Created by CKnight 4/26/10 Young Adult Annotated BibliographyA. Recent Teen Series: Cirque Du Freak #1 A Living NightmareShan, Darren. (2008). Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare. New York, NY: Hatchette Book Group. Darren Shan’s, Cirque Du Freak, is a story told in first person of a boy who attends a traveling“freak” show and whose life isn’t the same afterwards. The plot has many twists and turns and keepsthe reader guessing as to what will happen next. The main characters, Darren and his friend Steve arewell developed and the reader gets the sense of Darren’s positive characteristics and Steve’s dark,negative, characteristics. It is not difficult to imagine a rift developing between these best friends. Thesettings are well imagined and the descriptions of the various acts in the freak show are gross, yetmesmerizing at the same time. This series would definitely appeal to teens because of the age of thecharacters, their developmentally appropriate fears, and the wide range of interesting characters. Thedescriptions of the freaks, the vampire, and the extreme levels of grossness are sure to appeal to teenreaders.B. Literary Graphic Novel: FrankensteinShelley, Mary. Retold by Burgen, Michael. (2008). Frankenstein. Mankato, MN: Stone Arch Books. This classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as retold by Michael Burgan was truly a scarydepiction. The plot development began quickly with this novel, and the reader was immediatelyimmersed in a tale of unspeakable horror. The format was consistent with the genre, including the useof the Halloween type font for the Table of Contents. It was also interesting how the characters wereintroduced. Rather than being introduced as the plot progressed, pages four and five depicted Dr.Frankenstein, both young and old, Elizabeth, The Monster, and Robert Walton. This made it simple forthe reader to stay on track with the character development. The plot began with the rescuing of Dr.Frankenstein on a large boat in the middle of the ocean. The ship’s captain begins to question Dr.Frankenstein, who then recounts the entire horrific story. The monster began in a humanistic way, but
Created by CKnight 4/26/10after experiencing various cruelties from the people around him, he begins to murder innocent people.I hadn’t realized how sinister Frankenstein was until reading this novel. The art work did him justice andthe reader could see bits of Frankenstein’s humanity chipping away as the novel continued. Overall,this is a must read for teens. It is a fun way to follow up the traditional reading of a classic. Studentswould appreciate the simplicity, straight to the point manner of this graphic novel. Reluctant readerswould enjoy this novel due to its fast moving action and its short duration. The novel is only 64 pageslong and also has Frankenstein Facts section at the end.C. Michael Prinz Award: MonsterMyers, Walter Dean. (2008). Monster. Harper Collins e-books. The style in which this novel is written, with its script to represent the trial and its first personaccount to represent how Steve is feeling during this time period is artistic. The description of thesetting would cause anyone to pause and think before they claim certain individuals as acquaintances.Meyers did a great job painting a modern day nightmare for young adults to learn from before they toofind themselves in a situation they cannot get out of. The reader isn’t sure whether Steve is innocent orguilty and begins to question to what degree of innocence or guilt. Steve, the main character, beginsthe novel claiming wholeheartedly that he is innocent. But, as the plot continues, Steve then begins toquestion if he really is as innocent as he claims, or is he really the monster the prosecuting attorneydepicts him of. The character development is interesting as the reader gets this sense that all theprosecuting and defense attorneys see when looking at Steve is that he is a thug, without any merit insociety. Even when Steve’s film teacher testifies, the attorneys hang onto the image they already hadbuilt in regards to Steve and the crime committed. This is a definite must read for all young adults.Teens would find the banter in the courtroom interesting, and will find themselves questioning how fairour legal system is. Also, the theme of responsibility is strong throughout this novel, and may helpyoung readers question their own values in this regard. Maybe not all teen readers would relate to the
Created by CKnight 4/26/10urban setting. But, many would relate to having unsavory characters as acquaintances and how asituation can turn really bad when the right choices are not made.D. Robert Sibert Award: Hole in My LifeGantos, Jack. (2007). Hole in My Life. Farrar, Straus and Giroux e-book.l Hole in My Life may not be appropriate for the younger teen reader. Its themes involving drugsand intoxication in general, may be more for an older young adult. The plot was found to be somewhatpredictable. Jack Gantos, the author and the main character of this autobiographical account, begins acycle of destruction that the reader almost wishes he could talk some sense into him. Jack refuses totake any responsibility for his actions and fills his life with partying. The partying catches up with himand he makes friends with some really shady people. This is also frustrating as Jack realizes that heshouldn’t hang out with these people but he ignores his conscience and does it anyways. The author dida good job describing the settings, especially the boat ride to get the drugs from the Caribbean to thestates. His partner in crime, Hamilton, who he spend six months on the boat with, was drawn in a veryrealistic, humorous, paranoid way. The second half of the book describes his time in jail and the authorrealistically described the feelings of anger, helplessness, and fear that he felt while serving his time. Ithink this novel is good for teens to read because it is a personal account of someone who had troublefinding his way, chose the wrong paths, and paid the consequences for his actions. Thisautobiographical novel may receive more respect from the teen reader because it actually happened.Teens would find Jack’s downward spiral fascinating, the six month boat ride with paranoia, and thesubsequent jail time as realistically frightening. Readers could learn from Jack Gantos’ mistakes throughthe safe journey of reading his book and prevent their own lives from taking such a negative path.E. Best Books for Young Adults: Mexican WhiteboyDe La Pena, Matt. (2008). Mexican Whiteboy. Delacorte Books for Young Readers e-book.
