→Spoiler alert: This review may include information revealed in the Harry Potter films 1 through 5. ←
Plot Summary: Harry Potter, age 16, is in his sixth year at Hogwarts and things are changing rapidly. The wizarding world finally recognizes what Harry has been saying for quite some time, that “he who must not be named,” the evil and very powerful wizard Lord Voldemort, is back and gaining strength. Harry learns more from Professor Dumbledore about his mission to defeat Voldemort and has tasks to complete to move toward this goal. New potions professor, Horace Slughorn, who has returned to Hogwarts from his retirement, has taken quite a liking to Harry. Slughorn is impressed by people with name recognition, and Dumbledore and Harry hope to use Slughorn’s fondness of Harry to find out vital information about Voldemort from Slughorn. Slughorn was a professor of Tom Riddle, Voldemort’s given name, when Riddle was a student at Hogwarts. Dumbledore knows that a conversation in Slughorn’s memory holds some keys to important information about Voldemort that Harry needs. In addition to these most atypical teenage activities, Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione are dealing with typical teenage events, specifically, schoolwork, friendships, and budding romance.
Critical Evaluation: It is a difficult task creating a movie from a much-loved and widely read book, but Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince lives up to its title. The movie manages to be true to the book as much as possible, while taking advantage of the perfect medium to bring the story to life. The acting is honest and convincing. Those who have watched the five previous Harry Potter films will not be disappointed with this, the sixth, installment. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are growing up, and it shows in the way they look and in the way they behave. This movie is a bit darker than the previous one, but that is consistent with the book as well. Highly entertaining, exciting, and adventurous, Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed with this sixth installment of the movie series.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was nominated for dozens of awards and won many of those nominations. Among an Academy Award nomination, MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice awards, and many others, one award stood out as particularly unique: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince won the Scream Awards’ “Holy Shit! Scene of the Year” for the “Death Eaters Attack London” Scene.
Reader’s/Viewer’s Annotation: Harry Potter and his friends are in their 6th year at Hogwarts School and amidst school work and budding romances, they must work to keep the school and the wizarding community safe from the Dark Lord, Voldemort
Information about the Author/Director: David Yates is a British film director who directed the final four films in the eight film Harry Potter series. His previous work included directing an independent film as well as several television programs.
He received wide recognition for his work on all of the Harry Potter films, with the final three films each winning British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, in addition to many others. Yates is currently working on an as yet untitled film based on the hit British television program Dr. Who.
Curriculum Ties: comparison of the book and the movie
Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 11 – 18
Challenge Issues: There are those who claim the books and movies promote the occult and witchcraft. In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies. Also, there are several positive reviews of the film, and it has won several awards and honors.
Why is this film included? The Harry Potter franchise is so huge and so popular, I felt I needed to include at least one film from the series in my blog.
Bibliographic Information: Teen Health and Wellness (online database). (2011). New York, NY: Rosen Publishing. Retrieved via the San Francisco Public Library: eLibrary: Articles and Databases page (library card barcode and pin number required).
Plot Summary/Resource Description: Teen Health and Wellness (THW) is an extensive database that includes a wide breadth of information relevant to and written for teens. This information is broken down into the following subjects:
- Body Basics
- Developmental Disabilities and Disorders
- Diseases, Infections and Conditions
- Drugs and Alcohol
- Eating Disorders
- Family Life
- Friendship and Dating
- Green Living
- Grief and Loss
- Mind, Mood, and Emotions
- Nutrition, Fitness, and Appearance
- Sexuality and Sexual Health
- Skills for School, Work and Life
Users can search or browse, using the above subjects, and then narrow their search using another set of topics. Users can search by entering words or phrases into a search box located at the top right of each page of the online database, or browse using an A-Z listing of topics. This database covers health issues both how the body works and grows and what happens when things go wrong. It also covers familial and social issues. Teens looking for a wide variety of health and life-related information have a one-stop shop with this database.
The database “provides middle and high school students with nonjudgmental, straightforward, standards-aligned, curricular and self-help support,” so whether for an assignment or for personal use, this database has been designed to provide teens with the tools and information they need (About Us, 2011). One interesting feature is that the database includes personal stories by teens themselves who have experienced a topic that is being covered. The teens are identified by their first names. This gives the database a legitimacy as well as a personal touch that might appeal to teens turned off by the sterile feel of a database. Also, it gives those teens included a chance to have their writing published and, more importantly, to have their voices heard.
