Caroline the Future Librarian

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

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Speak
Date: February 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0142415573

Plot Summary: In eighth grade, Lia and her best friend Cassie made the same New Year’s resolution – to be the skinniest girl at their school.  Four years later, Cassie, who had developed severe bulimia, has died, alone in a motel, and Lia, who hadn’t even talked to her old friend in months, is battling her own demons and trying to hide her anorexia from her concerned family.  Lia, who has already been hospitalized twice because of her eating disorder, is a pro at hiding her condition – even wearing a robe with weights in the pockets when her stepmother records her weight each day.  She plans ahead to limit her caloric intake (if she eats a light dinner with her family, they might not suspect – and she can cut down breakfast and lunch the next day), and she works to achieve her ideal weight…a number that keeps shifting lower.  Now Cassie’s ghost keeps visiting her – is Lia on a path to the same fate?

Critical Evaluation: Anderson’s book really puts the reader into the mind of a girl suffering from anorexia.  When Lia thinks about the food she is offered (or that she witnesses her friends and family eating), she automatically calculates the number of calories in her head, so she can choose carefully which items she is willing to eat.  Anderson has a clever technique for helping us witness the level of control Lia exercises over her thoughts: When she thinks about certain characters, we see her immediate response, which is crossed out, and what she chooses to call them (for example, she talks about “my stepmother Jennifer” and “my mother Dr. Marrigan” – very revealing of how she is trying to distance herself from her mother and accept her stepmother).  This also reveals how she thinks about food, when her body and mind disagree (of cereal, she thinks “I could eat the entire box I probably won’t even fill the bowl”).  The novel is a fascinating peek into her distorted perspective – I just fear that teens in the same condition may read it and feel validated.

Reader’s Annotation: Even after her friend Cassie dies from bulimia, Lia doesn’t seek help for her anorexia, and continues trying to reach an ever decreasing ideal weight.  Will she experience the same fate as Cassie?

Author Information: Born in Potsam, New York, in 1961, Laurie Halse Anderson writes novels both for children and young adults.  She is best known for her 1999 novel Speak, about a teen who was raped at a party and doesn’t feel like she can talk about the experience with anyone, which was adapted into a 2004 film of the same title.

“Laurie lives in Northern New York, with her childhood sweetheart, now husband, Scot.  She has four wonderful children and a neurotic dog, all of whom she dearly loves.  When not enjoying her family and her large garden, she spends countless hours writing in a woodland cottage designed and built just for that purpose by her Beloved Husband.  She also likes to train for marathons, hike in the mountains, and try to coax tomatoes out of the rocky soil in her backyard.” (Source)

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Issues

Curriculum Ties: Health, Nutrition, Psychology

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Do you think Lia was really being haunted by Cassie or was it a hallucination?
2) Was Lia really in control of herself or was her disorder controlling her?
3) Discuss whether this book could be triggering for some readers – for example, when Lia talks about her unhealthy weight goals, could some readers aspire for that?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: May be triggering

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: This book was recommended to me and I wanted to include it because I think it addresses a very important issue, particularly for teens.

Extras:

Laurie Halse Anderson’s website.

Book Trailer for Wintergirls:

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May 13, 2010 Posted by | Books | , | Leave a comment

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Title: Parrotfish
Author: Ellen Wittlinger
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Date: July 2007
ISBN-13: 9781416916222

Plot Summary: When Angela decides to make a change that feels right – to start living as a boy called Grady – he can’t believe that changing one small detail about your identity makes everything different.  His sister thinks he’s a freak, his mother can’t stop freaking out, and even his best friend, Eve, doesn’t want to be seen with him anymore.  And a bully at school named Danya has made it her personal mission to attack and abuse Grady.  Fortunately, there are more understanding kids who become his new friends, including Sebastian, a geeky classmate who thinks that Grady’s transformation is cool, and Kita, a gorgeous and understanding senior on whom Grady develops a huge crush.  Meanwhile, Grady is still figuring out what being a boy actually means, and trying to figure out whether he should act like a stereotypical male or just be true to himself.

