Matched by Ally Condie

Bibliographic Information: Condie, A. (2010). Matched. New York, NY: Penguin.  ISBN: 0525423648.  384 pages.

Plot Summary: Cassia lives in a “Society” where everything is decided for her and the rest of the members by Society Officials.  From her meals to her wardrobe, everything is predetermined, thus lessening the potential “stress” decision-making might cause Society members.  When Cassia was young she did not think much of the lack of self-determination in her life.  Now, she is 17, of age to be given her “match,” her ideal life mate that Society Officials will choose for her, as determined by algorithms and scientific data.  At the match ceremony Cassia is happy to be matched with her close childhood friend, Xander.  Their match is an unusual one, as the scientific method of determining matches makes it statistically unlikely that both people in a match will be chosen from the same Borough, but Cassia and Xander are that exception, and they are both pleased.  They are each given a “match microchip” to view on their “ports” once they return home.  Match microchips contain information about your match, so you can get to know your match better.  Even though they have known each other for years, Cassia puts the microchip into her home’s port.  And then something unpredictable, irregular, and seemingly erroneous happens, which, in a society built on predictability, regularity, and precision, stuns Cassia.  While watching the match microchip about Xander, a face other than Xander’s flashes on the screen.  And she knows who it is: Ky Markham, a boy who cannot be matched with anyone, because he has been classified an “aberration” by the Society because of some unsanctioned actions that his father took.  And Cassia knows Xander is the match for her, or is he?  Ever since his face appeared on the screen, Cassia cannot stop thinking about Ky, and the Society Officials are trying desperately to recover from this error.

Critical Evaluation: As far as Dystopian novels go, Matched is a great one.  Condie weaves intricate details of a freedomless, future society with the authentic thoughts and feelings of a 17-year-old girl.  Matched is its own novel, with nods to the dystopian novels, particularly The Giver and The Hunger Games, who have come before it.  The voice of Cassia is strong and clear as she struggles with her feelings, her obligations, and her new found perspective on the society she has lived in and followed the rules for all of her life.  The reach of the Society’s control is demonstrated again and again, by small events in addition to the larger ones.  For example, Cassia receives an artifact from her grandfather for her matching ceremony.  Artifacts have mostly been disposed of, as they are considered unnecessary, but her grandfather has held on to this one, a metal compact, from Cassia’s grandmother.  In a tiny, unnoticeable compartment Cassia finds a small slip of paper with a bit of a poem written on it.  Most poetry has been eliminated from Cassia’s society, except for a few works that have been archived.  This bit of a poem was on an older type of paper, and Cassia was fairly sure that if she put the paper in the incinerator at her home, Society Officials would be able to determine that a foreign, even forbidden, object had been incinerated.  She could get her whole family in trouble for burning a wisp of paper, so she finds another way.  And this way of thinking, this trying to outsmart Society Officials, continues as Cassia starts to see her way of life differently.  This book is accessible for teens of all ages and its message leaves much to be discussed and considered.

Matched was favorably reviewed and received several awards and honors.  Matched is a New York Times Best Seller, was named number six on YALSA’s 2011 Teen’s Choice Top Ten, was on the 2011 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Readers and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers lists, and was on Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2010 list as well.

Reader’s Annotation: Cassia lives in a “Society” where everything is determined for her and the rest of the members of the Society.  So, when something unplanned happens, when there is a glitch, Cassia is stunned out of her rule following and starts looking for the truth.

Information about the Author: Ally Condie is a former high school English teacher who keeps her license current, as she says, “just in case,” (Condie, 2011).  She lives outside of Salt Lake City, UT with her husband and three sons.

Matched is the first book in a trilogy, something I did not know until I was doing research for this blog post.  The second book of the trilogy is Crossed, which was released November, 1, 2011, and the third, and final, book of the trilogy is scheduled to be released in November 2012.

Genre: Science Fiction

Subgenres/Themes: Science Fiction: Dystopia

Topics Covered: Freedom, Choice, Love, Conformity

Curriculum Ties: Social Science, Political Science

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Would you choose to be matched or to be a single?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 13 – 18

Challenge Issues: There are no obvious challenge issues associated with this book.  Preparation for any challenge can include the librarian’s: reading of the book, adhering to the library’s collection development department, and possessing reviews of the book from well-regarded sources.