Critical Evaluation: This is an extraordinary resource. First off, the breadth of knowledge provided by this database is difficult to quantify. Rosen Publishing produces many reference sources and several of them were used to put together THW. Since the emphasis of the database’s editors is on being non-judgmental and straightforward, it is a perfect environment for teens to feel comfortable looking for information about any number of topics. There are many topics included in THW that teens might want to keep private or might find embarrassing, and that is why having solid, reliable, accurate information, presented in an accessible way is so vitally important.
Searching in a variety of ways is straight forward and easy. The database even has a “no results were found for _____. Did you mean _____?” feature for a search using misspelled words. This is something we are accustomed to from Google, but, often, databases fall short with this type of feature. This database has many medical terms, so a search using misspelled words is particularly important.
The design of the database is clean and easy to read with photos of a diversity of teens and highlighted articles and videos. The home page also has an easily visible “HOTLINES Get help now.” button that takes users to a page with many hotline numbers helping teens with the issues of suicide, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, depression, eating disorders and many more. There are many special features of this database, it includes a glossary and mobile applications, translations in over 50 languages, social networking bookmarks, and RSS feeds and more.
TWH was positively reviewed by School Library Journal, Library Journal, Booklist, VOYA, Young Adult Library Services, and others. The database has also won numerous awards. “Teen Health & Wellness has received critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including an EDDIE (Annual Education Software Review) Award, an Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) Distinguished Achievement Award, a World Wide Web Health Award, and a Best Educational Software (BESSIE) Award,” (About Us, 2011). See their full list of awards and reviews here.
Reader’s Annotation: Teen Health and Wellness (THW) is an extensive database that includes a wide breadth of health and life information relevant to and written for teens.
Information about the Author/Editors: Rosen Publishing considers the content of THW authoritative, developed with experts in the field as well as curriculum experts and reviewed carefully by editors. “To ensure its accuracy and relevance, all content is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. Our standards of editorial integrity mandate that each entry includes the date it was last updated. In addition, all content strives to be inclusive in terms of race, sex, religion, economic status, and other teen experiences,” (Editorial Policy, 2011).
Category: Online Reference, Database
Curriculum Ties: Health, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education
Booktalking Ideas: n/a
Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 13 – 20
Challenge Issues: There may be some challenge issues with the way GLBT issues are handled (in a neutral, non-judgemental manner) or issues about sexuality. There are so many positive reviews and critical praise for this database, some mentioned above, that any challenges could be countered with references to the database’s positive reception. And the library’s collection development policy should provide back up the presence of the database, as well.
Why is this book included? This is such an important database. It includes information for teens that they might be able to find on the internet, but would it be accurate? Would it be up to date? Would it be reliable? There are important questions that teens have about their bodies and their lives, and this database has many trustworthy answers. Additionally, it supports a host of curricular activities, so it is a great academic and personal resource for teens.
About us. (2011). Teen Health and Wellness (online database). New York, NY: Rosen Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.teenhealthandwellness.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/static/publicabout
Editorial policy. (2011). Teen Health and Wellness (online database). New York, NY: Rosen Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.teenhealthandwellness.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/static/6
Plot Summary: Isabella “Bella” Swan has recently moved from sunny and dry Arizona, where she lived with her mother, to cloudy, moist, and often overcast Forks, Washington. Bella loves the sun and, at first, feels overwhelmed by the darkness of Forks, but, eventually, she starts to get used to the climate and finds a welcome distraction in Edward Cullen. Edward is from a somewhat unusual family of adopted teens, each one as strikingly beautiful as the next, but it is the beautiful and seemingly endlessly talented Edward who has caught Bella’s eye. To say Edward makes Bella swoon would be an understatement and when at first his interactions with her seem to try to push her away she is confused, hurt, and disappointed. But, then Edward seems to feel as intensely about Bella as she does about him and they touch. That touch tells Bella there is something even more different about Edward than the fact that he seems like a boy genius in every school subject. The touch tells Bella that Edward’s blood runs cold; he is a vampire. And though this fact does not seem to bother Bella in the least, Edward has made it his life’s goal to protect Bella from himself and others of his kind. Bella and Edward are drawn to each other in such a way that staying apart to keep Bella safe seems impossible. But, is it possible? Can their love survive the fact that they are creatures from different worlds? Can Bella survive at all?
