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.


Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia a Project of Planned Parenthood of Toronto

Bibliographic Information: Planned Parenthood of Toronto. (2004). Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.  ISBN: 1896764878.  197 pages.

Plot/Content Summary:

We all need a space to tell our stories, to be heard.  So for me being able to tell this story is an important act of resistance.  I tell my story often and loudly.  I tell it to break the silence, to educate, to inspire.  I tell my story in the hope that someone who hears me might think about the revolutionary potential of simply loving themselves and sharing their stories.

 ayden isak hoffman-scheim

Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia, pg. 51

Hear Me Out is a book of stories, teen stories, true stories by teens about themselves.  These teens are volunteers with Toronto’s Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia (T.E.A.C.H.), “a peer-based program run by Planned Parenthood of Toronto to educate and change negative attitudes about gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, transsexual, and transgendered [GLBTT] people.”  These teens are brave, they’ve been through a lot, and they are here to tell their stories, to educate and inform, and, perhaps most importantly, to make sure other GLBTT young people know that they are not alone.  Each chapter is written by one young person, the chapters range from coming out stories to stories about homophobic violence and bullying to stories of first love and family acceptance.  Issues of culture and race are woven throughout the book, as the teen voices come from diverse backgrounds.  Through it all, the wise, honest – and brave – voices of teens come through loud and clear.

Critical Evaluation: This book is important, as it addresses serious subjects from the perspective of the teens experiencing what is being discussed.  Hearing from the teens themselves makes this book powerful and moving as well as telling and illuminating.  One only has to read the first page to realize that reading Hear Me Out is going to be a different experience than reading any other book.  It is honest, authentic, and interesting.  Even people in GLBTT communities will learn from the diversity of experiences and voices, and people outside the community will get a glimpse into what life is like for the young people in the book, and possibly other GLBTT youth that readers may know.  Many of the teens also speak specifically about the T.E.A.C.H. program, which could be useful for those interested in starting a similar organization.  The back of the book includes a brief glossary and section of short biographies of each of the 19 teen contributors.

Reader’s Annotation: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and transgendered teens tell their stories in their own words of what life is like for them.  Their stories describe adversity and struggle as well as achievement and triumph.

Information about the Author: n/a

Genre: Non-Fiction

Category: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Transgendered youth

Topics Covered: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Transsexual, Homophobia, Racism, Bullying, Violence, Family, Friends, Identity, Coming Out

Curriculum Ties: Gender and Sexuality

Booktalking Ideas: Read a piece from any of the essays, like the quote included above in the “Content” section.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 12 -19

Challenge Issues: This book is all about GLBTT youth and sends a message of the importance of acceptance, so it could very well be challenged.  In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.  Also, there are several positive reviews of the book, including reviews by VOYA and Booklist.

Why is this book included? Initially found in the YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2006 list, under the GLBTQ heading, this book is included because young adult collections should address the needs and issues of the diverse communities they serve.

References:

Planned Parenthood of Toronto. (2004). Hear Me Out: True Stories of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.


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


Slam by Nick Hornby

Bibliographic Information: Hornby, N. (2007). Slam. New York, NY: Putnam Juvenile.  ISBN: 0399250484.  304 pages.

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

Booktalking Ideas:

  • 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.

References:

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


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bibliographic Information: Alexie, S. (2009). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Forney, E. (Illus.). New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  ISBN: 0316013692.  288 pages.

Plot Summary: “My parents came from poor people who came from poor people who came from poor people, all the way back to the very first poor people.” Fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit, Jr., called Junior by his friends and family, lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. His best, and only, friend Rowdy protects him from kids on the “rez,” who use Junior as a punching bag. He is teased and picked on because he’s skinny, he wears glasses, he lisps, and, according to him, “Everyone on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day.” But, Junior is smart and thoughtful, he’s an aspiring cartoonist, and he has managed to eke out a small amount of hope for his future. He makes the life-changing decision to leave the rez school to attend Reardon, a school 22 miles from the reservation, with only white students in a wealthy, all-white town. Students at Reardon are high achievers, both academically and in athletics. Will Junior’s Indian community feel betrayed by his decision? Will the kids at his new school open their hearts to him? Readers will root for this unassuming, honest, witty and smart protagonist, as he makes his way through the murky waters of growing up and self-discovery.

Critical Evaluation: Alexie’s honest, authentic writing tells Junior’s story with intimacy and feeling.  And while this book reads like a memoir, it is fiction, but heavily based on Alexie’s own life.  Readers get the opportunity to be present for day-to-day life as well as some of the more dramatic moments of Junior’s life, and through it all Alexie’s dry wit and social commentary are meaningful and not at all didactic. The complex issues of race and class intersect, intertwine, and give readers plenty to think about.  Part devastatingly sad, part funny, and part hopeful, this coming of age story provides pause for thought about life’s complexities, as well as some of its most simple, and basic, pleasures.  Alexie’s is an important voice in young adult literature, as there are very few books depicting contemporary Indian Reservation life.  Though Junior is fourteen, the novel’s content is mature enough to keep older teens engaged.  In fact, the many levels of this book would likely be best understood by teens older than the main character.  While the content is often heavy, the writing is accessible for a wide range of reading levels; this book, with its many cartoon illustrations, is enjoyable to read, and could be a great choice for reluctant readers.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won the National Book Award

Reader’s Annotation: Junior’s life takes a dramatic turn when he decides to leave the Spokane Indian Reservation school for an all-white school in an affluent town 22 miles away from his reservation home.