Why is this book included? I found out about this book from a classmate in this course, I was excited to read it because it was fairly current, and I had not heard of it before.

References

Condie, A. (2011). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.allysoncondie.com/bio/

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Teen Ink

Bibliographic Information: Teen Ink (magazine). Newton, MA: The Young Authors Foundation, Inc.

Plot/Content Summary: Teen Ink is a magazine that does not employ writers, reporters, or artists.   The content of the magazine is entirely made up of submissions from teens from all over the country.  Topics covered are diverse, from health issues to discrimination, teen activism to sports.  Teens write fiction and non-fiction and provide paintings, photographs and other forms of artwork for the magazine.  Each monthly issue contains articles written around specific themes, in the December 2011, issue the themes were “Celebrating the Season” and “Sibling Stories.”  The magazine is organized with the following “sections:” Art Gallery, College Directory, College Reviews, Community Service, Environment, Feedback, Fiction, Health, Heroes, Nonfiction, Points of View, Poetry, Pride & Prejudice, Reviews: Book, Reviews: Movie, Reviews: Music, Reviews: Video Games, Sports and Travel & Culture.  The wide range of topics covered provides a place for teens with varying interests to enjoy both reading as well as contributing to Teen Ink.

Critical Evaluation: Teen Ink is packed full with interesting and high quality writing and artwork.  The honest, authentic teen voices that can be found throughout the pages of the magazine lend it depth and significance.  The teen contributors to Teen Ink, both young women and young men, are creative and intelligent, interesting and interested.  Teen Ink provides an opportunity for teens to become published writers and artists, “Hundreds of thousands of students have submitted their work to us and we have published more than 45,000 teens since 1989,” (Teen Ink: About Us, n.d.).  Teen Ink empowers and engages, it provides an important forum for teens to exchange ideas and discuss issues important to them.  It is by teens and for teens making it a great resource for information and inspiration.  The magazine is used in English, creative writing, and journalism classrooms across the country.  Several books have been published by the Teen Ink organization, they are entitled Teen Ink and contain themed collections of essays gathered from the magazine.  The Teen Ink website contains content from the magazine as well as content unique to the web and is an additional place for teens to engage and exchange thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Genre/Format: Print and Online Magazine

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 14 -18

Challenge Issues: There are many real issues that young adults deal with covered in this magazine, so there might be a challenge to some of the content.  However, this magazine has been praised by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Teacher Magazine and many more.  In response to challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.

Why is this magazine included? Teen Ink is the perfect magazine for older teens of both genders to include in a library collection.  I found it when I was in search of interesting and independent teen magazines that do not simply repeat the same beauty tips and celebrity gossip as many magazines on the market.


Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Bibliographic Information: Meyer, C. (2005). Twilight. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Co.. ISBN: 0316160172.  544 pages.

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?

Booktalking Ideas:

  • 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.

References

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


The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Bibliographic Information: Hinton, S.E. (1967). The Outsiders. New York, NY: Speak.  ISBN: 014038572X.  188 pages.

Plot Summary: In Ponyboy Curtis’s world (yes, that’s his real name), there are two things you can be: a greaser or a Soc, short for Social.  Greasers, like Ponyboy and his brothers and all their friends, live on the east side.  They are poor, they slick back their hair and are often considered “hoods” or JD’s, juvenile delinquents, by non-greasers.  Socs, on the other hand, live on the west side, are wealthy, and are not considered to be hoods, but often behave like JD’s toward the greasers.  It seems that when Socs get bored, they beat up greasers for entertainment.  One night 14-year-old Ponyboy and his friend Johnny get jumped, not the first time either of them has been attacked by Socs, but this night things go terribly wrong.  What will happen to Johnny and Ponyboy, who will help them, and how will they survive?

