Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Week 13: Young Adult Annotation

A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: March 12, 2013

Number of Pages: 224 pages

Geographical Setting: Europe

Time Period: Present

Plot Summary: Conor is a thirteen year old boy who is haunted by a monster that walks outside his house in the middle of the night. The monster begins telling him stories with important lessons about loss and life attached to each one. At the same time, Conor is dealing with his mother's illness and her almost certain death. As her health deteriorates, Conor's anger and frustration, as well as his denial, with the situation reaches a breaking point. It is at these times that he and the "monster" appear to be one. Siobhan Dowd, author of young adult novels such as A Swift Pure Cry, wrote this shortly before her death from breast cancer. Patrick Ness, another renowned young adult author, finished the book. 
Subject Headings:    Self-actualization (Psychology) -- Fiction.        
            Monsters -- Fiction.        
            Mothers and sons -- Fiction.        
            Schools -- Fiction.        
            Single-parent families -- Fiction.        
            Breast -- Cancer -- Fiction.        
            Loss (Psychology) -- Fiction.        
            England -- Fiction.        

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Paranormal, Melancholy, Character-driven

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
  • The Nest- Kenneth Oppel
    Similar to A Monster Calls, this book deals with a young boy visited by creatures that promise to save his sick brother. 
  • Clay- David Almond
    In both of these books, boys deal with monstrous creatures of their own imaginations. 
  • Far Far Away- Tom McNeal
    Both tales include a supernatural spirit. In this, a teenage boy is aided by the ghost of Jacob Grimm when he is left to support his family. 
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
  • This Star Won’t Go Out- Esther Earl
    This is a collection of writings from Esther Grace Earl, an aspiring writer who died from thyroid cancer at age 16. 
  • Positive- Paige Rawl
    The author of this memoir was born with HIV and while she was in school, everyone found out and she was bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts. Both books deal with people being bullied, often for something they cannot control. 
  • The Burn Journals- Brent Runyon
    When Brent Runyon was a teenager, he set his body on fire in a suicide attempt and suffered third degree burns over most of his body.

Week Twelve Prompt:

Reader's Advisory Matrix
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart

1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
Highly narrative (reads like fiction)

2. What is the subject of the book?
Celebrity memoir involving faith, growing up, mental illness, and coming out. 

3. What type of book is it?
Memoir style collection of narrative essays

4. Articulate appeal
  • What is the pacing of the book? 
    •  It reads very quickly.
  • Describe the characters of the book. 
    •  The main character is the author Hannah Hart. She is a YouTube cooking celebrity. Her character is sincere and easy to relate to even if you have not been in her situation.
  • How does the story feel? 
    •   Sincere, heartfelt, open, sometimes cringeworthy
  • What is the intent of the author? 
    •  To share her experience.
  • What is the focus of the story? 
    •  She is detailing her life from childhood to the present as she dealt with a bipolar, negligent mother and realizing that she is a lesbian.
  • Does the language matter? 
    •  Yes, in a way. Hannah is young and her writing reads like a friend or a blog.
  • Is the setting important and well described?
    •  The setting is not necessarily important; her story may have been the same no matter where she was located as a child. As an adult, the setting of California and New York are more important because you can see how she was able to make a career. Either way, most of the locations are well detailed. 
  • Are there details and, if so, of what?
    •  She details her mother's mental illness in great detail throughout the story, from when she was a child to an adult trying to find help for her. For example, she visits her mother's home and goes into almost grotesque detail about the amount of cockroaches and dirt layered in the house. 
  • Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful and clear? 
    • None
  • Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
    •  While this book is in no way a learning guide or tutorial, Hannah clearly wants people to understand her experience and have sympathy for those living with mental illness, as her mother was. 
5. Why would a reader enjoy this book (rank appeal)?.
1. Learning/experiencing                   2. Pace               3. Tone

Friday, March 24, 2017

Week Eleven Prompt:

           As long as they get people reading, I am all for ebooks and audiobooks. In my personal experience, however, I highly prefer reading physical books, though I have tried the different mediums. When reading an ebook, I don't feel as connected to the story and the book. I like to physically see how far along I am and be able to smell and feel the pages. As for audiobooks, I have listened to them quite a bit, but I'm still not a huge fan. I mostly listen when I am driving and often find myself distracted. Chapters will go by and I won't know what is going on in the book.
         That being said, the appeal of ebooks and audiobooks is evident and a great motivation for many people to read. Ebook devices allow you to carry around hundreds of books at a time, all in your pocket or purse. For those who are traveling, this is a huge appeal factor. They no longer have to dedicate space to a stack of books. They also appeal to those patrons with vision or reading problems.  Most devices allow you to change font, sizing, and even color to fit your needs. Then, if someone had a large font, it would feel like they are moving very quickly through the book because they have to flip pages more often. Also, as discussed in "Steaming Up the Circ Desk," many romance readers feel more comfortable reading on a device because they can keep the material private. No one will know they are reading erotica at the park.
         Audiobooks have their benefits as well. One I hear most often from patrons is that they are able to do things around the house or drive while listening to a book. This allows them to read in moments where they previously wouldn't have been able. I have heard complaints or experienced it myself where the narrator makes or breaks the book. Sometimes the narrator is so good that a patron will try to find all of the books they have narrated. Other times, they have had to turn off a book because the narrator is awful. I particularly enjoy when an author narrates their own books because then you can hear exactly how they wanted the book to sound. A great example of this is The Graveyard Book written and narrated on the audiobook by Neil Gaiman.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 11: Historical Fiction Annotation

Sarah's Key
by Tatiana De Rosnay
Publication Date: September 30, 2008

Number of Pages: 295 pages

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: 1942 & 2002

Plot Summary: 
Using a little known horror from French history, Tatiana De Rosnay weaves a tale between two women living 60 years apart. 

 In Paris of 1942, the French police, working with the Nazis, go house to house for all the Jews in what is known as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. A young girl named Sarah finds herself dragged from home with her mother and father. Before she leaves, however, she locks her little brother in a hidden cabinet to keep him safe and promises him she will be back shortly. Little does she know, she will break this promise as she and her family are sent to concentration camps.  

Sixty years later, Julia is a journalist who is assigned to cover the anniversary events for the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. She is a middle aged woman who finds herself in a unhappy marriage and desperate for a change. As she researches her topic, she discovers connections between her and the young Sarah. This takes her on a journey that will change her life forever.

Subject Headings:    Jews--France--Fiction.
                                World War, 1939-1945 -- France -- Anniversaries,etc. -- Fiction.
                                Americans -- France -- Fiction.
                                Women authors -- Fiction.
                                Family secrets -- Fiction.
                                France -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945 -- Fiction.
                                Paris (France) -- Fiction. 

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-driven, Compelling, Thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
  • The Paris Architect- Charles Belfoure: Like Sarah's Key, this historical novel is also set in France during WWII. It focuses on an architect given the task of creating hidden spaces for Jews to hide.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Mary Ann Shaffer: Both novels discuss life under German occupation during World War II. It is about a woman that learns through letters about a secret society going against the Germans.
  • Orphan Train- Christina Baker Kline: While one takes place in France and the other in America, both novels deal with children who were separated from their families and have never found their place. 

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
  • Night- Elie Wiesel- The author's firsthand account of his time in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife- Diane Ackerman- The true story of a Polish couple who saved refugees during the Holocaust by hiding them in their zoo.
  • Born Survivors- Wendy Holden- This title tells the story of three young women who were pregnant and widowed during the Holocaust.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Club Experience

Circle of Readers Book Discussion
Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Who is asking the questions, is there a leader or do people take turns?
A retired reference librarian is the leader of the book club. She selects the books several months in advance and runs the meeting. At the beginning of the book club, she will read about the author to give some type of background to the story. She then asks questions from a sheet that she hands out before the session. 

If there is a leader, does the leader answer the questions as well or let the attendees respond first?

The reference librarian lets the attendees try to answer the questions first. She will then chip into the conversation with her own remarks. She is very responsive to all of their comments and really seems like she is listening to what is said instead of trying to move on or speak. 

