Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New & Noteworthy YA / MG Novels

Aloha all! It has been crazy busy. But, never too busy for reading, of course. (=

As promised, here are some
new and noteworthy middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) novels. I've gathered them from teens, teachers, agents, and authors. Wildly varied to incorporate different student interests, the resulting list turned out to be wonderfully random. Enjoy! *All book summaries are from or*

In order of release date. (
The oldest is a year old and the newest will be released in a few months.)

When You Reach Me (July 2009) by Rebecca Stead
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever. By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

Heavenly (August 2009) by Jennifer Laurens
I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.

The Everafter (September 2009) by Amy Huntley
Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this--she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can re-experience--and sometimes even change--moments from her life. Her first kiss. A trip to Disney World. Her sister's wedding. A disastrous sleepover. In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and sometimes frightening truths about her life--and death.

We Were Here (October 2009) by Matt De La Pena
Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge gave him a year in a group home - said he had to write a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he actually did Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened, his mom can't even look him in the face. Any home besides his would be a better place to live. But Miguel didn't bet on meeting Dondell or Mong or any of what happened after they broke out. He only thought about Mexico and and getting to the border where he could start over. Forget his mom. Forget his brother. Forget himself. Life usually doesn't work out how you think it will, though. And most of the time, running away is the quickest path right back to what you're running from. From the streets of Stockton to the beaches of Venice, all the way down to the Mexican border, We Were Here follows a journey of self-discovery by a boy who is trying to forgive himself in an unforgiving world.

The Maze Runner (October 2009) by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Flash Burnout (October 2009) by L.K. Madigan
Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him; the other one needs him. When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue). In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.

Cosmic (January 2010) by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Liam has always felt a bit like he’s stuck between two worlds. This is primarily because he’s a twelve-year-old kid who looks like he’s about thirty. Sometimes it’s not so bad, like when his new principal mistakes him for a teacher on the first day of school or when he convinces a car dealer to let him take a Porsche out on a test drive. But mostly it’s just frustrating, being a kid trapped in an adult world. And so he decides to flip things around. Liam cons his way onto the first spaceship to take civilians into space, a special flight for a group of kids and an adult chaperone, and he is going as the adult chaperone. It’s not long before Liam, along with his friends, is stuck between two worlds again—only this time he’s 239,000 miles from home.

The Fire Stone (January 2010) by Riley Carney
Sixteen-year-old novelist Riley Carney works magic in this high fantasy adventure story brought to life by memorable, vibrant characters. The Fire Stone, the first book in the captivating Reign of the Elements series, is rooted in genuine adolescent thought and emotion throughout a journey of danger, friendship, and courage, as a group of teenagers, led by fifteen-year-old Matt, attempt to save their world. Matt knows how to shovel hay, dig trenches, and dodge his father’s whip, but when three terrifying creatures attack Matt, and he is rescued by a wizard, he kidnaps a baby alorath, and is befriended by elves, Matt’s life transforms overnight from dreary to astonishing. When he unwittingly joins a quest to find the Fire Stone, one of the elusive Stones of the Elements which have the power to destroy the world, Matt is thrust into a string of perilous adventures. He soon discovers that magic does exist and that he has extraordinary powers that can change his destiny and determine the fate of Mundaria.

One Crazy Summer (January 2010) by Rita Williams-garcia
Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.” Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs.

Chains (January 2010) by Laurie Halse Anderson
Set in New York City at the beginning of the American Revolution, Chains addresses the price of freedom both for a nation and for individuals. Isabel tells the story of her life as a slave. She was sold with her five-year-old sister to a cruel Loyalist family even though the girls were to be free upon the death of their former owner. She has hopes of finding a way to freedom and becomes a spy for the rebels, but soon realizes that it is difficult to trust anyone. She chooses to find someone to help her no matter which side he or she is on. With short chapters, each beginning with a historical quote, this fast-paced novel reveals the heartache and struggles of a country and slave fighting for freedom. The characters are well developed, and the situations are realistic. An author's note gives insight into issues surrounding the Revolutionary War and the fight for the nation's freedom even though 20 percent of its people were in chains.

