Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Name: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo DS
Date: October 2007
ESRB Rating: Everyone
UPC: 4902370516081

Summary: The fourteenth installment in the popular Legend of Zelda video game franchise, the story of Phantom Hourglass follows hero Link in his attempt to rescue his friend Tetra from the evil Bellum, a life-eating monster.  With the help of his fairy companion, Ciela, and the assistance of mariner Captain Linebeck (and his ship, the S.S. Linebeck), Link must travel through the islands of flooded Hyrule to find hidden maps and clues in order to help him on his rescue mission.  The Phantom Hourglass helps Link discover the Spirits of Wisdom and Power, and he discovers the true identity of the Spirit of Courage and the Ocean King, all who are supporting him on his quest.  In order to defeat Bellum, Link must forge the Phantom Sword from metals collected from various islands in the archipelago.  Will Link reach Tetra in enough time to save her?

Critical Evaluation: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is a great addition to the popular video game series.  The game really translates well into the Nintendo DS platform.  A portable gaming system (great to bring on the go!), the DS features two screens, including one touch screen.  In Link’s voyage, the touch screen frequently displays the map, while the action takes place on the top screen.  This means that certain actions, like moving the ship in a certain course, can be achieved by drawing the desired course on the touch screen with the provided stylus.  I liked that it was possible to skip through many of the video portions – while they were nice for providing background to the plot, it was also great to have the option to skip ahead and get to the action!  In addition to the main adventure plot, it was also possible to play in “Battle” mode – an unrelated mode that allows players to hone their skills, and even challenge friends!  If two players have Nintendo DS systems and a WiFi connection, they can play against one another.

Annotation: Link, the hero of the Legend of Zelda videogames, is assisted by Captain Linebeck in his voyage to rescue his friend Tetra.

Company Information: Nintendo Co., Ltd. was founded in Japan in1889 as a playing card company.  Over the years it developed side businesses, including a cab company, before transforming into a major video game company, one of the most influential in the industry.

The CEO of Nintendo is Satoru Iwata, and the company is based out of Kyoto, Japan.

Genre: Action, Adventure

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas: N/A

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This game has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the game and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the game from teens who have played it.

Selection: I loved the Nintendo 64 game “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” when I was younger, and was interested in evaluating a newer game in the series.

Extras:

Official Phantom Hourglass website.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Games | , | Leave a comment

Chew on This by Eric Schlosser

Title: Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food
Author: Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson
Publisher: Sandpiper
Date: April 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0618593941

Plot Summary: An adaptation of the bestselling book Fast Food Nation for a young adult audience, Chew on This takes a critical look at the fast food industry and food production, seeking to inform the readers about what goes on behind the scenes.  It also explains the history of fast food and the impact that eating so much processed food can have.  The book starts off with the history, from the invention of the hamburger in 1885 to the creation of the first fast food chains, including McDonald’s and KFC.  The next section deals with the business side of the industry, particularly how the restaurants are marketed to kids in order to ensure brand loyalty, and even describes the poor working conditions for the laborers who produce Happy Meal toys in China.  This transitions into what it looks like to work at a fast food chain as a low-income worker, including a story about a teenage worker who once worked a nightmarish nineteen and a half hour shift, with only a half hour break.  Next, it covers food production, from how fries are made to what artificial colorings really are, to the practices of the meat industry.  There is a chapter on obesity, then the book wraps up with some promising information about reform in the food industry, from fast food chains offering some healthier options on their menus to the work of Alice Waters, who is reforming school cafeterias.

Critical Evaluation: Chew on This is full of great information about the real workings of the fast food industry, a business that we just take for granted and often don’t think twice about eating.  Like the original book, Fast Food Nation, it starts a discussion about the choices we make – both what we choose to eat and where we spend our money.  Many teens have never received good information about nutrition, so Chew on This has the potential to make a great impact in their lives.  It could definitely be used in a classroom to prompt discussions about these issues.  I would have liked to see a bit more information on the environmental impact that the fast food industry has, including clear-cutting rainforest in order to graze cheap beef for burgers.  The information is presented in a very accessible way, and might appeal more to teens on the younger end of the 14-19 spectrum.  Older teens and those seeking more in depth information could pick up a copy of Fast Food Nation.