Information about the Author: Sherman Alexie is an author, a poet, and a filmmaker.  He has written 22 books, and has received numerous honors for his creative works.  Alexie has a strong voice and does not shy away from controversy (see “Challenge Issues” below). He is a frequent public speaker and an advocate for Native American Youth.

Genre: Issue, Realistic Fiction

Category: Issue: Social Concerns: Racism; Issue: Life is Hard: Multiple and Unique Issues, Outsiders

Topics Covered: Growing up, American Indian, Indian reservation, racism, poverty, discrimination, Bullying

Curriculum Ties: This book would provide plenty to talk about for a high school English or social studies class

Booktalking Ideas:

  • “I think Rowdy might be the most important person in my life. Maybe more important than my family. Can your best friend be more important than your family?” (p. 123)

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 14 to 19

Challenge Issues: This book contains a lot of cursing and references to sexuality.  It also exposes readers to poverty, racism, hatred, sadness and grief, things that some adults feel they need to protect young people from.  Alexie’s own experience of hearing from teens that this book speaks to them and they appreciate its honesty is discussed in his Wall Street Journal Blog piece, entitled Why the Best Kids’ Books Are Written in Blood.  More information about censorship of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian can be found in the Blog of The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association.

Why is this book included? This book is included for several reasons.  1) Authentic American Indian voices are underrepresented in American literature in general, and in young adult literature in particular, so it is important that Alexie’s voice is heard and available for young people to read. 2) It is a great book, funny, poignant, and gives us all a lot to think about.  I enjoyed it a lot and think you will too.  3) Related to #2, it won the National Book Award among other honors and was highly critically acclaimed.

References:

Alexie, S. (2009). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.


Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant

Bibliographic Information: Van Sant, G. (director). 1997. Good Will Hunting (DVD). Santa Monica, CA: Miramax Films.  ASIN: 0788814664.  126 minutes. Movie Rating: R.

Plot Summary: Will Hunting, a young adult from the hardscrabble streets of South Boston, prefers street fights and drinking with his buddies to developing his semi-hidden genius.  From economics to mathematics, Will stuns snobby Harvard and MIT students at local bars who look down on him and his friends for their social status, although he meets a Harvard student who gives him her number.  Will works at MIT, as a janitor, and, while cleaning one evening, is drawn to a proof posted on a chalkboard in the hallway.  He solves the proof correctly and anonymously, and so ensues a search for the “student” who award-winning MIT mathematics professor, Gerald Lambeau, wants to praise.  After an arrest in a street fight, Will is bailed out by Lambeau who has taken note of Will’s innate math talents and wants to become his mentor.  The conditions of Will’s bail include being under Lambeau’s supervision and attending therapy, an idea Will openly laughs at, but agrees to in order to avoid further incarceration.

Critical Evaluation: Good Will Hunting is a great young adult movie.  It takes the common themes of love, friendship, and overcoming adversity and weaves them into a compelling, interesting, and moving story.  The main characters are three dimensional with strengths and flaws and, above all else, resilience.  The acting in the film is high quality, with particularly believable roles by Matt Damon playing Will and Robin Williams playing his therapist, Sean Maguire.  Will’s relationships are complicated by his troubled past, but his friends are always there for him.  His love interest, awealthy Harvard student, tries to understand who he is and where he is coming from, though he is not at all forthcoming about himself., and, in fact, lies about his past.  Those who do not care for curse words may bristle at times, but the language feels realistic, not gratuitous.  This movie deals with heavy topics with grace and beauty.  Viewers will hope for Will to triumph over all the troubles life has handed him.

Good Will Hunting was highly praised and honored.  A the 1998 Academy Awards, the movie was nominated for nine awards and won two: Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won the Oscar for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).  The screenplay also won the 1998 Golden Globe award, out of four Golden Globe nominations.

Reader’s/Viewer’s Annotation: Troubled young man, Will Hunting, works as a janitor at MIT. When his math skills seem to exceed those of any of the MIT students, Will’s life take a turn that could bring him far away from his South Boston roots, but does he want to go?

Information about the Author/Director: Gus Van Sant is an award-winning director who has directed highly acclaimed films. A sampling of his films include: Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Finding Forrester, Elephant, Paranoid Park, and Milk.  His most recent film, Restless, was released in September 2011.

Genres: Drama

Curriculum Ties: Discussion of class, emotional problems, abuse, overcoming obstacles

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 15 to 25

Challenge Issues: Sexuality, Language, Violence, Drinking.  In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies.

Why is this film included? I loved it when it came out and I was a teen, and it was just as good watching it today.


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.