booktalks, book_reviews, YA lit

Something Noble by William Kowalski

Dre is in high school and needs a kidney transplant fast, and LeVon, his drug-dealing half-brother is the only one who has his same blood type and can save his life.  They have the same father.  Dre has been told that his half-brother is no good and to stay away from him all his life. Now they need LeVon. If you like emotional stories and stories that cut through stereotypes this is a book for you. On the outside, LeVon is a destroying his life and lives of those around him. But if you read this book, you will see who LeVon is on the inside.

author of the month, YA lit

“Locomotion” by Jacqueline Woodson

This is a window into one of JW’s most magical short novels, a novel in verse, written as a series of poems, but poems that tell the story of Lonnie:

Lonnie’s mom and dad died in a fire. His little sister now lives with a rich family far away. Lonnie is with Miss Edna. Still living in Brooklyn, still going to school, writing poetry in Ms. Marcus’s class, trying to make sense of what has happened.  This excerpt is Lonnie remembering his mother–her voice and her story about him being born premature and nearly not making it, as she is cooking up a chicken:

“Mama cut the wing off the chicken, rinsed

it under the faucet, patted it dry–real gentle

like she was deep remembering.

So I  hoped and prayed and sat by that tiny 

baby every hour of every day for weeks

and more weeks. Doctors said it’s his lungs,

they’re just not ready for the world yet. Can’t

take a breath in. Can’t let one out. So I breathed

for you, trying to show you how, I

prayed to those lungs, Mama said. Grow!

The chicken was cut up, spiced up, dipped

in flour and ready to fry. mama touched each piece

still real gentle before she slipped it into the hot

oil. Then you were four pounds, five pounds, six pounds

bigger than this chicken. My big little baby boy

not even two months old and already

a survivor.” (p. 74)


authors, High school, YA lit

YA author Patty Blount visits City-As-School

Author Patty Blount came to visit our school December 18th, 2015. She talked about what inspired her to write Some Boys, or as she put it what pissed her off so much. She got fed up at a 50-something year-old man getting 30 days in prison for raping a 14-year-old. She shared a lot of her thinking about what contributes to rape culture. Women’s feelings of shame and women’s bodies being treated as objects contribute, as does victim blaming and not believing people when they say they have been assaulted. Sexual assault occurs to 1 in 5 women and to 1 in 33 men.

We talked about Grace’s strength to confront all the harassment and humiliation at school when she does not retract her accusation that Zac, the captain of the lacrosse team raped her on a date. The book is told in two alternating points of view: Grace’s and Ian’s, Zac’s best friend. There are themes of truth and what constitutes the truth. We don’t really know who is telling the truth until the end, and then the evidence is irrefutable.

I think we can all be transformed by books….Reading Some Boys made us see how writing can help us heal. It helps us to organize all that messiness of life and put it behind us. One of the strongest messages I heard was to make more of an effort to believe our friends if they come to us and tell us they have been sexually assaulted, and support them, and not participate in behaviors that put unnecessary pressures on men to be masculine/sole providers and or on women to be trophies/objects/possessions to be had. Also to realize that if this has happened to us, it is not because we were “asking for it.” No. No one asks to be raped.

Thank you, Patty!

Student book reviews

The Girlfriend by R. L. Stine

by Marielle

Girls are crazy! Some are just plain insane. Scotty’s life is like a fairy tale. He is captain of the football team, he has a beautiful girlfriend whose Dad guarantees him a well paying job when he finished school. When Scotty’s girlfriend Lora is away on a trip to Paris, he begins to have a little fun. He gets involved with another girl. He goes on one date with her. Now she is obsessed with him. Now Scotty has to stop her before she “stops” him.

(Scholastic, 2004)

Student book reviews

Specials by Scott Westerfield

by Naomi

Jumped off high buildings, taking extreme risks. Even jumped off a floating ice skating rink! Tally survived all of these things as a “pretty” and more. Now she’s a special. She has excellent vision, sharp sense and very strong.

Shay and Tally go on a whole new adventure trying to look the New Smoke, the hideout for “uglies” who refuse to turn into “pretties”.

Will they make it? Will they get caught? Read it!

(Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2007)

Student book reviews

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

By Lisa

Tally would risk anyone’s life to be a pretty. Everything she’s ever wanted could crumble. The question tally faces is what’s in it for the others.

Tally Youngblood is a fifteen year old girl who’s turning sixteen years old. Tally lives in a society where everyone has to be a pretty. Her dream may crumble if she doesn’t do what certain people want her to do. Tally is on a mission which includes betrayal and finding her true self.

Uglies is a page turner, fast paced, and mind blowing. Uglies is out of this world. It’s futuristic and unique.

Don’t get your hopes up Tally.

by Naomi

Tally and Shay are best friends who really want to become pretty. Becoming pretty
is a month away for both of them, on their birthday. But as time passes by, Shay starts
to see the good side of being ugly. The way Shay sees it, being ugly is heaven, and
being pretty just makes people dumb. But for Tally, becoming pretty is the goal.
When Shay goes away to the smoke, a hidden place where some of the Uglies
go, Tally is left to make a decision. Will she stay ugly. Or become pretty? What would you do?
Read it and find out!
(Simon & Schuster, 2005)

(Simon & Schuster, 2007)