Reader’s Annotation: An adaptation of the bestselling book Fast Food Nation for a young adult audience, Chew on This takes a critical look at the fast food industry and food production, seeking to inform the readers about what goes on behind the scenes.

Author Information: Born in Manhattan in 1959, Eric Schlosser is an investigative journalist best known for his books Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness.  Schlosser studied American History at Princeton and received a graduate degree from Oxford University in British Imperial History.  He is also an aspiring playwright – in 2007, he wrote the play We the People about the writing of the US Constitution.

Schlosser lives in California.  He is married to Robert Redford’s daughter, Shauna, and has two children.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Food Industry

Curriculum Ties: Health, Nutrition

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Did this book cause you to reexamine your eating habits?
2) Was there anything you learned that surprised you?
3) What kind of change can you make to impact the way you (and those around you) eat?  What do you think of the work that Alice Waters does?

Interest Age: 12 and older.

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I thought this was an great contribution to my collection because it is such an important topic, and it provides information for teens in a clear and interesting way.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Books | , | Leave a comment

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Title: Something Like Fate
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Date: May 2010
ISBN-13: 9780670011469
Reviewed from Advanced Reader’s Copy from publisher

Plot Summary: Lani and Erin are best friends, but total opposites.  While Lani is completely content doing her own thing, Erin is totally outgoing and loves being the center of attention.  Even their zodiac signs are complete opposites, as Lani, a Taurus, notes (Erin happens to be a passionate Leo).  The friends complement each other well and have wildly different taste in everything.  At least, they used to…before Erin started to date Jason.

Lani can’t deny that she is totally attracted to her best friend’s guy, but she could never betray Erin’s trust by trying to be with him, so she’s doing her best to get over her feelings.  But she can’t stop feeling a strong connection when they’re hanging out, and when Erin leaves for the summer, Lani starts seeing a lot more of Jason.  Of course it’s not okay to steal your best friend’s boyfriend.  But what if it turns out that he’s your soulmate?

Critical Evaluation: Something Like Fate sets up a premise that many teens have experienced – the complications of a love triangle, particularly the difficulty that arises when one of your best friends is involved.  The story is told in the first person from Lani’s point of view, a character who places lots of faith in her horoscope readings – an indication that the turn of events may have indeed been fated to happen.  Lani, who has never had a boyfriend before, is facing one of the toughest decisions of her young life – choosing between her long time best friend, and the boy who might be the love of her life.  The guilt and confused feelings she experiences are well captured by Colasanti, as is the development of her friendship with Jason while Erin is out of town. The characters weren’t particularly well developed – their circumstances may change, but they don’t undergo much transformation – but they still provided a light and enjoyable story of love and friendship.

Reader’s Annotation: Lani and Erin are best friends, but have completely different personalities and interests, until Erin starts dating Jason and Lani can’t help but feel totally attracted to her best friend’s guy.  What happens when your soulmate is with someone else?

Author Information: Raised in northern New Jersey, Susane Colasanti studied at the University of Pennsylvania in Pittsburg, and received her master’s degree from New York University.  Colasanti began teaching at a wealthy school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then switched to a position as a high school physics and earth science teacher in the South Bronx, where she taught from 2000 to 2007.

She wrote her first two young adult novels, When It Happens and Take Me There while she was still teaching, before deciding to become a full-time writer.  Colasanti says it was a difficult decision to make, but that she “could reach more teens as an author than [she] ever could as a teacher” (Source).

Genre: Romance

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Was Lani wrong for feeling attracted to Jason?  Would it be better for her to be faithful to her friend, or true to herself?
2) Why do you think Jason dated Erin if he had such a great connection with Lani?
3) What did you think about the ending?  Who do you think Jason should have ended up with?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: a reference to partying

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: There were a few reasons I wanted to include Something Like Fate in my collection – it is a very new book (I received the advanced copy a few months ago, and it has just recently been released in hardcover), I needed more romance titles in my collection, and Colasanti is a rising star in the young adult literature world – I have heard her described as the “next Sarah Dessen.”