Created by CKnight 4/26/10 I was excited to read one of Matthew De La Pena’s novel after listening to him speak at the 2010Region 20 Library Roundup. The telling of childhood memories had the audience laughing and left themwanting more. I was pleased that his personality was present in his writings. Mexican Whiteboy is thestory of a skinny, unconfident, teen who spends his summers with the Mexican side of the family in EastLos Angeles. De La Pena creates a very colorful picture of Danny’s relatives. His uncles can be cool andfun loving at one moment, and scary the next. The setting of summer time in southern California wasrealistic and something I could relate to as I too spent my summers with family in the Los Angeles area.De La Pena did a good job incorporating the Mexican culture with its rich traditions, food, and sayingsinto the novel. The development of the characters in his family’s Los Angeles neighborhood, has thereader laughing, scared, and worried for Danny all at the same time. It was interesting how the authorincluded the mystery about why Danny’s father was in prison. It took the reader awhile to figure outthat’s why the father was missing from Danny’s life and why Danny constantly wrote to him. Thismystery added to the plot’s depth, just as much as, Danny’s struggle with pitching in high stresssituations. I enjoyed how the author allowed the reader to journey along Danny’s growth, and that allloose ends were tied up at the end. I think teen readers would enjoy this novel because of its baseballtheme, and how young athletes overcome the mental and emotional struggles of playing a sport. Teenswill find the eccentric, dangerous, and sometimes volatile relatives enjoyable and scary at the sametime. Teens will be able to relate to relaxing summers and the pursuit of young romance that occurs inthe story. While I think girls will enjoy this novel, I do think this novel is designed with young teenageboys in mind.F. Young Adults’ Choices:Kinney, Jeff. (2009). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. New York, NY: Amulet Books. This series is a favorite of my son and my fifth grade students. The subject matter was relevantfor young-pre teen students. Some parts are funny and anyone with an older brother can relate to the
Created by CKnight 4/26/10love, hate relationship between siblings. The honesty within the book is refreshing and my ownstudents have made similar insights in their personal lives. The author hops around a bit for my tasteand Im having difficulty following a substantial plot. The format takes some getting used to for a novicereader of this series. The language is realistic, middle school language that makes it an easy, quick read.The format also contained mini cartoons drawn throughout the novel. These cartoons added to thehumor of the situation. The character development was consistent with how a middle child might feel.The main character, Greg, handles the various situations thrown at him in such a humorous way; healmost seems like a hero. I can understand why this series is so popular with young readers. While thenovels seem long with their 200 plus pages, the reader finds him or herself done in a short period oftime. This could be because of the cartoons mixed throughout or simply because the novel is funny andkeeps the reader laughing throughout. This novel would appeal to boys and girls because students canrelate to the main character and the different, middle school embarrassing moments that many kidshave personal experience with.G. Alex Award:Ferraris, Zoe. (2008). Finding Nouf. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt e-book. Finding Nouf was written in a way that remained true to the beauty of the Saudi culture yet,criticized certain elements at the same time. The author, Zoe Ferraris, created an intriguing mysterythat left the reader guessing up until the very end. The plot was involved, because it not only dealt withthe murder of a young girl but also the various personal situations of the main characters. Thecharacters were turned into real people, with very human feelings. Nayir, the desert guided hired tofind Nouf, was a very complex character with his stern religious beliefs and his desire for a wife andfamily conflicting with the new information he is receiving regarding the lives of women within his ownsociety. The other character who assists him in finding out the truth is Katya. Katya struggles with herengagement to Nouf’s brother, dealing with the strict, gender divided traditions of his family, as well, as
