Archive for June, 2011

June 1, 2011

Stargirl

Stargirl
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Copyright 2002 Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-0439444439
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

As an unconventional teenager, Stargirl Caraway enters a high school in which students struggle to accept differences.  During her first days of school, the students there speculate how Stargirl came to be – a home school disaster or an alien from outer space.  But Stargirl is not swayed by the gossip and continues to be her own person in a sea of characters who only conform.  Leo falls in love with Stargirl and her ability to be different.  However, after the high schoolers push Stargirl to the peak of her popularity and begin to deride her penchant for quirkiness, Leo is forced to decide: does he want to be in love with Stargirl or does he simply want to be liked?  This story offers young readers a fresh perspective on popularity, bullying, and the ability to be unique even when you are being pushed to conform.  It is a must-read for high school students.

June 1, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Copyright 1983 Bantam Books
ISBN: 978-0553279375
Genre: Controversial

Maya Angelou, a famous writer and poet, creates an intriguing memoir of her childhood in the segregated southern state of Arkansas in her novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Angelou is sent to live with her grandmother after her parents are unable to prosper in California.  She and her older brother Bailey help their wise and respected grandmother tend to the neighborhood store and learn a great deal about being of a different race during such tumultuous times.  After dreaming of being reunited with her mother, Angelou finally gets her wish and relocates to St. Louis to live with her and her new boyfriend.  She quickly realizes that this is not the dream she hoped it would be as her mother’s boyfriend begins to abuse her.  Through what she has learned from living with her strong grandmother, Angelou is able to overcome her struggles and triumph in the worst of circumstances.  Wonderfully written with great style and language, I Know Why the Cages Bird Sings presents readers with a unique perspective of a girl who learns to deal with her past and create her own future.

June 1, 2011

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
Copyright 2003 Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN: 0-375-82400-6
Genre: Controversial

In this young adult novel, David Levithan weaves an intriguing tale about an uncoventional high school.  Paul is a sophomore, and unlike most teenagers his age, he attends a school in which most of the students would be considered different if they went to one of current society’s mainstream high schools.  Paul falls in love with a boy, his friend Darlene used to be known as Daryl, and his friend Tony is grappling with the knowledge that someday he will have to tell his religious parents about his sexual orientation.  Each of the characters in Levithan’s book are well developed and although the reader may not live their lifestyle, they are extremely easy to identify with.  This story presents a world in which acceptance is the norm and shows teens as well as adults what it might be like if no one were considered “different”.

June 1, 2011

Stuck in Neutral
Author: Terry Trueman
Copyright 2001 HarperTeen
ISBN: 0064472132
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Stuck in Neutral is absolutely an excellent read.  Written from the perspective of Shawn McDaniel, a teenager who has severe cerebral palsy, this book forces readers to examine their beliefs about people with disabilities and society’s reaction to them.  Shawn is unable to communicate in any way because he lost the ability to control his muscles when he was born.  Although he is unable to convey it, he understands everything going on in the world around him and has a remarkable memory.  Shawn’s father has a particularly difficult time with his son’s disability and considers the unthinkable as the story unfolds.  Stuck in Neutral asks readers to consider what may be possible for thousands of people with severe disabilities – are these individuals trapped inside a body that will not function?

June 1, 2011

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Authors: Richard & Florence Atwater
Illustrator: Robert Lawson
Copyright 1938 Scholastic, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0316058438
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a delightful, classic tale about a man named Mr. Popper and how he came to be the leader of twelve Antartic penguins.  Mr. Popper, a painter by trade, struggles to support his wife and two children on a seasonal wage, and this task becomes even more difficult when he receives a penguin in the mail from one of his most admired world explorers.  As the story unfolds, Mr. Popper becomes the caretaker for eleven other penguins and with some creative thinking by Mrs. Popper, they provide a pleasant suprise for the Popper family.