Chopsticks

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ImageChopsticks Video 

Publication Information
Author(s): Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
Publisher: Penguin Group, Inc.
Release Date: February 2nd 2012

Genre: Picture Book/Mystery/Romance/Fiction

Reading Level: Easy

Target Age: 12+

Grade Levels: 7-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This novel is fantastic! From the moment the girl pointed it out at Chapters I was drawn to it. As soon as I opened the novel and saw the first few pages I had to view/read the rest of it to see what happens. I found it amazing that, as I was looking at the pictures and reading the minimal amounts of words on the pages, I was making up the story in my head. When the girl first described it I was kind of wondering how in the world it would be considered a novel, but I soon learned the value of this novel. The learning opportunities that this book has in it are amazing. Even though there are not a lot of words in the book anyone who is looking at it can’t help but form a story in their heads to accompany the pictures, and that opens up all kinds of doors for creativity and creative thinking in the classroom. The beauty of this book is also that everyone who comes across the book will see something different. Even after looking at it a second time I discovered new things and came out at the end with a completely different conclusion then I had the first time. Not only is this a picture book, but you can also download an app to your Ipad or Iphone and experience the book in an interactive format. In the interactive app the story is told via pictures, notes, letters, music, instant messaging, and videos. How valuable it that?!

Without giving too much away, the book is about a young girl, Gloria (Glory), who is a piano prodigy. Her mother died in a motorcycle accident, and she lives with her father, who also happens to be her music teacher. After her mother died Glory became introverted until Frank, an artist, moves in next door. She becomes fascinated with him, and as a result begins to loss her musical abilities, except for one song “Chopsticks”. In the beginning of the novel the reader is informed that Glory has disappeared, and then it takes you back eighteen months and then takes the reader through Glories life and relationship with Frank. As the story progresses Glory’s father tries to separate her from Frank, and forces her to go on tour, which eventually ends up in Glory losing all her wits and only being able to play “Chopsticks”, which is hers and Franks favorite song. As Glory and Frank’s relationship intensifies so does Glory’s issues, and the lines between real and imagined begin to blur. The novel has me feeling like an investigator, and I was constantly making up predictions of what happened to Glory. As you can tell I am really excited about this book, and that I really enjoyed it!

Cautions
Mildly Mature/Suggestive Themes
Mild Sexual Content/Nudity

Classroom Use
Core Content/Bookshelf – This book is amazing! It is interactive and more than suitable to use in the classroom for core curriculum. The discussions that this book would prompt are endless. Because the book consists of mostly pictures with very minimal amounts of words it would stimulate loads of creative thinking in students. What a great book to do in a short period of time to introduce students to reading at the first of the year and a teacher could even get their students to do a collaborative creative writing project where the class writes the words to the novel! Awesome novel…Just awesome!

Other Suggested Readings
I haven’t come across any other books like this one, but I hope that more like it come out.

The Walking Dead v. 1 (Graphic Novel Series)

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Publication Information
Author: Robert Kirkman
Illustrator: Tony Moore
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Release Date: May 12th 2004

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction/Graphic Novel

Reading Level: Easy

Target Age: 15-Adult

Grade Levels: 10-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic graphic novel about a police office, Rick Grimes. The first volume in the series starts with Rick and his partner engaged in a gun fight with a convict, where Rick gets shot. The reader then sees Rick waking up in the hospital, from what is later revealed as a coma, however, there are no people to be found. Confused by what is going on Rick makes his way home from the hospital via bike, and finds that his wife and son are among the missing people in his community. He encounters a man and his son who are taking up residence in his old neighbors home, and they inform him of all that has happened since Rick went into a coma. They explain to him that the town has been taken over by the “walking dead” and that next to no one survived. Rick then heads to the police station to gather supplies and sets out on a journey to Atlanta to try and find his wife and son, who he believes probably went to stay with family.

Once Rick gets into Atlanta he is bombarded by zombies and just escapes with his life, thanks to Glenn, another survivor from the novel who is in the city looking for supplies to bring back to his camp. Glenn takes Rick back to his camp where he and some other survivors live. Once there he discovers that his wife Lori and son Carl are actually living with the group or survivors, along with his ex-partner Shane. The group stays at the camp for some time, but are later overcome by the zombies and end up losing two of their friends. The novels ends with Shane and Rick getting into a fight because Shane is in love with Rick’s wife Lori, and after an altercation, Shane ends up threatening to kill Rick, however, Carl winds up shooting Shane first.