Critical Evaluation: Parrotfish is told in the first-person from Grady’s perspective, an often sharp or sarcastic commentary on life that sometimes manifests itself in short imaginary scripted dialogues where Grady pretends that everyone frankly says what they are really feeling.  There are some good questions raised in this book – not only what would the experience of changing one’s gender in high school look like, but also why does our society place such strict gender roles on us in the first place, and what would it look like if we rejected the notion of what a male or female should be and just acted like ourselves?  I think this book is important for young adult literature for starting this discussion, and hopefully creating more understanding about this subject – I just wish that I liked the book more.  Some of the characters were just ridiculous (especially her Christmas obsessed father who is too clueless to know where to find the dishes in his own house), and even though the novel is only three years old, the pop culture references already feel dated (Paris Hilton as the paragon of femininity?).  Which is a shame, because I think the message of the novel needs to be heard.  Hopefully more young adult novelists will continue to approach this subject and keep the discussion relevant.

Reader’s Annotation: Angela just made one change – to start living as a boy called Grady – and suddenly everything is different.  Can’t everyone understand that he’s still the same person?

Author Information: Ellen Wittlinger was born in 1948 in Belleville, Illinois.  Her parents owned a grocery store attached to their house, so she spent time helping out around the shop.  She went to Millikin University in Decatur and moved out to Ashland, Oregon after graduation, before earning her M.F.A. at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa.  A book of her poetry, called Breakers, was published in 1979.

She spent a two year fellowship in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and tried her hand at playwriting.  Wittlinger eventually became a children’s librarian, and had two children (Kate and Morgan), and decided to try her hand at writing young adult fiction.  Her first YA novel, Lombardo’s Law, was published in 1993.  Wittlinger currently lives with her husband, two cats and dog in a Victorian house in western Massachusetts.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Issues, GLBT

Curriculum Ties: Gender, Sociology

Booktalking Ideas:
1) If Grady is still the same person and has only changed one detail, why do you think his friends and family have such a hard time understanding that?
2) Discuss the differences between gender and sex.
3) Did this book help you understand more about what it means to be transgendered?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: very minor sexual content, some people will find the subject controversial

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: This book was assigned for this course and is important for this collection because I want to include books on GLBT issues.

Extras:

Ellen Wittlinger’s website.

Parrotfish discussion questions.

GLBT National Help Center

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

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Title: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Studio: Sony Pictures
Date: October 2008
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 89 minutes
UPC: 043396253032

Plot Summary: Nick, who is heartbroken after being dumped by his girlfriend, Tris, is convinced by his friends to go out to their concert in the city.  Norah, who goes to school with Tris, has never met him but admires Nick’s taste in music from the mix tapes he made that Tris discarded.  When they all end up in the same club, Norah grabs Nick and asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend, not realizing that he is Tris’s ex-boyfriend.  Nick’s friends are desperate for him to get over being dumped and encourage him to go out with Norah while they promise to take Norah’s drunk friend, Caroline, back home.  Nick and Norah head out on a search for their favorite band, Where’s Fluffy, which is rumored to be playing somewhere in the city.  Complications arise when Caroline goes missing, Tris decides she is still interested in Nick, and the secret concert proves difficult to find.

Critical Evaluation: I was initially reluctant to watch this film, put off by the pretentious sounding title (which it shares with the young adult novel that it is based on, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan), and I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet love story that it tells.  While they are clearly high school students (we see Norah at her locker wearing her private school uniform), they live an enviable life without adults or curfews and are allowed the luxury of spending an entire night out in New York City, in pursuit of music and love.  Actor Michael Cera, who always seems to play the same slightly goofy and awkward character in all of his projects, portrays an endearing Nick, and we are rooting for him to end up with the right girl at the end of the night.  And although I definitely don’t condone underage drinking, the scenes with a drunken Caroline wandering around the city were laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Annotation: Norah wants to prove to her classmate Tris that she has a boyfriend, so she grabs Nick at a concert and kisses him, not realizing that he is Tris’s ex.  An all-night adventure through New York City ensues.