Critical Evaluation: Twilight is not your average fairy tale romance, nor is it Romeo and Juliet, though the book has things in common with both of these. In many ways, Bella and Edwards really should not be together. After all, vampires drink blood for sustenance, and even though Edward is of a family of more “civilized” vampires, who only kill animals to survive, his instincts are still to kill. And though, as mentioned above, his primary goal is to keep his love Bella safe, he does not even always trust himself with her. But Bella is very trusting, or, more accurately, her love and passion for Edward override her natural instincts to fear for her life. The connection between Bella and Edward is magical and their feelings for each other are palpable through Meyer’s elaborate writing. And even though, due to their circumstances, Bella and Edward’s physical relationship is explored less than in many teen novels, their romance is steamy and exciting. A feminist reading of Twilight leaves a bit to be desired, but as far as engaging the reader and taking us on a journey to place where vampires attend school with mortals, this book is an exhilarating thrill ride. Twilight was one of Publishers Weekly‘s “Best Children’s Books of 2005, one of School Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2005” and was number two (after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) on YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten, “a ‘teen choice’ list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year!” (YALSA, 2006)
Reader’s Annotation: Bella Swan moves from her mother’s home in sunny Arizona to damp and overcast Forks, Washington where the climate difference takes a back seat to the beautiful and enthralling Edward Cullen. But there is something different about Edward, and Bella is soon going to find out what it is.
Information about the Author: Stephenie Meyer’s inspiration for Twilight was a dream she had one evening. She was a full-time mom at the time and had not done any writing in years, but she was compelled to eke out time in her day to write down the dream, and the next day to write more of what she imagined and then write even more the next day and the next. Readers can basically read what Meyers dreamed; she says, “For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (‘Confessions’) of the book.” (Meyers, n.d., The Story Behind Twilight).
Twilight is the first of four books in the Twilight series, books two through four are: New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. Meyers’ other books include graphic novels of the Twilight series, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella (Twilight Saga), and The Host, an adult science fiction thriller. All four books of the Twilight series have been made into movies. Meyers lives with her husband and three sons in Arizona, Bella’s previous place of residence before moving to Forks, WA. (Meyers, n.d., Bio).
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Categories/Themes: Paranormal: Werefolk and Vampires
Curriculum Ties: Forbidden love stories, how does this compare?
- Would you be willing to die for love?
Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 14 – 19
Challenge Issues: Twilight was number five in the ALA’s 10 most frequently challenged books of 2009. The reasons given were: “religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group,” (ALA, 2009).
In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies. Also, there are several positive reviews of the book, and it has won several awards and honors, three are mentioned above.
Why is this book included? Because t
Because this book and the vampire novel craze, that the Twilight series inspired, are ubiquitous in teen literature today, I felt the need to read at least one book in the series, in order to more fully serve young adults.
ALA. (2010). Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/21stcenturychallenged/2009/index.cfm
Meyers, S. (n.d.) Bio. Retrieved from http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/bio.html
Meyers, S. (n.d.) The story behind Twilight. Retrieved from http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight.html
YALSA. (2006). Teens vote for favorite young adult book. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/yalsa/teenreading/teenstopten/06ttt
Bibliographic Information: Gale Biography in Context (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ic.galegroup.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/ic/bic1?userGroupName=sfpl_main via the San Francisco Public Library eLibrary: Articles and Databases page (library card barcode and pin number required).
Plot Summary/Resource Description: Gale Biography in Context is an online reference source for those interested in researching people. It contains over 600,000 biographies, with “50,000 new or updated bios added annually, in addition to daily updates to account for awards and events,” (About Gale Biography, 2010). This updating is possible because the reference source is online.
This is a great resource for young adults interested in satisfying their own curiosity about their favorite singer or athlete or, of course, for use with school assignments. The Biography in Context database also includes the Lives & Perspectives Collection which “supports high-school curricula and university coursework by providing multidisciplinary content on notable figures and the societal forces that have shaped their lives,” (About Gale Biography, 2010). So, content of the database is “curriculum aligned.”
Each biographical entry contains an essay plus a plethora of additional media sources, from newspaper and magazine articles to reference books and academic journals to photos, videos, and audio clips. Biographical subjects include current and historical figures from the United States and around the world. A “fact box” allows information seekers a quick glance at relevant information for each person covered.
Critical Evaluation: With such a wide breadth of information provided for each biography, this resource is invaluable for those in need of biographical information. The essay provides a thorough, but not overwhelming, overview, and then the additional resources allow information seekers to go into whatever level of depth they need or desire.
Another great feature, that enhances the value of Gale Biography in Context, is that there is a “resources” page with many tools to help users with the database. A few examples of these “resources” are training video tutorials, research tips and tools, and, specifically for students, there are “Access Tools To Help Complete Your Assignment: Tools for Getting Started and Wrapping Up” (Resources, 2010).
Reader’s Annotation: The Gale Biography in Context online database contains over 600,000 biographies of contemporary and historical figures from all over the world.