Cautions
Violent/Gory scenes
Strong Language

Classroom Use
Bookshelf – This book is not suitable to use in the core curriculum because of its graphic scenes and the language content, however, I would recommend it to students who are not really into reading, or students who enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction/zombie novels/movies.

Other Suggested Readings
The Last Man-Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra
Chew-John Layman and Rob Guillory


Catching Fire

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Publication Information
Author: Susan Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press, Inc.
Release Date: September 1st 2009

Genre
Science Fiction/Dystopian Literature

Reading Level: Intermediate

Target Age: 12-Adult

Grade Levels: 7-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel 
Catching Fire is the second novel in The Hunger Game trilogy, and for me was the best novel in the series. I read through the entire book in one sitting! Like the first novel in the trilogy Catching Fire is set in the futuristic world of Panem. The novel starts with Katniss Everdeen now being home with her family after the “Hunger Games”. She and her family are now living in the “Victors Village” with Peeta and Haymitch as their neighbors, and nothing for Katniss has gone back to the way things were before the Hunger Games. Her relationship with Gale has dramatically changed, and although the games are over she still has to be constantly mindful of the fake relationship she forged with Peeta during the games when she is in public.Both Peeta and Katniss are getting ready to go on their Victors Tour, and President Snow visits Katniss to basically warn her of the problems she caused during the first Hunger Games. Peeta and Katniss go on their tour where they begin to see a rebellion on the horizon as well as the terrifying consequences the Capitol enforces for such rebellion.

In Catching Fire, the mockingjoy that Madge gave Katniss in the first novel begins to become a symbol of rebellion, although Katniss hasn’t really realized it yet.Once she comes home from her Victory Tour things start to go downhill fast. Katniss and Gale argue about starting a rebellion, and she tries to convince him to run away with her and their family and friends. Later on Katniss finds Gale being whipped in the town square as punishment for hunting, and Katniss ends up stepping in and gets injured. Gale almost dies, and Katniss then resolves to keep fighting against the Capitol. Katniss later stumbles upon rebels from District 8 in the woods who are heading to the supposed lost District 13, and this gets her thinking about all the info they gave her. During the novel the 75th Quarter Quell is announced. In this Quarter Quell the 2 of the former winners from each District will have to re-enter the arena. Peeta and Katniss both go back into the games, and in preparation they begin training and studying all of the previous winners. Before they enter the arena Peeta pulls off a stunt and tells the Capitol people that Katniss is pregnant and that they are already married, which creates a lot of controversy in the Capitol with its people.

Before Katniss goes into the arena she has to watch her friend and stylist Cinna be viciously beaten as punishment for the costume that he designed for her interviews, which was a mockingjay (the symbol of rebellion). Once in the arena Katniss makes allies with Finnick, who helps her save Peeta as well as Mags, and they also eventually team up with Johanna, Beetee, and Wiress. The team faces a massive amount of trouble, which eventually ends in the loss of Mags and Wiress, however, they eventually figure out the rhyme to the clock like arena, and use it to their advantage to avoid the hourly danger zones. Eventually the team comes up with a plan to get rid of the rest of the tributes who aren’t on their side, and begin to execute it, however, the team gets separated and mass chaos ensues. Johanna seemingly attacks Katniss when she is down, however, Katniss still manages to take down the force field with an arrow. She is then lifted out of the arena, and when she comes to she’s in an aircraft with Plutarch and Haymitch, along with Finnick, Beetee, and some others. They fill her in on their master plan, as well as the rebellion that is happening in the Districts, and her role as their leader in the rebellion. The novel ends with Katniss finding out that Peeta was not lifted from the arena in time, and that the Capitol now has him and Johanna, as well as the fact that District 12 has been destroyed.

Cautions
Violent scenes
Might be a bit long for weaker readers

Classroom Use
Core Content – Replace Fahrenheit 451 with this newer more exciting version of a futuristic dystopian world in which the citizens are extremely repressed, oppressed, and censored.

Other Suggested Readings
Divergent – Victoria Roth
Insurgent – Victoria Roth
Gone – Michael Grant