Extras:

Susane Colasanti’s website and blog.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Books | | Leave a comment

Flight (Volume 1) by Kazu Kibuishi

Title: Flight (Volume One)
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Publisher: Villard
Date: April 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0345496362

Plot Summary: Flight (Volume One) is the first in a series of six graphic novel anthologies of short stories compiled by Kazu Kibuishi, featuring talented young artists and writers.  Although it was not a requirement for inclusion, many of the stories feature the theme of flying, such as “Air and Water” by Enrico Casarosa, which was inspired by the writings of aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  Some contain more fanciful elements, like “Hugo Earhart” by Jake Parker, which is about a young boy accompanied by a miniature green flying pig and a flying purple whale.  Many of the artists appear to do their work using computer programs, but some have other techniques, such as in the story “Paper and String” by Jen Wang, which creates images using mixed media, including decorative paper and even photographs.  It is truly a diverse collection, and the stories range from the comedic to the tragic.

Critical Evaluation: Aside from being an impressive collection in its own right, the first volume of the Flight series would serve as a great introduction to the graphic novel genre.  Rather than sticking to a narrow vision or visual style (for instance, only featuring art that resembles the anime style), Flight truly incorporates a wide variety of young talent within the graphic arts community – ranging from the cartoonish to the traditionally artistic.  It was incredible how much story could be packed into each short contribution – the visual element really expanded on the included text and made the stories deeper and understood in different ways.  In this instance, a picture really is worth a thousand words.  With the wide range of artistic vision, it would have been nice to have a bit more of a coherent theme, to thread through the stories and make the entire volume more cohesive. In any case, Flight is a phenomenal book and deserves a spot on the shelf.

Reader’s Annotation: This graphic novel is a collection of short stories from several talented young artists and writers.

Author Information: Kazu Kibuishi is the founder and editor of the Flight Anthologies, a critically acclaimed comics series, as well as the creator of Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, a winner of the YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Kazu moved to the U.S. with his mother and brother when he was a child. He graduated from Film Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara, and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He currently works as a full-time comic book artist.  Kazu lives with his wife in Alhambra, California.  (Source)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Alternate Formats, Short Stories

Curriculum Ties: Art, Graphic Art

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Do you think the graphic novel illustrations translate well into short stories?
2) What was your favorite story from the collection?  Why?
3) Did you find that the visuals or text was more important for understanding the stories?

Interest Age: 12 and older.

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I was looking for more graphic novels to add to my collection, and Flight caught my attention because Library Journal said of the volume: “Regardless of where it’s shelved, this book belongs in every library.”

Extras:

Official Flight website.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Graphic Novels | , | Leave a comment

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Title: The Blue Sword
Author: Robin McKinley
Publisher: Ace Trade
Date: December 2007
ISBN-13: 9780441012008

Plot Summary: After her father dies, Angharad “Harry” Crewe must move to the isolated military outpost in Istan to be near her brother who is stationed there.  The colonial settlement in a foreign country feels strangely like home for Harry, even though the desert setting is far removed from the forests where she grew up.  She is fascinated by Corlath, the native king of the Damar, who has come to the settlement to warn about invading tribes from the north.  That night, Corlath’s kelar, or psychic ability, instructs him to kidnap Harry, believing her to be necessary in order to defeat the impending invasion.  Harry adapts quickly to the Damarian culture, even training how to fight.  She is gifted with kelar and begins having visions of Lady Aerin, a legendary figure from Damarian lore – and Harry is even given Lady Aerin’s weapon, a blue sword.  Corlath instructs her on his plan for defending themselves, but Harry believes she knows a better strategy and follows her instincts, even if it means disobeying Corlath – whom she is falling in love with.

