Friday, December 18, 2015

WW Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to World Wrestling Entertainment by Brian Shields and Kevin Sullivan


Have you ever heard of Buddy Rogers, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, or maybe John Cena?  The WW Encyclopedia serves as an archive of World Wrestling Entertainment’s various characters spanning nearly 50 years; it is, as the title states, a definitive guide not only for WWE fanatics, but those new to the sport. Entertainers and Tag Teams are cataloged alphabetically by their ring name, then further distinguished by the formatting to signify when the personalities were active. Although not every detail of each performer’s career is highlighted, their most memorable events, battles, and adversaries are noted alongside the common statistics of height, weight, land of origin, and signature move, if relevant. Breaking up the alphabetical rhythm of the encyclopedia are topics pertinent to a WWE enthusiast, such as Hall of Fame, Signs, and WWE Studios. An index located at the end makes this guide a quick reference companion while talking or viewing the WWE.--Allison Trevaskis

Shields, Brian and Sullivan, Kevin. WW Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to World Wrestling Entertainment. Indianapolis: DK/BradleyGAMES, 2009. Print.

Noble Warrior by Alan Sitomer



In this sequel to Caged Warrior, underground teen MMA fighter McCutcheon Daniels is now working undercover for the FBI. He opts to take down the leader of the High Priests, the gang he thought he’d left behind in Detroit, by willingly entering the city’s most notorious prison while disguised as an inmate.  Well-plotted and full of street language and extreme violence, Noble Warrior will be immediately popular with fans of Caged Warrior and readers looking for “jail books.”  Weak editing, especially at the start of the story, will lessen the appeal of this book to many ELA teachers.  Strongly recommended independent reading for older teens looking for something to sink their teeth into. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber


Sitomer, Alan. Noble Warrior. New York: Hyperion, 2015.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan



Rick Riordan takes the Greek myths we all grew up loving and creates a dynamic and compelling modernized setting for the melodramas to re-unfold.  Riordan’s demi-gods are all products of single-parent homes and mostly diagnosed with both dyslexia and ADHD.  These qualities, rather than bringing the characters down, are spun to be empowering.  Characters are raised by single parents because their absent parent is a god or goddess, forbidden from significant involvement in their children's lives.  The demi-god brain is hardwired for reading and writing in ancient Greek and each must be prepared for battle at a moment's notice; they aren't supposed to sit still.   When Percy Jackson, the eponymous son of Poseidon, and the other demi-gods arrive at Camp Half-Blood, Chiron, the esteemed teacher-centaur, explains it all as they train for their adventures.  In each of the 5 novels, selected demi-gods (and satyrs, and cyclopes...) go on quests in order to prevent Kronos, the fallen king of the Titans, from rising up and defeating the Olympians.--Julia Weber

Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. New York: Disney-Hyperion, 2006. Print. Percy Jackson and The Olympians (Book 1).

Riordan, Rick. The Sea of Monsters. New York: Disney-Hyperion, 2007. Print. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 2).

Riordan, Rick. The Titan's Curse. New York: Disney-Hyperion, 2008. Print. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 3).

Riordan, Rick. The Battle of the Labyrinth. New York: Disney-Hyperion, 2009. Print. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 4).

Riordan, Rick. The Last Olympian. New York: Disney-Hyperion, 2010. Print. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 5).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Class Trip: Pedal Punk



On Thursday, December 10th, nine students from Passages Academy's Belmont site visited the New Victory Theater to take in Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk performance.  Students were prepared during the days leading up to the trip by lessons co-taught in the library with Erica Nadel, ELA and Special Education teacher, and with a pre-theater visit from the talented New Victory teaching artists Chad Beckim and Shela Rhoulhac.  Literacy for Incarcerated Teens generously purchased the tickets for students and staff, all of whom seemed to enjoy the experience.  Said one participant, "After the show I felt very calm and satisfied.  I felt this way because the show was so entertaining that it had me concentrated and amused." Indeed.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spotlight Interview: Elaine Roberts


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Thank you for joining us!  We are in the middle of introducing our newest team members.  Please meet Elaine Roberts who took over the school library at Crossroads this September.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

JFS:  Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you arrived at Passages' Crossroads school library?

