Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Programming Spotlight: Bookmarks and Greeting Cards

 Holidays can be difficult when one is separated from loved ones.  With that in mind, we librarians have been collaborating with colleagues to offer crafting programs.  These programs give students the opportunity to utilize library resources and art supplies to make custom bookmarks and greeting cards. Said C. (17), earlier this morning while crafting five original bookmarks, "I think, out of all of the activities, this is really dooooooope!"  D. (15), is pictured above copying inspirational quotes out of a library book, for subsequent use on her bookmarks.

We wish you all happy holidays and hope you find your fair share of what's good to read in 2015!  We'll see you in January.

Love, Passages Academy Libraries

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Adventure Time Vol. 1 by Ryan North

A hapless snail has freed the evil Lich from his bag of holding and he is on a mission to destroy everyone and everything in the Land of Ooo.  It is up to Finn and his best friend Jake the magical dog, with the help of their friends, to defeat the Lich and save Ooo.  If you’ve never seen an episode of Adventure Time, the previous sentences may have sounded like gibberish, but fans of the popular television cartoon series will enjoy seeing it brought so faithfully to comic book form.  The art and dialogue are full of lively action, nonsense humor, and wordplay.  Adventure Time is a vibrant option for readers looking for humorous comics and offers a welcome entry point to the format for those turned off by mainstream superhero comics. --Regan Schwartz

Click here for an ELA lesson plan from Diamond Bookshelf.

North, Ryan. Adventure Time Vol. 1. Los Angeles: KaBoom!, 2013. Print.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to Overthrow the Illuminati by Will, Chino, Saudade and Mamos

At least once a week I have a student ask for a book about the Illuminati, or I hear them intensely talking about the group’s existence.  For those students, the zine How to Overthrow the Illuminati is a good place to start looking at information about the group.  It is written in a format that won’t overwhelm them and the style of writing is accessible to most.  The authors clearly explain how the Illuminati theory came to be and how the belief in the power of the Illuminati moved from high socioeconomic circles to low income communities, specifically African American ones. Even if you don’t believe in conspiracy theories, the title provides a concise history lesson around factors that have contributed to the growth of the Illuminati theory.  The authors also encourage readers to do their own research by pointing out, “most of their [The Illuminati] secrets are actually ‘open secrets’: information is available in public libraries and websites…” School librarians might be as giddy as I am to use this text to teach research skills to students.

Some of the historical references in the zine will likely go over many students’ heads, but for some it may spark interest into other topics mentioned such as the Knights Templars, the Ku Klux Klan and maybe even Karl Marx.  There is a lot of information in this zine and for those that have been asking to learn about conspiracy theories, this could be a good place to start before moving on to actual conspiracies as it asks the reader to question and prod at the holes and gaps in many theories. --Claudio Leon

Monday, December 8, 2014

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Tariq, a sixteen-year-old African-American teen, goes to the store for his mother to buy some milk and picks up a Snickers bar for his little sister.  On his way home he is confronted by a neighbor who perceives that Tariq has a gun.  A third person, Jack Franklin, approaches, shoots, and kills Tariq and drives away.  Franklin is subsequently apprehended by the police and let go.  National activist and political figure Reverend Alabaster prepares to make his move into the spotlight while the nation is asking for answers and Tariq’s mother is asking for justice.  Sound familiar?  

Magoon’s polyphonous novel is thick with topical relevance and the challenges of multiple points of view.   It’s first few pages ensnare the reader within a web of suspense structurally furthered by short chapters.  Characters like Brick and Noodle, members of the local Kings 8-5 crew, will appeal to reluctant male readers and others like Jennica, Noodle’s girlfriend and witness at the crime scene; Kimberly, Tariq’s former babysitter-cum-professional stylist; and Tina, Tariq’s little sister, will appeal to female readers, making this a great text for mixed gender book clubs and class discussions. ELA teachers will find this a rich selection for teaching perspective, voice, and character development.  Highly recommended for fans of Walter Dean Myers’ Street Love.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Click here for a discussion guide from the publisher.