About the Director: Peter Sollett was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a newspaper photographer.  After studying film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he wrote the screenplay and directed the semi-autobiographical film Raising Victor Vargas about characters from the Italian-Jewish neighborhood where he grew up, originally seen in his short film Five Feet High and Rising.  Sollett currently is a faculty member of Columbia University School of the Arts.

Speaking about how he relates to the plot of Nick & Norah, Sollett says, “When I was 20, I met a girl in Manhattan — I was going to NYU at the time. I was living in Staten Island; she was living in Manhattan. I would commute in every night to spend the evening with her but didn’t have a place to stay. So I would sort of stay until 2, 3, 4, 5 and then go home and go to work the next day. So I just really identified with what these characters were experiencing.” (Source)

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Relationships

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) Is their search for the band Where’s Fluffy symbolic of anything?  What are they really searching for?
2) Compare Nick’s feelings for Tris and Norah as the movie progresses.
3) Does New York City serve as a character in the film?  How would it be different if it was set in Chicago or London?
4) Is music a good indicator of whether people are compatible?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: underage drinking, profanity, sexual content, reckless driving

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the film 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 film from teens who have viewed it.

Selection: I picked this movie for the collection because it was a recent film about high school kids.  Although I was initially reluctant to watch it, I had heard some positive reviews from friends and decided to try it.  I especially think it would be good for a library collection because it is based on a novel.

Extras:

Official Movie Website

Nick & Norah at IMDB.com

Trailer for Nick & Norah:

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Movies | , | Leave a comment

Ghost World

Title: Ghost World
Studio: MGM
Date: February 2002
Rating: R
Runtime: 111 minutes
UPC: 027616867650

Plot Summary: After graduating from high school, social misfits and best friends Enid and Becky have plans to get jobs and move into an apartment together.  Forced to take a summer art class in order to complete all her graduation requirements, Enid’s sarcastic and apathetic attitude make it difficult for her to find (and keep) a job, while the more sociable Becky is determined to achieve her goal.  After they pull a prank on a local man named Seymour, Enid finds his social awkwardness appealing and befriends him, becoming interested in his hobby of record collecting.  She tries to help him build his confidence and find him a date, but her plan backfires when his new girlfriend disapproves of him hanging out with Enid.  Unstimulated in art class, increasingly distant from Becky, and avoided by Seymour, Enid realizes that she hates how her life is turning out and would just like to escape from it.

Critical Evaluation: Based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes (who adapted it into a screenplay), Ghost World is set in the early 90s in suburban Southern California.  I reviewed this film hoping that it would be a good fit for a current young adult materials collection in a library, but I have to say I think it would be a rare teen that would be interested in it.  While outcasts and misfits make compelling protagonists, Enid and Becky were unnaturally sophisticated and alienating, interesting yet unrelatable characters.  The tagline for the film is “Accentuate the negative” – exactly how the main characters behave, delivering biting commentary about their environment and the people around them.  I liked Enid for being unapologetically herself, and especially enjoyed the moments when her façade of maturity cracked (for example, her giggling behavior in a sex shop), but overall I can’t imagine myself enjoying this movie as a teen.  You know you’re watching an odd film when Steve Buscemi’s character is the most relatable.

Annotation: During the summer after her high school graduation, Enid becomes increasingly distant from her best friend, Becky, and strikes up a friendship with an awkward older man.

About the Director: Born in 1949 in Appleton, Wisconsin, Terry Zwigoff is an American director that specializes in small budget films, often based on alternative (not mainstream) comics.  He moved to San Francisco in the 1970s and met Robert Crumb, the founder of an underground comics movement, sparking his interest in the genre.  In addition to Ghost World, based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, he directed a documentary about Crumb.  He also directed the dark comedy Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton.

