Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor

“I am wild, untamed, unattached, unfettered.”  O’Connor does not disappoint when he finally allows us to hear Artemis’ voice, but he takes a while to get there, permitting several other voices to narrate Artemis’ story.  While the transitions do not always go smoothly, it is a small price to pay for the overall effect of O’Connor’s manner of weaving together multiple storylines to present an Artemis with a rare emotional complexity and challenging family situation.  The quality of care and creativity displayed in the storytelling and artwork is surprisingly paralleled in the front- and backmatter, which includes a very helpful family tree, character pages, discussion questions, annotated bibliography, and notes.  The latter two do an admirable job conveying the author’s humorous and playful attitude toward his seriously well-done research and thus conveys the persona of a researcher/writer/artist in a context generally skipped over by casual young readers.  Artemis is a valuable teaching text students will be motivated to read independently.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

O’Connor, George.  Artemis:  Wild Goddess of the Hunt.  New York: First Second, 2017. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Programming Spotlight: Dream Jordan Visits Horizon Juvenile Detention Center

Dream Jordan visits Passages Academy's school library at Horizon Juvenile Detention Center on May 10th, 2017.  Photo credit: Claudio Leon.

Author of YA novels Hot Girl and Bad Boy, Dream Jordan, visited the Horizon library on May 10th. She spoke with several students about her work and her life and gave students advice on how to stay above the problems they often face. Ms. Jordan was very inspiring to our students and they all loved getting to meet and speak with her. --Claudio Leon

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui

While the introductory premise to this manga series requires quite a suspension of disbelief--an alien threatening to destroy Earth has chiselled away most of the moon and can only be placated by being allowed to teach a group of struggling Japanese middle school students how to assassinate him along with their regular school subjects--manga fans will enjoy joining the group of students who are at the bottom of their school’s totem pole and marveling at a teacher who can regenerate limbs and fly through the air at a speed of Mach 20.  The violence of classroom assassination attempts makes this unsuitable for younger readers, but the violence is so over-the-top as to be unrealistic.  The storyline allows various students to express their feelings of frustration in regard to teachers at their demanding school as they try to determine Sensei Koro’s weaknesses and appreciate his successes as well as his care for them.  Originally published weekly in a manga magazine, the story is episodic and seems to grow in complexity as new characters are introduced and the plot thickens. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, May 5, 2017

Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred: a Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy

Dana is a young black writer living in California during the 1970s when she is suddenly thrust back in time to a slaveholding plantation in Maryland.  She quickly learns that it is Rufus, the plantation master’s son, who has the mysterious power to call her back whenever his life is in danger.  Dana learns that Rufus is actually her ancestor, and as she watches him take over the plantation, she struggles to ensure her own existence as saving Rufus becomes more repulsive.  Thirty-five years after Octavia Butler’s most popular novel was first published, the graphic adaptation does not shy away from the horrors and brutality of slavery.  Although technically a work of science fiction, this adaptation could easily support a unit of study on American history and may appeal to students who like historical graphic novels. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Duffy, Damian. Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred: a graphic novel adaptation. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2017. Print.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Princess Jellyfish Volume 1 by Akiko Higashimura

Tsukimi is a young woman whose passion in life is jellyfish and whose mother has passed away, leading Tsukimi to move into a women-only building in Tokyo. While she finds community with her new neighbors, her newfound independence amongst the like-minded amars is threatened when she is befriended by an attractive cross-dressing boy who happens to be the son of a powerful Japanese politician.   Will the amars be able to accept Tsukimi’s new friend?  Will their community survive a developer’s attempt to take it over?  These volumes collect the Princess Jellyfish series which was originally published in 2008 in serial format and was released as anime in 2010.  Fans of anime will enjoy reading the print, and female manga readers who are not yet familiar with the characters will enjoy the discovery that awaits them, blending otaku culture, humor, suspense, and romance, along with a plotline that involves the politics of gentrification.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Higashimura, Akiko.  Princess Jellyfish (Book 1).  New York: Kodashna Comics, 2016.  Print.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, Edited by Philip Cushway and Michael Warr

A volume of poetry, portraiture, and history, Of Poetry & Protest is “unapologetically political,” specifically addressing police violence, Black Lives Matter, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers, and how poetry and protest converse with one another. Forty-three living poets are featured, each with a full page portrait, one of their poems, and perhaps most interestingly, a first person narrative describing each writer’s journey to becoming a poet. Throughout the pages are scattered cultural ephemera including fine art, album artwork, posters, flyers, and photographs. This volume lends itself to a unit on current affairs as well as history, author studies, and obviously poetry.  Recommended for strong readers.--Anne Lotito-Schuh

Cushway, Philip and Michael Warr, Eds. Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. Print.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Ms. Baxter-Sweet outside of Crosroads.  Photo re-posted from DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz

Congratulations to Ms. Baxter-Sweet, Passages Academy's multi-sited Principal, on being named "Principal of the Week" by DNAinfo.com while we were away on break!  Click here to read the whole interview.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Black Panthers For Beginners by Herb Boyd illustrated by Lance Tooks

This book is the only non-fiction text I've come across devoted to illuminating a narrative about the Panthers written in a manner that speaks to the young people I serve.  (If you’re reading this and you’re aware of others, please speak up in the comments!)  Interestingly structured as narrative history through the Panthers’ Ten Point Program, readers may find it helpful to create their own timelines as they read through the story Boyd weaves.  Helpful backmatter includes “The Panther Pantheon,” an illustrated who’s who of the most famous Panthers; a short list of political prisoners with mailing addresses; an illustrated version of the Black Panther Party Program and Platform; a short timeline; a bibliography; and an index. Some readers may view the text as  inflammatory where others read it as honest, but school librarians will be hard-pressed to find this essential history documented in a volume this accessible to teen readers.  —Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Boyd, Herb.  Black Panthers for Beginners.  Danbury: For Beginners, 2015.  Print.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Programming Spotlight: Big Read 2017 Panel

Our 2017 panel consisted of a diverse group of authors, as pictured left to right; Len Vlahos, Laura Stamper, Mrs. Trevaskis (Bronx Hope Librarian), Selene Castrovilla, Catherine Stine, Heather Bao, and Heather Swain.

New York City Teen Author Festival (NYCTAF) completed its 10th annual event on March 26th. As part of NYC’s largest young adult literature (YA) event, Bronx Hope hosted a Big Read author panel through collaboration with Senior YA Librarian from The Bronx Library Center, Katie Fernandez.                  

Our author panel discussion featured six authors of young adult literature.  Each author spoke about the type of writing they do, followed by an author reading, with each one reading an excerpt up to a full chapter from their book. At the conclusion of the presentations, students were able to ask questions. --Allison Trevaskis

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When by Victoria Laurie

Would you like to know when everyone you love is going to die, even though you can do nothing to stop their deaths? Maddie has the ability to see everyone's death date. She uses this as a means of income to help her mother make ends meet after her father's death. Maddie charges people to tell them when they are going to die. However, after a reading goes wrong, Maddie becomes the prime suspect in a series of killings. Now, with the FBI watching her every move and her mother falling deeper and deeper into alcoholism, Maddie needs to find a way to prove her innocence. For readers who love a mystery mixed with a bit of fantasy, When is the book for you. --Claudio Leon

Laurie, Victoria. When. Los Angeles: Hyperion, 2016. Print.