The Martian by Andy Weir

 What if you, an astronaut, were stranded on Mars by your crew, and left for dead with minimal supplies and life support? Would you have what it takes to survive? 

Why it’s super: 

“Stayin’ Alive!” 


The Martian
has a great, traditional thriller/horror setup with huge stakes. The first rule of horror is to  take away methods of communication and isolate the character. In this case, rather than a cut telephone line, it’s the radio and all contact with Earth so that they don’t even know that you are alive! Leave it yourself to be rescued! The similarities end there, and then the book becomes a survivial story about a the harsh and unforgiving surface of Mars versus one man’s ingenuity and the powers of NASA.

Much like Hugh Howey and his book, Wool, Andy Weir started the publication process by releasing the book chapter by chapter on his website, then offering it on Amazon for a minimal price, and finding himself a bestselling author soon after.  The chapters were designed to keep you reading, and they do just that! Page to page, the astronaut must solve problems that, in many cases, he himself created as a result of past solutions. 

Curriculum Connections: This book details problems and solutions in many fields, including botany (environmental science,) chemistry, physics, and mathematics, which is integrated throughout the whole story. Looking for that book to bridge the gap between literature and mathematics? Well, this is it! 

Why it’s villainous: 

Mark Watney, our “down-to-earth” Martian protagonist, brings humor and realism to a highly imaginative hypothetical situation. The humor almost balances out the math, but not quite! 

This book might be too much hard science fiction for some people, but a relief for many traditional sci fi fans. These books have become much more rare in the genre, but originally a book labeled science fiction would include mathematical computations of some sort, or some hard science to back up the story. Nowadays, in a world of computer graphics in movies, science fiction has moved away from science and into the world of pure fantasy. It has also been used as a means to describe social problems or to explore philosophy, as it does in our favorites, Star Wars and Star Trek. I myself was puzzled by the lack of a Martian monster, what with the dreamy quality of the cover, but excited by the prospects of utilizing the book in the classroom. 

Conclusion: 

This book is a great blend between imagination, the “What If?” question about a likely future, mixed with real science to back it up. That is, after all, what science fiction is all about! 

Tip: Read it while enjoying a hearty baked potato and some 70’s disco playing in the background!

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LAPL Teen Author Reading Night~July 2013

LAPL’s Teen Author Reading Series hit the road on Thursday, July 29th, and came to The Los Feliz Branch Library! Five wonderful authors read from their latest books, discussed their inspirations, romance, sharks, and science! Moderated by the fantastic Cecil Castellucci and arranged by LAPL’s teen librarian Mary McCoy! Look out for more events through LAPL!

Attending Authors:

EJ Altbacker- Shark Wars Book 6: The Last Emprex
Marni Bates- Invisible
Francesca Lia Block- Love in the Time of Global Warming
Cecil Castellucci- Tin Star
Jessi Kirby- Golden
Eve Silver- Rush (The Game, #1)

“You save our souls,” Cecil said to Francesca early in the evening. Isn’t that what books do, save our souls? Something in the artist’s soul must come out and be expressed, and tonight five authors explored how various things from their lives mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) found their way into their respective books!

IMG_3233_editFor Marni Bates, author of Awkward and Invisible, that includes mini-rants on various topics that end up in her books. She said that her books are a great outlet for what she calls, “Marni’s Mini Rants!” She was greatly inspired by children’s book author Gordon Korman, and a story about a cursed necklace! The thing that has surreptitiously crept into her writing is her secret love of preposterous deaths!

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The inspiration that made its’ way into Golden by Jessi Kirby was her love of the poet Robert Frost! In the story, the main character Parker may even be a distant relative of Frost. Golden integrates a dead girl’s journal entries with Parker’s life. Kirby said that, surprisingly, the journal entries were actually the hardest parts of the novel to write, especially when they had to include clues about the girl’s mysterious death.