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet (January 2010) by Erin Dionne
Hamlet Kennedy just wants to be your average, happy, vanilla eighth grader. But with Shakespearean scholar parents who dress in Elizabethan regalia and generally go about in public as if it were the sixteenth century, that’s not terribly easy. It gets worse when they decide that Hamlet’s genius sevenyear- old sister will attend middle school with her— and even worse when the Shakespeare project is announced and her sister is named the new math tutor. By the time an in-class recitation reveals that our heroine is an extraordinary Shakespearean actress, Hamlet can no longer hide from the fact that she—like her family—is anything but average.

Finnikin of the Rock (February 2010) by Melina Marchetta
Finnikin, son of the head of the King's Guard, has been in exile for a decade, after the violent takeover of his birthplace, Lumatere, by a usurper, followed by a curse by a priestess that has effectively shut the kingdom off from the outside world. He meets a mysterious young woman, Evanjalin, who claims that Finnikin's friend Balthazar, heir to the throne, is alive, and sets in motion a complex and stirring series of events that lead Finnikin to confront his destiny. Evanjalin uses her ability to "walk the sleep" of others, or share in their dreams, as well as her own boldness and sense of purpose, to push events to a climax so that Lumatere can be freed. This is fantasy grounded in a kind of realism seldom seen in the genre. A large cast of unforgettable characters inhabits it, from Finnikin and Evanjalin with their absorbing and intensely emotional relationship, to Froi, a young thief, to the small girl who is Evanjalin's companion as she "walks the sleep."

Dirty Little Secrets (February 2010) by C.J. Omolulu
Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right. With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy’s desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen’s life will have readers completely hooked.

Before I Fall (March 2010) by Lauren Oliver
What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Split (March 2010) by Swati Avasthi
16-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father's fist), $3.84, and a secret. It is about what happens after. After you've said enough, after you've run, after you've made the split - how do you begin to live again?

Birthmarked (March 2010) by Caragh M. O'Brien
It’s been 300 years since Lake Michigan became Unlake Michigan; the “cool age” is only hazily known to residents of Wharfton, a small village that sits alongside the walled city of the Enclave. Gaia is 16 and works in Western Sector Three with her mother delivering babies, “advancing” the first three per month to live a better life inside the city. It’s a wrenching routine Gaia doesn’t question until her parents are mysteriously arrested by Enclave authorities. Gaia’s rescue attempt is fraught with peril—the burn scar on her face marks her as a “freak” who would never be allowed into the Enclave’s exclusive gene pool—and soon she herself is tossed into a cell with other female physicians.

If I Stay (April 2010) by Gayle Forman
“Just listen,” Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel. I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. “Stay,” he says. Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her friends and family behind? Then, one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only that matters. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Secret Speakers and the Search for Selador's Gate (April 2010) by K.S.R. Kingsworth
Fair O’Nelli is a normal girl, except for one small fact: She has spent the last nine years of her life living in a cellar with her loyal dog, studying the Scrolls of Truth by mysterious finger light, educated by her mother in the dark of night to avoid being discovered. She knows that her father and brother are missing or possibly dead. Fair is set free on the day she comes of age, when it’s safe for her to be seen. While on the grassy path to find Selador’s Gate in the company of three guardians, little does Fair know she’s about to end up in the middle of a dark secret the parents of Cloven Grave know nothing about, where the key to survival is learning to see things as they are.

Ten Things I Hate About Me (May 2010) by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Lebanese-Australian Jamilah has two lives. At school she is blond-haired, blue-eyed (thanks to contact lenses) Jamie. At home she is Jamilah, a rebellious, but dutiful, daughter of a strict, widowed father. She keeps both her Muslim and Lebanese identities a secret at her high school because the most popular students make fun of anyone who is even vaguely "ethnic." The warm, nurturing nature of her home life (even with its limitations) is often contrasted to the cold environment in the homes of some of her friends. Not surprisingly, over the course of the book, her perspective changes. By the end, Jamilah decides to be herself in a very public and satisfying way.

