The Amazing Spider-Man Directed by Marc Webb

spidermanBibliographic Information:

Webb, M., Vanderbilt, J., Sargent, A., Kloves, S., Ziskin, L., Arad, A., Tolmach, M., … Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Firm). (2012). The amazing Spider-Man. Culver City, Calif: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

136 minutes

Plot Summary:

Peter lives with his aunt and uncle after the disappearance of his parents as a child. When he finds a mysterious briefcase of his father, it leads him to his father’s partner, Dr. Connors, a researcher in a lab. While at the lab, he is bitten by a spider, which leads to the creation of Spider-Man.

When an experiment goes wrong, turning Dr. Connors into the Lizard, Peter knows it is his responsibility to stop him.

Critical Evaluation:

Peter Parker is facing all the same insecurities and concerns as other teenagers. He is interested in a girl at school, Gwen Stacy, but does not know how to talk to her. Peter has to deal with a school bully and try to find a way to fit in with the other students in his school. He also has unresolved issues around the disappearance of his parents.

The development of Parker’s character when he finds he has superpowers is interesting. Of course, he thinks they are cool and wants to learn more about them. Further, as he draws closer to Dr. Connors and experiments with his powers, he pulls away from his uncle and aunt as he is trying to figure out who he is going to be. Even though he is rebelling he is still understands responsibility and consequences. His uncle’s death was a watershed moment for him. Prior to his death, Peter was willing to let the thief walk away. After his death he was still focused on the negative as he was looking for revenge instead of justice. It was not until he heard the police’s side of the story and rescued the child on the bridge that he realized that he had a responsibility and his focus should not be what he wants.

The director, Marc Webb, humanized the superhero by focusing on the teenager and his development and allowing the watcher to bring their knowledge of the hero to the film. This decision adds a depth to the character that is not there in some of the previous iterations.

Reader’s Annotation:

Spider-Man be fighting a gigantic lizard but the focus of this film is his alter-ego, the teenager Peter Parker.

Information About the Author:

Director Marc Webb was born in Bloomington, Indiana on August 31, 1974. He originally went to Colorado College to study English but within a semester he was pursuing filmmaking professionally. He started directing music videos and was awarded a 2006 Director of the Year Award from the Music Video Production Association. In the music industry he has worked with 3 Doors Down, P. Diddy, and Green Day.

His first feature film was the romantic-comedy, 500 Days of Summer. The Amazing Spider-Man is his second feature (Marc Webb Bio, 2013).

Genre:

  • Action and adventure films
  • Science fiction films
  • Superheroes

Curriculum Ties:

  • Digital film class

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up
  • Rating: PG-13; for sequences of action and violence.

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Superheroes have a large following in books, graphic novels, comics, and movies. A good collection will carry a selection in all mediums.

Reviews:

“The transformation scenes are tremendous. Having been bitten, Garfield’s Parker goes into a delirious, feverish state, pop-eyed with anxiety and over-excitement as his body assumes new strength and the ability to hang upside down.”.

References:

Marc Webb bio. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013 from http://www.tribute.ca/people/marc-webb/32644/

The Amazing Spider-Man (2013) Retrieved May 1, 2013 from http://www.theamazingspiderman.com/site/

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Swim the Fly by Don Calame

swim the flyBibliographic Information:

Calame, D. (2010). Swim the fly. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press. (978-0763647766)

Sequel: Beat the Band

            Call the Shots

Plot Summary:

A guy needs to have a goal to accomplish during the summer. So you can have something to write about in the annual “What I did this summer” essay. So, Matt Gratton sets two; to see a naked girl for the first time and to swim the 100-yard butterfly. It’s a toss-up as to which one if harder but he and best friends Coop and Sean, will have a tale to tell in September.

Critical Evaluation:

Swim the Fly is a slapstick novel involving diarrhea, throwing up, and basic locker room humor. This is definitely a book catering to teenage boys. It is fun, silly and irreverent. These are all things that make it a good choice for the reluctant reader.

Reader’s Annotation:

Three boys have a series of misadventures as they try to meet their goal of seeing a naked girl this summer.