Like the character Seymour, Zwigoff is an avid collector of 78 records, especially jazz and blues.  He plays the cello and mandolin (in fact, he once played in a string band with Robert Crumb) and is currently a member of The Excitement Boys, an instrumental trio based out of San Francisco.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Discussion Ideas:
1) At which point does Enid start viewing Seymour as her hero instead of someone to be mocked?
2) What did you think about Enid’s controversial contribution to her art class?
3) Did you relate to Enid and Becky?  In what ways?
4) Was the ending optimistic or not?

Interest Age: 16 and older

Challenge Issues: alcohol, profanity, sexual content

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the film 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 film from teens who have viewed it.

Selection: I was familiar with the graphic novel and had wanted to see the film for some time.  I knew that it had become something of a cult film and thought it might appeal to certain teens.

Extras:

Official Movie Website

Ghost World at IMDB.com

Trailer for Ghost World:

May 6, 2010 Posted by | Movies | | Leave a comment

Speak

Title: Speak
Studio: Showtime Entertainment
Date: September 2005
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes
UPC: 758445115925

Plot Summary: Melinda Sordino enters her freshmen year of high school shunned by her classmates who label her a “squealer” for calling the police to a house party over the summer.  The truth, which she can’t come to terms with, and hasn’t told anyone, is that she was raped at the party by a popular upperclassman.  Melinda spends the year as a selective mute, unable to share the truth about what happened, and unable to connect with her old friends or her parents, who are occupied with work (and her father’s unemployment) and are clueless about reaching out to their daughter.

Melinda finds refuge in her art class, where she is assigned to study the subject of trees in her projects through the year.  Although she doesn’t confide in her teacher, she uses her assignment as a form of expression, an outlet she desperately needs.  She also converts an unused janitor’s closet into a safe haven where she can retreat during breaks.  As the school year comes to an end, she finally finds the courage to speak out about her experience.

Critical Evaluation: This 2004 film, based on Laurie Halse Anderson’s 1999 novel of the same name, features a very young, pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart as the lead, who has such a remarkable performance that it’s hard to believe that she was only 13-years-old when she filmed this role.  The message of the film is very clear – both that it is important to speak out about these kinds of experiences (in addition to rape, the message can extend to abusive relationships and bullying), and also that it is difficult for victims to do so.  The film, directed by Jessica Sharzer, handles the heavy topic with care, revealing the truth about Melinda’s experience in an effective series of flashbacks, and also providing lighter moments (for instance, the Sordino family’s attempt at hastily defrosting their Thanksgiving turkey leads to her father absurdly trying to break it into pieces with an ax).  The original novel is considered an important contribution to the YA canon (it was named the School Library Journal’s Best Book of the Year in 1999), and the film does it justice.

Annotation: Melinda Sordino’s enters her freshmen year of high school shunned by her classmates, who don’t understand that she called the cops on a house party over the summer because she was raped.

About the Director: Jessica Sharzer made her directorial feature debut with Speak, based on the acclaimed best-selling novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. The film premiered at Sundance in 2004 and was later simulcast on Lifetime and Showtime in an unprecedented network event. Speak was nominated for both a Writers Guild Award and a Directors Guild Award in 2005. Sharzer has written screenplays for Universal, Showtime, HBO Films, and Endgame Entertainment. In television, she wrote a one-hour drama pilot for FOX with Ashton Kutcher’s company Katalyst and a Nashville-set drama pilot for CBS. She has also directed Showtime’s acclaimed drama The L Word.

Currently, Ms. Sharzer is completing Timber, based on the true story of activists Darryl Cherney and Judi Bari, for director Michael Apted. She is also attached to direct Cruddy, based on Lynda Barry’s cult novel, with Betty Thomas producing and Thomas Haden Church to star. Sharzer holds an MA in Russian Literature from Berkeley and an MFA in Film & Television from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her thesis film The Wormhole won various grants and awards including the Student Academy Award in 2002.

Jessica Sharzer was awarded a Production grant at NYU in 2001 for The Wormhole. (Source)

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Issues

Curriculum Ties: Could be viewed in any course that has discussions about depression, rape, bullying, etc. (examples include health and psychology classes).