ER:  Prior to working at Passages I worked at The Laurelton School in Laurelton, Queens.  I taught elementary classes, seventh grade ELA and was also the literacy coach.  As a coach I worked with all the grades planning curriculum and selecting books to complement the curriculum.

JFS:  What is your favorite kind of text to read?
ER:  I love reading religious or historical fiction.  I love history because it shows how society changes based on the action of the citizens.  It also shows how things may change but how our fundamental characteristics remain the same.

JFS:  What was your favorite book when you were a teenager?

ER:  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


JFS: What is your favorite book to share with teenagers at Crossroads?

ER:  The Giver by Lois Lowry.  This book shows how following rules and doing what is expected will be noticed. This gives one the capacity to make the right decisions.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What My Father Gave Me Edited by Melanie Little


This collection of short stories is a powerful read on the theme of father-daughter relationships. Each of the seven stories features a different family dynamic used to demonstrate how said relationships evolve over the course of time and how complex they can be. From an abusive father to the perfect stepdad, each story is carefully told to show the reader how these relationships affect the daughter’s future relationships and for some their future lives. Although short (8 to 16 pages,) writers manage to convey their thoughts and feelings in a way that encourages the reader connect with the characters. Some of the stories are followed by an interview with the story’s author where she answers questions about her life and what inspired them her to write. My favorite story was by Jessica Raya. She writes about the string of stepfathers in and out of her mother’s life. In and out until the least likely one to stick around does. He sees her grow into a young woman and helps their family as a whole overcome their past challenges. This title would be a good resource for students and teachers seeking short narrative nonfiction as well as looking for alternative texts within the short stories unit.--Claudio Leon


Little, Melanie (Ed.) What My Father Gave Me. Buffalo: Annick Press, 2010. Print.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Spotlight Interview: Allison Trevaskis



Passages Academy Libraries is pleased to introduce our new team members.  First up is Allison Trevaskis who took over the library at Bronx Hope this September.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

JFS: Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you landed in Bronx Hope's library?

AT:  This is my 8th year with Passages Academy, I have held a lot of different courses along the way such as ELA, Art, Math, Science and Health, but at heart and in practice I am a Physical Educator. 
JFS: What is your favorite kind of text to read? 
AT:  love learning a little something about every topic that impacts or interacts with my life, so I would say my favorite kind of text is Informational, second to the broader category of texts included in Health, Mind & Body.
 
JFS:  Where is your favorite place to read?
 
AT:  My ultimate reading spot is snuggled up in a thick blanket and sitting in a soft recliner.
JFS:  What was your favorite book as a teenager?
 
AT:  The book that got me really into reading as a teenager was J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, and the book that I most enjoyed learning about how to read for details and deeper meaning and writing was The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.
 
JFS:  What is your favorite book to share with teenagers at Bronx Hope?
 
AT:  I like to connect students with books on a topic that speaks to them. I feel as though I've won the lottery when I get to know a student and they come back to say they read the entire book I recommended to them!
 
JFS:  What do you like to do for fun when you're not reading?
 
AT:  Outside of reading I spend my time with my nine month old daughter and family.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Welcome Back!




The 2014-15 school year at Passages is now well underway.  Pardon our absence over the summer and last month while we regrouped.  We are looking forward to introducing you to our new team members in the days ahead.  We will resume reviews next week-- stay tuned! --Claudio Leon and Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, June 26, 2015

Farewell


It is with heavy hearts that we will say farewell today to two of our co-editors, Anja Kennedy and Regan Schwartz.  Anja co-founded this blog in 2009, and she and Regan have worked very hard to provide leadership, editing, and reviews to What’s Good? these last five years.  We will miss them more than words can say and wish them all good things as they move on.