Magoon, Kekla.  How It Went Down.  New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2014.  Print.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quicksand: HIV/AIDS In our lives by Anonymous

For a student who needs immediate answers, or a teacher looking for a slim volume to read through with students during a non-fiction ELA unit, Quicksand’s length and hybrid format offer an interesting option.  Opening with a first-person narrative, this quick read is eighty-five pages of large font with plenty of white space. Quicksand commences with a chapter entitled “Why I Wrote this Book: The Still Hidden World of HIV/AIDS in America” and uses subtitles like “What is AIDS?” and “How can you tell if someone has HIV?” to toggle between the anonymous author’s experience learning about her brother-in-law’s diagnosis and anticipating the reader’s questions.  The author keeps the text simple enough for a less-experienced, yet  proficient reader to comprehend the content, but the unique format will be best navigated with a knowledgeable guide for less-experienced readers, recommending this text to ELA teachers, social workers, and reading and ESL specialists.  Backmatter includes websites for more information about HIV/AIDS (essential for updated information since this book appears to have been written in 2008), a glossary for terms like “window period” and “viral load,” a narrated bibliography of works consulted, acknowledgements, and an index. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Anonymous.  Quicksand:  HIV/AIDS in our lives.  Fairfield: Candlewick Press, 2009.  Print.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scholastic Ultimate Guide to Football by James Buckley Jr.

Scholastic Ultimate Guide to Football by James Buckley Jr.

Did you know that passing was not allowed in American football until 1906?  Taking an informal tone, Buckley’s Guide mixes history, random facts, statistics, photographs, and cartoonish drawings to provide an introduction to America’s most popular sport.  Assuming some prior knowledge of the game, the Guide alternates between informational pages on each of the National Football League’s 32 teams and features on football trivia like superstitious practices used by NFL players, regrettable quotes and actions from NFL coaches, classic referee signals currently in use, and touchdown heroes.  Each team’s two-page spread includes the year the team formed, a highlight and low point for the team, their home venue, number of Superbowls won, best seasons and additional team facts.  Backmatter includes a few additional print and web-based resources for information on American football and an index.  Teens may not appreciate Buckley’s corny jokes, but those with an interest in broadening the scope of their knowledge of the sport will be glad to have so much information in one lightweight volume. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Buckely Jr., James.  Scholastic Ultimate Guide to Football. Santa Barbara: Shoreline Publishing, 2010.  Print.

Click here for a link to Edutopia's lesson plans for a variety of subject areas incorporating American football.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why Are We Still Getting HIV? Teens Respond to the AIDS Epidemic Edited by Laura Longhine

35.3 million people are living with HIV around the world, according to UNAIDS, cited on HIVaware.org.uk.  35.3 million.  Asking anyone to contemplate the size of that number is a challenge, and Youth Communication’s Why Are We Still Getting HIV? offers numerous angles from which teachers, parents, and other youth workers (including peer educators) can approach the topic through interviews and personal narratives.  This collection includes both anonymous and credited teen authors’ perspectives on HIV, ranging from what it’s like to go for a first HIV test (“What If…” by Anonymous), to having a peer or adult share their positive status (“Saying Goodbye to Uncle Nick,” by Josbeth Lebron, “A Sad Silence,*” by Desiree Guery), to receiving notification of one’s own HIV positive status (“Date with Destiny” by Anonymous,) as well as dealing with a loved one dying from AIDS (My Uncle Died of AIDS” by Anonymous), and living a long life while HIV positive (“All Too Real: Teens Living with HIV*” by NYC Writers and “Twenty Years Living Positive” interview with Dave Nisbett.)  Back matter includes separate notes to teens and staff trainers as well as a discussion guide for teachers and staff on how to use the book effectively.  While the writing varies in style and tone, it is generally very accessible to teens who are reading proficiently and a worthwhile resource in spite of the fact that there have been some significant updates to the American conversation taking place around AIDS since many of these stories were written. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

*These two stories are available for free in full-text and with lesson plans provided by YC Teen.

Longhine, Laura (Ed.)  Why Are We Still Getting HIV? Teens Respond to the AIDS Epidemic.  New York: Youth Communication, 2010.  Print.