Discussion Ideas:
1) What made it so hard for Melinda to talk about what happened?
2) Did her family and friends have a responsibility to find out what was wrong?
3) If you were in a similar situation, would you talk about it?  What might be some reasons that you wouldn’t?
4) Think of examples of people that it would be safe to tell (for example – parents, teacher, guidance counselor, etc.)

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: rape, depression, bullying, alcohol

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the film 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 film from teens who have viewed it.

Selection: I read and loved the novel years ago, and was interested in viewing the movie version.

Extras:

Speak at IMDB.com.

“Speaking Out” – Laurie Halse Anderson on writing Speak (The ALAN Review)

Trailer for “Speak”:

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Movies | , | 1 Comment

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Audiobook)

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publisher: Recorded Books
Date: January 2006
ISBN-13: 9781419387241

Plot Summary: In a series of letters to an unknown recipient, a teenager named Charlie describes the events that take place in his first year of high school.  After the suicide of his best friend, Michael, Charlie starts high school without a group of friends.  After meeting Patrick in his shop class, Charlie starts hanging out with a group of seniors that include Patrick’s step-sister Sam, on whom Charlie develops a crush.  They draw him into their activities, including a weekly performance of The Rocky Horror Show.

Charlie tends to be introverted and thoughtful, and his letters tend to be his observations about his experiences – thus his status as a “wallflower.”  By the end of the story, his friends, most of whom are heading off to college, encourage him to become more actively involved in life.  Charlie also becomes aware of a repressed memory that profoundly affects him.  This controversial novel addresses topics such as drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, abortion and rape.

Critical Evaluation: Although it might not seem like a book about a high school freshman would appeal to an older teen audience, sixteen-year-old Charlie is confronted with mature situations and controversial issues that interest an older age group than the protagonist.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, published by MTV in 1999, has remained a popular coming-of-age novel for the past decade (and one of the most frequently challenged) – while specific examples of popular music might sound dated (especially considering that the setting is the early 1990s, so it was dated even at the time of publication), the issues it addresses are timeless and quintessentially adolescent.

The audiobook production that I listened to was narrated by Johnny Heller, an award-winning narrator, who didn’t sound convincingly teenaged but did a passable job.  I know that this title is very popular among teenagers (I work in a bookstore and it is requested all the time), but I wasn’t very impressed by it.  Charlie is reported to be some kind of genius, as evidenced by his relationship with English teacher, Bill, who assigns him additional books to read and review, including The Catcher in the Rye and On the Road, but his descriptions of events are so simplistic that he sounds more like a remedial student.  I wasn’t inspired, but then again, I don’t like The Catcher in the Rye, so maybe I’m not the intended audience.

Reader’s Annotation: During his first year of high school, Charlie, who tends to be a wallflower and observe life rather than participate, becomes friends with a group of seniors who broaden his perspective by introducing him to sex, drugs and rock and roll.  The influence of their friendship helps him cope with his realization of a repressed memory from his childhood.

Author Information: Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pennsylvania, and was influenced by the books of J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald when he was in high school.  After graduating in 1988, he met Stewart Stern, screenwriter of Rebel Without a Cause, who became his mentor.  Chbosky went on to study screenwriting at the University of Southern California, and now lives in Los Angeles.  In addition to his popular book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is semi-autobiographical, Chbosky wrote the screenplay for the 2005 film Rent, based on the Broadway musical.

Of his inspiration for beginning the novel, Chbosky explained in an interview, “I was writing a very different type of book then, and in it, the narrator says, “I guess that’s just one of the perks of being a wallflower.” I wrote that line. And stopped. And I realized that somewhere in that title—the perks of being a wallflower – was the kid I was really trying to find. I stopped writing the book I was working on. And five years later, I wrote Perks.” (Source)

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties: Could be compared with other coming-of-age novels, such as The Catcher in the Rye.

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Are Patrick and his friends a positive or negative influence on Charlie?
2) Is it better to be a wallflower and observe life or to be more active?  Does it matter?
3) Compare Charlie’s relationships with his friends to his family relationships, particularly his siblings.
4) To what extent does the realization of his repressed memory affect Charlie?