Red Hood's Revenge (July 2010) by Jim C Hines
The third of Hines's reimagined princess tales (after The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid's Madness) transcends its predecessors with exciting combat scenes and emotionally complex characters. Warrior princess Talia (Sleeping Beauty) killed the prince who raped her while she slept, and then fled the desert land of Arathea. When the prince's mother sends infamous shape-shifting assassin Roudette (Red Riding Hood) after her, Roudette, Talia, and fellow princess-adventurers Danielle (Cinderella) and Snow (Snow White) make an uncomfortable alliance against the real enemies: the capricious fairy powers who have kept Arathea under their control for over a hundred years. Far more than a modernized retelling, Hines's work is a real synthesis of cultural tropes into a unique world that is worth visiting again and again.

Bamboo People (July 2010) by Mitali Perkins
Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another "recruit," uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn t sugarcoat her subject coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, "What is it like to be a child soldier?" clearly, but with hope.

I Am Number Four (August 2010) by: Pittacus Lore
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real. Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing. But they know. They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all. I am Number Four. I am next.

Halo (August 2010) by Alexandra Adornetto
Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend (September 2010) by Kody Keplinger
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Plain Kate (September 2010) by Erin Bow
In a market town by a looping river there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate … Kate’s is a colorful world of brokenhearted magicians, wandering gypsy clans, carved charms and stolen shadows. It’s a dark world of ghosts, fog and questions. It’s a dangerous world of witch burnings, persecution and plague. Her story is a coming-of-age story, a story about family and belonging, trust and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, death and what lies beyond. Also, there’s a talking cat in it.

The Replacement (September 2010) by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world. Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs. Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

I know these are a little older but they're still pretty fab...

Jellicoe Road (September 2008) by Melina Marchetta
For years, three factions—Townies, Cadets (city kids doing a six-week outdoor education program), and Jellicoe School students—have engaged in teen war games in the Australian countryside, defending territorial borders, negotiating for assets, and even taking hostages. Taylor Markham, a 17-year-old who was abandoned years ago by her mother, takes on leadership of the boarding school's six Houses. Plagued with doubts about being boss, she's not sure she can handle her Cadet counterpart, Jonah Griggs, whom she met several years before while running away to find her mother. When Hannah, a sort of house mother who has taken Taylor under her wing, disappears, Taylor puzzles over the book manuscript the woman left behind. Hannah's tale involves a tragic car accident on the Jellicoe Road more than 20 years earlier. Only three children survived, and Taylor discovers that this trio, plus a Cadet and a Townie, developed an epic friendship that was the foundation of the many mysteries in her life and identity, as well as of the war games.

The Magic Thief (April 2009) by Sarah Prineas
Young Conn opens the first volume of this new trilogy, noting “A thief is a lot like a wizard.” Conn is a thief but, through desire and inevitability, becomes a wizard by book’s end. This evolution begins when Conn picks the pocket of the wizard Nevery, who is startled that the nicked magical stone didn’t kill the boy. Nevery takes on Conn as a servant, but the boy’s inquisitiveness and talents move him to apprentice status. Nevery has recently returned to Willmet to save the city-state, which is faltering as its magic seeps away. As Conn becomes more enmeshed in his new life, he navigates through the intricate dealings of both the wizarding world and the political machinations of the Underlord.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Archetypes in YA Lit

Archetypes. Ooh, one of my favorite things to teach as a teacher and read as a reader. First, what's an archetype? The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as: "the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies." It's the prototype of humanity, if you will...certainly the foundational molds in which our favorite characters and stories in literature arise. In the world of psychology, an archetype is thought of to be the patterns of a person's behavior or personality. In this Wikipedia entry, noted psychiatrist, Carl Jung, defines archetypes as the "innate universal dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge ... which seek fulfillment in action. These may include being parented, initiation, courtship, [etc.] ... common to all humanity, upon the foundation of which each individual builds his own experience of life."

See why I think they're so important?

