Caroline the Future Librarian

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

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

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

The Ultimate Teen Book Guide

Title: The Ultimate Teen Book Guide
Editors: Daniel Hahn, Leonie Flynn, and Susan Reuben
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Date: December 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0802797315

Summary: Are you looking for something to read but need help finding it?  The Ultimate Teen Book Guide is here to help!  Dozens of contributors, from avid teen readers to well known authors, have contributed over 700 reviews of great books for young adults to read.  The reviews are arranged in alphabetical order by title, so it’s easy to look up specific books.  Each book has a suggested reader age (from 12+ to 16+), a short synopsis of the book, and every single review has similar titles to recommend, so if you enjoyed the reviewed book you have an idea of what to read next.  In addition to being a great source for finding books to read, there is also lots of information on popular genres, written by the experts – young adult authors.  There are even top ten lists of recommended books within each genre.  With this guide next to you, you’ll never again have trouble finding something to read!

Critical Evaluation: I wish I found this book earlier in the semester – it really has great suggestions in a variety of genres, and the age guidelines are helpful for knowing whether a book is appropriate for an older teen audience.  The read alikes suggestions that accompany each review would be really helpful if there was a book I loved and wanted to read more like it.  I think having this guide in a library collection would be great both for kids to check out, but also for librarians to use as a resource for helping teens pick books.  I did notice that many of the books were adult crossovers – in other words, they are novels originally written for adults that had become popular with young adult readers – such as The Lovely Bones and Black Hawk Down, so the guide doesn’t exclusively include books written for a young adult audience.  My worry about this book is that it will become dated – at this point it has some recent titles, but since it was written three years ago it has already missed some great new books.  It would be great if a resource like this could be available online and frequently updated.

Reader’s Annotation: With over 700 reviews of great reads, The Ultimate Teen Book Guide will make sure that you never again have trouble finding a book to read!

Editor Information: “Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor, and translator.  His writing includes a history book about a zoo, called The Tower Menagerie, which is a slightly odd kind of book.  As an editor he has worked with Leonie and Susan on this award-winning series of Ultimate Book Guides (a set of three that began in the UK) about reading for young people, and with several other people on lots of other reference books about many other things.”

“His recent translations include two Angolan novels and the autobiography of Brazilian soccer player Pelé.  He also works regularly with Shakespeare’s Globe and Human Rights Watch.  Daniel lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England.” (Biographical Information from The Ultimate Teen Book Guide)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Curriculum Ties: English, Reading

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Is it helpful to have a guide like this to choose books to read?
2) Do you prefer to read within certain genres or do you like to try all kinds of books?
3) When you read a good book, do you like knowing what titles will be similar?

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 chose to include this guide because it is a resource geared specifically for teens (well, or anyone who loves reading YA lit) and would fit in with a young adult collection.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Books | | Leave a comment

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Title: Go Ask Alice
Author: Anonymous
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: December 2005
ISBN-13: 9781416914631

Plot Summary: Originally published in 1971, Go Ask Alice claims to be the real diary of an unknown teenage girl that died of a drug overdose when she was 16-years-old.  In entries that span about one and a half years, the unnamed narrator (not named Alice – there is only one mention of the name Alice as a minor acquaintance of the author) chronicles her descent from a happy and normal adolescence into a crippling addiction to drugs, and the dangerous behavior she displays while on them.  Her first drug use was at a party, when she was unknowingly given a soda laced with LSD, and the beautiful trip she experienced hooked her and piqued her interest in trying other drugs.  She becomes addicted and is forced to start dealing drugs in order to maintain her lifestyle.  Throughout the book she claims that she wants to quit, but is irresistibly drawn back into it.  She runs away to San Francisco with a fellow addict before returning home a few months later, and at another point she hitchhikes into Denver, Colorado, while high.  After a bad trip following the death of her grandparents, she is finally determined to quit drugs and seems to be doing better, when she dies of an overdose.

Critical Evaluation: I can see why this book has been a popular choice for teen readers over the last few decades (it has almost been 40 years since the first printing!).  In the same way that A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer remains a popular title for young adults who are interesting in reading about a (supposedly) true story of child abuse, Go Ask Alice allows teens to vicariously experience the highs and lows of taking drugs, including detailed descriptions of how wonderful acid trips are supposed to be.  As a teen, I probably would have been fascinated by this book, on a subject completely foreign to me (although many teen readers may have had more experience in this department and responded to the book for different reasons).  As an adult reading it, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the feeling that I can’t quite believe this is a real diary (not that young adults wouldn’t be perceptive enough to pick up on this, but speaking from my own experience I was better at ignoring my critical thinking as a teen than I am now).  I would probably include this in a library collection for young adults if for no other reason that I’m sure there will be requests for it.  I’m not sure I would ever recommend it for a teen – it’s just not that good of a book.