Information About the Author:

Don Calame is a teacher, screenwriter, and author. His film projects include Employee of the Month and Hounded. He has worked for Universal Studios, Pictures, and Lionsgate, among others.

He was born and raised in Hicksville, New York. After graduating Adelphi with a Bachelor’s in Communication, he moved to Los Angeles to write screenplays. While he tried to break into the film industry he taught grades 3-5 for four years in Los Angeles.  (Bios).

Swim the Fly was his first novel. He currently lives in British Columbia with his family.

For more information about the author, please visit his site.  His biography is much more entertaining than mine. His humour is not contained to his fiction.

Genre:

  • Realistic fiction
  • Humorous fiction
  • Friendship
  • Coming of age
  • Swimming
  • Canadian author

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Make a “What I did this summer list”
  • Show Don Calame’s book trailer

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Swim the Fly is a fun realistic novel. It may be young for a high school audience but we have to remember that students are at different levels of their development at this stage. We need to ensure we have materials for the younger students as well as the more mature students.

Awards:

  • OLA Forest of Reading White Pine Award, 2011, Nominee
  • Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Honor Book
  • New Westminster Hyack Teen Readers Award, Nominee
  • Nevada Young Readers Award, 2011, Nominee
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults Nominee
  • Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Book Award, Nominee

Reviews:

  • Swim the Fly. (2009). Publishers Weekly, 256(16), 49.

“This one will spread like athlete’s foot in a locker room.”

  • Kraus, D. (2009). Swim the Fly. Booklist, 105(14), 55.

“Although Calame underuses his moments of poignancy, teen readers will have a blast puzzling out the creative vulgarisms. “Pants hamster” is just the beginning.”

References:

Bio. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2013 from http://www.doncalame.com/bio/

 

Bios Don Calame. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2013 from http://www.candlewick.com/authill.asp?b=Author&m=bio&id=3384&pix=y

Back in the Bigs: How Winnipeg won, lost, and regained its place in the NHL by Randy Turner

back in the bigsBibliographic Information:

Turner, R. (2011). Back in the bigs. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Free Press. (978-0968257562)

Plot Summary:

Hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba is serious business. When the Jets returned to Winnipeg in 2011, sports writer Randy Turner explores the history of the team before it went south in 1996 and professional hockey in Winnipeg.

Critical Evaluation:

Back in the Bigs’ large format allows readers to enjoy the many pictures sprinkled through the pages. The writing is accessible and tells a great story of failure and the triumph in the saga of NHL hockey in Manitoba.

Reader’s Annotation:

Manitoba was without an NHL team for a long time before the Jets returned for the 2011-2012 season. But, the desire for a return to the Bigs never died.

Information About the Author:

Randy Turner is a native Manitoban and have covered sports for the Winnipeg Free Press, a local paper, for twenty years (Randy Turner, 2013).

After Randy graduated from Boissevain High School in the late 1970’s, he attended the Creative Communications program at Red River Community College. In 1987, he began working on the Rural page for the Winnipeg Free Press. In 2011, he became a general sports columnist and in 2011 he became a general features writer for the paper.

Throughout his time with the Free Press, he was covered high school hockey to Grey Cups and World Junior hockey championships. Turner has been nominated for three National Newspaper Awards in sports writing (Randy Turner, Reporter 2013).

Genre:

  • Nonfiction
  • National Hockey League
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Hockey

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Talk about how the Jets did this year – pull the stats
    • Segue into how they came back to Winnipeg
  • Show clip of the reaction when it was announced that the Jets were coming back to Winnipeg.

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 10 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Back in the Bigs tells the story of the Jets in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It should be in all schools in the province .

References:

Randy Turner. (2013). Retrieved May 5, 2013 from http://penguin.ca/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,2000000238,00.html

Randy Turner, Reporter (2013) Retrieved May 5, 2013 from http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/biographies/141970423.html

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

abundance of katherinesBibliographic Information:

Green, J. (2008). An abundance of Katherines. New York: Speak. (9780142412022)

Plot Summary:

Colin Singleton is worried that he is a washed-up child prodigy and will never make genius status. And he was just dumped by his girlfriend, Katherine the 19th. So, he and his friend, Hassan, decide to go on a road trip to Chicago. On the way, they stop at Gutshot Tennessee for a tour of the gravesite of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. While there, they are invited to stay and interview help with a local history project. Colin also meets Lindsey, a girl whose name is not Katherine.