One of the most interesting people I know taught me a lot about archetypes. He is the husband of one of my valued mentors, half of the renowned Nilsen and Nilsen genius couple who has been a long time teacher to so many of us in the field of adolescent literature, language studies, and humor studies. In his graduate class, he showed us the paths to go from a story's character to the archetype behind it, a story's major plot element to the archetype behind it. I truly believe that stories are meaningful because they contain archetypes and archetypes are meaningful because they are a part of a story.

I would go so far as to say, look at a story, any story. Betcha I can find a ton of archetypes!

Does this mean that all stories are just cookie cut outs of past stories? No. Plus, there are a whole bunch of new archetypes coming into our world and our literature every day (i.e. the hacker, the goth, the muggle, etc.).

So let's look at a few archetypes:

Situation: Birth/Death/Rebirth, The Journey/Quest, The Rite of Passage Initiation

Characters: The Outcast, The Trickster, The Hero, Star-crossed lovers, The Prophet

Symbols: Colors (i.e. black/white), Nature (i.e. trees), Animals (i.e. snake), The Elements (i.e. fire, water, wind), etc.

This document link has pages of more great examples of archetypes.
This powerpoint is also awesome.

All that said, where are these archetypes in our favorite YA novels, you ask? Well, lucky for you, I ask my students that very same question every year. And here are their answers:

Laurie Halse Anderson, Twisted

Character Archetypes
  • Hero (Tyler)
  • Platonic Ideal (Bethany)
  • Outcast (Tyler)
  • Temptress (Bethany)
Situational Archetypes
  • Death and Rebirth (The ascent to the roof and almost dying)
  • Journey (the road to acknowledging what you want in life and standing up against opposition)
  • Transcendence (Tyler becoming an adult)
  • Father/Son Conflict (Tyler's relationship with abusive dad)
  • Tree (strength and stamina to plant tree)
  • Water (drowning in awful situations)
  • Gun (Tyler trying to kill himself)
  • Trinity (Tyler, Hannah, and yoda)
  • Fall (Tyler returning to school transformed)

Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon

Character Archetypes
  • The outcast/former fat girl (Colie)
  • The innocent/young person from the small town (Colie)
  • The earth mother (Aunt Mira)
Situational Archetypes
  • Rite of passage (blossoming through adolescence)
  • Quest (finding oneself)
  • Transcendence (Colie realzing she's no better than her harrassers)
  • Rebirth (Colie shedding her old skin)
  • Journey (Colie's trip to Aunt Mira's)
  • Moon (capturing inner strength and beauty)
  • Lunar Eclipse (completion of cycle, Colie's transformation)
  • Flight (believing in one's strength and beauty)
  • Last Chance (name of restaurant where Colie works)
  • Piercing (pain/crucifying)

Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Character Archetypes
  • Outcast (Greg and Rowley)
  • Loyal friend (Rowley)
  • Trickster (Rodrick)
  • Underdog (Rowley)
  • Anti-hero (Greg)
Situational Archetypes
  • The Task (Rowley doing the 'impressive thing' of eating the year-old cheese on the court)
  • Quest (Greg finding some way to restore friendship with Rowley after betrayal)
  • Journey (Greg's time in middle school)
  • Initiation (surviving gym, school play, girls, bullies)
  • Summer (growth and ripening that Greg has achieved)
  • Apple (Greg plays apple in play representing temptations-throwing apple at lead girl)
  • Spring (new friendship and new popularity for Rowley)
  • Fall (forced maturity, dealing with change)

Donna Freitas, The Possibilities of Sainthood

Character Archetypes
  • Parent/Child (Antonia/Mother Labella)
  • Wise sage (Grandmother Labella)
  • True friend (Maria)
  • Benevolent guide (Gram)
  • Temptress (Veronic)
Situational Archetypes
  • Initiation (finding balance between faith and self action)
  • Sacred union (rejoining of Michael and Antonia)
  • Quest (Antonia seeking her first kiss and sainthood to make the world a better place)
  • Transcedence (Antonia realizing she doesn't need sainthood to live happily)
  • Ritual (Saint Lucia celebration – Christian girl bringing light to the darkness)
  • Supernatural intervention (Getting healed by Antonia's kiss)
  • Pasta (significance of culture, tradition, family)
  • Saints (representing faith, fate)
  • Black (Antonia's mom always in black to mourn husband's death and show unavailability)
  • Figs (fertility, Antonia must care for and bury them each winter)
  • White (virginity and innocence – the dress in the celebration)