Reader’s Annotation: This supposedly real diary of a teenage girl chronicles her descent into drug addiction.

Author Information: If, as we are meant to believe, this book is non-fiction, then the author is an unknown teenager that died of an overdose.

More likely, the “editor” of the book, Beatrice Sparks, either partially or completely wrote the diary.  Born in Goldburg, Idaho, in 1918, Sparks studied at UCLA and Brigham Young University before working as a youth counselor and therapist, starting in 1955.  A devout Mormon, Sparks has written a series of supposedly “real” diaries about troubled adolescents to serve as cautionary tales.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Fiction

Curriculum Ties: Drug education

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Why does it seem so hard for her to quit taking drugs?
2) Does it matter if the diary is real or not?  Why?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: drug use, sexual content, rape

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: I selected this book because I knew it was a popular title for young adults over the last few decades.  I wanted to include a biography or memoir in the collection, but I find it hard to believe that this book is actually non-fiction.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Books | , , | 1 Comment

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

Title: Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Publisher: Collins
Date: September 2006
ISBN-13: 9780060519605

Summary: In this book, bestselling young adult author Gail Carson Levine gives her tips about the craft of writing.  It’s like participating in a writer’s workshop in a book!  Levine offers advice about every stage of the writing process, from coming up with ideas to creating characters, writing dialogue, making revisions, and even how to get your work published!  She is very clear with the message that we should never discard any of our writing, even if we don’t like it, because we never know when we might want to revisit it – she advises waiting 15 years before tossing anything out!  Her advice to write often, whether or not it is any good, will hopefully allow teens to be less self-conscious about their work.  Each chapter ends with a handful of writing exercises and prompts which are meant to be worked on and built up as you progress through the book (for instance, a practice dialogue that you write for one chapter is revisited later when you add information like body language to the scene).

Critical Evaluation: When you want to improve a certain skill, you want to make sure that you’re taking advice from someone who knows that subject well.  That’s why it’s so great that Gail Carson Levine has written this writing guide – teens will know her from her books like Ella Enchanted and Fairest and will trust her tips about writing.  In addition to offering sound advice and providing creative prompts to practice on, Levine also shared examples from her life and writing career, making the information more personal and keeping this book from feeling too much like an English lesson.  You can tell that she really wants to nurture young writers – she is adamant that we shouldn’t discourage ourselves or be overly critical of our writing, and even asks us to let her know if we are writing so that she can root for us.  Overall, a great and informative read with practical advice for writers of all ages (but particularly young adults) that would be a strong addition to any library collection.

Reader’s Annotation: Bestselling young adult author Gail Carson Levine shares some of her tricks of the trade for aspiring young writers.

Author Information: “Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life.  For many years, she has taught creative writing to children in a workshop that inspired this book.  Gail’s first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book.  Her other books include Fairest; Dave at Night, and ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; and her Princess Tales books.  She is also the author of the picture book Betsy Who Cried Wolf, illustrated by Scott Nash.

Gail, her husband, David, and their Airedale, Baxter, live in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.” (Biographical Information from the jacket of Writing Magic)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing

Curriculum Ties: Creative Writing

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Did you practice writing with the prompts throughout the book?  Which exercises did you find difficult?  Which came naturally?
2) Do you have a friend that you trust to give you constructive feedback on your writing?
3) Would you be interested in starting or joining a writer’s group?

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 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 chose this book because I love Gail Carson Levine’s work and I thought her advice on writing would be invaluable to aspiring young adult writers.

Extras:

Gail Carson Levine’s website and blog.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Books | , | Leave a comment

Wish You Were Here by Leslie Simon

Title: Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes – From Punk to Indie and Everything In Between
Author: Leslie Simon
Publisher: It Books
Date: April 2009
ISBN-10: 006157371X

Summary: After reading this book, you’ll feel as though you took a whirlwind musical tour through eleven spots spread throughout the US.  From Seattle to New York, and even Lawrence, Kansas, author Leslie Simon goes into depth for each music scene and informs us why we should be interested.  For each location, Simon starts with the history of the local music scene, focusing on the bands that contributed to the punk-rock or emo genres.  This is followed by a suggested album list of bands from that location, giving detailed explanations for why each album is essential.  A travel guide portion lists some hot local spots to check out, mostly (but not exclusively) related to the music scene.  And for each location, there is a “Moment of Silence” to pay tribute to a local venue that has fallen on hard times – or even been converted into a Starbucks, like the D.C. Space in Washington D.C.  You’ll feel informed about the history of the underground music scene, plus you’ll know the cool hangouts in each city.  A must-read for any music lover.

