Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Audiobook
Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: John Boyne Selection Source: Kirkus Review
Publisher: Random House Children's Books Recommended Audience Age: 12-14
Reading Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: History, Ethics, Psychology

Review

Bruno is the nine-year-old son of a commandant in the German army during World War II. His father was assigned to Auschwitz after a visit from Adolf Hitler. In display of his naivete, Bruno calls the Fuhrer "The Fury" and the camp "Out With" despite being corrected numerous times.

While in his new home, Bruno sees people through his window in the distance. He describes these people as wearing striped pajamas. Before long, his curiosity gets the better of him, and he ventures out to the area. He ends up meeting a young boy named Shmuel, and they develop a relationship. After some time, Bruno agrees to slide under the fence to help Shmuel find his father. They meet a tragic ending.

Evaluation

This book is very controversial. One of the main gripes about the book centers around Bruno's naivete. I found myself wondering why a German boy would mispronounce Auschwitz with the English phrase "Out With." However, the point was to contrast Bruno's inexperience with Shmuel's experience of the Holocaust. While the fictional portion of the story is highly implausible, it is still a gripping tale that shows the horrors of the Holocaust coupled with German political coldness of the day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Audiobook
Title: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac Genre: Realistic Fiction, Strong Female Lead, Romance, Drama
Author: Gabrielle Zevin Selection Source: 2008 YALSA Best Books For Young Adults
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Recommended Audience Age: 14-18
Reading Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Leisure, Health, Social ethics

Review

After making the wrong choice in a game of heads-or-tails, Naomi went back into the school to retrieve the Yearbook group's camera. On her way out, she trips and—in an attempt to save the camera—ends up hitting her head on the steps. She instantly loses her memory of the last three years. These memories include her interest in her boyfriend Ace, her parent's divorce and subsequent lives, and her complex relationship with best friend Will. Another effect of her amnesia is her newly developed relationship with James, a shady character who Naomi grows to love.

This title has earned the following awards (According to Author's Website)

  • VOYA's Perfect 10s
  • Kirkus Reviews Editor's Choice

Evaluation

This book seeks to answer the question, What if we could start over? Naomi experiences a lot of first-times again, like a first kiss, potential losing of virginity and hearing about her mother's infidelity for the first time. It is a thought provoking book about how a female perceives the world and about handling the pressures of teenage life.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hoot - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Book (eBook)
Title: Hoot Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, Protest, Ecology
Author: Carl Hiaasen Selection Source: 2003 Newbery Honor
Publisher: Random House Children's Books Recommended Audience Age: 9-14
Reading Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Leisure, Florida, Ecology, Construction, Civics, Politics, Bullying

Review

Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House is trying to open a new restaurant in Coconut Cove, Fl. The only problem is that things keep going wrong on the construction site which leaves the police and site supervisors frustrated and puzzled. Someone has been sabotaging the entire operation.

Simultaneously, Roy Eberhardt is trying to fit in at school after yet another move due to his father's job at the Department of Justice. He prefers mountainous Montana over flat Florida, his attitude earned him the nickname "cowgirl" at school. He deals with bullies Beatrice Leep and Dana Matherson while on the bus. After noticing a boy his age running down the street, Roy decides to follow him and ends up in an ecological adventure to save the lives of the burrowing owls living on the site of the new Pancake House.

This novel has achieved the following awards:

Evaluation

This is an excellent book for young adults. It features children who are brave enough to stand up for a cause and actually succeed in bringing about public awareness. It is full of humor and appeals to a child's sense of justice and love of animals.

Further, it brings up several aspects of bullying that are critical springboards for discussion. For instance: how are Beatrice and Dana different? How does each character evolve? Roy stands up for himself but does not report the bullying, why would he do that? Is it wise?

Another interesting theme in this book has to do with the law as it relates to minors. What is truancy? Trespassing? Why weren't the delinquent's names revealed in the press? The power of the law is also revealed in the ultimate demise of the Pancake House's building project. Even corporations must abide by the law or risk being shut down.

I recommend this book to all readers, young and old. Perhaps this has more to do with the fact that it was set in South Florida, my home town. It truly is a good story with a lot of humorous scenes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Book (eBook)
Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret Genre: Fiction, Graphic novel, Children's literature, Mystery, Historical fiction
Author: Brian Selznick Selection Source: 2008 Caldecott Winner
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Recommended Audience Age: 8-12
Reading Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Literature, Leisure, Filmography, Technology, History

Review

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, a thief, a magician, a prodigy and alone. He is consumed by his late father's desire to repair a curious automaton that is poised with a pen. Hugo is convinced that the mechanical man is programmed to deliver a personal message to him, perhaps from his father.

