Thursday, May 25, 2017

Weird Butterflies & Moths Text by Ronald Orenstein Photography by Thomas Marent

Both images are from the photographer's website,

Thomas Marent’s stunning high-definition photographs of moths and butterflies are each accompanied by six to eight sentences from Dr. Ronald Ornstein who holds a PhD in zoology and has authored numerous books on science and nature.  His tack in this title is to whet the reader’s appetite for more with intriguing facts about butterflies and moths.  The last third of the book showcases some of the more surprising images of caterpillars and a couple of pupas. This book will work well for developing a student’s interest in an inquiry undertaking and can be read from start to finish or browsed.  Backmatter is limited to an index and Orenstein’s one-page introduction provides a welcoming invitation to this 63-page volume.  Perfect for reluctant readers and less-sophisticated adolescents reading at an upper-elementary or lower-middle school level. —Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Orenstein, Ronald and Thomas Marent.  Weird Butterflies & Moths.  New York: Firefly Books, 2016.  Print.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor

“I am wild, untamed, unattached, unfettered.”  O’Connor does not disappoint when he finally allows us to hear Artemis’ voice, but he takes a while to get there, permitting several other voices to narrate Artemis’ story.  While the transitions do not always go smoothly, it is a small price to pay for the overall effect of O’Connor’s manner of weaving together multiple storylines to present an Artemis with a rare emotional complexity and challenging family situation.  The quality of care and creativity displayed in the storytelling and artwork is surprisingly paralleled in the front- and backmatter, which includes a very helpful family tree, character pages, discussion questions, annotated bibliography, and notes.  The latter two do an admirable job conveying the author’s humorous and playful attitude toward his seriously well-done research and thus conveys the persona of a researcher/writer/artist in a context generally skipped over by casual young readers.  Artemis is a valuable teaching text students will be motivated to read independently.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

O’Connor, George.  Artemis:  Wild Goddess of the Hunt.  New York: First Second, 2017. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Programming Spotlight: Dream Jordan Visits Horizon Juvenile Detention Center

Dream Jordan visits Passages Academy's school library at Horizon Juvenile Detention Center on May 10th, 2017.  Photo credit: Claudio Leon.

Author of YA novels Hot Girl and Bad Boy, Dream Jordan, visited the Horizon library on May 10th. She spoke with several students about her work and her life and gave students advice on how to stay above the problems they often face. Ms. Jordan was very inspiring to our students and they all loved getting to meet and speak with her. --Claudio Leon

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui

While the introductory premise to this manga series requires quite a suspension of disbelief--an alien threatening to destroy Earth has chiselled away most of the moon and can only be placated by being allowed to teach a group of struggling Japanese middle school students how to assassinate him along with their regular school subjects--manga fans will enjoy joining the group of students who are at the bottom of their school’s totem pole and marveling at a teacher who can regenerate limbs and fly through the air at a speed of Mach 20.  The violence of classroom assassination attempts makes this unsuitable for younger readers, but the violence is so over-the-top as to be unrealistic.  The storyline allows various students to express their feelings of frustration in regard to teachers at their demanding school as they try to determine Sensei Koro’s weaknesses and appreciate his successes as well as his care for them.  Originally published weekly in a manga magazine, the story is episodic and seems to grow in complexity as new characters are introduced and the plot thickens. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, May 5, 2017

Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred: a Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy

Dana is a young black writer living in California during the 1970s when she is suddenly thrust back in time to a slaveholding plantation in Maryland.  She quickly learns that it is Rufus, the plantation master’s son, who has the mysterious power to call her back whenever his life is in danger.  Dana learns that Rufus is actually her ancestor, and as she watches him take over the plantation, she struggles to ensure her own existence as saving Rufus becomes more repulsive.  Thirty-five years after Octavia Butler’s most popular novel was first published, the graphic adaptation does not shy away from the horrors and brutality of slavery.  Although technically a work of science fiction, this adaptation could easily support a unit of study on American history and may appeal to students who like historical graphic novels. --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Duffy, Damian. Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred: a graphic novel adaptation. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2017. Print.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Princess Jellyfish Volume 1 by Akiko Higashimura

Tsukimi is a young woman whose passion in life is jellyfish and whose mother has passed away, leading Tsukimi to move into a women-only building in Tokyo. While she finds community with her new neighbors, her newfound independence amongst the like-minded amars is threatened when she is befriended by an attractive cross-dressing boy who happens to be the son of a powerful Japanese politician.   Will the amars be able to accept Tsukimi’s new friend?  Will their community survive a developer’s attempt to take it over?  These volumes collect the Princess Jellyfish series which was originally published in 2008 in serial format and was released as anime in 2010.  Fans of anime will enjoy reading the print, and female manga readers who are not yet familiar with the characters will enjoy the discovery that awaits them, blending otaku culture, humor, suspense, and romance, along with a plotline that involves the politics of gentrification.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Higashimura, Akiko.  Princess Jellyfish (Book 1).  New York: Kodashna Comics, 2016.  Print.