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EJ, the author of Shark Wars, knew a lot about sharks and other weird large creatures when he was 10, so he was confident that he knows the kinds of things that 10-year-olds are interested in. EJ is the type of guy who, when seeing an 800 pound frog in the news would not just say, “Wow,” but ask himself, “Where do I need to go? How can I see that frog… AND PET IT?!”

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Eve is a scientist in addition to being a writer, so she had to remind herself not to delve too deeply into the scientific descriptions of things in order to keep the story in Rush moving along at breakneck speed! Expect lots of action and suspense in her new YA trilogy!

Cecil_1Cecil Castellucci has always been a fan of science-fiction and other nerdy things, long before it was cool for girls to be into it. Cecil argued that they’ve always been into it! Maybe people just needed to take notice. She’s also the coolest Nerdy Girl you will ever meet, and is quite an expert on science fiction and YA literature, so her latest book, Tin Star, will most definitely be out of this world!

The authors agreed that indulging your passions is what other people connect to. So if you find yourself constantly saying, “It would be cool if….” make it happen in your work! Chances are that someone else will find it very cool, too.

IMG_3232_editMarni said that celebrity culture is both fascinating and disturbing at the same time. In terms of romance, Marni looked at your usual romantic comedy and wondered, “Why isn’t the main character, who is happy at the end of the story, worried that her best friend isn’t happy?” That was the main idea behind Invisible, which stars “the best friend.”

EJ was asked if there is shark romance in Shark Wars. He had everyone gasping for breath when he responded, “Well, we have familiar and group rubs!” IMG_3247_edit

The discussion turned to how a YA book can be about other things besides just romance. EJ mentioned that in the past, fantasy had less romance and still, many people loved the stories. In The Lord of the Rings, for instance, the romance between Aragorn and Arwen is partially imagined by the reader. So perhaps time and the genre has come to reflect more romance because that is what has been popular, and it is a part of the experience of growing up, and the coming-of-age tale. Jessi described Golden as primarily a Coming-of-Age story.

IMG_3243_edit

3257_EditThe larger story can be about a galactic war, like Cecil’s novel Tin Star, but have some romance thrown in the mix. How is that done without making it all about the romance? Good conflict with interesting sparks is what you need to bring the larger ideas into the more personal. Cecil and EJ talked about Green Lantern: The Animated Series and how the fans really wanted Red Lantern and Ia, (artificial intelligence,) to date! Fans immediately felt the sparks between the two characters and wanted more. The authors agreed that no matter what, there needs to be an arc for the characters. They need to change!

IMG_3251_editFrancesca Lia Block re-read The Odyssey for inspiration for Love in the Time of Global Warming, but looked to use the encounters and the monsters to describe a more personal story. Mythology has always been a big part of her life as a reader and a storyteller, but she uses it to express her own emotional truth, rather than just relying on the action in the original story. In particular, Francesca connected to the hero’s journey because she has had some experiences lately that taught her that sometimes in life, you have to really fight.

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Francesca Lia Block may continue on with an adaptation of The Aeneid, and forthcoming is an adult story about a serial killer!
EJ Altbacker is still working on finishing up Shark Wars and also currently working on the television adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Spooksville!
Up next from Marni Bates is Notable, the third book in the Awkward series!
Jessi Kirby has a new story brewing, but it hasn’t quite taken form yet.
Next for Eve Silver are Push and Crash, the next two installments of The Game Trilogy!

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Twelve Dancing Princesses. Barrager, Brigette. (2011). Chronicle Books. Ages 4-8. ISBN-10: 9780811876964

I don’t normally review children’s books here, but I just had to write about my absolutely favorite new find!