What’s Good?  will take a summer hiatus and we will return in September. --Claudio Leon and Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ALA 2015


We are excited that our teammate, and fellow What’s Good? blogger, Claudio Leon, is traveling today to San Diego to accept the Association’s prestigious Spectrum Scholarship.  If you’re headed to ALA's Annual Conference, find him and say hello!--Anja Kennedy, Regan Schwartz, and Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow


Have you ever stopped to wonder why our cereals are all fortified with niacin and other vitamins and minerals?  The answer is rooted in a mysterious disease called pellagra.  Its symptoms included: thick, painful, scaly red skin on the hands, feet, face, and chest; foul-smelling, chronic diarrhea; progressive insanity; and, finally, death.  As it ravaged the countryside, and occasionally the parlors of the rich, in the early 1900s, doctors struggled to determine its cause and to find an effective treatment.  Is it infectious?  A parasite?  A deficiency?  In Red Madness, author Gail Jarrow has woven together a vast collection of primary documents (including photographs, newspaper articles, journals, advertisements, and maps) to tell the harrowing tale of the race to cure pellagra.  Backmatter includes frequently asked questions, a glossary, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index, and sources for further information.  --Regan Schwartz

Educator's guide available from the publisher here.

Jarrow, Gail. Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2014. Print

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

World War Hulk by Greg Pak, illustrated by John Romita Jr.


When the Illuminati (Iron Man, Namor, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Professor X and Dr. Strange) decided to send the Hulk into deep space, they had no idea of the repercussions their action would have. It was only a matter of time before the Incredible Hulk found his way back home and he’s returned with a vengeance. Shortly following the events of Planet Hulk, this direct sequel follows Bruce Banner’s return to planet Earth seeking revenge on those who deep-sixed him. The Hulk returns under the impression that the Illuminati wanted to make sure he stayed away permanently by bombing the planet where the Hulk had made his new home. Little did the perpetrators know that the Hulk would survive both his wife and son. The Illuminati become the Hulk’s primary target as he wages war on some of Earth’s most intellectual heroes. Can they survive the full might of an angry Hulk? This all-out brawl between the smartest and the toughest will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. --Claudio Leon

Pak, Greg. World War Hulk. New York: Marvel Entertainment, 2014. Print.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The New Earth From Above: 365 Days by Yann Arthus-Bertrand


This rectangular pictorial seeks to bring immediate attention to the plight of the earth and its peoples through 365 fascinating and gorgeous aerial photographs of a wide variety of ecosystems around the world.  Originally presented as an international travelling photo exhibition, this dense volume shrinks the exhibition into a compact, portable portal for readers everywhere.

The New Earth is broken into twelve chapters corresponding to the twelve months of the year, and each chapter begins with a three-page essay by a different French author.  These contributors cover topics like climate change, biodiversity, renewable energy, abolishing poverty, and fair trade.  Students will be interested in seeing a garden greening a desert, olive groves, rice fields and frozen forests.  Each full-page photograph is accompanied by one paragraph of text explaining the image  and connecting it to the environmental and/or social context and threats alluded to in the visual.  The text is supplemented by a map detail with a “you are here” marker, providing geographical context, as well as the latitude and longitude address for the location.  Social Studies teachers planning lessons on map skills or preparing students for initial phases of inquiry brainstorming may find this book to be of use.  This text will likely appeal to browsers and reluctant readers.  Backmatter contains an index of countries, acknowledgements, and an overview of goodplanet.org.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Arthus-Bertrand, Yann.  The New Earth From Above 365 Days.  New York: Abrams, 2009.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Magic Card Tricks by Nicholas Einhorn



I cannot begin to tell you how many times students have asked me for books about card tricks.  Magic Card Tricks features a range of tricks at different levels of ability, each with step by step instructions and full color photographs illustrating each step.  Most tricks are managed with a deck (or two) of cards, though more advanced gimmicks require materials that may not be immediately available to students.  A thorough introduction gives an overview of magic performance and a brief history of card magic that segues smoothly into a section on basic card handling techniques.  Front and back matter includes a table of contents, glossary, index, and an international list of suppliers.  While there is no substitute for learning from a pro (or from video), Magic Card Tricks is a well-organized resource which manages to pack a great deal of information into a slim, accessible volume.  --Regan Schwartz

Einhorn, Nicholas. Magic Card tricks. Leicestershire, UK: Southwater, 2012. Print.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch by Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis



What is your favorite kind of cereal?  The Great American Cereal Book documents this quintessentially American invention from its very first ready-to-eat cold and boxed appearance in 1863 (Granula) through the present, with a focus on varieties produced by Kellogg’s, Post, General Mills, and their ilk.  Most cereal entries contain the name of the cereal, its producer, the start and end date of production, notable spokescharacters, and interesting facts.  The more familiar (Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes) are all here along with the obscure (Freakies, Quisps, Klondike Pete’s Crunchy Nuggets, Barbie Fairytopia.)  Occasional features are sprinkled throughout on topics like Marbits (freeze-dried marshmallows found in cereals like Lucky Charms), the origins of Rice Krispie Treats, and The Trix Rabbit Story.  Whether browsing the images of the boxes or reading the features, this volume offers a rich source of advertising examples and stories for analysis and will appeal to students and their teachers immersed in introductions to media studies.  Backmatter includes acknowledgements, credits, and an index, and information about the authors and photographers. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber


Gitlin, Marty and Topher Ellis.  The Great American Cereal Book:  How Breakfast Got Its Crunch.  New York: Abrams Image, 2011.

Click here and here
for examples of a lesson plan inviting students to create their own cereals and advertisements and to analyze the nutritional value of different cereals. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Interview Spotlight: Principal Baxter-Sweet

Passages Academy began 2015 under the guidance of a new principal and as we begin to wrap up this academic year, she graciously carved a bit of time out of her incredibly busy schedule for an interview.  We are very excited to introduce to you our new leader, Ms. Yvette Baxter-Sweet.

RS: Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing before taking the helm at Passages?

YBS: Prior to accepting the Principalship at Passages I was an Assistant Principal at East River Academy located on Rikers Island.  Prior to that I was an instructional/literacy coach for 5 years.  Last but not least I was a classroom teacher for 8 years in grades ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade.

RS: What is your favorite kind of text to read?  Where is your favorite place to read?

YBS: I love reading mysteries, fantasy and realistic fiction text.  I love to read anywhere when I have the time to read for enjoyment.

RS: What was your favorite book as a teenager?

YBS: There were a few that I liked and remember: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Down These Mean Streets and I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

RS: What do you like to do for fun when you're not reading?

YBS: I love to travel around the world as well as the country.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Post: Why I Think This World Should End by Prince Ea

In honor of Earth Day and National Poetry Month, my students and I watched rapper/activist Prince Ea perform his spoken-word poem “Why I Think This World Should End” about the damage humans have done to the environment. Noting the mass destruction of trees to make money, pollution caused by carbon emissions, and the government’s inability to prevent any of it, Prince Ea apologizes to future generations for leaving them a dismal place to live.  Though Prince Ea’s message reveals the brutal reality of the Earth’s decaying state, it also provides hope by reminding viewers that individuals can take action.  My students were moved by the performance, and also alarmed by the new information they received.  One student, T, asked, “If they cut down all the trees, how are we going to survive?” J added, “How are we going to breathe?” Though my students were disturbed by the facts in the video, it prompted them to brainstorm ways they can help save the environment, including recycling, planting trees, car-pooling, taking public transportation, and minimizing their energy use.

I recommend this six-minute video to teachers, especially English teachers, who want to celebrate Earth day with their students. Because this video combines poetry with information about the environment, it serves well as an Earth Day/National Poetry Month text for the month of April.  --Mackenzie Magee


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Start It Up: The Complete Teen Business Guide to Turning Your Passions Into Pay by Kenrya Rankin



A reader interested in starting his or her own business need look no further than Start It Up. The book is a step by step guide on how to start one’s own business during one’s teenage years. This text’s ability to explain business jargon using simple terms makes this title easily accessible to high school students. Without overwhelming, Start It Up provides a good amount of information to get teens started on their business venture. Each chapter deals with a specific step of building, managing, sustaining and growing a business. The chapters conclude with a list of resources for further information and support on the topics discussed. The examples of teens who have started their own businesses can be helpful in demonstrating that a business doesn’t have to be overly complex and that anyone can do it as long as he or she is willing to invest the time and effort. Young entrepreneurs will have their hands full while they start up their own business; the resources in this book will help them plan and stay on track.--Claudio Leon