David Klass, You Don't Know Me

Character Archetypes
  • Parent/Child (John with mother/mother's boyfriend)
  • Friendly beast (Sprocket)
  • The popular guy (Toby)
  • The outcast (John)
  • Evil/Villain (John's soon-to-be stepdad)
  • Good vs. Evil (John vs. several characters)
  • Task (Standing up to the "man who is not his father")
  • Unhealable wounds (John being abandoned by his father and his own perception of self)
  • Ritual (dance, math class, asking a girl out, eating w/ stepdad)
  • Quest (John asking Gloria on a date)
  • Rite of Passage (John kissing Violet and then fighting back against his abuser after)
  • Dog (loyalty)
  • Cat (malevolence)
  • Tuba (awkwardness, loud, hard to control)
  • Lashasa Palulu (the imaginary tribe representing opposing or new perspective, escapism)
  • Animals (trust, loyalty, companionship)
  • Seasons (fall-winter—John only has one jacket which he loses in the most difficult part of story)

A.M. Jenkins, Night Road

Character Archetypes
  • Benevolent Guide (Sandor)
  • Outcast (Almost everyone in this book)
  • Main Outcast (Cole)
  • Companion (Sandor)
  • Anti-hero (Cole)
  • Initiation (Gordon learning the skills and knowledge to survive his new existence)
  • Journey (roadtrip through the US)
  • Death/rebirth (the hemes are created when an omni is killed, speculated immortality of hemes)
  • Red (Life, sustenance, loss of control, thirst)
  • Pictures/paintings (because Cole will never die, these ground him and make him feel)
  • Sunlight (Danger as well as normalcy)
  • Water (what calms Cole down, tranquility, cleansing, birth—when Cole feeds in the rain)
  • Dog (companion, unconditional love, loyalty)

Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

Character Archetypes
  • Hero (Percy)
  • Creatures (The monsters Percy fights)
  • Troublemaker/trickster (Percy)
  • Stepfather (Gabe Ugliano)
  • Nemesis (Ares)
Situational Archetypes
  • Quest (Percy finding and bringing back the master lightning bolt)
  • Heaven/Hell (conflict of good and evil)
  • Mother's love (mother protecting son from stepdad's wrath)
  • Heroism (unable to leave his friends to be tortured)
  • Black (evil, death)
  • Green (New life, Percy and his mom at the end)
  • Thunder clap and clouds (foreshadowing of bad thing to come)
  • Sword (Signaling an evil would be undone)
  • Snipping the yarn (someone dying)
  • Lightning bolt (power)

Scott Westerfeld, Uglies

Character Archetypes
  • Hero (Tally)
  • Rebel (Shay)
  • Villain (Dr. Cable)
Situational Archetypes
  • Journey (Tally finding the Smoke city)
  • Good/Evil (the people in the Smoke City and the people in the Special Circumstances)
  • Rite of Passage (16th birthday when they get their operations)
  • Task (spy missions, visit boyfriend, find underworld, rescue friends from prison)
  • Quest (Tally going after Shay to save her own chance to be pretty)
  • Lesson (Hero is unable to betray friends/community)
  • Water (separation between the Pretties and the Uglies)
  • Scar (on Tally's hand, intermingled BFF blood)
  • Plum (the Smoke people want to have their own lives)
  • Butterfly (changes after Tally and Shay have operations and live in the pretty city)
  • Necklace (symbolizes civilization and control)
  • The norm (the pretty operation represents control and not challenging rules as we age)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Must-Read Books (Grades 7-12)

Aloha All:

Duke and I are happily almost fully recovered from our pneumonic adventures. Thanks for all the well-wishes on Facebook. (=

As promised, I'm starting to showcase some of my students' fab work in my adolescent lit class over the last two years to add to the great literary info out there for readers, educators, and just plain lovers of YA and MG literature.