Have you been aching for a traditional fairy tale told in just the right way to delight the truest princess fans? Barrager’s retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale is uniquely funny and equal parts regal and mysterious. The illustrations are lush and fragrant as the flowers the princesses are named for. The book is tinged with magical charm and whimsical characters which will delight not just younger children, but stay with them as they grow older and more able to decipher the quick and meticulously chosen language. As Pip learns the key to the princesses’ mysterious disappearance each night, readers will learn the meaning of words like “proclamation,” “antidote,” and “vapor.” Not only does the story flow in perfect pitch, but each illustration, from the first to the last page, is only more magnificent than the last. This book should be an instant classic and I can’t wait to see what accolades are in order for this talented and extraordinary author and illustrator!

I’m looking out for Confessions of a Wannabe Cheerleader, illustrated by Barrager, out this July, 2011!

Curriculum Ties

Kindergarten through 2nd Grade: Flowers and colors

Older Art Students: Color and Design, Perspective

About the Author

Brigette Barrager graduated from California Institute of the Arts in 2007. She loves “tea and books and general old-lady-ish stuff.”

Brigette’s portfolio and art blog can be found at:

http://brigetteb.blogspot.com/

http://www.brigettebportfolio.blogspot.com/

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Across the Universe. By Beth Revis. (2011). Razorbill (Penguin). ISBN-10: 1595143971.

Amy has a choice: To be cryogenically frozen for 300 years so that she can be with her family when they wake up, or to go back to her life on Earth. She chooses the stars, but her fate now rests in the hands of those on the ship.

Plot Summary

When Amy is awoken from a cryogenically frozen sleep years early, she and Elder, the boy who has been tasked with the future leadership of the ship’s population, must find out who unplugged Amy, and why. Why would someone want to kill Amy, a “nonessential” member of the frozen crew who were hand-picked because of their skills and background related to re-colonization of a new Earth? Elder has grown up knowing that he would be the next leader of the ship, the leader of the generation to land on a new world, but there are many secrets which the ship holds, and their answers lie in a man drunk with power and obsessed with order and control over his people.

Critical Evaluation

The first chapter, which details being cryogenically frozen, is alarming, yet fascinating, and this same feeling will catapult you through the entire novel as Amy and Elder learn more and more about the ship made of metal, recycled air, a false sun, and lies.

Advanced students, who loved  The Giver in their younger years, will be thrilled to pick up this dark and lonely tale which takes place almost entirely in space.

The characters, the pacing, and the mystery are impeccably well-done. Amy is a courageous and strong female protagonist who is not without faults and deep emotions, and Elder’s character is a clear, logical product of his upbringing. With Amy’s help, he begins to question the morality of his own society, and has the courage to do something about it when the time comes.

About the Author

Beth Revis worked as an English teacher before the debut of Across the Universe, her first published novel. Part of her inspiration for the book came from the loneliness she felt in her first year of college, away from home.

http://www.bethrevis.com/

http://acrosstheuniversebook.com/

Genre

-Science fiction

-Dystopian YA Fiction

Curriculum Ties

-Genetics

-Historical Tyrants

-Pre-College Counseling

Booktalking Ideas

– What would you do if you found yourself trapped on a spaceship headed for a new Earth? How would you choose to rule an entire society held within its walls?

-If you could go to outer space or a new planet, would you go?

-Are there any problems with our own society that you could see yourself trying to change? What would you do?

Reading Level/Interest Age

-Ages 16-18

Challenge Issues

This book could frighten younger readers, and it contains some fairly dark and depressing moments, all of which would be quite plausible in people living entirely in space. Depression gets the better of some of the characters, but the overall tone of the novel is that you can find hope and strength within yourself and that you can escape injustice by working hard to change things.

Teenage depression is a real, often destructive thing, and this novel can be a way to bring about discussion with teens about their own lives and feelings.

Another possible challenge issue in Across the Universe is sexual content. While the main characters never engage in sex themselves, the society is described as one which goes through a “mating season.” There is a scene of near-rape in the book, however, it does not fully happen, and serves to illustrate the problems of the society as a result of a severely misguided leadership.

Why Did You Include This Title?