To be a genius, Colin knows he has to create something new so he decides to create a formula to determine how long a relationship will last.

Critical Evaluation:

Abundance of Katherines  is a quirky book with an abundance of unique and complex characters. It can be enjoyed for the humour at this level, but it is a book that will speak to readers at other levels as well.

At one level it is a book about finding meaning in one’s ordinary life. A teacher at my school has a quote above her whiteboard that reads, “What will you do with your one special life?” This is a question that Colin, Hassan, Lindsay, and Hollis are all grappling with; although they would debate the “special”. Indeed, it is the reason why Hollis (Lindsay’s mother) hired the boys. Colin and Hassan spend a lot of time interviewing people as part of the local history project because the town is dying and there is a desire to create a living record of their time and space.

Colin also obsesses about leaving a mark. The idea that he is washed up and will never be anything more than a child prodigy is abhorrent to him. He has worked very hard to be special. Not only did he study all the time in high school but in his free time he still anagram and studies languages and codes. In short, Colin does not easily fit into society. He does not pick up on social cues or react to people as expected.

Hassan is another character who is having difficulty finding where he fits in the world. Since he cannot decide what to do he chooses to do nothing. He has chosen Judge Judy over attending college.

In other words, Colin and Hassan are not feeling connected with other people. They hover at the edges of other people’s social lives. Green emphasizes this separation by using a third person narrative structure. He limits the point of view to Colin but does not allow Colin to tell the story thus separating him for the readers.

Colin’s back story is very important for the plot development in the present. He needs to go back and analyze his past relationships so that he can look for patterns. And that is another interesting theme of the book. The patterns in math, of which there are many demonstrated in the novel, are understandable. Colin’s difficulties with relationships are partially due to the fact that they are not explainable with a pattern.

Reader’s Annotation:

When Colin is dumped the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine he realizes that this is not a good pattern. So, he decides to create formula to determine how long a relationship will last. When Lindsay is introduced as a factor in the formula it becomes clear that she may be too random to fit.

Information About the Author:

An award winning author, John Green has written Looking for Alaska (2006 Michael L. Printz Award), Paper Towns (2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery) and The Fault in Our Stars (2013 Odyssey Award Audiobook)

John Green was born August 4th, 1977 in Orlando, Florida. Green stays connected with his readers through his video blog, Brotherhood 2.0, that he operates with his brother (John Green).

Genre:

  • Realistic fiction
  • Interpersonal relations — Juvenile fiction.
  • Self-perception — Juvenile fiction.
  • Mathematics — Juvenile fiction.

Curriculum Ties:

  • English
    • Character development
    • Coming-of-age
    • identity

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Read a passage from the book where Hassan finds Colin on the floor.
  • Book list – Road Trips

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

 My daughter received a copy of An Abundance of Katherines for her birthday and strongly recommended I read. I have a policy of reading the novels teenagers recommend to me and decided to add it to this collection. It is realistic and humourous, which will appeal to my teen readers.

Reviews:

  • Pattee, A. S. (2006). An Abundance of Katherines. School Library Journal, 52(9), 206.

“As usual, Green’s primary and secondary characters are given descriptive attention and are fully and humorously realized. While enjoyable, witty, and even charming, a book with an appendix that describes how the mathematical functions in the novel can be created and graphed is not for everybody. The readers who do embrace this book, however, will do so wholeheartedly.”

  • Dobrez, C. (2006). An Abundance of Katherines. Booklist, 102(22), 75.

“The idea behind the book is that everyone’s story counts, and what Colin’s contributes to the world, no matter how small it may seem to him, will, indeed, matter.”