As one of their "finishing up" assignments in my class, I have students create a list of top 12 YA/MG must-reads for the grade level of their choice (grades 7-12). I of course push them to think outside of the box but encourage them play in that box as well (nothing wrong with loving what everyone loves/loved). *grin* My having them do these lists in pairs and then rank 'em is just my version of fun (hehe). Ahem. There is also educational value. Without going into ed-talk mumbo jumbo (you get enough of that in my methods course), both factors of the assignment hold value and challenge students to be critical readers, educators, and literary connoisseurs. Plus, it results in some wildly diverse, pretty rockin' lists. Yay!

I am so extremely pleased about the books that the students included in their lists as they truly showcased just how much they learned about adolescent lit (yes, I'm getting misty-eyed per usual). In these lists, you will see books spanning the spectrum from: decades ago vs. now, the canon vs. the Borders hot list, Hawai'i vs. countries around the world, the students' interests vs. the schools', and both ends of the literary continuum. So (to borrow from a movie I rewatch a lot...extra credit points if you know which one): Without further gilding the lily and with no more ado:

7th Grade
The Giver (Lowry, Lois)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Taylor, Mildred)
The Outsiders (Hinton, S.E.)
Rumble Fish (Hinton, S.E.)
Walk Two Moons (Creech, Sharon)
Island of the Blue Dolphins (O'Dell, Scott)
My Side of the Mountain (George, Jean Craighead)
My Life in Dog Years (Paulsen, Gary)
The Watsons Go to Birminam (Curtis, Christopher Paul)
Holes (Louis Sachar)
Stuck In Neutral (Trueman, Terry)
The House of the Scorpions (Farmer, Nancy)

8th Grade
The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
Night of the Howling Dogs (Graham Salisbury)
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
Memoirs of a Bookbat (Kathryn Lasky)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)
Uglies (Scott Westerfeld)
Double Dutch (Sharon Draper)
Esperanza Rising (Pam Munoz Ryan)
Loser (Jerry Spinelli)
Monster (Walter Dean Myers)
Tiger Eyes (Judy Blume)
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)

9th Grade
Whale Talk (Chris Crutcher)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Mark Haddon)
Monster (Walter Dean Myers)
When the Shark Bites (Morales, Rodney)
Speak (Anderson, Laurie Halse)
Into The Wild (Jon Krakauer)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
King Dork (Frank Portman)
Bean Trees (Kingsolver, Barbara)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
Mouse on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)
Romiette and Julio (Draper, Sharon M.)

10th Grade
Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson story (Ben Carson)
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window (Tetsuko Kuroyanaqi)
The Story of Mahajanaka (M.M.King Bhumibol)
The Judgment (Chart Korpjitti)
A Child of the Northeast (Kampoon Boontawee)
The happiness of Kati (Jane Vejjajiva)
Democracy, Shaken & Stirred (Win Lyovarin)
Miss Bangkok: Memoirs of a Thai Prostitute (Bua Boonmee)
Immortal (Wimoon Sainimnuan)
Time in a Bottle (Praphatsorn Seiwikun)
Hitopathet (Sathien Khosest)

11th Grade
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)
Growing Up Local: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose from Hawaii (Edited, Eric Chock. Various Artist)
Blu's Hanging (Lois Ann Yamanaka)
Ironman (Chris Crutcher)
The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier)
Twisted (Laurie Halse Anderson)
Tweak (Nic Sheff)
Raisin in the Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)
House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)
High Fidelity (Nick Hornby)
Woman Warrior (Maxine Hong Kingston)
The Crucible (Arthur Miller)

12th Grade
Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gangmember (Shanyika Shakur)
The Unwanted (Kien Nguyen)
Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse)
Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)
Dawn (Octavia Butler)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)
Blu's Hanging (Lois Ann Yamanaka)
Fox Girl (Nora Okja Keller)
Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today (Editor, Lori Carlson)
The Good Earth (Pearl Buck)

Stay tuned, the saga continues...coming soon to the blog:
Analyses of the YA books from my course (e.g. authors include: J. Kinney, D. Freitas, R. Riordan, S. Westerfeld, L.H. Anderson, S. Chbosky, R. Thomas, S. Dessen, B. Katcher, C. Lynch, D. Klass)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NOW you can comment