Critical Evaluation: The Blue Sword is a notable fantasy book because it is the first of the Damarian Chronicles, which are based on Robin McKinley’s imaginary land of Damar.  Harry is a great protagonist – she’s clever and resourceful, sensitive to other cultures, and not afraid to do typically male activities, like wield a sword and lead an army.  The plot is not unusual, in having a foreigner adapt to a native culture and become a hero – this same theme is seen in other books, and films like Avatar and Dances with Wolves – but McKinley’s treatment of this common plot is unique because of Harry’s unusual character.  The Blue Sword blends several genres – fantasy, adventure, legend, and even romance – and would have a wide appeal for readers.  And if you enjoy The Blue Sword, you can plan to read The Hero and the Crown next – the prequel that tells the story of Lady Aerin before she was a heroine.

Reader’s Annotation: Soon after Harry moves to the isolated colonial outpost of Istan in a desert country, she is kidnapped by the native king, Corlath, who believes she is integral for defending his tribe from invading northerners.

Author Information: Born on November 16, 1952, in Warren, Ohio, Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley was the only child of school teacher Jeanne Turrell McKinley and United States Naval officer William McKinley.  As a child, McKinley was envious of boys because “they were the ones who got to have adventures, while we got to – well, not have adventures.”  She started telling herself stories about girls who “did things and had adventures.”  Her later writing career was heavily influenced by these early narratives about heroic women.

These early tales evolved into several stories set in a fictional world she called Damar, and as she wrote about it, McKinley realized “there was more than one story to tell about Damar, that in fact it seemed to be a whole history, volumes and volumes of the stuff, and this terrified me” (“Robin McKinley,” 2009).  She set aside this project and began working on what became her first published book, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. McKinley’s works are primarily fairy tale adaptations and tales of Damar.

In 1991, McKinley moved to Hampshire, England, to marry the author Peter Dickinson.  In addition to writing, McKinley is an avid reader and enjoys “nineteenth-century novels, murder mysteries (‘not too gore-spattered’), old-fashioned adventure, and British history.”  Her musical taste ranges from “grand opera to heavy metal rock,” and she loves spending time gardening.  She enjoys horseback riding, has taken up musical pursuits like bell-ringing and voice lessons, and has kept a blog since 2007.

Genre: Fantasy

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Is Harry more closely connected to her own culture or the Damarian culture to which she adapts?
2) How does kelar work?  Can it be acquired?
3) McKinley wrote Harry because she wanted to write about a female character in an typically male role – does she achieve her goal?  Does gender really matter in a story like this?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: None

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I did a report on Robin McKinley for this class and enjoyed The Blue Sword as an imaginative fantasy novel that I thought teens would enjoy.

Extras:

Robin McKinley’s website and blog.

Robin McKinley on Facebook and Twitter.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Books | | Leave a comment

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platform: Playstation 3
Date: November 2009
ESRB Rating: Mature
UPC: 047875837478

Summary: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter, war based video game.  You can play against up to three friends on one game system, picking a location (from deserts and cities to ruins), your weapons, and tracking each other down – sniping at other players from distances, and knifing them when close-by.  If you have an internet connection, you can even play against gamers from all over – up to eighteen at a time!  The ratio of the number of kills you make to the number of times you are killed is calculated so that you are facing other players that are equally ranked, making it an exciting match!  Don’t forget to check out the story mode, which continues the plot from Call of Duty 4, taking you to locations like Red Square in Moscow, Washington D.C. and Afghanistan.

Critical Evaluation: If you’re looking for a realistic war video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 fits the bill.  The graphics are phenomenal, although somewhat gruesome – if you’re the one being fired at, your visor will be splattered with blood. For a non-gamer like me, figuring out the Playstation 3 controls put me at a disadvantage – it was hard enough tracking the other player around the arena, let alone having to worry about two joysticks and various controls for commands and attacks.  In any case, it was obvious why the game is so popular: whether playing in single player mode or against friends and other gamers, playing a game based on tracking each other down is evocative of children’s games like Tag or Capture the Flag, albeit in a very adult, and bloody, war setting.  In other words, it was a lot of fun, even for a novice like me!  The first person shooting perspective really gets you into the character and makes the game come alive.

Annotation: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a war-based first person shooter game, where you can play with up to three friends and track each other down.

Company Information: Infinity Ward was founded in 2002 by former employees of video game development studio 2015, Inc.  Acquired by Activision in late 2003, the company now hires about 70 employees.