Awards:

  • 2007 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
  • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

References:

An abundance of Katherines. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2013 from http://johngreenbooks.com/abundance-of-katherines/

John Green (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2013 from http://johngreenbooks.com/bio-contact/

Oxford Reference by Oxford University Press

Oxford ReferenceBibliographic Information:

Oxford University Press. (2002). Oxford reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Plot Summary:

Oxford Reference is a database of reference sources including dictionaries, encyclopedias and companions. The database includes two collections, although uses may not notice since the two are fully integrated and cross-referenced.

Please check the site for a title list: http://www.oxfordreference.com/page/titlelists/title-lists

Critical Evaluation:

Oxford University Press is a respected publisher of reference resources. Oxford Reference provides users with over 2 million entries from a very large collection of reference books.

Oxford Reference has the basic keyword search students are used to with search engines but it also have an advanced search which allow users to be more specific about the materials needed for projects.

Reader’s Annotation:

Oxford Reference

Information About the Author:

Oxford University Press is affiliated with the University of Oxford and is intended to further “the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education” (About Us).

Genre:

  • Reference materials

Curriculum Ties:

  • Covers all curriculum areas.

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Can include in all research-based pathfinders.

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Oxford Reference is an excellent way of providing a large variety of ready reference sources in an online environment.

References:

About. (2013). Retrieved May 11, 2013 from http://www.oxfordreference.com/page/about

 

About us. (2013). Retrieved May 11, 2013 from http://global.oup.com/about/?AB=B&cc=ca

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan

lost and foundBibliographic Information:

Tan, S., & Marsden, J. (2011). Lost & found. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books. (978-0545229241)

Includes:

  • The red tree
  • The lost thing
  • The rabbits / words by John Marsden.

Plot Summary:

Shaun Tan includes three very powerful stories into one book.

Critical Evaluation:

Shaun explains that although his books can be described as picture book, “they are not created with children in mind, but rather a general audience. I see each book as an experiment in visual and written narrative” (Picture books).

On his site, Shaun has provided a beautiful explanation about many of his stories and includes some pictures.

The Red Tree is a story without words. The images tell the story and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. As he worked on the story, he found that he was focusing on the negative feelings of depression and loneliness. In the end, the girl does have a sense of hope as a tiny red seedling starts growing in the middle of her bedroom floor.

This is a powerful story that is representative of the feelings many teenagers struggle with. It is not unusual for teenagers to have difficulty verbalizing feelings that something is wrong. The book can help them describe the feelings they may have.

The Long Thing was made into a short movie (http://www.thelostthing.com/ ) It is the story of a boy who finds an odd creature. He thinks it must be lost so he tries, without success, to find where it belongs.

The Rabbits, written by John Marsden, is an allegorical fable about colonization.

Reader’s Annotation:

Art can speak to the heart and the mind. Lost & Found tells three very powerful stories that will not be soon forgotten.

Information About the Author:

Shaun Tan grew up in Perth, Western Australia. He was always drawing in school so he took Fine Arts in university and graduated with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature.

Shaun started drawing pictures for stories as a teenager and is now known for his books that deal with social and political subjects. He has also worked as a concept artist for Horton Hears a Who and WALL-E. In 2011 he received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award honouring his contribution to international children’s literature (About me).

Genre:

  • Sophisticated picture book

Curriculum Ties:

  • Art
  • English – story telling
  • Counseling – depression
  • World History – colonisation

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

I love sophisticated picture books. I feel they can support curriculum and provide a starting point for conversations. Picture books were never intended to be just for children.

Awards:

  • The Red Tree
    • The Patricia Wrightson prize.
    • Le Prix Octogones 2003 prize
  • The Lost Thing:
    • Honourable Mention at the Bolgna International Book Fair
    • CBCA Honour Book
    • Aurealis Award
    • Spectrum Award for illustration

References:

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.shauntan.net/

 

 

 

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

hold me closerBibliographic Information:

McBride, L. (2012). Hold me closer, necromancer. New York: Square Fish.