Critical Evaluation: S. E. Hinton was 16 when she wrote this classic coming-of-age novel in the 1960’s.  The Outsiders contains universal themes relevant today.  Tweens and teens struggle with fitting and not fitting in, being labeled and pre-judged, going along with or against the crowd.  All of these challenges are presented in a compelling and engaging story, which is filled with narrator Ponyboy’s thoughtful reflections and raw emotions.  The honest real-life situations of The Outsiders set it apart from other books, for young adults, from the 1960’s.  Perhaps because she herself was a young adult, Hinton captured authentic voices and her readers responded with great delight.  This classic is still meaningful and alive and well today.

Reader’s Annotation: Ponyboy Curtis lives with his two brothers on what some would consider to be the wrong side of the tracks.  When a fateful event brings Ponyboy and his friend Johnny together with the rich socialites, their lives change forever.

Information about the Author: Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, OK, in 1950.  She still calls Tulsa her home.  The Outsiders, which takes place in Oklahoma, was inspired by people and the social situations in her own Oklahoma high school.  Her first book was The Outsiders, but she has continued writing, with her most recent book, Some of Tim’s Stories, a book of short stories, being published in 2006. (Hinton, n.d.)

In 1988, Hinton was given the first ever Margaret A. Edwards Award.  She has written several novels for young adults, children and adults.  Several of her novels have been made into movies, including The Outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1983.

Genre: Issues, Realistic Fiction

Subgenres/Themes: Issues: Social concerns: Gangs

Topics Covered: Social Status, Fitting In, Outsiders, Gangs, Violence, Love, Friendship, Family

Curriculum Ties: As The Outsiders is a classic, it could be read for an English class with lots to dissect and discuss,

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Imagine being in trouble, the kind of trouble you have no idea how to get out of…

Reading Level/Interest Age: 12 – 16

Challenge Issues: Profanity and violence.  In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.  Also, the book is considered by many to be a classic and was, and still is, highly praised by critics.

Why is this book included? As a young teen, I loved this book (and the movie) so much that I decided I would memorize the book.  I was a dreamer, to say the least.  It took me forever to learn the first two sentences and I lost interest in memorizing after that, but not in reading it and re-reading it and re-reading it again.  A classic in YA lit!

References:

Hinton, S. E. (n.d.) Biography.  Retrieved from http://www.sehinton.com/bio.html


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling

Bibliographic Information: Rowling, J.K. (2009). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books.  ISBN: 0545139708.  784 pages.

Spoiler alert: This review may include information revealed in the Harry Potter books 1 through 6.

Plot Summary: In this, the last book of the wildly popular Harry Potter Series, Harry, now 17, must seek out the hidden objects that are sustaining life for the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.  Each of the books in the series has gotten more dark, Harry’s journeys more dangerous, and this one is no exception.  Harry’s quest to defeat Voldemort is more harrowing and challenging than ever.  This book contains bravery and triumph, in addition to heartbreak, sorrow and devastating loss.  In the midst of trying to save the wizarding world from unimaginable evil and to keep himself alive, Harry is transitioning from Hogwarts school boy to a full-fledged wizard and a grown man.  This is one coming of age story readers will not want to miss, full of drama, danger, friendship and love. Harry’s last book will not disappoint his fans one bit.   The only problem is, it leaves us wanting just one more…

Critical Evaluation: In this nearly 800 page finale, Rowling, astoundingly, does it again.  The elaborate, magnificent fantasy world she created in the first Harry Potter book comes alive again, with enough of the familiar to satisfy and comfort and enough new elements to thrill and engage.  This is gripping reading at its finest.  The characters are charismatic, unique, and multidimensional.  The story is riveting and unpredictable.  The book mixes the fantastical with, realistic young adult story lines of friendship and love, family and loyalty.  This mix keeps Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows grounded and believable, even as unbelievable as many of the elements are.  This is a great book for boys and girls, reluctant and eager readers alike, and, of course, fans of fantasy.

Of note, is that this book and the entire Harry Potter series are excellent choices for audio books.  The audio books are unabridged, so they take many hours to listen to, but the reader, Jim Dale is himself magical in his ability to act out each role as if a different person were performing.  Highly recommended.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was named the best book of 2007, by Newsweek‘s Malcolm Jones, was on Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2007 list, and was on the 2008 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults list, among many other honors and awards.