I have always been a fan of science fiction, and jumped at a chance to read this new book written specifically for young adult readers. In my opinion, there is simply not enough new science fiction written for teens! Thankfully, I was not disappointed in the least with this one! What I found was a mystery, a love story, a bit of science, and an imagining of humanity’s possible future in the search for a new planetary home.

The title is already an Amazon Best Book of the Month, the first month of its release.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles. By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (2000). Alladin. # ISBN-10: 068983571X.

Plot Summary

Sherlock Holmes and Watson are called to investigate the mysterious death of Charles Baskerville, at his estate on the dark and frightening moors. A curse has been blamed for his death, the curse which calls hounds to kill a Baskerville every generation!

Critical Evaluation

During the investigation, letters are sent, boots go missing, spying is carried out, and while this seems like a lot of meandering, it’s like watching a Pink Panther film where the detective is a bit clumsy and confused by clues, but manages to figure everything out in the nick of time!

Not only a downright fun mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a study in mood, taking hints from both Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Bronte. The moor filled with ruins, family lore, and howling at night sets the stage for a fantastic tale!

Watson narrates this story, and the relationship between he and Sherlock Holmes is one of the greatest things about the book. Teens may need patience to get through it, but if they like gothic horror or mysteries, they may just love this British tale of the ghost hound!

Reader’s Annotation

Sherlock Holmes and Watson travel to the British moors to investigate the death of Charles Baskerville, said to be caused by a ravenous, ghastly hound!

About the Author
Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He credited his mother for influencing his storytelling abilities the most. After finishing high school, Doyle’s father was admitted to an insane asylum. Some of Doyle’s influences when he penned his first short story included Edgar Allan Poe and Bret Harte. Doyle studied medicine, but went on to have many adventures and travels after graduating. In 1888, the first Sherlock Holmes story was published, and in May of 1981, Holmes quit his medical practice and became a full-fledged author.

http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/
Genre
-Action/Adventure
-Mystery

Curriculum Ties

-Literature

Booktalking Ideas

-Ever wanted to read a book just like Clue, the boardgame? Well here is the inspiration!

Reading Level/Interest Age

-Ages 12+

Challenge Issues
None
Why Did You Include This Book?

With the distribution of the newest Sherlock Holmes movie, the novels are bound to find an extended audience for a short time. This work belongs with the likes of Emily Bronte, Edgar Allan Poe, and those which have had a lasting effect on media and literature for many years. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories certainly do so, as is evident by the number of films Sherlock Holmes has inspired over the years.

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Return to Labyrinth, Volume 2. By Jake T. Forbes. Illustrated by Chris Lie. Cover by Kouyu Shurei. Los Angeles, CA. Tokyopop, 2007. ISBN: 9781598167269 and 159816726X.

Plot Summary

Jareth, The Goblin King, is slowly losing his powers. He makes a deal with his nemesis, who begins teaching Toby how to use magic. Instead of wondering about her motives, Toby gobbles up the magic lessons. Slowly, he begins to ignore the promises he has made to his friends, in order to prepare to be the heir of the Goblin Kingdom, but it can be a sick and twisted place, and Toby must keep his friends close if he is to make it through unscathed.

Critical Evaluation

The story is woven well as it switches between Toby’s magical training, goblin life, and the adventures of Toby’s new friends. Sarah and Jareth appear in the novel as well, with another cliffhanger that will have you clambering for the 3rd and 4th installments.

This volume, however, is special because it includes a 13 page guest art gallery featuring favorite characters from the Labyrinth. Sadly, there is still no artwork by Brian Froud to
be found.

The plot at this point remains unknown, but more sophisticated readers will begin to make guesses as to when characters holding secrets will reveal them, and what those secrets are.

Reader’s Annotation

As Toby is drawn further into the life of the goblins, other characters start to remember their ties to the human world. Will Toby realize the danger he is in before it is too late? Or will he continue on in the Labyrinth’s masquerade?

