Caroline the Future Librarian

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

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