Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliot

Q: Why wouldn’t the lion eat the clown?  
A: He tasted funny.  

Nothing lightens the heavy mood common in detention centers more easily than jokes, even the groan-inducing variety.  Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids keeps it clean and punny with this light volume divided into five sections, the largest of which are riddles, animal jokes, and knock-knock jokes.  The other two, tongue twisters and “Some Things to Think About” are pleasant add-ons for the reader whose mouth is beginning to hurt from laughing but not yet ready to put the book away.  Perfect for younger students who are just now ready for language play and looking for an easy laugh, or a developing reader who enjoys the performative and/ or social aspects of literacy. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Elliot, Rob.  Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids.  Grand Rapids: Spire, 2010.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bad Girls by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple

History is full of women who would not behave - some were criminals while some were fighting for a place in a society that had no place for them.  Unfortunately, their stories have often gone overlooked and untold.  In Bad Girls, the mother-daughter team of Yolen and Stemple have profiled twenty-four infamous ladies, capping each woman’s chapter with a one-page comic of the authors performing their research, debating the subject’s badness, and discussing the cultural context for each subject’s actions.  The book’s conclusion focuses on this cultural context and how gender roles have changed over time.  It encourages readers to draw their own conclusions about the women featured within which may make for lively debate.  With an extensive bibliography and index, Bad Girls is an excellent text for inquiry, in addition to being an engaging read. --Regan Schwartz

Discussion guide available from the publisher here.

Yolen, Jane and Heidi Stemple. Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, murderesses, thieves, and other female villains. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2013. Print.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Programming Spotlight: Paul Griffin Visits Belmont

L-R: Student, Erica Nadel, Mackenzie Magee, Paul Griffin, Student, Ms. Shenice
photo by Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Three groups of students at Passages Academy's Belmont site received a visit and books from Paul Griffin, author of Stay With Me, Burning Blue, The Orange Houses, and Ten Mile River.  Paul fielded questions with his trademark graciousness and encouraged students to work on telling their own stories.  "Very inspirational!" remarked one participant, summing up the experience of many.  --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

This program was initiated by the American Association of Publishers' Adopt-A-School initiative.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

DIY Nail Art by Catherine Rodgers

Calling all manicurists, manicure-lovers and nail art admirers. Are you looking for creative inspiration? This slim volume is packed with fun ideas for a wide range of technical skills, illustrated with full color, realistic photographs. In just a few succinct pages, the reader learns how to prep the nails for a flawless and long-lasting manicure and exactly which tools will be needed to achieve the decorative designs. The following format is straightforward and simple; the left page has a picture of the finished manicure, the right side has pictures of each step along with written instructions. Students and staff alike enjoy flipping through the pages and choosing their favorites. Recommended for how-to collections, for both independent reading and instructional use on procedural nonfiction. --Anja Kennedy

Rodgers, Catherine. DIY Nail Art. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2013. Print.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lion Boy by Zizou Corder

In the future, private automobiles are illegal, cell phones are powered by the sun, and Charlie’s African dad and British mum have been kidnapped by idiots and are being held on a submarine. What’s a boy to do?  In Charlie’s case, he has the secret special ability to speak Cat.  Yes, Cat, the language of cats.  Will his ability to talk to cats in their own language help him reunite with his parents?

Lion Boy is a trilogy bearing some resemblance to the Harry Potter series, though it never became the world-wide phenomenon.  It will appeal to readers looking for another series taking place in a semi-fantastical world where dark threats abound and magical things can happen… sometimes.  -Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Corder, Zizou.  Lion Boy.  New York: Penguin, 2003.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Why, you ask, would an incarcerated or detained teen be interested in carrying around a book with the words “wimpy kid” on the cover? Well, that same question crossed my mind when I first began working at Passages, and I mistakenly didn’t order these books for the library because I didn’t think there would be any demand for them. I was so wrong. As students steadily began to ask me about them, I added the series to my order list and they haven’t stopped flying off the shelves since.

In the first book, the main character of the series, Greg, is a fairly geeky middle schooler who thinks pretty highly of himself -- according to him (it is his journal after all), his classmates are morons, his teachers are clueless, and he spends a lot of time trying to figure out the politics and social dynamics of middle school. He can behave like a bully himself, especially towards those lower on the social ladder, but readers can’t help but laugh at the many ridiculous situations he and his best friend Rowley find themselves in. Told in first person narrative with cartoonish illustrations and a handwritten-style font, both attributed to Greg, this book and the rest of the series is highly engaging and popular with a wide variety of students. Because they are now available in paperback, students in secure facilities can enjoy them soon! --Anja Kennedy

Kinney, Jeff.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  New York: Amulet-Abrams, 2007.  Print.