Caroline the Future Librarian

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

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

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: A Northern Light
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Graphia
Date: September 2004
ISBN-13: 9780152053109

Plot Summary: Mathilda “Mattie” Gokey (called Matt by her closest friends) has had to take care of her large family ever since her mother died.  She loves writing fiction, and, encouraged by her teacher, Miss Wilcox, she has harbored the dream of attending Barnard College in New York City.  Even though she has been accepted to the school and offered a full scholarship, she knows that her family can’t afford to lose her – and she can’t even afford a train ticket to the city, and she might not even finish high school if her father keeps making her stay home and work.  Over the summer, she is employed at the Glenmore, a hotel on Big Moose Lake.  A guest named Grace Brown asks her to burn a packet of letters, but after Grace’s body is found in the lake after she went out boating with the man she was traveling with, Carl Grahm, Mattie can’t bring herself to destroy them.  Why are the letters addressed to Chester Gillette, not Carl Grahm, and what if Grace’s death was murder?

Critical Evaluation: A Northern Light manages to weave together multiple genres: mystery, historical fiction, and even true crime – the murder case that Mattie gets caught up in is based on an actual event that took place in 1906, and unlike Theodore Dreiser, who wrote about the case in his classic novel An American Tragedy, Donnelly chooses to keep the correct names and locations, even using some of the actual letters that were used in evidence during the trial.  The novel shifts back and forth in time, between Mattie’s summer on the lake, where the crime is unfolding, and the year before, when she had to help her father run the household and was accepted to Barnard.  Mattie, a writer, is a lover of language and has a practice of looking up a word in the family dictionary each day and teaching her siblings what it means, which Donnelly has a clever way of connecting back to the plot.

Reader’s Annotation: Mathilda “Mattie” Gokey is working at the Glenmore Hotel on Big Moose Lake for the summer, hoping to earn enough money to attend Barnard College in New York City.  When the body of one of the hotel guests is found in the lake, Mattie may hold the key to the mystery.

Author Information: “Jennifer Donnelly is the author of three novels: A Northern Light, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and Humble Pie, a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester.

Jennifer lives in Tivoli, NY with her husband, daughter and two fat rats, who were bought as dog substitutes when the family’s last greyhound went over the rainbow bridge, but have since become beloved pets in their own right…but still, it all feels a bit Addams family. As a child, Jennifer loved to write and often inflicted really dreadful poems and stories on her family and friends. She loved to read, too, and the high point of her grade-school week was a Saturday trip to the library.” (Source)

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Do you think there is a similarity between Mattie’s relationship with Royal and Grace’s relationship with Chester?
2) Talk about how Mattie’s vocabulary exercise connected with the plot.
3) Compare A Northern Light to the book An American Tragedy or the film A Place in the Sun, also based on the 1906 Big Moose Lake murder.
4) Think of other fiction titles that incorporate real historical events.

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: mild profanity

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 from School Library Journal and Booklist available for viewing on Amazon.com.

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

Selection: I wanted to add more mysteries to my collection, and chose this one because of the historical setting, and because it is based on a real murder.

Extras:

Jennifer Donnelly’s website.

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

Skate 2

Name: Skate 2
Developer: Electronic Arts
Platform: Playstation 3
Date: January 2009
ESRB Rating: Teen
UPC: 014633154528

Summary: Welcome to New San Vanelona, or New San Van for short.  It’s a skater’s paradise, or at least it would be if there weren’t security guards chasing you in all the best areas to skate.  Pull out your board and start practicing if you ever want to get sponsored and go pro!  Enter skate contents and complete missions in order to earn money at the skate shops, to adorn your player with gear from real skate companies.  Even if you’re not that skillful yet, you can still earn money – by managing to get injured in epic ways, like falling from a tall building.  When you’re getting better at advanced moves, head to any of the several local skate parks to really challenge yourself on the obstacles.  And make sure to play on story mode in order to unlock more gear and locations.  And remember, don’t let those security guards catch you!

