Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Parker Stanhope’s junior year of high school did not start out as she planned. She expected to be moved to the varsity soccer team with her three best friends, but the soccer coach, “Heartless” had other plans. Being left behind to sit on the JV squad one more year was pretty high up on Parker’s list of” how to quickly lose your popularity and become a social outcast” list, but insult was added to injury when her supposed BFFs turn their backs on her.

In order to regain her status and three best pals, Parker goes to drastic lengths. She, her brother, and his best friend, Luke, both of whom are pre-law students, devise a plan, which involves the school’s annual sports fair. Knowing the booth that raises the most money awards the coach a prime parking space, they decide to take advantage of the varsity soccer team’s kissing booth. Luke will pay $300 for a kiss, but only if it comes from Parker. “Heartless” wanting the awesome parking space will greedily agree to let Parker on the varsity team, which they will then use to keep Parker on the team with some fancy law school legalese. However, in order for this plan to work, Parker needs to give Luke a kiss that is convincing.

The kiss is a bit of an issue seeing how she’s only ever received a peck on the lips from a boy she briefly dated. Parker finds herself requesting the help of her neighbor, Tristan, who is a freshman. (According to Parker and most of the upperclass, freshman are babies!) Apparently, Tristan learned all the latest kissing techniques while spending his summer at camp. Tristan agrees to secretly coach her in exchange for public acknowledgement at school, which will help his social status.

Parker’s attempt to regain the life she once knew does not go as planned. Parker is caught hanging out with the freshman, which fuels her former BFFs ridicule. The events during the first few weeks of school leading up to the sports fair are at times upsetting and challenging, but they force Parker to realize many things about herself, her friends, and her love of soccer. While working toward kissing perfection and social acceptance Parker learns the importance of true friendship, love, sportsmanship, and loyalty. The fact that she also learns the fine art of kissing is a bonus.

The ABC's of Kissing Boys is a fun, quick read. This is the third book by Tina Ferraro. Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress and How to Hook a Hottie are also available at Moore Memorial Public Library.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Skim by Mariko Tamaki; Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Graphic novels are a unique opportunity to allow the reader to visualize the scene writers create in stories. These scenes can enhance the emotion behind the written word, such as fear, loneliness, and extreme delight. The illustrations created by Jillian Tamaki do just that in Skim, which was written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki.

Skim is the nickname of the title character, Kimberly Keiko Cameron. She attends a preppy private Catholic school in Toronto, where she fails to fit in. She is Wiccan. She is Gothic. She is Japanese-Canadian. The suicide of the school’s star athlete turns his ex-girlfriend, Katie Matthews, and the school into a mourning freak show. The school’s reaction and coping mechanisms only serve to further Skim’s battle with depression, acceptance, and unrequited love. Compared to 90’s teen move favorites, Heathers and Dead Poets Society, Skim is a complicated coming of age story that befits the complications of high school and the heartache of youth.

Skim was nominated for the Governor General’s Award by the Canada Council for the Arts and YALSA’s 2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Award. The book garnered additional press because of the controversy surrounding the Canada Council nomination, which only listed the writer of the story and not the illustrator for the award. A number of internationally recognized comic writers, including Chester Brown and Seth, stepped up to request a revision to the nomination. It won the 2008 Outstanding Graphic Novel Ignatz Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by comics and cartooning.

Blogger’s note: Skim is one of my favorite reads within the past year.

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

New to the Moore Memorial Public Library Young Adult collection is Gentlemen by Michael Northrop. The story is centered on four boys, who are known for their bad behavior. Growing up in a small town, Mike (the narrator), Tommy, Bones, and Mixer, are largely ignored and reviled at their high school and among the community. They spend their school days hating their remedial classes and most of their teachers and peers. They are outcast and constantly reminded of this fact.

The story quickly grows suspenseful when one of the boys, Tommy, who was kicked out of class for tossing a desk, goes missing. Around the same time of this event, the remaining three boys also notice their English teacher, Mr. Haberman, begins to act strangely. The combination of these two events allows the boy’s minds to draw wild conclusions as they try to figure out what happened to Tommy. Northrop creates a story that is both suspenseful and deftly communicates the bonds of adolescent friendship in his writing.