Author Information

Jake T. Forbes has written for other manga series, such as Chobits, Fruits Basket, and Fullmetal Alchemist. He has also worked as a “quest writer” for online MMORPGs. (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games!)

Chris Lee was a well known comic artist in Asia before attending Savannah College of Art and Design here in the states. He has worked on G.I. Joe, Sigma 6, ArashikageShowdown, and Josie and the Pussycats.

Genre
-Manga fantasy

Curriculum Ties

-Shakespeare and drama.

-Art and design. Drawing from Nature

-Fairy Tales

Booktalking Ideas

-What do you think about companies adapting Hollywood film ideas into Manga? Does it work, in your opinion?

-What do you think will happen to Toby in the next two volumes?

Reading Level/Interest Age

Rated “T” for “TeenAge 13+.” Grades 7-10.

Challenge Issues

Just like graphic novels, manga is primarily a visual mode of storytelling, so something which may seem innocuous in print form may be slightly more offending visually.
However, parents can rest assured that if they follow the ratings provided on most manga, the materials should be appropriate for the age groups specified. Manga also allows teens to become familiar with the storytelling style and culture of another country. Materials which support diversity are extremely valuable to our youth, especially in the global society in which we live.

Why did you include this book?

Great cover art, familiar characters, and a recognizable brand makes this series a great introduction to Manga.

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Return to Labyrinth, Volume 1. By Jake T. Forbes. (2006). Illustrated by Chris Lie. Cover by Kouyu Shurei. Los Angeles: Tokyopop. ISBN: 1598167251 or 9781598167252.

Plot Summary

Toby, kidnapped as a baby and held captive by the The Goblin King, is now a teenager. Throughout his life, things have always gone his way. All he had to do was make a wish. But the help he received wasn’t always without consequences… until the day that he decides he is going to do things himself. That is when he finds himself back in the Labyrinth. The very same Labyrinth that his sister had to solve in order for him to return home as a child. But for what purpose?

Critical Evaluation

This is a very quick read, despite the fantasy world you are dropped right into! Fresh new characters from the world of Labyrinth are endearing from the start. Pixie Hana and furry
monster Stank, to name a few! Fans of the 1986 feature film will enjoy the quick recap and cameo of Sarah, the main character from the film. The art also makes the world of the goblins endearing, and Labyrinth lends itself well to the format and style: sweeping and grandiose strokes in graphic black and white.

Sadly, however, there is no artwork by Brian Froud to be found. Fans of the original film may need to seek out other books, such as The Art of Brian Froud, if that is what they are looking for! This is a re-imagining of the world which Labyrinth is based on.

Overall, this story translates well into graphic novel format, but you simply will not be able to stop at the first volume. Luckily, there are only 4 volumes you’ll need to collect to enjoy the full story.

Reader’s Annotation

Be careful what you wish for- you just might get it. Toby is pulled back into The Labyrinth when he follows a goblin who stole his homework. Jareth has massive plans for Toby, which his new friends will help him navigate!

Author Information

Jake T. Forbes has written for other manga series, such as Chobits, Fruits Basket, and Fullmetal Alchemist. He has also worked as a “quest writer” for online MMORPGs. (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games!)

Chris Lee was a well known comic artist in Asia before attending Savannah College of Art and Design here in the states. He has worked on G.I. Joe, Sigma 6, ArashikageShowdown, and Josie and the Pussycats.

Genre
-Manga fantasy

-Graphic Novel

Curriculum Ties

-Shakespeare and drama.

-Art and design. Drawing from Nature

-Fairy Tales

Booktalking Ideas

-Have you ever taken the easy way out? How did it pan out in the end?

-Have you ever wanted to escape the pressures of your life and live out a fantasy?

-How is this book like The Wizard of Oz?

Reading Level/Interest Age

Rated “T” for “TeenAge 13+.” Grades 7-10.

