Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MAUS by Art Spiegelman

“When did you first hear about Auschwitz?” “Right AWAY we heard … even from there – from that other world – people came back and told us. But we didn’t believe.” (conversation between Art and Vladek Spiegelman). Maus is one of those books that will leave you speechless. It follows the life of Vladek Spiegelman, the father of the author, through his horrific survival story of Nazi occupied Poland during WWII. The graphic novel is beautifully written and drawn by using cats to represent the Nazis and mice as the Jews. Although there are comical moments, the story never loses its grittiness even as it switches back and forth between Vladek’s story and Art’s. Spiegelman writes the story showing the reader how he created it, giving the reader a behind the scenes feel to the complexity of his relationship with his father and the challenges he faced as he listened to Vladek’s survival story. Whether you liked graphic novels or not, this one is a work of art that deserves to be read.--Claudio Leon

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Passages Academy Visits the Big Easy

Tomorrow two of us (Jessica and Anja) will head down to New Orleans to learn and share at the world's largest librarian conference. You can find us at YALSA's pre-conference on programming for reluctant readers on Friday, ASCLA's President's Program on Prisoners' Right to Read on Saturday at 10:30am, meeting up with a group of librarians serving incarcerated and detained youth all over the country on Saturday night, and at ALA-OLOS & ASCLA's panel on model services for incarcerated and detained populations bright and early Sunday morning. If you're in town, please stop by and say hello! --Anja and Jessica

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Yo Momma Vocabulary Builder by Justin Heimberg and Steve Harwood

“Yo momma’s so execrable, her family planned her funeral with alacrity.” As an educator and librarian, and especially when working with troubled populations and youth, I do not encourage students to sling insults at one another; that being said, The Yo Momma Vocabulary Builder has made me reconsider this precedent. Specifically designed to speak to students who want to perfect the art of the insult and fueled with succulent vocabulary, The Yo Momma Vocabulary Builder tempts students to outsmart and out-versify their opponents. A handbook of vocabulary and wit, the title offers definitions and real world applications of vocabulary words, as well as pronunciation guidelines and viscious examples. An appendix puts students' understanding of the newly vanquished words to test with multiple choice reviews and "quizzles" interspersed within the text. This is an ideal book to rope students into the power of vocabulary, and if they take a liking to the power of eloquence, they can be referred to Blake Harrison and Alexander Rappaport's Flocabulary: The Hip-Hop Approach to SAT-Level Vocabulary Building. --Lisa Buckton

Heimberg, Justin and Steve Harwood. The Yo Momma Vocabulary Builder. New York: Seven Footer Press, 2007.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to have grown up in Iran? As a teen girl in Iran about forty years ago? Persepolis is a graphic novel memoir based on the teen years of Marjane Strapi, the author, and her life in Iran during the 1970s. Satrapi uses humor and art to tell her story and does a wonderful job of intermingling each with her personal story to paint the picture of what it was like to be an Iranian teen during those years. The comic-lover reader may be surprised to find answers to questions he or she may not have wondered aloud like why Iranian women wear the veil, or why men are only allowed to wear long sleeves. Strapi doesn’t just answer these questions but also demonstrates how she herself dealt with the laws as they were imposed and the perils that came along with trying to oppose them. The story ultimately showed me how little I know about Middle Eastern history and found it amazing that so much information could be packed into this magnificent graphic novel. --Claudio Leon

For a high school lesson plan utilizing Persepolis to introduce students to graphic novels from click here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big Cats & Wild Dogs by Rhonda Klevansky and Dr. Jen Green

Ever wonder what, exactly, is the difference between a leopard and a jaguar? Or a puma and a cheetah? Where do they live? What do they eat? How fast do they run? All of these questions and more are answered in this amazing book of facts about large cats and wild dogs. Filled with many color photographs and plenty of accompanying text, the first half is dedicated to the world of carniverous canines and the second half is all about wolves and other wild dogs. Both subjects are very popular with our students, making the book a perfect choice for supplementing inquiry projects. Also use it as a follow-up to answer the many questions students will be asking after viewing David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals: Meat Eaters.

Klevansky, Rhonda and Dr. Jen Green. Big Cats & Wild Dogs. London: Anness Publishing, 2004.