Friday, May 31, 2013

Fitz by Mick Cochrane

Fifteen-year old Fitz has acquired a gun for the sole purpose of getting his absent father to answer some questions and spend some “quality time” with him.  A provocative premise and short chapters will appeal to reluctant readers.  Less appealing, however, are the author’s choice to employ third-person narration, a protagonist who is remains fuzzy about his self-understanding throughout the book, and a literary affectation that never feels authentic.  This book is best suited to more sophisticated teen readers and those who can easily connect with the plight of a teen who has many unanswered questions about an absent parent.  Fitz pairs interestingly with 50 Cent’s Playground and Morgenroth’s Jude.  The lack of urban grit makes it a tougher sell to urban readers, but for those willing to cross geographical boundaries, the Minnesota setting may be a breath of fresh air.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Random house has made an excerpt available here.

Cochrane, Mick.  Fitz.  Alfred A. Knopf:  New York, 2012. Print.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

What causes Leonard Gray to go on a rampage before the start of school on April 22nd? In Shooter, Myers chooses an interview format to give the reader an inside view of the incident that occurred on April 22 at Madison High School in Harrison County. The interviews are conducted with Cameron Porter, a 17 year old African-American youth from a financially stable, two parent household, and Carla Evans, now 18, Caucasian, a young woman with a somewhat tumultuous past and a history of difficulties. Both Cameron and Carla have survived the incident and are reported to be closest to Leonard Gray.  In an effort to add a bit of authenticity, Myers includes copies of newspaper reports of the incident, the police report and medical examiner’s report, the Miranda statements of the interviewees and the diary of Leonard Gray that was found in his home after the incident that provides insight to his state of mind in the days and weeks leading up to the shooting. Those interested in crime and drama will likely be attracted to Shooter. In classroom discussions it can surely be a possible springboard to a variety of topics from bullying to drug use and beyond. - Bernardine E. Lowery-Crute

Myers, Walter Dean. Shooter. Harper Collins Children’s Books: New York, 2004. Print.

Monday, May 20, 2013

1,001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die edited by Tony Mott

Featuring a wide range of games, from classic Atari games such as Breakout and Asteroids to modern phenomenons like World of Warcraft and Halo, this compendium is a hit with serious and casual gamers alike.  Each game is given a short professional review and most include a full-color screen shot.  Including games for arcades, consoles, computers, handheld devices, and phones, the reader is almost sure to stumble across a game they’ve connected with.  The conversations sparked by group browsing of the book tend to lead to impromptu student reviews and recommendations, leading this reader to think that it would be well-used as a model text for review writing. --Regan Schwartz

Mott, Tony (ed.). 1,001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. New York: Universe, 2010. Print.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz

After innocent Tashera is jumped by three unknown girls, her family wants revenge  As they search for her attackers, we learn that Tashera was targeted as payback for her boyfriend’s use and dismissal of former girlfriend, Jessica.   Retaliation motivates most characters in this extremely fast-paced and dramatic tale, illustrating the vicious cycle of violence.  Tashera and boyfriend Ahmed attempt to escape the violence via athletic and academic scholarships, not always a possibility for our students.  However, the volume does contain tips for conflict resolution and an interview with the author.  While the pace of events, such as the scheduling of court trials, is unrealistic, students may appreciate the page-turning twists and turns that culminate in tragedy for many that sought retaliation. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Shiraz, Yasmin. Retaliation: A Novel. Chantilly, VA: Rolling Hills, 2007. Print.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez

Azael wakes up behind bars and he can’t remember why he’s there.  He narrates his days and memories in alternating short chapters following the same structural format as Angela Johnson’s The First Part Last.  The reader visits scenes from Azael’s past in Houston, Texas, as a Salvadoran middle schooler who joins a local group of MS-13 boys.  Piecing together these memories, the reader tries, along with Azael, to piece together the reasons for his current status as a detainee, and the reasons for his bizarre participation in a therapeutic program which allows him to watch another detainee through one-way glass.  The powerful ending will leave incarcerated teen readers with much to consider.  A strong pick for bilingual older male teens asking for an independent reading novel in incarcerated settings.  The text contains numerous untranslated phrases in Spanish.  Fans of the Outsiders may also enjoy this new title.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Perez, Ashley Hope.  The Knife and the Butterfly.  Minneapolis:  Carolrhoda Lab, 2012.  Print.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Planet Hulk By Greg Pak