Rankin, Kenrya. Start It Up: The Complete Teen Business Guide to Turning Your Passions into Pay. San Francisco, 2011. Print.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson


Sixteen year old Kamala is having an identity crisis.  Born and raised in Jersey City in a Pakistani family, she’s beginning to feel like she doesn't fit in with either.  No one really understands her Avengers obsession or her love of fanfiction, and her parents say they trust her but won’t even consider letting her go to a party...at the waterfront...with boys.  In a late-night act of defiance, she sneaks out to the party and almost immediately regrets her decision.  She doesn't feel “normal” at all and the meatheads and clique-girls are only meaner and more xenophobic once it looks like Kamala has ditched her culture.  As she storms off and heads home a weird mist envelopes the city.  Out of the mist Iron Man, Captain America and Captain Marvel appear to Kamala.  When Captain Marvel asks Kamala, “Who do you want to be?” she answers, “I want to be you.”  But being Captain Marvel is not the cure-all Kamala had hoped for.  She has powers she can barely control, parents who are outraged at her disobedience, friends (and frenemies) in trouble, and a city that needs a superhero.  Ms. Marvel is here and Jersey will never be the same. --Regan Schwartz

Wilson, G. Willow, and Adrian Alphona. Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal. New York: Marvel Entertainment, 2014. Print.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pluto by Naoki Urasawa


In the future, robots and humans have fought many wars together and now live, relatively peaceably, side-by-side.  International robot laws are in place and these legal restrictions prohibit robots from killing humans.  In spite of a recent civil rights movement for robots, they are still discriminated against by humans, and the protagonist of this murder mystery is a robot member of an international police agency who passes for human named Gesicht.  As the series begins, Gesicht is investigating the recent chilling destruction of a beloved robot and global hero and a string of murders, trying to determine a motive.

This eight volume manga series brings Astro Boy and the grandfather of manga to a fresh audience with fresh perspective.  It begins with a re-imagining of the premise of the recent war in Afghanistan.  In doing so, it raises questions for readers of the nature of sentient life, the implications of artificial intelligence, the features of a post-conflict diverse society, and explores notions of human rights and civil rights in the future.  Fans of manga who loved Death Note and are looking for a new series will devour this one. ---Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Urasawa, Naoki and Osamu Tezuka.  Pluto.  San Francisco: Viz Media, 2008.  Print.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa


After losing their bodies in an alchemy experiment gone wrong, Edward and Alphonse Elric set out on a journey for the only item that can bring their bodies back: the Philosopher’s Stone. The two brothers must overcome many challenges and are forced to choose between what they want most or save those they love. The Elrics will meet many memorable characters along their way in this typically stylized manga series which spans across twenty-seven volumes. As with many popular shonen, themes such as friendship, perseverance, grit and self-sacrifice are woven into this series. The black and white drawings are sharp and full of details which bring to life the multitude of action scenes found in nearly every chapter. Readers of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece are sure to enjoy following Edward and Alphonse along their epic journey.--Claudio Leon

Arakawa, Hiromu. Fullmetal Alchemist. San Francisco: Viz, 2005. Print.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to Fake A Moon Landing by Darryl Cunningham


So how does homeopathy work? Wait, does homeopathy work? What is the difference between straight and reform chiropractic?  Is fracking ingenious or dangerous or both?  Inquiring minds want to know.
In this age of sweeping conspiracy theories, climate change denial, and anti-vaccination hysteria we are awash is mis-and-disinformation.  It can be difficult to separate fact from convincing fiction and teaching students to do just that is a key component of developing information literacy.  This is where How to Fake a Moon Landing shines.  In accessible, comic book format, Darryl Cunningham presents seven prevalent controversies as well as an overview of science denial.  Beyond simply offering examples and information to counter the claims of conspiracy theorists and deniers, Cunningham consistently models asking good questions and synthesizing information from multiple sources.  With an extensive list of sources and a cartoon format that belies the density of the information found within, How to Fake a Moon Landing is perhaps best suited to instructional use.  Though avid readers of graphic nonfiction and science buffs will find plenty to ponder.--Regan Schwartz


A teacher’s guide is available from the publisher here.

