Wednesday, October 26, 2011


twilight-cover Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight.

New York, NY: Little, Brown & Co., 2005. Print.

Annotation: A teen love story with a bite! A story of resisting forbidden love but not between your ordinary young players. When Isabella Swan moves to Forks, WA her falling in love will be a matter of life and death once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward, just the local town vampire.

Booktalk: Isabella Swan, or Bella, a seventeen year old girl moves from her warm, sunny home in Phoenix, Arizona, to the small, dank, rainy city of Forks, Washington, to live with her dad. While worrying about her new life in Forks, she meets the mysterious and magnificently beautiful Edward Cullen. Edward seems perfect, or so she thinks. Edward has a secret, he is a vampire and not the only one in small town Forks. Bella finds herself drawn to Edward, but his behavior towards Bella is hostile one moment and protective in another. As Bella gets closer and closer to Edward he warns her to stay away from him. This seems to be more and more impossible as Edward and Bella find themselves continually attracted to one another. Their passion is unquenchable and they risk falling in love. But this relationship could have fatal consequences.

“Don’t be afraid,” he murmured, his velvet voice unintentionally seductive. “I promise…” He hesitated. “I swear not to hurt you.” He seemed more concerned with convincing himself than me. “Don’t be afraid,” he whispered again as he stepped closer, with exaggerated slowness. (p. 264)

Can their obsession for one another overcome the extreme danger that this relationship will bring? Bella will learn there are more vampires and with “different” tastes. Her world is suddenly thrown between fantasy and reality. Bella will be fighting for her life but from which vampire?

Honors & Awards:

  • School Library Journal Best Books, 2005
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2006
  • YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2006

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YA voices Shanyna, age 16

The world that is created in these books seems so much cooler than our world at times. Its a nice escape and it gives my mind something to think about and try to figure out what is going to happen next.

The Giver

Lowry, Lois. The Giver.

New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Print The Giver

Annotation: Jonas lives in a perfect community of total happiness and perfection. It is safe, free of fear or pain. Each and every person has a specific and chosen role to play. There are no choices. This perfect world changes for Jonas when he chosen to receive special training from The Giver.


Is honestly really the best policy? Will the truth really set you free? Jonas is turning twelve soon, and that means he would get his assignment in the community and start his training. The elders study every child carefully so that their job fits them perfectly. In Jonas’ family unit, his father has the job of Nurturer, which takes care of all of the newborn children until they are ready to be placed. His mother has a prominent position at the Department of Justice. It is with apprehension waiting to see what his assignment might be in the special ceremony. What Jonas is not prepared for is the assignment of the new Receiver! It is the highest honor, but he soon discovers that high honor comes at a high price.

Jonas is given a list of rules to follow - he can ask questions and lie if needed! He then begins to train with the former Receiver, who is now called, the Giver. The Giver gives Jonas memories; memories of all the people back and back and back for many generations. The people in Jonas' community have only the memories of their own generation; it is safer that way. It is safer when they do not know of the memories of war or hunger, so the Receiver keeps these memories for everyone. The Giver gives Jonas memories of joy and of pain, memories of snow and cold. This is an amazing discovery for Jonas but now a lonely one since he alone must carry the burden of memories. He learns about color, which others cannot see and to feel love and emotion. Jonas’ current world is sameness but his knowledge is expanding and he learns the truth of being “released”. Jonas’ father brings home a newborn, Gabriel, that may need to be “released” (killed), because the baby doesn’t fit the community’s criteria. Jonas is able to calm the baby by giving the child some of the memories he has received. Jonas begins to think that maybe keeping all the memories to himself may not really be the best thing for the community. Should things be changed? What will he do now that he knows the truth?

Honors & Awards

  • A Boston Glove-Horn Book Honor Book
  • An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • An ALA Notable Book for Children
  • Winner of the Regina Medal
  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Annie On My Mind

AnnieOnMyMind Garden, Nancy. Annie On My Mind

Farrar Straus Giroux, 1982. Print

Annotation: After meeting at a museum in New York a wonderful friendship develops. These two young women discover their attraction to one another and begin to fall in love. This is not without challenges and questions in their own minds and of the world around them.


“There’s no need for us to pretend to be other people any more, ever again, is there Liza?” Annie said softly. My eyes stung suddenly and Annie touched the bottom lids with her finger, asking, “Why tears?” I kissed her finger. “Because I’m happy,” I said. “Because your saying that right now makes me happier than almost anything else could. No-there’s no need to pretend.”

Seventeen-year-old Liza first meets Annie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From Liza’s point of view she tells the development of their relationship of friendship and then the confusion that Liza feels over her new discovered sexuality. These two young people meet in what seems like completely different worlds. Liza attends a private school and has great expectations from her teachers, parents and herself and wants to attend MIT. Annie lives in a lower middle class family and is a talented vocalist who attends public school and hopes to attend college at the University of California, Berkley. Their story is an exploration of the friendship and first love between the two girls. Annie and Liza are both confused and struggle with the possibility that they might be gay or just in love.

Honors & Awards:

  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • ALA/YALSA Best of the Best
  • Booklist Best Booksellers' Choice
  • ALA/YALSA 100 Best Books for YAs
  • Margaret A. Edwards

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The Chocolate War

Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War

Panthoen Books, 1974. Print. chocolate war

Annotation: Jerry Renault, a high school freshman seems the unlikely hero at his parochial school when he refuses to sell chocolates for the school fundraiser. But his hero status quickly fades to outcast and then victim from the abuses of power as Jerry takes a stand in what he believes in.

BookTalk: Can one freshman at Trinity, an all boy parochial high school really disturb the universe? Jerry is picked by the secret society of elite students, the Vigils to do his “assignment” for initiation. Jerry’s assignment doesn’t seem that bad, just refuse to sell boxes of chocolates for the first ten days of the school-wide fundraiser and then accept his share to sell. Brother Leon has the school committed to sell twice as many boxes and Jerry’s refusal gains unwanted attention. Day 10 arrives but Jerry decides he will continue to refuse to sell the chocolates. This puts Jerry taking a stand now with both the Vigils and Brother Leon. Jerry's simple refusal ends up having far-reaching, violent and unpleasant effects. No matter what the consequences, will Jerry continue to stand up for what he believes in? Does he dare continue to disturb the universe?

Honors & Awards:
  • An ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • A School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • A Kirkus Reviews Choice
  • A New York Times Outstanding Books of the Year
  • Margaret A Edwards Award

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

I am scout Pic

Shields, Charles J. I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

New York, NY: Henry Holt, 2008. Print.

Annotation: Charles J. Shields is the author of the New York Times bestseller Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, which he has adapted here for young adults readers. This account is his extensive research telling the life of Lee and her experiences growing up in the South that helped her create her famous book, To Kill a Mockingbird. The book shares how she got there and what happen after her book and her own life became so famous.

Review: Shields found that an encyclopedia about Harper Lee was only 3 paragraphs long. He didn’t think that justified an author with a bestseller book that was there for 88 weeks, won the Pulitzer Prize, and won 3 Academy Awards from the movie adaptation. This book unfolds the mystery after the basics (where she was born, went to school, etc.) of the life the Harper Lee. Shields describes her unique experiences and her rebellious nature to do things her way. It reveals Lee’s dedication to writing and loyalty to her family and friends, like Truman Capote. Shields writes concerning Lee’s famous book “almost from the day of its publication, Mockingbird took off and gradually left its author behind” (p.145). Shields puts us back on track to learn about this remarkable author and her life story. Great photos too!

Awards & Honors

  • American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults (2009)
  • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List

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