  • Sequel: Necromancing the Stone

Plot Summary:

Sam is a university drop-out flipping burgers in a fast-food restaurant.  When he catches the attention of Douglas, his ordinary, going nowhere life suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Because Douglas is a powerful necromancer who recognizes the Sam is also a necromancer with latent powers.

When Sam declines Douglas’ offer to train him, Douglas decides to send him one of his friend’s severed head to explain that his offer was not optional. Soon, Sam finds himself locked in a cage with a powerful werewolf in Douglas’ basement. Then, things get interesting.

Critical Evaluation:

This is a book that does not take itself too seriously. The characters banter and spar with each other. Sam (Samhain Corvus LaCroix) is sarcastic and confused. He has a Harbinger that is trying to help him in return for waffles. One of his friends is a talking head. His mother is an earth witch.

The story is told primarily from Sam’s point of view. But, McBride does switch to other character’s point of view when convenient for plot development.

There is a dose of the horror element in the plot. Douglas is evil. There is blood and torture and lots of action. But there is also humour – and that is what makes the novel refreshing and quirky. If you are looking for hard-core horror, this is not the book for you. But if you want a fun romp through the supernatural, it will not let you down.

Reader’s Annotation:

Sam is having a tough week. His dead friend’s head is talking to him, he is stuck in a cage, and a powerful necromancer is teaching him to raise the dead. On the plus side, he is in the cage with a beautiful werewolf. Maybe he will ask her for a date – if they get out alive.

Information About the Author:

Lish McBride has a tongue-and-cheek biography on her site that is much more interesting than the one below. I’ve included just the facts. Visit her site to get the good stuff.

Lish McBride grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of New Orleans. She currently lives in Seattle,

Genre:

  • Fantasy, Fiction
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Paranormal fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • Minor violence
  • sex

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
    • Ask if he/she has read the boo
    • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns.
  2. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
    • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
    • Provide school’s selection polic
    • Provide list of reviews/lists
  3. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

It is a fun, quirky twist on a horror book.

Reviews:

  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. (2010). Booklist, 107(6), 36-37.

“With fine writing, tight plotting, a unique and uniquely odd cast of teens, adults, and children, and a pace that smashes through any curtain of disbelief, this sardonic and outrageous story’s only problem is that it must, like all good things, come to an end.”

  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. (2010). Kirkus Reviews, 78(17), 862.

“Despite uneven pacing and abandoned plot threads, this quirky urban fantasy will compel fans of horror and supernatural romance–and heroic skateboarding slackers.”

Awards:

  • William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist
  • 2011 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

References:

Home. (n.d). Retrieved May 2, 2013 from http://www.lishmcbride.com/

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin

Bibliographic Information:

Maberry , J. (2010). Rot & Ruin. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. (978-1-4424-0233-1)

  • Rot & Ruin, bk. 1
  • Dust & Decay, bk. 2
  • Flesh & Bone, bk. 3
  • Fire & Ash, bk. 4 (to be released in August 2013)

Plot Summary:

In this post-apocalyptic world, the zombies are roaming outside the fence in the Rot and Ruin. Benny has grown up in the world after the First Night. Now, he is fifteen and if he does not work he will lose his food rations. So, he decides to join his half-brother, Tom, as a zombie hunter.

While working with his brother, he meets Charlie Pink-eye and Motor City Hammer, two unethical zombie hunters who pit children against zombies for fun. He is also introduced to the mystery of the Lost Girl who fascinates him.

Critical Evaluation:

Rot & Ruin is a gritty zombie novel about what happens when the humans lost the war. The humans are now living in small, scattered communities isolated from one another. So, what do the humans do that are left? That is really what the story is about. It is really a coming of age story about teens that are growing up in the apocalypse and want their world to be more than waiting for death.

So, the novel is not just about killing zombies – although there is definitely a lot of that. The plot is about keeping your humanity of grays. That makes this book very interesting; even to readers who are not zombie fans.

Reader’s Annotation:

Benny thinks his brother is a coward. But when Benny accompanies Tom beyond the fence is realizes that zombies aren’t the only monsters to fear. At least with zombies you know what to do.