Cunningham, Darryl, and Andrew Revkin. How To Fake A Moon Landing. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2013. Print.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Interivew Spotlight: Daniel Vargas

Hi there.  We've been busier than usual with poetry programming and free comic book day-- pictures coming soon!  We've been meaning to introduce you to Daniel Vargas who is kindly filling in for our teammate Anja Kennedy at our Bronx Hope site.  Daniel gamely answered a few questions for us so we could introduce you.  Without further ado: Daniel Vargas in his own words.


JFS:  Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing before arriving at Passages?

DV:  Prior to arriving at passages, I was enjoying being free from a fixed work schedule for the first time in my life. I was reading a lot of fiction, spending time outdoors and exploring the real estate field.


JFS:  What is your favorite kind of text to read?


DV:  From a very early age, I have been partial to fiction. Fiction delves into virtually all aspects of the human experience which enables fiction readers to be proficient in non-fiction as well. Besides the pleasure derived from an intriguing, well-written story, the reader is witness to the age-old struggle between good and evil from the safety of his favorite reading space.

JFS:  Where is your favorite place to read?


DV:  It depends. I favor the dining room table --with my back the wall, to read the newspaper, correspondence and non-fiction in general. But when it comes to fiction, I’m partial to the couch in the family room. I have, on occasion, read a paperback 18 feet above ground, on a tree stand, waiting for deer to go by.

JFS:  What was your favorite book as a teenager?


DV:  It’s difficult for me to identify a favorite book. Normally, several titles come to mind that define a genre or a time. Suffice it to say that I read a lot of comics and Greek mythology as a teenager. Also, I remember nights when my whole family listened to readalouds of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. I was impacted by El coronel no tiene quien le escriba, by Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez, for I was exposed to a course word for the first time, in a superbly written story. Later on, I was deeply touched by Jorge Icaza’s Huasipungo because of its raw images and strong stand against injustice.


JFS:  What do you like to do for fun when you're not reading?

DV:  I love the outdoors. I enjoy camping, fishing and hunting. In the summer, my wife and I fight for space in our small backyard vegetable patch.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

SLSIDY UnConference is Tomorrow


Tomorrow, April 24th, Passages Academy Libraries will host the fourth annual School Libraries Serving Incarcerated and Detained Youth UnConference.  We look forward to an exciting, attendee-driven day!

Friday, April 17, 2015

How To Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop Emcee by Paul Edwards


Where to write?  Use paper or go digital… or keep it all in your head?  Make your own beats or collaborate with a producer?  How to plan your flow in connection with the beat and write it out so you can remember?  These are just some of the essential questions a novice rapper may contemplate and Paul Edwards has solicited advice from over 100 artists-- some of them as well-known as Q-Tip, will.i.am, and Shock G, some lesser known, and organized their perspectives and insights into four parts: content, flow, writing and delivery.  Within these four parts, topics are addressed by subject matter like content forms (chapter two in part one, including braggadocio, story, abstract and humorous) and rhyme (chapter five in part two, addressing perfect rhyme, assonance, alliteration and consonance, compound rhymes, and coming up with rhymes).  The table of contents is specific and makes subtopics easy to locate.  There is plenty here to keep an interested reader busy and nothing to intimidate besides length--over 300 pages.  While the artists themselves are not always the most articulate, Edwards presents them in their own vernacular.  Teachers might not be happy to read four-letter words in regular use, but younger readers will appreciate the uncensored language.  Backmatter includes an annotated list of interviewees and a helpful index. Recommended for teen patrons who already write or say they would like to write rhymes.  Circulates frequently with Mitchell’s Hip Hop Rhyming Dictionary. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber


Edwards, Paul.  How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop Emcee. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2009

Bill Batterman expounds on how to use this book to teach public speaking and debate skills on his blog, The 3nr, here.  The post includes an excellent short list of links to lyrics he deems useful to the would-be high school debater.