I have book discussions for Notable Children's Books AND Notable YA Books coming up soon, so all my reading is based around that! Plus, last weekend I read a lot of banned YA titles. (It's a hard life I lead, I know...)
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's ShadowSusan Campbell Bartoletti
This is a beautiful book, a big lap book, almost a coffee table book with heavy pages. Much in the vien of Russell Freedman's work it uses photographs well to help tell the story. The book talks about the lives of children growing up in Germany and Europe during Hitler's rise to power and reign. Children who were exuberant and reluctant members of the Hitler Youth, children who joined the resistance movements, Jewish children, soldier children. The amazing thing about this book is that it tells the story plainly and truly, with no sugar coating and no melodrama. I highly recommend. I keep talking about it, actually.
Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds
This was on the ALA's top 10 banned books for 2005. (Because God Forbid that a book that is all about the consequences of having sex should actually... contain some sex!) But oh my god. I would really be against this book being assigned in class because it just... sucks. It's so poorly written. I'm all about having it in the library but this isn't what we should be teaching. It's really preachy and sacharine and just didn't ring true at all. AND THE WRITING IS JUST AWFUL. Blech. I like how the girl who gets knocked up is the one with the not-there alcoholic mother and jailbird brother. Because only kids from messed up homes make mistakes like this. But I had friends who were pregnant in high school and this story just didn't ring true and didn't speak to their experiences. There has to be a better book on this subject out there. I have a hard time believing this is the only one that can be taught.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
I will always love this book if for no other reason than turning me onto "Asleep" by The Smiths. I love this song possibly even more than Charlie does, if that's possible. AND I now have the mix tape he made as a play list on my Napster account. It's OK, but seriously, I love this song. LOVE. (And put it on my new mix CD) I also like the book. Charlie is a freshman in high school, writing letters to someone, telling of his first year and life, as he navigates high school and family and the recent suicide of his best friend. Also, I just love Charlie. He resonates with me as someone who hung out with the arty kids. I totally would have lusted after him quietly and angst-riddenly all through high school. That said, I really didn't like the ending. Click here to read about why, but you know, I'll give it away, which is why it's hidden!
Also, I would just like to point out that the Arizon superindendant of schools has pulled this book out of all school libraries in the entire STATE of Arizona. Probably because of a very non-graphic scence of rape early on in the book. It makes me want to cry.
Geography ClubBrent Hartinger
Also frequently banned. I love that the reason I most recently saw for the banning was that it doesn't deal with the negative consequences of meeting some that you met on the internet. Ha ha ha. We all know it was banned because it's about a bunch of HOMOSEXUAL TEENAGERS! (No! Gasp! The horror! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!)
Seriously. This is a great little story about love and relationships and being the only gay kids in town and how to date and love and be a normal kid and NOT get outed. Not too deep, not to shallow, not hitting you over the head with the lessons you're supposed to learn to much and a quick read. I liked it.
The Penderwicks : A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting BoyJeanne Birdsall
This is just an old fashioned summer adventure story. Birdsall knows that's what she was writing and doesn't try to make it anything more than it is, and she does so splendidly. I also loved the interaction between the four sisters-- it was so true to life and the little things like the OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick) and MOPS (Meeting Of Penderwick Sisters) really made the story special. Also, one more comment on the very very end here.
Son of the MobGordon Korman
On Friday night, I was going to read the first chapter or two of this before I went to bed. It was finished before I turned the light off. This is light and funny and wonderful and unlike a lot of YA novels, doesn't contain seriously messed up kids and GIANT LIFE LESSONS. Just a sweet simple story about a guy trying to get through high school despite the fact his father is the head of the largest crime family in New York and his girlfriend is the daughter of the FBI agent who's been bugging his house for the last five years. Love. I've already checked out the sequel.
There's more to review. But I'm tired.