Hugo embarks on an adventure with the George Méliès family as he struggles to maintain his anonymous lifestyle in a Paris train station. The narrative, and its characters, are clearly influenced by love of the cinema. As the story unfolds, we find that things are not always as they appear. 

This novel has achieved the following awards:


Evaluation

This is another novel that features an orphaned child who desperately tries to avoid the orphanage. Hugo Cabret does all he can to remain undetected by adults who may inquire about his living situation. His salvation turns out to be his love of technology and ability to build. Through his devotion to his father's project, he is able to establish a relationship with the George Méliès family, who ends up vouching for him.

A major influence in this novel is the cinema. The magic on the silver screen is evident in the characters, the language, (audiobook) the production of background sounds and (the monograph) the illustrations. This book presents a well-rounded experience for the reader.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Moon Over Manifest - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Book (eBook)
Title: Moon Over Manifest Genre: Realistic fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery
Author: Clare Vanderpool Selection Source: 2011 Newbery Medal
Publisher: Yearling Recommended Audience Age: 8-12
Reading Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Literature, Leisure, History, Politics

Review

Abilene Tucker was sent to the town of Manifest, KS by her father, Gideon Tucker. She jumps off the train and into a town with a rich past and a bright future. At first, she s cold to the town and its residents, but after a while her story becomes entwined with the likes of Sister Redemptia, Miss Sadie, Jinx and Ned and the Rattler--a mysterious entity who floats in and out of the narrative.

Clare Vanderpool weaves Prohibition, World War I and a town of immigrants into a historical fiction about a town that rediscovers its roots by retelling the stories of their neighbors.

Evaluation

While Abilene Tucker is not necessarily an orphan, she is abandoned by her father for the length of the story. He leaves her in the town of manifest and does not engage her in the story. She is left to wonder about the whys, whens, whats, and wheres of the town and his relationship with it.

This story is replete with literary devices like symbolism and foreshadow. The elements that are introduced in the first few chapters are shelved and reintroduced later on to complete the circle. This title would make an excellent companion to a literature class that is currently teaching these devices.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What's Eating Gilbert Grape - Movie Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Video
Title: What's Eating Gilbert Grape Genre: Realistic fiction
Author: Peter Hedges Selection Source: Publishers Weekly
Publisher: Paramount / Simon & Schuster Recommended Audience Age: 12-Adult
Reading Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Health and Personal Fitness, Psychology

Review

Gilbert Grape is bothered by everything in his life; his town, his family and his friends. He is brother to a special needs child, son to a morbidly obese, lethargic mother and fatherless due to suicide. He and his sisters try to hold the family together despite their own internal turmoil.

When a visitor's car breaks down in the small, rural town of Endora, IA. (population 1,091) Gilbert is forced to inspect his own feelings and come to grips with the complexity of his emotions. His relationship with Becky, the visitor, serves as a catalyst for Gilbert's personality transformation. As this relationship blossoms, his interaction with figures in the town also evolves.

Evaluation

This title, though written as a grotesque southern tragedy, connects well with the Young Adult audience. Gilbert is trying to sort out his emotions and find his own voice. At one point in the movie, Becky asks Gilbert "What do you want?" The transition from Chilhood to full Adulthood is exactly where YA readers find themselves. The emotions that course through their psyches are similar to what Gilbert Grape experiences. He experiences family shame, the burden of responsibility and sexual tensions.

Self expression as it relates to grief is another theme in this movie. Gilbert is dealing with his father's suicide, his brother's handicap and his mother's depression. These are things that happen in life and must be dealt with before they contribute to a psychological disorder. Discussions may spring up in the classroom setting that revolve around handling these and other issues in a healthy, productive manner.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Hunger Games - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Audio (Audio-book)
Title: The Hunger Games Genre: Dystopia, Political satire, Romance 
Author: Suzanne Collins Selection Source: 2008 Booklist Editor's Choice (Youth)
Publisher: Scholastic Press Recommended Audience Age: 12-18
Reading Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Politics, Leisure, History, Economics

Review

After the collapse of the United States of America, the land is divided into 12 districts and the Capitol in a new nation called Panem. This society's form of entertainment hearkens back to the Roman Colosseum in the form of The Hunger Games. During these games, two representatives (male and female) are selected to represent each district in a "last man standing" game of survival and government-sanctioned murder. Prim is the female candidate from district 12, though Katniss—Prim's older sister—volunteers to compete in her sister's place. The reader experiences all the emotions involved in being forced to play such a primitive game.