Information About the Author:

Maberry is a zombie writer and a multiple Bram Stoker Award winner.  I write about people who fight monsters” (SimonSchusterVideos). This statement really does encapsulate his writing which includes Dead of Night, Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory.

His writing is graphic and very descriptive. These elements help to explain his success as a comic writer as well. Finally, he writes nonfiction covering topics of martial arts and zombie pop-culture.

Jonathan Maberry also teaches Experimental Writing for Teens class. He is the founder the Writers Coffeehouse and cofounded The Liars Club (Jonathan Maberry Biography).

Jonathan has also worked as a bodyguard, college teacher and women’s self-defense instructor.

For more information, please see Jonathan Maberry’s website.

Genre:

  • Zombies
  • Survival
  • Bounty hunters
  • Horror
  • Post-apocalypse

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Compare to Forest of Hands and Teeth – created a book list of zombie books
  • Show video: Maberry talks about Rot & Ruin from Simon and Schuster:

http://videos.simonandschuster.net/The-zombie-world’s-gone-to-ROT/632738882001

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
    • Ask if he/she has read the book
    • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns
  2. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
    • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
    • Provide school’s selection policy
    • Provide list of reviews/lists
  3. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction is very popular with my students.

Awards:

  • Finalist for the 2010 Cybils Award
  • Winner 2011 Cybils Award

Reviews:

  • Kraus, D. (2010). Rot & Ruin. Booklist, 107(4), 51.

“The plot is driven by an evil bounty-hunter rival and the cruel games he plays, but Maberry has more than gore on his mind. The chief emotion here is sadness, and the book plays out like an extended elegy for a lost world.”

  • Doyle, A. C. (2010). Rot & Ruin. School Library Journal, 56(11), 121.

“The relationship between Benny and Tom becomes surprisingly complex and satisfying, as does the romantic subplot between Benny and his friend Nix. The length of the book may intimidate some reluctant readers but the striking cover, compelling action, and brutal violence will draw them in and keep them reading.”

References:

Jonathan Maberry Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2013 from http://authors.simonandschuster.ca/Jonathan-Maberry/67600213/biography

SimonSchusterVideos. (n.d.). The zombie’s world gone to Rot & Ruin [Video file].
Retrieved from http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/rot-ruin/

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

enemyBibliographic Information:

Higson, C. (2010). The enemy. London: Puffin. (978-0-414-32501-9)

The Enemy series:

  • The Dead, bk. 2
  • The Fear, bk. 3
  • The Sacrifice, bk. 4
  • The Fallen, bk. 5

Plot Summary:

All the adults have been infected with the sickness. Two groups of children have developed bases in supermarkets. Together, they are stronger and can fight back and so far they have enough food. But when a younger kid, Small Sam is kidnapped and a boy named Jester arrives to tell them of another group of kids at Buckingham Palace, they decide to risk going there to join the other group.

Critical Evaluation:

There are two reasons why this series has been so successful. First, of course is the heavy dose of adrenaline-laced fight scenes with gore and death doled out is equal measure. Higson understands how to write an action book; he has had a lot of experience with his Young Bond series.

The other reason may not be expected in a book of this genre and that is the character development. Higson has put in a lot of time building back stories and developing individual characters. Usually, when an author invests the time in developing a character a reader expects that character will be around for a while. Not so with Higson, he kills off main characters as quickly as secondary characters. That, I think, is what surprises the reader the most. They invest in a character, start cheering for that person and suddenly, they are gone. Maybe that is where the horror comes from; the knowledge that nothing is certain and anyone can be the next victim.

Reader’s Annotation:

It is important to stay with a gang because the adults usually attack the isolated and weak. Together, the kids can survive because they are smart and quick. But the adults seem to be getting smarter they are coming.

Information About the Author:

Charlie Higson has a varied resume. He has worked as a decorator, an actor and comedian. He even formed a band.He has also written for television and radio and, of course, he is the author of the very popular Young Bond series (The author, 2013).