Critical Evaluation: This skateboarding video game is a little challenging for the novice gamer – rather than just a combination of buttons, you really have to know how to use the joystick to execute more complicated moves.  Your technique as a player mimics how you would learn the skill on a real board – you can start by skating around on the streets, with fewer obstacles, and learning basic tricks, then progressing up to the challenging skate parks and more advanced moves.  There are even skating contests based on real competitions, like the Maloof Money Cup and Goofy vs. Regular.  Certain elements of game play seem realistic, too, like when you repeatedly fall off your board, your pants start getting dirty and your elbow gets scraped up.  If you do something crazy like skate off a skyscraper, you will not land on your board (like in the Tony Hawk games) – you are going to crash.  But at least you’ll earn money from the “Hall of Meat,” which rewards you for getting injured.  Now that’s not a lesson you’d want to transfer back into real life…

Annotation: Welcome to New San Vanelona, a skater’s paradise – except for the security guards.  Grab your board and start practicing if you ever expect to go pro!

Company Information: Founded in 1982, Electronic Arts, Inc. develops and distributes video games.  The most successful products are the sports related games under the EA Sports label, but they are also the publishers of popular franchises like The Sims.  They are distributors of the game Rock Band.

The CEO of Electronic Arts, Inc. is John Riccitiello, and the company is headquartered in Redwood City, California.

Genre: Sports

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Are there certain times when you’d rather virtually skateboard than actually skateboard?
2) What parts of this game are realistic?  What is unrealistic?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: alcohol reference, language, mild violence, suggestive themes

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: This game was recommended to me by my teen cousin as one of his favorite games.

Extras:

Official Skate website.

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

Street Fighter IV

Name: Street Fighter IV
Developer: Capcom
Platform: Playstation 3
Date: February 2009
ESRB Rating: Teen
UPC: 013388340095

Summary: Let’s get ready to rumble!  Street Fighter IV is the ultimate street fighting game – it allows you to pick your character (with customizable options that let you change their outfit colors and set a handicap level), and pick an arena for your street fighting match.  Street Fighter IV features familiar characters from earlier versions in the Street Fighter series, such as Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li, as well as introduces new fighters, like super spy Crimson Viper and mixed martial artist Abel.  Each character has different strengths, weaknesses, and attack moves, so there are countless combinations of match-ups between the characters, allowing for hours of fun playing time.  There is a wide selection of match locations, from a crowded parking lot outside a diner at night to a secluded tropical bay, and new special moves to keep the matches interesting.  Street Fighter IV will appeal to any gamer who enjoys the Street Fighter canon, and it will interest new fans of the game as well.

Critical Evaluation: Street Fighter IV is a worthy addition to the Street Fighter line of games, and it combines nostalgic elements from earlier editions with enough new material to appeal to both old and new fans of the franchise.  One of my favorite features was the use of 3D effects – although the game primarily operates in a 2D field, like past Street Fighter games, it also incorporated 3D animation when introducing the characters and environments, although the style in general was a little too cartoony for my personal taste and the movements of the 3D characters seemed a little too unnatural.  I thought the outfits for the female fighters were unnecessarily suggestive – why aren’t they wearing pants? – but I realize this is somewhat standard for this genre of game.  In general, this is one of my favorite types of video games, because even if you are just pressing buttons at random you can hold your own!

Annotation: It’s time for the ultimate street fighting match!  In Street Fighter IV, pick your character, arena, and start fighting!

Company Information: Capcom Co., Ltd. is a Japanese developer and publisher of video games.  Founded in 1979 as Japan Capsule Computers, Capcom has created game franchises such as the Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Dead Rising series.

The CEO of Capcom Co., Ltd. is Kenzo Tsujimoto, and the company is headquartered in Osaka, Japan.

Genre: Action, Fighting

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Do violent video games actually have any negative effects on gamers?
2) How does Street Fighter IV compare with earlier Street Fighter games?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: violence, suggestive themes

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 asked my closest teen gamer (my cousin) for some game suggestions to review, and this was one of his recommendations.

Extras:

Street Fighter IV official website

Capcom US official website

Trailer for Street Fighter IV:

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