Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sports Illustrated Kids: In Your Face 3-D: the Best 3-D Book Ever! by David E. Klutho

This has been, by far, the most handled book in the Horizon library this summer. Perfect for reluctant readers, book lovers and everyone in between, each page in this book dares the reader to swipe a hand over the image to make sure there’s nothing actually floating above it. Using the 3-D glasses that come with the book (and I just discovered a phone number printed inside to receive FREE replacement glasses!), students have been eager to take turns flipping through and pointing out their favorite images to one another and staff. There is very little text throughout, mainly in captions and highlighted quotes, saving plenty of room for oversize pictures of sports action.

My favorite thing about In Your Face 3-D? Everyone forgets to maintain their cool while wearing the 3-D glasses. This book has the ability to bring out the fun-loving kid in even the most stoic teen.  --Anja Kennedy

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Post: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

A 3-in-1 graphic novel, American Born Chinese intertwines three narratives that converge to reveal the author’s message of self-acceptance.

The first narrative revolves around Jin Wang, the only Chinese-American student in his high school.  He is bullied and lonely and in love with beautiful, blonde Amelia Harris.  All of a sudden, his life changes when a Chinese boy moves to town with his family.  Jin now has a friend, but accepts Wei-Chen’s friendship begrudgingly, since he would only cast greater light on Jin’s own other-ness.

The second narrative is based on a traditional Chinese fable: the story of the Monkey King.  Pompous and stubborn, the Monkey King wishes to raise from the status of king to that of a god.  He trains and becomes seemingly invincible.  Tze-Yo-Tzuh, the creator of all existence, takes umbrage at the Monkey Kings arrogance and traps him under an immense pile of boulders where he remains for a long time.

The final narrative is that of Danny, a popular, blond, all-American teenager.  The only atypical thing about Danny is his cousin, Chin-Kee, whose name is a play on a slur.  Chin-Kee is a cultural stereotype brought to life.  From the illustration which brings to mind propaganda posters of the ‘40s to the way he speaks in broken and accented English, Chin-Kee is the embodiment of all that embarrasses Danny and does so to such an extent that Danny is forced to transfer schools every year after Chin-Kee’s annual visit.

Each of the protagonists is struggling to discover how he can be accepted and content, while still being a part of his own culture.  At the end, the stories converge and each realizes that the key to happiness is in self-acceptance.  Each has his own role in life, and, by embracing that role, he will be satisfied.  Yang incorporates both visual and written humor, cultural traditions, and honest expression of emotion to fuse together this compelling and complex, yet very understandable, graphic novel.  --Julie Weber

Guest blogger Julie Weber currently teaches at Passages Academy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Girl Like Me by Ni-Ni Simone

Elite Parker is living a lie.  She works so hard to keep up the show - great clothes, attitude to spare, amazing voice, and hot boyfriend - but her home life is a dangerous mess.  Elite has been raising her four younger siblings for years, paying the bills and keeping everyone fed, healthy, clothed, and (most importantly) together.  Her mother is an addict with an addict boyfriend and their father was never in the picture.  Elite is struggling to hold down a job, keep up her grades, and keep her facade from crumbling.  When her vocal talent wins her tickets to the hottest concert of the year, Elite is swept up in a fairytale romance that threatens to ruin everything she has worked so hard for.

Written with plenty of humor and slang, A Girl Like Me is almost always a hit with readers looking for “real” books.  Ni-Ni Simone’s honest depiction of a family in crisis and the responsibilities shouldered all-too-often by older siblings is immediately relate-able, despite the over-the-top romantic fantasy.  This is a Cinderella story that emphasizes family, friendship, and honesty. --Regan Schwartz

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Update

We apologize for our blogging absence during the month of July!  The Passages Academy Libraries team has been very busy.  We are excited to be offering library services to our students in secure detention this summer.  This is the first year that students have been able to visit the school libraries over the summer break!  

As part of these new summer services, we’re running a Summer Reading incentive program, offering great rewards like scratch and sniff bookmarks and certificates of achievement to our voracious readers.  So far this summer, Ni-Ni Simone’s A Girl Like Me has been our most popular book (stay tuned for an upcoming review).  What’s been flying off your shelves this summer?

You can expect weekly posts for the remainder of August and the What’s Good bloggers to be back to frequent reviews and highlights when the new school year starts in September!