs.

Plot Summary:
Jacob has grown up on his grandfather’s bedtime stories. For years, Grandpa Abraham Portman spun tales about his childhood, with tales of adventure and excitement. Jacob’s favorite stories describe a children’s home in Wales, where children are protected from monsters by a bird, a peregrine. Grandpa Portman even has old photographs of the children who seem to defy gravity and logic with their accomplishments. Yet, as Jacob grows old, the stories begin to seem silly and Jacob begins to ignore them as mere childish fairytales.

When Jacob is fifteen, he is witness to a horrific accident that claims the life of his grandfather. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Jacob finds himself returning to those stories. As Jacob delves further into his grandfather’s past, he begins to realize that maybe his grandfather’s stories were more truth than fiction. Jacob begins to look towards the west for answers. What he discovers is more important than he could have ever imagined. And that what we see is sometimes more than what we can ever understand.


Critical Evaluation:
Ransom Riggs’s first novel reads like a beautiful dream, despite its nightmarish, horrific elements. Using photographs from ten different independent collections, Riggs is able to provide a tangible past to the Welsh children’s home in Grandpa Portman’s stories. While the photographs are an added bonus, they would mean nothing if Riggs’s writing style was unable to match the photograph’s beauty. Luckily, the reader is given a well-written story that readers of all age can enjoy.

In regards to the horrific elements of the story, Riggs succeeds in presenting a scary story for young adult readers. Riggs’s descriptions of the children actually add more to the photographic elements, balancing the story with a lovely visual prose.

Overall, the story was coherent and delightful. This book is highly recommended for those readers yearning for an old-fashioned horror story.

Information about the Author:
From Ransom Riggs’s Webpage, Riggs first studied English at Kenyon Collge, followed by film studies at the University of Southern California. Riggs currently lives in Los Angeles where he combines his passion of writing and visual arts. He is a blogger for MentalFloss.Com.

Ransom Riggs on Twitter

Ransom Riggs on Facebook

Genre:
Fantasy, Horror/Thriller, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Magic, Alternative History, Photography

Booktalking Ideas:
What do you see when you take a picture?
How are we different from our parents? From our grandparents? Did you see any similarities?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
School Library Journal suggests a reading grade of 6 to 12. I would recommend this title as an Ages 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 be its horrific elements and violence.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
My husband had picked this book up from the library and suggested I read it. He was willing to pay for late fees just so I would have time to finish it during our vacation. Riggs’s use of photograph, mixed with an engrossing story, provided for an entertaining read. It’s one of the first books I recommend now for readers looking for something different than the mainstream paranormal books that are currently popular amongst teens.

Reference:
Grajek, S. (2011). What horror is this?!. School Library  Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/newsletters/newsletterbucketsljteen/892814-444/what_horror_is_this.html.csp

Riggs, R. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.ransomriggs.com/bio/

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Teen Wolf
Developed by Jeff Davis
Produced by MGM Television and Music Television (MTV)
Original Release: 2011
Number of Seasons: 2

Annotation:
After teenager Scott McCall is bitten by a mysterious wolf creature, Scott discovers he had become a werewolf.

Summary:
Scott McCall exists on the fringes of his high school in Beacon Hills. Together with his sarcastic best fried. “Stiles” Stalinski, the pair hopes that this will be the year that they actually get to participate on the school’s lacrosse team instead of spending another season on the bench.

One night Scott and Stiles decide to quietly  follow Stiles’s father, the town sheriff, on an interesting case. A young woman is missing and the boys hope to find the girl first. As the boys roam in the forest, they are attacked by a mysterious wolf creature. Scott is bitten but survives the attack. The boys escape and make it home, scared but alive.

Overnight, Scott begins to feel changes in his body; his senses are heightened, his asthma has disappeared, and he now posses super-strength. In the midst of these changes, Scott meets Allison Argent, the new transfer student whose family has a unique history.As Scott and Stiles begin to discover the reasons behind Scott’s transformation, another figure enters their lives; the mysterious Derek Hale. Scott and Derek share a common trait. Both are actual werewolves and they are not alone.

Critical Evaluation:
From Teen Wolf’s Wikipedia page, loosely based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox comedy film of the same name, the show rarely resembles the original outside of the name and werewolf premise. Teen Wolf’s creator, Jeff Davis, was more inspired by the films The Lost Boys and Stand by Me, using the visual style and the story-lines as inspiration. Davis succeeds in that the show isn’t like any other current teen drama. The character feel like real teenagers and are rightly punished by parents who don’t exist in the sidelines, like many other teen shows often do. The parents are often part of the teens life and rarely are used when the plot calls for a humane lesson.

The horror aspect of the show is surprising in that it really is scary. The show avoids major horror film cliches by reminded the audience that while the main characters are teens, they are now idiots and they do have the common sense to run away from danger if needed. The best part of the program comes during Dylan O’Brien’s performance of Stiles Stilinski. Playing second fiddle to Tyler Posey’s Scott McCall, the character provides great comic relief but is never just the humorous character. Like many characters of the show, there is more depth that what is perceived and that makes for compelling drama.

Information about the Creator:
From Jeff Davis’s Wikipedia page, born in Milford, Connecticut and a graduate of Vassar College, Davis studied film and later received a master’s in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. Davis found success when he helped created the program Criminal Minds. His greatest success has been Teen Wolf. He serves as executive producer, head writer and show creator.

Genre:
Fantasy, Urban/Modern Fantasy, Horror/Thriller, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Horror Stories, Modern Mythology

Booktalking Ideas:
Why would you refuse to have a power?
How do our surroundings change who we are?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
15 and up

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues include sexual situations, violence, horrific situations, and child disobedience.

Why did I include this series in the title selection?
I started to watch the program as it kept popping up in discussions with my younger friends. I watched one episode to try it out. Five hours later, I had watched half of season one. The show’s true portrayal of teens is a great choice for teen audiences.

References:
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Jeff Davis (writer). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Davis_%28writer%29

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Teen Wolf. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Wolf_(2011_TV_series)

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