Romance is introduced into this story by the male representative from district 12, Peeta, who reveals that he has been in love with Katniss since the day he met her. Their relationship develops in the arena, and climaxes when they are the final two competitors in the game.

This novel has earned the following distinctions:

Evaluation

This title is well written and the premise is entertaining. However, this premise (children killing eat other) is also the source of negative public reaction. Censors could find plenty of objectionable material in this novel, which is why it is recommended for High School-level readers. The objectionable content comes in the form of violence and gore as children are impaled, mauled and otherwise killed in graphic detail.

Objections notwithstanding, this book also teaches self-sacrifice, cooperation, and serves as a political satire. This title could also be used to illustrate how economics work as each district is known for a particular industry, district 12 being known for the production of coal. A discussion on free speech could also factor in, as the citizens of Panem do not have the freedom to resist anything the government does.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

COMPS

The Comprehensive Examination begins today. It is the culmination of my studies and the fruit of my labors. I can't wait to be finished with it and on my way to librarianship.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bud, Not Buddy - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Audio (Audio-book)
Title: Bud, Not Buddy Genre: Orphan, Music, Depression Era, Segregation, 
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis Selection Source: 2000 Newbery Medal Winner
Publisher: Listening Library / Delacorte Recommended Audience Age: 12-18
Reading Recommendation: 5 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Literature, History, Economics, Segregation, Music

Review

Bud Caldwell—he will readily remind you that his name is Bud, not Buddy—is a young man with a lot of spunk. His main ambition is to find his long-lost father, a big band leader who goes by the name of Herman E. Calloway. After a few mishaps at the orphanage and foster home, Bud runs away, headed for Grand Rapids, MI., where his mother left clues to find his kin.

This novel has earned the following distinctions:


Evaluation

This title is exceptionally written and wildly entertaining. I was enthralled with the narrative and with the way Bud Caldwell perceived his world. Other notable aspects of this novel include it's portrayal of orphaned children, segregation and depression-era lifestyle. One can see Bud's character develop and grow along the journey from Flint to Grand Rapids.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Graveyard Book - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Book (ebook)
Title: The Graveyard Book Genre: Horror, Coming of Age
Author: Neil Gaiman Selection Source: 2009 Best Books for Young Adults
Publisher: Harper Collins Recommended Audience Age: 10-16
Reading Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Leisure, Literature, 

Review

A gruesome murder takes place in a quiet little town. An entire family is killed—all but the youngest, who is able to escape to a cemetery. The child is given a new name, Nobody Owens, and given the protection of the cemetery. The boy grows, learns and confronts dangers both inside and outside the graveyard.

This novel has earned the following distinctions:



Evaluation

With a name like "Nobody Owens," it is clear that the child is struggling to find his place in this world. He is literally in between the living and the dead, not quite fitting in with either group. This is also a coming of age story. With each chapter, Nobody grows older and wiser and must face the real world by the end. There are positive themes of sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wildwood - Book Review

** I am currently taking a Young Adult literature course and I will be reading and reviewing several materials using a new format. This review follows a template given to me by my professor.**



Publication Information


Name: Christopher Jimenez Media Format: Book (ebook)
Title: Wildwook Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Author: Colin Meloy Selection Source: VOYA Perfect Tens 2011
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Recommended Audience Age: 10-16
Reading Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Curriculum Connections: Leisure, Literature, Politics

Review

A murder of crows kidnap Prue's brother, and she sets out into the impassable wilderness to bring him back. Curtis, Prue's neighbor, follows her and takes part in the great adventure. Little do they know, they have just stumbled into the middle of major conflict which involves every member of Wildwood, regardless of their world view.

Evaluation

This novel explores the tested, important concept of belonging. Neither Prue nor Curtis feel like they belong in their world. Yet, throughout the course of this journey, they finally find a place where they belong. This concept is paramount to Teens. In addition, this novel serves as a commentary on various political systems. One can clearly see how each region of Wildwood is governed and evaluate how effective their form of government is.
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