They developed the popular Call of Duty franchise, which is currently working on the fifth installment. Infinity Ward is based out of Encino, California.

Genre: Action, Warfare, First Person Shooter

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do violent video games have an effect on the players?
2) How well do you think games like Call of Duty depict actual war?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: intense violence, blood, language, drug reference

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the game and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the game from teens who have played it.

Selection: I was familiar with the Call of Duty franchise (it was popular enough for me to have heard of it!), and it was recommended by my teen gamer cousin.

Extras:

Official Modern Warfare 2 website.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Games | , , | Leave a comment

10 Things I Hate About You

Title: 10 Things I Hate About You (TV show)
Channel: ABC Family
Date: July 2009

Plot Summary: Based on the popular 1999 film of the same title, which in turn is inspired by Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew, this TV series follows the exploits of sisters Kat and Bianca as they navigate their separate ways through Padua High School.  Bianca, wanting to take advantage of being the new girl in town, does her best to make a great first impression on the most popular girl in school, Chastity Church, the head cheerleader.  Kat, on the other hand, would rather stand out than blend in, and isn’t afraid of alienating others with her strong opinions.  She makes friends with vandal/artist Mandella, and inadvertently catches the eye of Patrick Verona, the resident bad boy.  An awkward schoolmate named Cameron instantly develops a crush on Bianca, but sees his chances of getting to date her slipping away as she inches her way up the popularity ladder.  In any case, Bianca is not allowed to date until Kat does – can they find a way around this rule?

Critical Evaluation: As a fan of the film myself, I didn’t have high expectations for this series when I started watching it shortly after it premiered.  I was surprised to see how they were taking the show in a different direction from the film – rather than trying to stay too faithful to the original, which would have fallen flat, the comedy gave new life to the story and reimagined the characters and setting.

I think the strength of the show is in the casting, particularly the characters of Kat Stratford and Patrick Verona.  Patrick is played by Ethan Peck, grandson of the actor Gregory Peck, who holds his own in the character originally portrayed by Heath Ledger.  The star of the series, in my opinion, is Lindsey Shaw as Kat, the “shrew” character, who Shaw portrays with warmth and humor.  There aren’t enough portrayals of teen feminists, at least not in a positive light, so Kat’s character alone makes the show worth watching.  Sadly, it was recently announced that the show has been canceled.

Annotation: Based on the film of the same title, 10 Things I Hate About You is about sisters Kat and Bianca, making their way at a new high school.  Kat prizes her intellect and individuality, while Bianca will do anything to achieve popularity.

About the Creator: Carter Covington was born in 1973 and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1995, where he earned his degree in foreign affairs and Spanish, Covington taught English in Mexico and worked in advertising.  He went on to study entertainment business at UCLA’s business school, graduating in 2001.

Working on ABC Family projects, Covington occasionally collaborated with Gil Junger, director of the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, of which Covington is a huge fan.  He had discussions with Junger about reimagining the movie as a television series, which lead to the creation of the show.  Covington currently lives in Los Angeles.

Genre: Comedy, Relationships

Curriculum Ties: Possibly could be connected to the Shakespeare play, but that’s a stretch.

Discussion Ideas:
1) Is Bianca right for wanting to be liked or is Kat right for wanting to stay true to herself?  Can they both be right?
2) How does the TV show compare to the film?  Or to The Taming of the Shrew?

Interest Age: 12 and older.

Challenge Issues: alcohol references, sexual content

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the TV show and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the TV show from teens who watch it.

Selection: This was a series I actually started watching when it premiered, and I never watch teen programming.  Although it’s not perfect, I really enjoyed it and think it would fit well in a library collection.

Extras:

Official show website.