Reader’s Annotation: Harry Potter, now 17, must take a dangerous and circuitous journey to seek out the hidden objects that are sustaining life for the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

Information about the Author:  J. K. Rowling started writing stories as a young child.  The idea for Harry Potter came to her while she was on a train.  She did not have a pen, so she spent the four-hour train ride just dreaming up Harry and his magical world.  She says “I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them.” (Rowling, 2011).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the final book in a seven-book series, books one through six are: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,

Genre: Fantasy

Subgenre/Theme: Fantasy: Magic

Curriculum Ties: n/a

Booktalking Ideas:

  • How would it feel to be the only person who can save your world from evil and destruction?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 9 – 18

Challenge Issues: There are those who claim the books promote the occult and witchcraft.  In fact, the Harry Potter series is number one on the ALA’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009.  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, some are mentioned above.

Why is this book included? The great popularity of the Harry Potter series makes it a natural choice for a young adult collection.  Also, I really enjoyed the audio books of books one through six, so I was thrilled to get to listen to number seven.

References:

Rowling, J.K. (2011). Biography.  Retrieved from http://www.jkrowling.com/en/


Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

Bibliographic Information: Perkins, L.R. (2005). Criss Cross. New York, NY: Green Willow Books.  ISBN: 0060092726.  337 pages.

Plot Summary: “She wished something would happen.  Something good.  To her.  Looking at the bright fuzzy picture in the magazine, she thought, Something like that.  Checking her wish for loopholes, she found one.  Hoping it wasn’t too late, she thought the word SOON.”  Young teen Debbie, keeps hoping something will happen.  Hector, Debbie’s childhood friend “felt unfinished, still in process.”  Debbie, Hector, and a group of their childhood friends are all going through the complex and circuitous journey of growing up.  Periodically, throughout the book, the friends gather on Saturdays to listen to Criss Cross, “the kind of radio show you would like if you liked Mad Magazine.  Which they all did, or had, a few years ago.”  Also, running throughout the book is the story of a necklace, that Debbie loses, that gets passed from one character to the next in a series of interesting coincidences.  Will the teens find the clarity that they are searching for?  Will they become who they think they will be? Who will they become, and how will they get there?

Critical Evaluation: Eclectic and creative, the writing in Criss Cross is mostly from Debbie’s or Hector’s perspective.  Told in a series of interrelated vignettes, poetry, questions and answers, with illustrations and a few photographs, this book is clever, witty and provides an honest portrayal of the inner thoughts and feelings of its characters.  Criss Cross is a coming of age story uniquely presented and rendered, and, though it takes place in the 1970’s, the issues and feelings that arise for the teens in the novel are fully relevant for today’s teens.  As the main characters are young teens, the book is probably best suited for the younger end of teens, ages 14-16.  The compelling story, accessible writing, and interesting presentation make the book a good choice for reluctant readers or teens reading a bit below grade level.  Poetic and charming, Criss Cross ponders some of life’s most common questions with grace, insight and wit.  Criss Cross won the 2006 Newberry Medal and is on the 2006 ALA Best Books for Young Adults list.

Reader’s Annotation: Debbie, Hector and their friends are at a crossroads.  They are growing up, trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be, and searching, always searching.

Information about the Author: Author and artist Lynne Rae Perkins has written and illustrated several picture books and young adult novels.  I did not know this when I read it, but Criss Cross is the second novel that Perkins has written with the character of Debbie in it.  The first novel is called All Alone in the Universe and is about Debbie when she is thirteen years old.

In addition to words, Perkins uses art to express herself, thus, she adds a unique element to her novels.  A quote from Perkins’ website made me smile: “’Books are ideas with meat on their bones.’  I have that written down but I don’t know who said it.  It might have been me, but probably not” (Perkins, n.d.)

Genre: Contemporary Life, Realistic Fiction

Category: Contemporary Life: Coming of Age

Curriculum Ties:  A twist on the classic coming of age novel, this novel could be compared to other more traditional coming of age novels.  Perkins also provides a few ideas for teachers interested in teaching the book here.

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Do you ever wish something, anything would happen?
  • Do you think we are ever finished?  Complete?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 13 – 16

Challenge Issues: There are no obvious challenge issues associated with this book.  Preparation for any challenge can include the librarian’s: reading of the book, adhering to the library’s collection development department, and possessing reviews of the book from well-regarded sources.

