Pictures (adolescent lit class #5)

Pictures week

This week’s class (Nov. 24, 2014) focuses on visual literacy: pictures in young adult literature, in works of both fiction and nonfiction. I offer some questions in the individual posts about the role of these books in the classroom; as always, feel free to respond in other ways with your thoughts on any of this […]

Two picture books

sis_tree of life

      The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Scholastic, 2007) The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin by Peter Sís (Farrar, 2003) Illustrated books can be easily overlooked for and by adolescents, who may see picture books as the domain of small children only. Sophisticated titles such as Shaun Tan’s The Arrival or elaborate, finely detailed works […]

Three graphic novels

Yummy

          Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, 2013) Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke (Lee & Low, 2010) Graphic novels are enjoying a surge of interest and critical attention. Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel nominated for […]

Fantasy and science fiction

fantasy2014

This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of imaginary worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides an apt and lovely […]

Far Far Away

far far away

Folk and fairy tales have long been fodder for writers, who re-tell, borrow, fracture, and invert the original stories in their own. I would suggest that Tom McNeal bends the relationship between fairy tale and novel in a new way in his suspenseful tale Far Far Away. What do others think about blending of new […]

Feed

feed

At first perusal, M.T. Anderson’s Feed is an entertaining tale of privileged futuristic teens who spend spring break on the moon. Their carelessness about the environment, their pitiful lack of knowledge, and technology-induced overstimulation seems so exaggerated as to invite easy laughter. Not far into the book, however, we start to recognize every aspect of […]

Social justice

freedman_because they marched

Civil rights, global warming, and crime and punishment: these complex social issues receive accessible, clear treatment in four new nonfiction books for teens. In Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America, Russell Freedman documents the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march, including the horrific Bloody Sunday confrontation between marchers and Alabama state troopers. […]

Around the world

nye_turtle of oman

Reading can take children on journeys outside of their everyday realms. The following stories — some humorous, some tender — allow independent readers to spend time with characters from all over the globe. When Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman opens, Aref and his mother are preparing to leave their home in Muscat, Oman, […]

You’ve got to have friends

barnett_samanddave

Picture books about friendship can be a dime a dozen. However, these four new gems — about companions in adventure, in-sync skating partners, a tender odd-couple bond, and a freewheeling affection-giver — freshen things up. In Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, two boys set out to do just that — but unearth nothing. Eventually […]

Middle-grade mirth

gantos_key that swallowed joey pigza

Kids having strange and wacky adventures with their friends — what’s a more engaging topic for upper-intermediate and early-middle-school readers? Two of the books below will have readers saying goodbye to favorite characters, one is a (snarky) sequel, and one is an homage — albeit a strange one — to a beloved classic. The Key […]