Genre:

  • Horror
  • Thriller
  • Post-Apocalyptic

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Create a booklist of similar books including Gone series by Grant and the Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Read the first page when a child is taken by the adults.
  • Book trailer http://www.the-enemy.co.uk/home

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up
  • Reading level 4.1

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
  • Ask if he/she has read the book
  • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child about the concerns.
  1. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
  • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and Inclusion documents
  • Provide school’s selection policy
  • Provide list of reviews/lists
  1. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

My students love it and the series is in constant circulation. The gross factor is high.

Reviews:

  • Kraus, D. (2010). The Enemy. Booklist, 106(18), 46.

“Higson writes with a firestorm velocity that aspires to the sweeping reach of Stephen King’s The Stand (1978). A muscular start to what looks to be a series.”

Awards:

Booklist 2011 Top 10 Books for Youth, Horror

References:

The author. (2013). Retreived April 25, 2013 from http://www.the-enemy.co.uk/author

All Good Children by Catherine Austen

all good childrenBibliographic Information:

Austen, C. (2011). All good children. Victoria, B.C: Orca Book Publishers. (978-1-55469-824-0)

Plot Summary:

When Maxwell Connors returns home after his aunt’s funeral he notices that the kids at school are acting strange. It turns out that the students were given a treatment while he was away that has turned them into obedient, well-mannered citizens.  His sister Ally notices it first. She says that the other kids are “are fuzzy and slow. They just go along.”

Middletown is special walled community that protects the inhabitants from the terrorism and disasters that are happening throughout the world. The whole community works for the same corporation, Chemrose International. As a result, the corporation controls everything that happens in the town. When Max’s class is vaccinated he has to pretend to be a “zombie” too. It is time for the family to leave Middletown but that may prove more difficult than one would expect.

Critical Evaluation:

Catherine Austen has created a multi-dimensional wise-cracking teenager as her protagonist in the dystopian world of All Good Children. A wise choice since young adults are very interested in developing their individuality at this stage. Max’s sarcasm and “tell it like it is” attitude will resonate with readers. These characteristics also infuse some humour into an otherwise stark plot.

Max’s development from a kid who accepts the way his world operates to one who is willing to give up all the nice toys for freedom is realistic. At first, Max is pretty comfortable with his situation. He lives in a safe community that has a good standard of living and the newest technology toys. He knows that he is smart enough to be successful. So, he is okay with the security. He likes that the city is clean and secure.

The novel, told from Max’s point of view, follows his dawning awareness that the New Education Support Treatment is stripping children of their individuality and making them into good workers with no emotions who are willing to do what they are told.

Reader’s Annotation:

In a world with terrorism and disasters, what would you be willing to give up for security?

Information About the Author:

Catherine Austen is an awarding-winning author of children and young adult fiction. All Good Children was her first young adult novel.

Catherine grew up in Kingston, Ontario. She studies political science at Queen’s University and environmental studies at York University. After, she worked in the conservation movement. While a student, she wrote short stories, which she published in small literary journals. She started writing stories for children in 2003 but her first children’s book, Walking Backwards, was published in 2009.

When she became a parent, she decided to become a freelance writer so she could be home with her family.

She currently lives in Aylmer (Gatineau), Quebec. She says she lives in a little house with a big yard (About the author, 2013) with her family.

For more information please visit her website.

Genre:

  • Survival fiction
  • Science fiction
  • Dystopian fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • Social Justice
    • Behavior modification in schools
  • English program
    • Companion book to Brave New World

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Austen is a Canadian author who wrote a great book with a theme that is very popular with young adults currently.

Reviews:

  • Wiersema, R. (Ed.). (2011, October). Book review: All good children. Retrieved
  •      May 11, 2013, from Quill & Quire website: http://The Canadian Library
  •      Association’s 2012 Young Adult Book Award Winner.

Awards:

  • Canadian Library Association Young Adult Canadian Book Award, 2012.
  • The 2012 Sunburst Award (for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic) Young Adult Winner.
  • A YALSA Teens’ Top Ten nominee and a YALSA 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee.
  • A Forest of Reading 2013 White Pine Nominee.

References:

About the author. (2013). Retrieved 15 March 15, 2013 from http://www.catherineausten.com/contact_author.html