Gentleman is an easy read, as it is written like Mike is talking directly to you as he tells the tale. Crime and Punishment, which Haberman is teaching in his class, is referenced throughout the story; however, the reader doesn’t necessarily need to know this classic to be gripped by the plot and taken in by the suspense. Some of the language and content may be a little harsh for younger readers.

Gentlemen is Northrop’s first novel. He has published short fictional works in Weird Tales, McSweeney’s, and the Norte Dame Review. His second Young Adult novel, Trapped, will be out soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Superman Confidential: Kryptonite by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale

Taking on the origins of Superman’s kryptonite is a mighty feat, but that didn’t keep Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale from attempting to retell the story. Moore Memorial Public Library recently acquired a copy of Superman Confidential: Kryptonite, and I predict it will continue to fly off the shelves. After extensively researching the origins of kryptonite, which is the one known element that could destroy Superman, Cooke noticed how downplayed it had been in the hero’s decades-long history. Wanting to work with Superman’s past, Cooke thought this book would be “an opportune time to reintroduce the deadly metal to readers, and it played quite neatly into the notion that this was to be a story about a key point in Superman’s life.” Set early-on in the hero’s discovery of his near-indestructible powers, Cooke allows for the reader to explore the vulnerability Superman felt as he struggled to discover himself and his place in the world.

Darwyn Cooke is an Eisner Award-winning cartoonist and animator. He made waves in the comic book scene with DC: The New Frontier. His other works also include Catwoman and Spider-Man (Marvel). He has also made an impression on the comic book world with his animation with shows: Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Men in Black: The Series.

Tim Sale has worked on a number of projects with Cooke, but has also made a name for himself with his artistic work on the hit television show Heroes.

Moore Memorial Public Library carries several other DC Comic titles, along with other comic books, graphic novels, indie comics, and manga.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? Edited by Marissa Walsh

Body image is an issue many people struggle with, but teens can be especially afflicted because of peer pressure and an over saturation of celebrity-focused media. It seems that at least once a week some celebrity, like Lindsay Lohan or Jennifer Love Hewitt, is being attacked for being “too fat” or “too skinny.” Society’s influence on what is beautiful has caused both teen boys and girls to go to extreme lengths to fit into an unrealistic mold.

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? stories about loving – and loathing- your body
, edited by Marissa Walsh, is a collection of short fiction and non-fiction writings addressing body issues. The book features the work of Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Impulse, & Identical), Sarra Manning (Guitar Girl, Pretty Things, & Let’s Get Lost), Matt de la Pena (Mexican Whiteboy & Ball Don’t Lie), Megan McCafferty (Perfect Fifths, Fourth Comings, & Charming Thirds), and many other young adult writers. Much of the writing focuses on the issues young girls may face, but Barry Lyga (The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl & Hero-Type) and Daniel Pinkwater provide a male perspective.

This collection demonstrates the common and often silent struggle teens go through and the effects it can have on their physical and emotion health. The book has a personal touch to it based on honest autobiographical contributions of some of the writers, which relays to the reader that they are not alone. Certain works are stronger than others, but overall the collection brings the message home that we are not alone with the struggle to feel “normal” and accepted.

In addition to appearing in this book, several of these authors are featured in the Moore Memorial Public Library Young Adult collection.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

"If an entire nation can seek freedom, why not a girl?"

Chains tell the story of thirteen-year-old Isabel, who is a slave living when the Revolutionary war begins. Isabel and her sister, Ruth, were promised freedom upon the death of their owner, but somehow ended up the property of a pro-British couple living in New York City. Isabel meets Curzon, who is also a slave, but has ties to the Patriots. Curzon urges Isabel to spy on her owners, who are privy to the invasion plans of the British, but is conflicted because of the potential danger. However, certain unfortunate events force Isabel to place her loyalty with those who can offer her what she and the Patriots wants most: freedom.

Laurie Halse Anderson was recently won the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult Library services Association for her works Catalyst, Fever 1793, and Speak. These books, among others, are available at your library.