Created by CKnight 4/26/10her job in the Medical Examiner’s office. Ferraris painted scenes of Saudi Arabia with such beauty, thatthe reader could easily imagine the harsh beauty of the surrounding deserts, the stark white palaces ofthe wealthy, the bustling marketplaces, and even the sounds and smells of the cities. In addition, theauthor took time to teach the reader about a very secretive culture, but in a way that felt natural andunforced. One of the main themes of this novel is the unfairness of how Saudi women must live theirlives. This theme causes the reader to put themselves in the various characters lives and feel theinsecurity, faith, and courage of the main characters. The literary elements were so well done in thisnovel, I would not be surprised if this book were made into a movie version. Teen readers would beenthralled by this book. The plot leaves them guessing as to “who did it?” At the same time, teens willfind the references to Saudi culture interesting. This book, because of some its content, might be betterfor the older teen. It would appeal to young women to provide an understanding of how not all womenexperience the same freedoms that women in western societies experience. The other concept I thinkteens would appreciate from reading Finding Nouf, is the tolerance and understanding in regards to aculture that may differ greatly from their own. Young adults may be able to make connections to theSaudi culture and realize some aspects may not be that different from their own.H. Top Ten Teen Book:Gaiman, Neil. (2008). The Graveyard Book. Harper Collins Children’s Books. Neil Gaiman presents his stories in a very unique manner. His style of writing reminds me of thequirkiness of Johnny Depp’s acting combined with the suspenseful horror works of Stephen King. Thecharacters are strange, yet likeable. This novel presents a very spooky story about a young boy who hasto grow up in a graveyard because his parents are murdered. The plot was like nothing I’ve read before.The imagination it took to create such a story is just outstanding. Gaiman developed the main characterNobody as this smart kid who loves learning just about anything from anyone. Gaiman describedNobody in such a way, that the reader gets the impression Nobody is much more mature than an
Created by CKnight 4/26/10average kid his age. His phantom guardian, Silas, is described as this mysterious, spooky father figure,that frequently goes on mysterious trips. The plot took some surprising twists with Nobody’s trip to theland of the ghouls, and his attempt at attending regular school. It was intriguing how the murderer whoassassinated his parents, worked for a larger organization, and how Nobody was still in danger. Evenwith this knowledge, Nobody wasn’t planning on backing down. Instead, Gaiman empowered Nobodyto protect himself, his loved ones, and avenge his parents. Gaiman has a special talent for relaying themessage that even when bad things happen, good things can happen as a result. Young readers will bemesmerized by the events of the first chapter. The accompanying drawings might frighten somechildren. Teens will be pulled into reading this novel because of the unique plot and the idea that a childis being raised by ghost and phantoms. This novel would appeal to the reluctant reader because theplot itself is surprising.I. Quick Pics for Reluctant Readers:Haddix, Margaret Peterson. (2002). Among the Hidden. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing e-book. I chose to read this particular book because of the number of positive reviews it has received.Among the Hidden was interesting because of how the plot wrapped itself around population controlpolicies implemented by the government. The writer’s style quickly grabbed my attention as Luke’ssolitary life was described. Haddix, created Luke to be this kid who was timid, and scared of gettingcaught. But as the plot progressed, and Luke spends more time with another child like him, he becomesmore bold in his convictions regarding the population control policies. The character development ofthe other child in the same situation, Jen, was interesting because Jen seemed to be the opposite ofLuke. While the plot’s direction seemed obvious at times, I found the book as a whole to be well writtenand worthy of young adults’ attention. Young readers will be intrigued and perplexed that a futuristicgovernment could institute such drastic, extreme measures. Teens may wonder if something like thiscould happen or evaluate whether policies such as this one have been implemented in the past or
Created by CKnight 4/26/10currently. Teen readers may enjoy Jen’s robust character and her willingness to fight for something shebelieves in. At the same time, I think teen readers will be encouraged to continue reading because ofhow Luke’s character is in the process of evolving. Readers may wonder how far Luke is willing to go,and what his plans may be under his new identity.J. One “Guy” Book:Paulsen, Gary. (2009). Hatchet. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing e-book. Gary Paulsen’s novel, Hatchet, was a well written, engrossing story of a boy stranded in thewilderness with only the hatchet his mom gave him, to help him survive. The plot had me turning pagesquickly to see what would happen next. The author left the reader guessing as to how Brian wouldsurvive from one day to the next. The plot was well thought out, with appropriate twists and turns andthe story was believable. The author tracked Brian’s growth from shock, to hope, to the loss of hope, tosimply surviving the day. The reader couldn’t help feel as if he or she were in the same situation andcould only wonder how someone could survive in such a situation. The descriptions of the Canadianforest made it easy for a reader who rarely has ventured out of the city to imagine the majestic trees,diverse animal population and dangerous beauty. One of the themes the author weaved into the storywas how Brian, initially very upset about his parents’ divorce, is able to modify his perspective aboutwhat is really important in life. Young readers will be enthralled with this novel and will have troubleputting it down. This would be a good book for a reluctant reader to give it a try. The quick pace,beginning with the plane going down, and the constant fear for Brian will hold the interest of youngadults. Boys and girls will find this novel enjoyable, as well as, students whose parents’ have divorcedmay relate to Brian’s feelings about his parents’ divorce. Young readers will appreciate this short novel,with its 192 pages because it can be quickly read.K. One Teen Movie: Cirque Du FreakMiano, Andrew. Weitz, Paul. (2010). Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. USA: UniversalStudios.
Created by CKnight 4/26/10 This movie may disappoint some Cirque Du Freak book fans because it doesn’t represent onlythe first book in the series. It is actually a combination of the first two books in the series. For thosereaders who expect the movie to follow the book exactly, this movie does not deliver. However, theplot was enjoyable and followed a logical sequence. The characters were close to the descriptionDarren Shan provided in the novels. The main character, Darren, is fascinated by spiders, and thisfascination causes him to steal from a vampire. His best friend, Steve, is fascinated by vampires, anddesires to become one, only to be told that he tastes bad. This causes a rift between the friends whichresults in misunderstandings and an ultimate fight at the end of the movie. The special effects lookedrealistic and believable. One of the highlights of the film was the “freak show” and the unusual acts andperformers. These were pretty close to the descriptions of the book, and it was exciting to see theperformances on the screen. The movie may entice teens to read the books if they haven’t alreadydone so. I saw this movie in the theater when it first came out, and the theater was packed full ofteenagers. Some teenagers had the book with them, while others were heard commenting on howpopular the books were but how they never got around to reading them. Hopefully, the movie willencourage young adults to compare the movie with the novels and investigate further into the series.L. Audio Book:Sonnenblick, Jordan. (2009). Zen and the Art of Faking It. Scholastic Paperbacks audio book. This was my first audio book and I think I would have enjoyed this novel more had I read it theold fashioned way. The voice sounded somewhat computerized and the pacing was slower than I wouldhave liked. I expected that different voices would be used, kind of like the reading of a script, and wasdisappointed to hear the same voice throughout the novel. Technically, it was simple to purchase thisbook from www.audible.com and download it onto my computer then onto my kindle. The wholeprocess took about 10 minutes. One characteristic I enjoyed about listening to this audio book, was thatI could listen while I drove, completed chores, or while waiting for my children’s practices to finish. The
Created by CKnight 4/26/10one area that took getting used to was the inability to follow along in the book while being read to.Regarding the book itself, I found Zen and the Art of Faking It to be interesting for a number of reasons.One is that the author incorporated Zen theology in a seemless way where teens could walk away fromreading this book with an understanding of what it is. Another reason was that there was more depth inthe plot and the characters developments than originally anticipated. The ending left some to bedesired as there were a couple of loose ends left untied. Teen readers could relate to being the new kidat a school, being popular than suddenly unpopular, and how to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Ithink young readers would enjoy the audio experience because it will remind them of when they wereyounger and teachers would frequently read aloud in class. The few negatives are the cost and theinability to see the words as they are being read. The cost of $15 is high for one teen to purchase anaudio book, but if purchased for an entire class, is price effective. It would be a good idea to have copiesfor the entire class to follow along as the audio is playing. Using this manner of following along allowsstruggling readers the additional support to make reading successful and enjoyable for all.