Information about the Author/Editors: Editors and subject-area experts provide authoritative content that can be updated as often as necessary (Gale, Cengage Learning, 2011).
Category: Online Reference
Curriculum Ties: Useful for any areas of the curriculum in need of biographical research
Booktalking Ideas: What one place can you find Adele, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King?
Reading Level/Interest Age: All
Challenge Issues: There are no obvious challenge issues associated with this well-known and respected reference source.
Why is this book included? High School teachers often require their students to do biographical research for assignments. This database contains useful and accessible information for teens, college students, and adults.
About Gale Biography in Context. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/InContext/bio.htm
Gale, Cengage Learning. (2011). Gale Biography in Context (fact sheet for public libraries). Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/InContext/downloads.htm
Resources. (2010). Retrieved from http://ic.galegroup.com.ezproxy.sfpl.org/ic/bic1/resources/?
Plot Summary: Sam Jones loves to skate, that’s “skate” using a skateboard, in case you are not familiar with the term. His idol is Tony Hawk, shortened by Sam to T. H. Sam has a poster of T. H. on the wall of his bedroom and often speaks to T. H., asking for life advice. Here is how Sam tells it, “I talk to Tony Hawk, and Tony Hawk talks back,” (Hornby, 2007, p. 4). Sam’s home life is stable, his parents are divorced, and he is being raised by a single mother, who had him when she was 16. Sam is now 15 years old and has the youngest mother of all of his peers. Sam’s greatest passion is skating, which he does whenever he can fit in the time for it. And then, he meets Alicia Burns. Alicia is beautiful and funny and she and Sam fall head over heels in love. They want to spend every possible moment together, mostly in Alicia’s bedroom. Their relationship becomes sexual and intense and then something happens, and it changes, and Sam no longer wants to see Alicia every possible moment of every day. In fact, he does not think he wants to date her at all anymore. He is confused about his feelings, and while he is trying to sort them out, he gets the news: Alicia is pregnant. This sends Sam right to his advisor, T. H., who seems to send Sam – SLAM! – on a journey into the future complete with visions of himself, Alicia, and their baby. What is happening? Can he get back to the present? Does he want to?
Critical Evaluation: Slam is written in the first person from the perspective of Sam. Sam’s honest voice, through Hornby, comes across as a confused, insecure, and, mostly likable, 15 year old boy. Sam’s language and thoughts feel authentic for someone who is not quite yet an adult but is dealing with very adult circumstances. The path of the novel is interesting, as it takes a twist from realistic fiction to science fiction with the element of time travel woven into the story. At first, I found the time travel surprising and wondered if Sam was going to wake up and we would realize it had all been a dream, but then it seemed the time travel was really happening and it was up to Sam to figure out why he was being given this glimpse into his future. Sam assumed Tony Hawk was sending him into the future to teach him something, though that thing was not always obvious. This book contains a lot of humor. Sam’s dry wit and sarcasm will make readers smile and, possibly, chuckle. And Sam’s eye rolling-annoyance, at certain things adults say, feels just like what a teen would do. The text is accessible, and, as it is written from a boy’s perspective might be a great choice for male reluctant readers.
Reader’s Annotation: When 15-year-old Sam finds out he is going to be a father his life trajectory takes him into unchartered territory.
Information about the Author: British Writer, Nick Hornby has written other popular novels including Fever Pitch, About a Boy, High Fidelity, A Long way Down and How to Be Good. Fever Pitch, About a Boy, and High Fidelity, were all made into films (Hornby, n.d.). Though many of his novels would be interesting to young adults, Slam is Hornby’s only novel geared to young adults.
Hornby is very interested in music, and music often plays a significant role in his novels. For example , Sam and Alicia’s baby is named Rufus, because Rufus Wainwright’s music was playing in the delivery room. Hornby collaborates and performs with the rock band Marah (Nick Hornby, n.d.)
Genre: Issues, Science Fiction
Category: Issues: Pregnancy and Teen Parents; Science Fiction: Time Travel
Curriculum Ties: English and Health
- What if you spoke to a poster of your idol and he spoke back?
Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 13 – 19
Challenge Issues: Premarital Sex, Teen Sex, Sexuality, Teen Pregnancy. In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies. Also, there are several positive reviews of the book.
Why is this book included? I was familiar with Hornby from the book and movie About a Boy, and I wanted to see what he could do in his young adult novel.
Nick Hornby. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Hornby
Hornby, N. (n.d.) Nick Hornby: Biography. Retrieved from http://www.penguin.co.uk/static/cs/uk/0/minisites/nickhornby/aboutnick/index.html