10 Things I Hate About You on IMDB.com

May 15, 2010 Posted by | TV Shows | , | Leave a comment

Teen Vogue

Title: Teen Vogue
Editor-in-Chief: Amy Astley
Company: Condé Nast Publications

Summary: Are you a young fashionista?  Then Teen Vogue is the magazine for you!  Created as a spinoff of fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue that was aimed at a younger audience, Teen Vogue features lush and artistic photo spreads – as well as information on celebrities and current events.  The issue that I reviewed, May 2010 (pictured), featured Karlie Kloss on the cover, a rising star in the modeling world that had appeared in a Teen Vogue photo shoot only two years ago and is already making a name for herself.  This seems to be consistent theme with Teen Vogue, to promote someone in the industry when they are first starting out – for instance, an article profiled 24-year-old artist Danny Roberts, who is making a name for himself by sketching models and fashion industry insiders, which has lead to a collaboration with singer Gwen Stefani.  In addition to the fashion content, there was an article on the dangers of marijuana.

Critical Evaluation: Teen Vogue just feels different – at 6.75 by 9 inches, the publication is smaller than the average magazine.  This wasn’t the only unique feature – there were several notable details that I think set it apart from other glossy fare.  For starters, it seems to really value the team that puts the magazine together – a section called “Contributers” highlights a few employees and describes their position, as well as asks them an interview question.  In this question, they were asked what they individually do to reduce their carbon footprint – which brings me to the next point: Although primarily a fashion and celebrity magazine, Teen Vogue seems to make an effort to feature current events and hot issues.  In this issue, there was a heartbreaking interview with a teenage girl from Haiti, talking about her experience of the damaging earthquake.  They even managed to incorporate this into their fashion content – one of their fashion bloggers wrote an article on eco-friendly beauty products.

Reader’s Annotation: Teen Vogue is the magazine of choice for the young fashionista, featuring sumptuous fashion photography and interviews with models, as well as tracking celebrity style.

Editor-in-Chief Information: Amy Astley earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Michigan State University.  She joined the staff of Vogue in 1993 and worked as the Beauty Director before being named by Anna Wintour (Vogue’s editor-in-chief) to head the launch of Teen Vogue in 2003.

Astley currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

Genre: Fashion

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do you like having extra content available online?
2) Does Teen Vogue do a good job covering world issues and current events?
3) What was your favorite article in this issue?  Was there anything you didn’t like?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the magazine and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Try to get reviews of the magazine from teens who read it.

Selection: I wanted to include a teen magazine that a library might maintain a subscription for a young adult materials collection.

Extras:

Teen Vogue Official website and MySpace.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Magazine | | Leave a comment

Animal by Ke$ha

Title: Animal
Artist: Ke$ha
Label: RCA Records
Date: January 2010
Number of Tracks: 14
UPC: 886974920922

Summary: Animal is a collection of fast paced dance anthems from the singer Ke$ha. The chart topping lead single, “TiK ToK” is about the party lifestyle – staying out all night drinking and dancing.  The single “Blah Blah Blah” is meant to be subversive and question gender roles – it explicitly talks about men in the same way that women are treated by male singers (for instance, with the lyric “Just show me where your d***’s at”).  Her latest single, “Your Love is My Drug,” which Ke$ha reportedly wrote in ten minutes on an airplane, is lyrically what the title claims it is – a love song that proclaims that her significant other is like a drug to her.  This sentiment is echoed in the song “Stephen,” about her feelings for a guy who has a girlfriend – she sings “You’re my object of affection/My drug of choice/My sick obsession.”  The relationship-as-substance metaphor is carried over into her song “Hungover,” which is about the end of a relationship.

Critical Evaluation: I have to wonder what exactly Ke$ha is trying to say here.  She sings all these “bad girl” songs about partying and drugs, then says in interviews not to take her too seriously.  It seems to me that’s she’s trying hard to push this image of herself, but doesn’t back it up – and to me, she comes across as not genuine.  She has made these kind of ironic statements before, as even her stage name of Ke$ha with the dollar sign was created as a joke, since she recorded a hit song with “Flo Rida” yet didn’t have enough money to buy a taco (Source).

Some are offended by her references to drugs, although I almost wonder if these songs (particularly “Your Love is My Drug”) are actually anti-drug – by stating that this person is her drug, presumably she doesn’t need the real thing.  She has made subversive messages before, like in her song “Blah Blah Blah,” so maybe that’s her real point.  Or maybe she doesn’t have one.

