Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Giver

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

Annotation: Living in an ideal community Jonas’ beliefs are shattered when he receives his life’s assignment and is exposed to another way of life.

Book Talk:
You can’t miss what you’ve never known. Jonas had no idea his life was missing anything until given the responsibility of receiver for his ideal community, a community filled with sameness and lives governed by rules. He was assigned to receive all memories of those that came before him. With these memories Jonas experiences pain but also love, colors, and music, things unknown to the rest of the community.

“Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences…we gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”

Could you deny others the joy of memories, of choice, of differences? After realizing another way of life exists, imperfect as it may be, can Jonas live denying others the feelings he now knows?

Newbery Medal, 1994
Regina Medal, 1994
William Allen White Award, 1996

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Read the rest of the trilogy!

The Silver Kiss

Klause, Annette Curtis. The Silver Kiss. New York: Delacorte Press, 1990.

Annotation: Zoë finds herself in an unusual relationship with Simon after they bond over mutual feelings about loneliness and death. Simon, a member of the undead, helps Zoë accept her mother's illness. 

Book Talk:
How do you let go? For Zoë letting go seems to be the theme of her life lately- her mother is dying, her best friend is moving, and her father is distant consumed by her mother’s cancer. In an almost unbelievable encounter Zoë finds an odd comfort in being needed by Simon. Together they find a twisted yet beautiful comfort in each other’s pain and loneliness. Sharing his secrets Simon takes Zoë into a world of the undead revealing his identity as a vampire. Finding solace in Simon’s company, how does she let go when he too needs to leave her side?

Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award, 1992
Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award, 1993
South Carolina Children's Book Award, 1993
California Young Reader Medal, 1993

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Want to know more? Watch this trailer!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Keeping You a Secret

Peters, Julie Ann. Keeping You a Secret. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2003.

Annotation: Holland Jaeger discovers her true identity after she meets and falls in love with an out and proud lesbian transfer student.

Book Talk:
Holland is balancing homework, work, college applications, friends, and a boyfriend as a senior in high school when she first spots Cece an openly gay transfer student. When she realizes that her thoughts about Cece sound more like a girl crush she begins to question her sexuality.

After admitting to herself she is a lesbian, Holland and Cece begin a relationship of liberating love, but how liberating can it be if no one can know about it? In an effort to avoid cruelty from others at school and keep her to herself Cece convinces Holland to keep their relationship secret. Find out if keeping your relationship a secret is really Keeping You a Secret.

2004 Stonewall Honor Book
Best of 2003 Young-Adult Books, Borders Books and Music
2003 Lambda Literary Award Finalist


Myers, Walter Dean. Monster. New York: HarperTempest, 1999.

Annotation: Charged with murder Steve Harmon’s trial and fears play out like a movie, ending in his verdict.  

Book Talk:
 Is this real life or a movie? Steve Harmon a regular teenager who liked making films in school finds himself on trial for murder. Trying to grasp how he ended up behind bars he imagines the courtroom proceedings as though he is watching a movie. With close ups, voice overs, and flashbacks we see life through Steve’s eyes. Read like a screenplay with occasional diary entries Steve’s fight for freedom unfolds.

Reading through the scenes in this life turned movie you feel the fear and anguish of a young man trying to define his role in the death of a store clerk. When the rest of his life depends on the decision of the jury the question persist, Is this real life or a movie?

2000 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2000 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Literature for Young Adults
1999 New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Amos Fortune free man

Yates, Elizabeth. Amos Fortune free man. New York: Puffin Books, 1950.

Annotation: Amos Fortune went from being a king in his African village to a slave in the United States eventually buying his freedom and gaining respect from all in his town through a life of honesty and good deeds.

Book Review:
At-mun was ripped from everything he knew his family, his village, and his people as a young king in Africa only to be sold as a slave in America. His will power to not succumb to despair in the painful voyage is admirable but pails only to the gracefulness with which he chose to carry the rest of his life. Being given the name Amos Fortune due to his incredible luck that began as he was bought by a Quaker who taught him to read and write, Amos dedicated his life to others. In this simply written biography we see a young man grow from king, slave, servant, to a free man that never ceases to be riddled with positivity and giving regardless of his situation. Amos’ spirit is one that transcends ideas of race and money teaching us all that freedom comes from living a good life regardless of the circumstances.

Newberry Medal, 1951
William Allen White Children’s Book Award, 1953

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Spinelli, Jerry. Milkweed. New York: Random House, 2003. 

Annotation: A Jewish orphan without a name finds himself unsure of his identity as he grows up during World War II. Making and losing different make shift families he lives on creating his own identity as a survivor.

Book Review:
With names varying from Stop Thief, Misha, Jack, and Poppynoodle this first person fiction narrative follows a kid growing up without a true identity during World War II. Nameless he is given the name Misha by Uri, a make shift big brother who finds him stealing and makes him a part of a group of orphaned thieves trying to survive during the war. Not knowing he was Jewish, Misha takes on the identity of what he is told from gypsy, Jew, to nobody. Struggling to find meaning to his identity and his beliefs this story of triumph in the face of all adversity and loss of family and friends is relatable to all. Jerry Spinelli successfully introduces the historical and personal elements of the Holocaust through Misha, a kid turned adult on a quest to not let others define him but define himself.

Golden Kite Award, 2003
ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2004
Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List, 2004

The Outsiders

Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. New York: Puffin Books, 1997, c1967.

Annotation: Ponyboy Curtis and the rest of the Greaser gang discover the tribulations of friendship, loss, and growing up after a fight with a rival gang leads to murder.

Book Review:
Clothes, money, social status, attitude, hair and stereotypes often define which gang or clique you are a part of in high school. As for Ponyboy and his friends they’re known as Greasers and they take pride in their style especially their signature greasy hair. Pulled together from different backgrounds the Greasers friendship stems from acceptance and knows no boundaries. When a seemingly normal night turns into a fight with their rival the Socs, both gangs are changed forever. With one Soc dead and one Greaser a murderer individuals from each begin to discover that appearances are deceiving. S.E. Hinton’s timeless story explores real emotions felt by everyone regardless of their clique. Issues with absent parents, identity, death, fear, vulnerability, and a need to fit in consume these teenagers and friendships help push them through. Not your average happy ending The Outsiders reminds you that everybody has a story and like one of the Socs said, “Things are rough all over.”

New York Herald Tribune Best Teenage Books List, 1967
Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor Book, 1967
Media and Methods Maxi Award, 1975
ALA Best Young Adult Books, 1975
Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, 1979

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Check out this book trailer with audio clips from the author, S.E. Hinton!