Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

Mix top-notch YA writing with tight plotting, suspense, and a mystery to be solved and you have Paul Griffin’s latest.  A gorgeous girl takes a shot of acid to the face and the narrator, a teen hacker who can flip over the wrestling team but is rendered helpless by a seizure disorder every so often, is on the case.  While there’s nothing urban about the book, Passages' students are reading it on the strength of Griffin’s sterling reputation with them.  One student who told me she has spent most of her life in institutions of one kind or another recently stated to me that this book is her current favorite.  A crossover hit with independent urban readers!--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Griffin, Paul.  Burning Blue.  New York: Penguin, 2012.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Megaman Megamix by Hitoshi Ariga

Like classics?  Well Megaman Megamix takes it back to the good ol’ days.  This is the original Megaman we all fell in love with and he’s joined by the rest of the original crew, Roll, Rover, Dr. Light and of course Dr. Wily - they’re all here.  In the future, Dr. Light creates a multitude of robots to help humanity.  Megaman (or Rockman as he is called in the series) is Dr. Light’s robot helper.  Dr. Wily, an evil scientist and old acquaintance of Dr. Light, reprograms all of the robots via computer virus (except for Megaman!) to become destructive.  With Megaman being one of the only robots not affected by Dr. Wily’s virus, Dr. Light is forced to change Megaman from a helper robot to a combat robot.  Megaman receives his very famous Mega-Buster, an arm-mounted energy cannon, along with the ability to steal his adversary's abilities.

In each chapter Megaman will battle it out with different robots all while trying to figure out Dr. Wily’s base of operation.  The series is only three volumes long, but it has all the great things that make Megaman such a great read.  Students who enjoy Pluto or Megaman NT Warrior will likely enjoy reading this series.--Claudio Leon

Ariga, Hitoshi.  Megaman Megamix. Tokyo: Enterbrain INC, 2003. Print.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pull by B.A. Binns

David Albacore’s proverbial plate is overburdened and beginning to crack under the weight.  The tragic murder of his mother by his estranged father has him questioning his identity and desperate to hold his shattered family together.  He managed to finagle his and his sisters’ way into their aunt Edith’s tiny apartment - a situation he is sure will end the second he’s not bringing home enough money from his second shift construction job.  As if the universe intends to bury him, he is immediately on the wrong side of Malik, the volatile star of his new school’s basketball team, and falling hard for Yolanda Dare, Malik’s gorgeous girlfriend.  Will David be able to hold it all together long enough to graduate?  And if he does, then what?

Fans of Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry will enjoy this dramatic boy meets girl tale.  With a straightforward narrative, less sophisticated sentence structure, and a very readable mixture of basic language and slang, Pull is accessible to older, less sophisticated readers.  I can’t wait to read the recently released sequel. --Regan Schwartz

Edited to add that a teacher's guide is available here.

Binns, B.A. Pull.  Arlington Heights, IL: All the Color of Love Books, 2010. Print.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Arrest-proof Yourself by Dale Carson and Wes Denham

Want to “stay free?”  Carson and Denham acknowledge that “racism is a problem for society.”  Cluelessness, however, is the reader’s problem, and it’s one that the authors believe the reader can address and control through the study of this self-help volume.  The density of information on the close to 300 pages that follow will overwhelm most developing readers.  The content, however, is so extraordinarily useful to urban teens that educators may consider offering selections and encouraging the reading of the introduction and reader-driven use of the index.  While Carson calls himself out on his own political incorrectness, this does not lessen the value of his perspective and generous information.  Carson is a retired Miami city cop and FBI agent, currently employed as a criminal defense lawyer.  This book remains among the most popular non-fiction titles in our libraries.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Carson, Dale C.  and Wes Denham.  Arrest-proof Yourself.  Chicago:  Chicago Review Press, 2007.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The UnConference is Nearly Here!

Passages Academy Libraries next Friday, March 22nd for an exciting day of  presentations, workshops, and discussion.  Sign up here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pavement Chalk Artist: The three dimensional drawings of Julian Beever by Julian Beever

There is nothing quite like 3D pavement art - those mind bending works of street art that, from just the right perspective, appear to leap off the sidewalk.  In Pavement Chalk Artist, Julian Beever showcases over fifty of his own creations - often including himself and passersby in a creative, and often very amusing, tableau.  Each photograph is accompanied by a brief description of the project, often including a bit of art instruction.  In addition to the luscious, full-color photographs, the book contains a biographical introduction and a brief description of Beever’s anamorphic drawing technique.  This is a captivating book of creative art, as well an in-depth look at one man’s artistic journey.  Students pore over the pictures, often expressing disbelief at what they are seeing and eagerness to try it for themselves.  Pavement Chalk Artist is would make excellent supplementary non-fiction reading for a unit on perspective or for a unit on media and advertising, as that is how Beever generates much of his sidewalk art income.--Regan Schwartz

Beever, Julian.  Pavement Chalk Artist: The three dimensional drawings of Julian Beever. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2010. Print