Annotation: Ke$ha’s debut album Animal is full of danceable tracks and ballads, celebrating the partying lifestyle and relationships.

About the Artist: Kesha Rose Sebert, better known by her stage name Ke$ha, was born in Los Angeles, California in 1987.  She was raised by a single mother who was an aspiring singer and moved the family out to Nashville, Tennessee in 1991 to pursue a record deal.

In 2005, the Sebert family was on an episode of The Simple Life, the reality show featuring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.  Ke$ha earned her GED at the age of seventeen in order to move to Los Angeles and pursue music.  She got her start by singing backing vocals on songs like “Nothing in This World” by Paris Hilton and “Right Round” by Flo Rida, before being signed to RCA Records and producing her debut album, Animal.

Genre: Pop, Dance, Electronica

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do people look at Ke$ha as a role model?  What if she says not to take her seriously?
2) Do you have a favorite song from this album?
3) Are we influenced by song lyrics to try things like alcohol, or can we just dance to them?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: alcohol and drug references, sexual content, profanity

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the CD and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the CD from teens who have listened to it.

Selection: I decided to review Ke$ha because her music is receiving a lot of exposure and topping the charts, and will appeal to a teen audience since the singer herself is only 23.

Extras:

Ke$ha’s official website.

Music Video for TiK ToK:

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

Seventeen

Title: Seventeen
Editor-in-Chief: Ann Shoket
Company: Hearst Corporation

Summary: Celebrity gossip, fashion advice, makeup and relationship tips – Seventeen magazine has it all!  The magazine is divided into themed sections, with color coded borders that make it easy to flip to the articles you want, whether fashion, beauty, health, love life, or your life – which features interviews with real Seventeen readers!  The issue I reviewed, May 2010 (pictured), had themed articles within each section.  For instance, the fashion portion seemed to be primarily devoted to pages of shoes, and the beauty section was all about using self tanners and protecting your skin with sunscreen – a great lead in for summer.  Since it’s graduation season, there was advice on dating after high school, and tips on how to thrive at college.  It was also a “freebie” issue – chock full of giveaways, from gift cards and shoes to cameras, a bike, and even a computer!  The cover article was an interview of actress Shailene Woodley, from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and there were lots of other celebrity tidbits.

Critical Evaluation: I have to say it: Ads.  Lots of ads.  Of course, this is not surprising, but the ads and articles are so similarly formatted that it was sometimes hard to tell the difference (other times it was obvious they were intentionally juxtaposed – after Seventeen recommended a Clinique sunscreen in the self-tanner promoting article, the next page opened to a two-page spread advertising the exact same product).  I don’t have a big problem with marketing, I just hope that the teen readers are perceptive enough to view them with a critical eye.  There were some things I was pleased to see – I didn’t expect to find a health section, including a work out and some healthy eating tips.  They also had an article about teen pregnancy, which I thought was fairly balanced – they portrayed keeping the baby, putting it up for adoption, and abortion as equivalent options without placing judgment, and mentioned abstinence as a choice but promoted safe sex as an alternative.

Reader’s Annotation: Check out Seventeen magazine for fashion and makeup advice, relationship tips and even celebrity gossip!

Editor-in-Chief Information: Prior to her position at Seventeen, Ann Shoket was the Executive Editor of CosmoGIRL! magazine, where she developed the friends, love and celebrities sections.  She also worked as the Web Editorial Director of cosmogirl.com and redefined the magazine’s online presence.

“Shoket has a B.A., cum laude, from New York University and a certificate in Media Management from The New School. She currently lives in New York City.” (Source)

Genre: Alternate Formats, Non-Fiction, Relationships, Fashion

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) How does seeing so many advertisements make you feel?  Does it bother you?
2) How well do the headlines on the cover actually portray the content of the article?
3) Do you have a favorite section of the magazine?  Do you think they provide good advice?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: sexual content

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the magazine and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Try to get reviews of the magazine from teens who read it.

Selection: I wanted to include a magazine that was targeted to a teen audience.  I knew that Seventeen would be a good choice – I used to read it as a teen!

Extras:

Official website

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Magazine | , , , | 3 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.