Challenge Issues

Just like graphic novels, manga is primarily a visual mode of storytelling, so something which may seem innocuous in print form may be slightly more offending visually.
However, parents can rest assured that if they follow the ratings provided on most manga, the materials should be appropriate for the age groups specified. Manga also allows teens to become familiar with the storytelling style and culture of another country. Materials which support diversity are extremely valuable to our youth, especially in the global society in which we live.

Why did you include this book?

Great cover art, familiar characters, and a recognizable brand makes this series a great introduction to Manga.

Posted in Fantasy, Manga | Leave a comment

Thwonk. By Joan Bauer. (2005). Speak. ISBN-10: 0142404292.

Plot Summary

Your typical senior in high school, A.J. McCready wants nothing more than the perfect boyfriend, or even just the right boy to notice her, and for her photography to be recognized. When a real-life cupid comes to help her out, she gets everything she ever wanted…but the question remains…is this everything she really wanted?
Critical Evaluation

Thwonk is downright fun and oh so relatable. What girl hasn’t wished for that cute guy in the popular crowd to notice her?

While seemingly your regular ole chick lit fare, Thwonk surprises with its multi-talented and strong heroine, A.J. While the sudden appearance of the cupid seems a bit out of place, it is definitely a fun and romantic romp with a solid main character that girls can look up to!
Reader’s Annotation

A.J. McCready only wants two things: for Peter Terris to notice her and for her photography to be a success! When a cupid grants A.J. one arrow of love, the words “be careful what you wish for,” suddenly take on fresh meaning!

About the Author

Joan Bauer lives off of laughter and storytelling. Her grandmother’s stories were one of her greatest influences growing up. She had various jobs in the publishing industry, but found advertising to be too stressful, and turned back to writing. After a horrible accident which required massive surgery, Joan wrote Squashed, her first Young Adult Novel.

http://www.joanbauer.com/jbbio.html

Genre

-Chick Lit

Curriculum Ties
-Photography
-Yearbook

Booktalking Ideas

-Does Cupid Count when it comes to love?

-In literature, sometimes Mr.Wrong seems Oh So Right!

Reading Level/Interest Age

Ages 14+

Challenge Issues

None

Why Did You Include This Book?

Fun and witty, teens will love this book as much as Bauer’s award-winning Squashed! Even more romantic (Cupid is in it, how romantic can you get?!) but still with a kick-butt heroine with a serious hobby to book makes this title great for teen ladies.

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Catcher in the Rye. By J.D. Salinger. (2001). Back Bay Books. ISBN-10: 0316769177.

Plot Summary

A few days after being expelled from his private school, Pencey Prep, Holden Caulfield nears the brink of a mental breakdown, but ends up experiencing a lot of life; from prostitutes, to crazy roommates, to a simple day with his little sister. The reader is just lucky enough to be along for the ride, one which they’ll never forget.

Critical Evaluation

J.D. Salinger was the original “voice for teens.” No one has ever written so well a voice as strong an unabashed as Holden Caulfield’s. People of all ages still read Catcher in the Rye, as it lends itself to multiple re-reads throughout lifetimes and generations. Like those who read Mark Twain, those looking for a plot in Salinger’s work will be “shot,” or at the very least, disappointed. Perhaps then they should expect to find a slice-of-life, but one so well-written that you forget it’s even fiction. Catcher in the Rye takes place in just a few days of Holden’s life, but those few days will stay with a reader forever.

Reader’s Annotation

When Holden Caulfield is kicked out of his Pencey Prep, he has a number of adventures and revelations before he goes back home to tell his parents.

About the Author

J.D. Salinger was “famous for not wanting to be famous.” He died this year at the age of 91, relatively still hidden from the world. He was known for not wanting his picture included on his books and for wanting to destroy fan mail. Joyce Maynard and Salinger’s daughter Margaret both published memoirs about Salinger, but above all else, he seemed to value his privacy.