I was wondering why I kept getting email comments instead of regular ones. I changed the default setting so you can actually comment now (thanks to two current students who told me nicely and one former student who told me snarkily). *grin* Yes, that's me the tech-fab one who forgot to click one little radio button while setting up this blog. (=

Comment away, and remember if you read a YA book and loved it, I want to know what it was!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pneumonic...but still reading

Sorry to be MIA again. This cold/flu extravaganza that Dukie and I have been going through is now on its third week and now...Duke has pneumonia (again). It is just so awful to see little kids sick. *sigh* Plus, doc says I need to get my lungs xray'd too now so here's to hoping I don't have pneumonia also. I will be back blogging again soon when Duke and I are better. And to my kids who are all so hungry for my adolescent lit titles this summer, I suggest you check out the amazing Suzie Townsend's blog (on the left below). She's a lit agent who has amazing taste in YA books. I've loved all her recommendations. Other agents who went to BEA this year also blogged about exciting new releases (i.e. Duff by Kody Keplinger...I'll be first in line for that one because all the agents are in a tizzy about it). So, until I put together my reading list and supp list that y'all seem to be so interested in, go check out those blogs. They haven't steered me wrong yet. (;

I know at least two students-o-mine who wanted (read: demanded) a middle grade book recommendation, like,, I second Ms. Townsend's recommendation:
==When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Plus, here are others:
==Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
==Countdown by Deborah Wiles (rarely do I do this but MAX...this one is for you!)
==Crunch by Leslie Connor
==How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life by Art Corriveau
==Middleworld by J&P Voelkel

I know my non-middle graders are going to complain so I have new titles for you too. But, to save blog space, just go here (oh don't whine...y'all get the majority of my focus in EDCS 432 and in ITE 404):

An update:
I have decided! Novelized YA stories spinning off from Shakespeare will be my newest "unit" in my YA lit course this year. This is a growing area of YA lit and one that I know my former students are liking to see in their students' hands. So, to throw out some titles to my lovely former students whom I know are all working so hard on their curricula this summer (like all the rockstar teachers who I am fortunate to be in the good company with always), here are a few:
==Juliet--Anne Fortier (NEW!)
==Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata--Lis Mantchev (this is a series)
==Enter Three Witches--Caroline Cooney (for the Cooney fans in your classes)
==Ophelia--Lisa Klein (Lady Macbeth's Daughter is also good)

Yes, you read right:
Post-apocalyptic and steam punk books are going to have its own section in my course this semester. Here's some summer reads for you to check out:
==The Forest of Hands and Teeth...gorgeous writing
==Leviathan or Shift or Epitah Road or Incarceron...don't ask me to rate these in order...
==For a pretty good anthology, check out Ann Vandermeer's Steampunk

That's it for now. Going back to bed.

Hope everyone is enjoying summer!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My fave places to eat...

This weekend, the wonderful folks at Aiea Bowl again lavished Sean, Duke, and me with such yummy food (and of course, awesome service) that I decided to start writing my recommendations on the yummiest food I've come across here (like I'm some sort of foodie, right?). Most of the places we go to eat aren't the huge chain restaurants so be sure to google the names of the restaurants to find 'em. (=

Without further ado:
Best scones: Aiea Bowl
Best pancakes: Cafe Kaila
Best Korean chicken: Young's Kal Bee
Best kalbi: Camellia Buffet (the one om McCully)
Best fresh salmon sushi from a kaiten restaurant (the ones that have the sushi circling around): G-Sushi (seriously...sorry Genki)
Best value bento: Makino Chaya
Best Thai: oooh, this one is a tie = Pae Thai and Souvaly
Best garlic chicken: Sugoi (of course)
Best shave ice: In town -- Waiola's (the original in McCully); In Haleiwa -- Aoki's (sorry Matsumoto's)
Best malasadas: Leonards in Kapahulu (of course...gotta support the local biz')

I'm all out for now. More again later... (=

P.S. Have you tried the curry moco at Raraya? Duuuuude!