Critical Evaluation:  Far from being a dry history and travel guide, Simon’s treatment of the subject is infused with interesting pop-culture tidbits and humorous side articles (“Which Seattle Scenester Are You?” asks you to pick between five types of scenesters, from the Intellectual Indie Scenester to the Prematurely Balding Hard-Core Scenester).  Her knowledge of the underground music scene is vast, and I learned a ton that I didn’t know about the local music from the Bay Area (I thought it was fun to check out the suggested local spots she recommended visiting – she even mentioned one of my favorite pizza places in Berkeley!).  The book is illustrated by Rob Dobi, and his “could have been printed in a graphic novel” style drawings really brought the music scene to life on the pages.  My only complaint is that it was too short – after reading her evaluations of eleven locations throughout the country, I wanted to keep reading her take on the American music scene!

Reader’s Annotation: With this guide to the underground music scene, you’ll learn the history and top bands to listen to from eleven locations throughout the US, from Washington D.C. to Seattle, Washington, and even Lawrence, Kansas.

Author Information: Leslie Simon is author of Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide To Your Favorite Music Scenes—From Punk To Indie And Everything In Between. She is also the co-author of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. Her work has appeared in Kerrang! and Alternative Press, in addition to the online pages of Metromix and MTV Buzzworthy.

She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she is determined to stalk Zach Galifianakis until he marries her—or he gets a restraining order. Whichever happens first. (Source)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Music

Curriculum Ties: Music

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Is your local music scene described in this book?  If so, did you learn anything new about it?  If not, what do you know about the history of the music scene in your area?
2) Why do certain areas seem to inspire thriving musical scenes?  Does location really matter?
3) If you could pick one location out of the book to visit, which would it be and why?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

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: I was looking for more non-fiction titles to include in my collection and I chose this one because I think young adults are very interested in music and would want to learn more about the history of movements like punk and emo.

Extras:

Leslie Simon’s blog

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Books | , | Leave a comment

Skater Girl by Patty Segovia and Rebecca Heller

Title: Skater Girl: A Girl’s Guide to Skateboarding
Author: Patty Segovia and Rebecca Heller
Publisher: Ulysses Press
Date: December 2006
ISBN-13: 978-1569755426

Summary: Skater Girl is a complete guide for introducing girls to the world of skateboarding.  After presenting a top ten list of why skateboarding is a great sport, it begins with the basics – making sure you understand the equipment, from the deck of the board to making informed decisions about what kinds of wheels to get, and advising you to invest in good quality safety gear.  Different kinds of terrain, from the street to the skate park, are compared, and tips are given on finding safe places to skate.  Much of the book is dedicated to providing step-by-step instructions for different skate moves, from the most basic to advanced tricks.  They even give a detailed explanation on how to fall correctly!  The book concludes by reiterating some of the earlier advice (wear a helmet!) and with a history of women’s skateboarding from the 1950s to the present.  A helpful glossary is located at the back so you can learn the lingo, and lots of resources and information is scattered throughout the book.

Critical Evaluation: This book is definitely a comprehensive resource for any girl who is interested in learning how to skateboard.  They offer experienced advice on what kinds of products to look for and which brands are reputable, and the list of resources they offer for each detail, from where to find a deck to what skate camp to sign up for, is extensive.  When a new trick is described, they go into a lot of detail explaining exactly how you should execute the move, and the description is accompanied by a series of helpful photographs.  I was really impressed by the level of detail in the book – the authors really thought of every aspect of promoting a safe skating lifestyle, including taking the time to stretch before you ride, eat healthily and avoid processed foods, and even avoiding smoking.  As the owner of a custom longboard that I purchased on a whim a few years ago and have somehow never managed to learn to ride, this book inspired me to pull out my board and get more comfortable on it!

Reader’s Annotation: Girls can skateboard too, and this guide will help you pick out your board and safety equipment, and even teach you some tricks to try out.

Author Information: Patty Segovia is the founder of the All Girl Skate Jam, which began in 1997 and takes a 50-city tour every year.  In addition to skating, she is a photographer, producer, agent, and author – she frequently shoots for Sports Illustrated for Women and The New York Times.  Her other books include On the Edge: Snowboarding, On the Edge: Skateboarding, and Skate Girls.

Rebecca Heller is primarily a surfer and helps run the website Surf Like a Girl.  She is also the author of Surf Like a Girl: The Surfer Girl’s Ultimate Guide to Paddling Out, Catching a Wave and Surfing with Aloha.  She lives in Los Angeles.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Sports

Curriculum Ties: Physical Education

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Why is it so important to wear the right safety gear?
2) Different types of boards and skating activities are described in the book – do you think you’d be more interested in cruising around or learning how to do cool tricks?
3) Is it important to promote girls in a sport like skateboarding?

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 non-fiction titles that would be relevant for a teen library collection and I chose this one because it encourages girls to try an activity that is stereotypically male.

Extras:

All Girl Skate Jam website

All Girl Skate Jam on MySpace

Patty Segovia talking about the importance of skateboarding for girls and women:

May 9, 2010 Posted by | Books | , | Leave a comment