When Namor, Dr. Strange, Dr. Xavier, Reed Richards and Tony Stark decide to ship the Hulk to a faraway planet, their plan fails. The Hulk's shuttle enters a wormhole and lands in a completely different place than intended.  Planet Skaar is ruled by the Red King who captures the Hulk and makes him fight in the gladiator arena.  The Incredible Hulk will have to muster all of his strength, of which he has plenty, to fight his way to freedom and escape the grasp of the Red King, who rules Skaar with an iron fist. The story depicts a more human side of the Hulk, leaving Bruce Banner, the Hulk’s alter ego, completely out of the story.  It allows the reader to see, and perhaps understand, that there is more to the green beast than we’re usually led to believe.  Comic book fans will not be disappointed here.  Anyone who likes comics, especially Hulk fans, should pick this one up.  If the ending leaves you wanting more, make sure to follow up with the action packed World War Hulk. -- Claudio Leon

Greg Pak. Hulk: Planet Hulk. New York: Marvel Worldwide Inc, 2011. Print.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Graffiti Alphabets by Claudia Walde

Easily one of the three most popular reference books in our library, Walde’s Graffiti Alphabets is a heavy, hardcover volume which offers an international collection of fonts inspired by graffiti.  Some of the fonts are designed by writers who stick strictly to the art form, and others are attributed to working graphic designers and artists’.  Each two-page spread shows the writer’s tag, followed by his or her location (city, country), affiliations (i.e. crews), favorite letter, web address, and then a short paragraph describing the writer’s favorite mediums and materials, philosophy, or what s/he loves about graffiti.  The majority of the 150+ writers included are based in Europe, but Asian, American, and South American writers are also included.  Images include one full page dedicated to the alphabet and usually a half-page photograph of a piece or two.  All color images are reproduced in full matte color.  This book is also available in French.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Walde, Claudia.  Graffiti Alphabets.  New York:  Thames & Hudson, 2011.  Print.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Save the Date--April 4th, 2014

Yes, unbelievably, we are already looking forward to the 3rd Annual (un)Conference on school library services to incarcerated and detained youth.  It was wonderful to see those of you who could attend this year's event.  If you provide school library services to incarcerated and detained youth, please save the date and plan to join us in New York City.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Custom Cars by Matt Doeden

What do channeling, shaving, sectioning, and scallops have in common?  The complex world of custom cars.  For readers interested in cars and customization, Custom Cars delivers a comprehensive overview in just forty-seven eye-catching pages.  The first half of the book explores the history of cars and customization, beginning with the Model T and progressing chronologically to the present day.  The latter half explores customization types and techniques illustrated with glossy, full-color photos.  Sidebars throughout the text include interesting facts, in-depth definitions, mini-bios, and other related information.  Front matter includes a limited table of contents and backmatter includes a glossary, index, selected bibliography, further reading, related web resources, and information about the author. --Regan Schwartz

Doeden, Matt.  Custom Cars . Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Comnay, 2008. Print.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Flight Volume Six edited by Kazu Kibuishi

What do a Ninja that can't get a job, a gunslinging female detective and an astronaut have in common? Flight! This eight volume set of graphic novel short stories features a multitude of great artwork. Each story has its own unique art style which seems to match the story perfectly and make it come alive.  Like every short story compilation, it has it's hits and misses.  But, in volume six, the hits far outnumber the misses.  The stories cover a wide range of genres but the one thing that brings them all together is the concept of flight.  Although in some stories it is difficult to understand how the theme of flight is represented, this offers a great opportunity for students to figure out the connection, and for teachers to explain the concept of theme.  One favorite in this volume was "The Excitingly Mundane Life of Kenneth Shuri," a story about a ninja freshly graduated from ninja school that can't find a job.  The employment office is no help, his wife complains about him not finding a job and his son wants to be figure skater. In a twist of fate it all works out in the end and the story is filled with hilarious moments.  Among other good ones are "Dead at Noon," a story about a cowboy with amnesia, and "Magnus the Misfit,” a Viking that, unlike the rest of his clan, is not very ferocious.  A definite must read for any comic book fan or short story lover.  Each story is only a few pages, and they range from having no text to plenty of it. --Claudio Leon

Kibuishi, Kazu, ed. Flight Vol 6. New York: Random House Inc, 2009. Print

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet: What to Do if it Happens to You by Anna Claybourne

Did you know that hippos kill more people than sharks do?  Would you know what to do if either of those animals was coming for you?  If you’d like to be prepared, 100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet is a great place to start your survival training.  Each entry in this slim volume features full-color photographs, a risk rating, a survival rating, and instructions on dealing with each particular danger in a variety of situations.  The comprehensive and well-organized table of contents allows the reader to find any information they are looking for quickly, while the engaging text entices them to read straight through.  Teachers may find 100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet a useful resource for the early stages of inquiry projects.  It is a strong pick for reluctant readers with a taste for nonfiction. --Regan Schwartz

Claybourne, Anna. 100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet. New York: Scholastic, 2011. Print.