Interest Age: 15 and older

Challenge Issues: sex, drugs and alcohol, homosexuality, rape, abortion, incest

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, Publisher’s Weekly and others available for viewing on Amazon.com.

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

Selection: I was familiar with the title as a popular teen read, and was particularly interested because my high school aged coworker actually hated it.  I’m inclined to agree with her, but I can understand it’s appeal and would definitely include it in a collection for young adults.

Extras:

Stephen Chbosky at IMDB.com.

April 14, 2010 Posted by | Audiobooks | | Leave a comment

Seek by Paul Fleischman

Title: Seek
Author: Paul Fleischman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: March 2003
ISBN-13: 9780689854026

Plot Summary: Rob Radkovitz was an only child raised by a family of adoring adults – his mother, grandparents, and aunts.  In spite of the support and love he has always received, Rob feels a void that was left by the father he never met, a radio DJ who took off when Rob’s mother was pregnant.  Inspired by his father, Rob becomes fascinated by the radio and spends his nights slowly turning the dial, surrounded by a crowd of voices.  He starts to search for his father through the airwaves, investing in equipment that lets him listen to more and more distant stations.

After his disappointing thirteenth birthday, at which Rob was sure that his father would appear, he abandons his beloved radio equipment and throws himself into the interests of his mother – language and writing.  It isn’t until Rob comes to peace with the absence of his father that he is able to pull his radio back out.

In his senior year of high school, Rob is asked to write his autobiography for a class assignment.  Thinking back over his life, Rob finds that it comes back to him in sounds and dialogue – and writes out his life story in the form of a radio drama.

Critical Evaluation: Seek, written as a script for a radio drama, is one of the fascinating books that I’ve read.  The first few pages seem confused – lines of dialogue that don’t seem to address each other, sound effects without any context, exclamations in foreign languages – but once the connections start to appear and the story begins to emerge, it becomes hard to put the book down.  There are no acts or scenes, the entire book is one continuous conversation.  If you’re forced to put it down, there is no natural stopping point, but it is a quick read and could easily be done in one sitting.  Writing it as a radio drama doesn’t seem like just a flashy technique, since radio is an integral part of the plot it seems like a fitting format.  Fleischman handles it well, using well placed pauses or interjecting lines of dialogue to create humorous moments, while setting somber moods in other parts.  It would be interesting to hear this book performed.

Reader’s Annotation: Rob Radkovitz only knows a little bit about his DJ father who left before he was born, and uses his radio as a means of tracking him down through the airwaves.

Author Information: Paul Fleischman, son of author Sid Fleischman, is the author of several books for children and young adults.  He often writes works that incorporate multiple points of view, sometimes in a play format.  Having once considered a career teaching history, Fleischman often sets his works in historical time periods.

When asked to give advice to aspiring writers, Fleischman said, “First, read. Writers are usually self-taught. Books are our classrooms, other authors our teachers. We’re lucky–we get to pick our teachers, and when and where to go to class. Second, write. As with learning to ride a bike, there’s no substitute for actually doing it. I never took writing classes or read books about writing. I wrote, and learned from my many mistakes and false starts.” (Source)

Like Rob in the book, Fleischman once owned a shortwave radio and used it to listen to stations scattered across the globe.  The boy on the cover of Seek is a picture of the author at about age 10.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Drama

Curriculum Ties: Autobiography, Drama

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Discuss to what extent Rob’s interest in radio was because of his father, and what made him interested in it for himself.
2) How would this book have been different if Rob’s father was involved with film?  Or the internet?
3)  Was Rob influenced more by the absence of his father or the presence of his mother and grandparents?

Interest Age: 15 and older

Challenge Issues: some allusion to sex

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 Publisher’s Weekly, 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 participated in a book club when I was in high school, and this was one of the books I remembered reading and really enjoying.  Although radio is not the most advanced of technologies, I don’t think that this book will become dated.

Extras:

Paul Fleischman’s website.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Books | | Leave a comment