Why is this book included? It won the Newberry Medal and was on YALSA’s 2006 Best Books for Young Adults list. 

References:

Perkins, L.R. (n.d.) Activities for All Alone in the Universe. Retrieved from http://www.lynneraeperkins.com/all_alone_in_the_universe_activities.htm


Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Bibliographic Information: Leitich Smith, C. (2007). Tantalize. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763627917.  310 pages.

Plot Summary: Since the death of her parents at age 13, Quincie Morris has been in the care of her uncle Davidson.  With her parents gone, the place that has felt the most like home to her is Fat Lorenzo’s, the Italian restaurant that has been in her family for generations.  And Fat Lorenzo’s chef, Vaggio, and the rest of the staff were like Quincie’s extended family.  But there was a problem, competition, from other local Italian restaurants, was cutting into Fat Lorenzo’s business. Quincie, who, at 17, helped manage the restaurant, and Uncle Davidson came up with a plan: turn the restaurant into a Sanguini’s, an Italian restaurant, with a vampire theme.  From the food to the décor to the wardrobe of the staff, everything had to be planned out perfectly.  But, in Quincie’s world, in Austin, Texas, there really are vampires and werewolves.  In fact, Kieren, her best friend since childhood, and current love obsession, is a hybrid werewolf.  So, when Vaggio is literally torn apart in a brutal murder in the restaurant kitchen, while Quincie, unawares, watches a nature special in the break room, the spotlight turns to the non-humans around her, including Kieren.  In the shadow of Viggio’s unsolved murder, Quincie must focus on Sanguini’s and get it up and running for the reopening in a few weeks.  She also must deal with the fact that Kieren is just about at the age where he will be leaving Austin to join a wolf pack, and Sanguini’s new, young, and handsome, chef seems to have more than a fleeting interest in Quincie.

Critical Evaluation: Leitich Smith manages to take a vampire story with all the fantasy and darkness that comes with vampire novels and merge it with a young adult story that feels realistic and even relatable to many teens.  After all, problems with love and attraction are universal themes, even if the one loved is not always a hybrid werewolf.  Written in first person from Quincie’s perspective, readers learn information as Quincie does.  Her voice is honest and down to earth, even while dealing with otherworldly topics.  Adding to the immersive experience, that reading this book brings, are special pages sprinkled throughout.  A restaurant critique looks like a clipping on the page, the restaurant’s menus are presented in menu style complete with fancy script.  For those who can not get enough Tantalize, Leitich Smith has written others in the series: Eternal, Blessed, and Tantalize: Kieren’s Story.

Reader’s Annotation: When 17-year-old Quincie Morris and her uncle open a new vampire-themed restaurant, there are many changes afoot.  With vampires and werewolves, new love and old, will Quincie make it?

Information about the Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith writes books for all ages, from young children to young adult and adult.  She has published picture books, in addition to short stories, essays, and young adult novels.  Leitich Smith’s website (http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/) is a wonder of resources for readers and writers.  It includes recommended reading lists, advice for those interested in becoming writers, and extensive information about Leitich Smith and her writing.

Leitich Smith is genuinely interested in the world and people around her and generously shares her talents and insights.  She is a tribal member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and some of her works include authentically portrayed American Indian characters, something that is unfortunately often lacking in books about American Indians.  She currently lives in Austin, Texas, the setting for Tantalize, with her husband, also a writer, Greg Leitich Smith (http://gregleitichsmith.com/).

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Categories/Themes: Paranormal: Werefolk and Vampires, Fantasy: Myth and Legend

Curriculum Ties: Reading comparison between this novel and Stoker’s Dracula and ancient vampire legends

Booktalking Ideas:

  • How would you feel about your love interest being a hybrid werewolf?
  • Would you go to Sanguini’s?  Which menu would you pick?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 13 – 19

Challenge Issues: Underage drinking, sexuality, mythical creatures.  In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.  Additionally, there are several positive reviews of the book.

Why is this book included? This book was assigned reading, which is how I learned about it, though I was already a fan of Leitich Smith.  Also, I wanted to include some novels with vampires and werewolves, as they are currently very popular among young adults.