He was born in Manhattan in 1919, and flunked out of his first high school, much like Holden. He went on to do well at a military academy, was drafted by the military, spent time in different universities here and there, and finally was first published in The New York Times.

He is best known for Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, and Franny and Zoey.

McGrath, C. (2010). J.D. Salinger, literary recluse, dies at 91.The New York Times. Retrieved December 13th, 2010 from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/books/29salinger.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1.
Genre

-Classics
Curriculum Ties

-Literature
Booktalking Ideas

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them(Salinger, p.1)

-If Holden Caulfield seems bad-mouthed today, how do you think he was received in the 1950s?

Reading Level/Interest Age

16+

Challenge Issues

Catcher includes horrendous language and Holden’s mishaps with a prostitute, as well as under-age drinking. But this is all part and partial to Holden’s bad boy persona, and not really representative of who, or what, the book is really about, which, in Holden’s more tender and emotionally-driven moments, becomes clear as the preservation of childhood. The very thing that parents want for their children, and the reason they often challenge books at all.
Why Did You Include This Book?

When I was a teenager, I had a crush on Holden Caulfield. Not because he was cute and I had a poster of him in my closet, but because his mind was an interesting place to be, and I thought that it was pretty cool that there might be a boy out there who thought about things the way that I did, in a heartbreakingly-sensitive but rebel-cool kind of way.
I’m not the only one who felt this way, as a whole generation related to Holden when he first hit shelves in 1951.

The novel  continues to sell more than 250,000 copies a year in paperback, to this day.

 

 

Posted in Classics, YA/Adult Crossover | Leave a comment

Siddhartha. By Herman Hesse. (2010). Tribeca Books. ISBN-10: 1936594366.

Plot Summary

Siddhartha was sheltered his whole life until the day he went outside and for the first time saw sickness and old age. He wanted to try to find an escape from suffering, and so his religious journey began, a journey which comes full circle in this novel by Herman Hesse.

Critical Evaluation

Reading the beautiful prose detailing cycles of life and waiting by a calming river is like a meditation in itself.
Although Siddhartha was written by a Westerner, Hesse managed to bring many elements of his studies of the Eastern Buddha and his teachings into one short volume. Thus, it is an excellent introduction to Siddhartha’s tale and Eastern philosophy for the teen reader.

Reader’s Annotation

An introduction of the story of Siddhartha, who left his life of material things and family and sought the answer to fulfillment, the eradication of suffering, and the negation of the self.
About the Author
Herman Hesse grew up influenced by Eastern Philosophy. His parents had been missionaries to India, his mother having been born in India of missionary parents. His family moved back to Calw, a small Black Forest town in Eurpose, to help Hesse’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Gundert, a famous Indian scholar and linguist. Hesse was surrounded by literature and songs of the East throughout his childhood(Malthaner, 2003).

Self-education is a theme found in Hesse’s work, as well as that of many German authors(Malthaner,2003).

Malthaner, Johannes. “Hermann Hesse: `Siddhartha.” DISCovering Authors. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Gale. Los Angeles Public Library. 14 Dec. 2010 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=DC&docId=EJ2101204427&source=gale&srcprod=DISC&userGroupName=lapl&version=1.0&gt;.
More about Herman Hesse from NobelPrize.org

Genre

-Classics

-Religious Fiction

Curriculum Ties

-World Religions

Booktalking Ideas

-Eastern Philosophy

15+

Challenge Issues

This is the only religious text I included in my database of materials for young adults because of limited space, but this could be a problem if it were the only selection in a real library. Many different religions should be represented, and by many authors. Hesse’s version of the tale is definitely more representative of him than it is of an entire religion, but he himself is a historical figure.
Why Did You Include This Book?

Herman Hesse is the recipient of a Nobel Prize in literature. Siddhartha contains many of the characteristics of a young adult novel. In many ways, Siddhartha’s tale is a coming-of-age tale, and many readers will relate to his search for meaning in a world of suffering.

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