What type of questions are asked? Any involving just yes or no answers?
The books come from a book kit that is put together for the library. The book kit includes a list of questions to consider when doing the book club that are pulled from the author's site. The librarian simply goes down this list of questions. They are very thoughtful questions that require intellectual answers, for example, "do you think words construct meaning differently than visual images do, whether drawn or photographed?" There was a lot of back and forth discussion on this question alone. None of the questions involve just yes or no answers; they all require a discussion. If there is a question that can be answered yes or no, then there is a secondary question involved, such as "Is Lucine's mother, Mairig, a bad or negligent mother? Why or why not?"

Do all attendees actively participate?
There were ten attendees at the book club and all of them participated throughout the discussion. Not only that, but they were very quick to participate. Everyone seemed to have something to say. There were only two men in the group and while they were quiet at first, they definitely opened up and started sharing the opinion. Overall, all of the attendees were very knowledgeable and worldly. 

Do any attendees swoop in and steal all the spotlight?
I did not witness any attendees trying to steal the spotlight. Everyone was very respectful of people's turns and opinions. This surprised me because there were very touchy subjects brought up such as politics and religion. I can say that there were two or three that were clearly regulars and liked to be the first to answer.  

What is the atmosphere of the discussion, where is it taking place at?
The atmosphere was open and welcoming. When I walked in, they immediately started telling me that I should come to more of their discussions and gave me the book for the next one. The discussion is held in the large meeting room of the Merrillville Branch of the Lake County Public Library. It's a big space to fill, but they still make it feel intimate. 

Are snacks or drinks provided?
Yep! They had plenty of snacks for people. There was coffee, tea, and water for beverages. The leader brought in St. Patrick's Day themed cookies and a cheese/cracker/bagel spread to eat. Many attendees grabbed a little plate when they came in and others even showed up early to snack. 

What types of books does this book club normally discuss?
This group focuses a lot on literary fiction. They also like to throw in non-fiction titles. Next month, they are reading The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Last month, they read Deep Down Dark. At the end of each meeting, the librarian likes to go around and have everyone rate the current book from 1-10. She keeps track of the ratings and at the end of the year, totals them up and declares the best and worst books of the year. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Special Topics Paper

My topic was looking at the trend of adults reading books labeled as “young adult” or “YA.” This also included looking at ways to promote it via passive reader’s advisory such as displays and book-lists. Young adult fiction is a massive market that only seems to be getting bigger every year and it is a major reader’s advisory topic. While it is of utmost importance to promote to the teen reader, adults are reading YA novels more than ever. One of the first major crossover series was Harry Potter. This paved the way for a lot of YA books and series, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, and the list goes on.
Crossover novels are books that appeal to different ages; in this case, they are YA books that appeal to adults. Because these books appeal to the “pleasures of literary reading,” adults are more inclined to pick them up or recommend them to a friend.
While it is true that the stigma is lessening to an extent, young adult fiction lovers still find that they are judged for the books they read. Observers or fellow readers will sometimes believe that they are only reading “children’s” books if they are 20 or older caught with a YA title.
The ability to reconnect with our formative years is one of the major appeals to the genre.  We, as adults, are able to connect to the emotions of our teenage selves. There is a genuineness or pureness to the feelings of a young adult. Those were often the most volatile, all consuming, high anxiety emotions we have ever felt. Teens seem to feel things more acutely because their focus is more narrowed; they are developing the ability to see the bigger picture. We can see this in some of our favorite YA novels, such as The Hunger Games when Katniss Everdeen begins to realize that her decisions impact the entire world.
Beyond the emotions captured in YA fiction, there are other qualities that can attract the adult reader. YA as a genre spans many other genres- from mystery to science fiction to romance. You can go to the shelf and find a book for just about anyone. Another important quality of YA fiction is length. 
  Young adult novels can be promoted using displays. Obviously there are displays that appeal to the teen audience, but an adult display can have a title like “Not Just for Teens.” Displays can also be placed in or around the adult section to show that they are being advertised for adults to read. This also helps the adults that may feel awkward browsing in the teen section if it’s located separately. Then there are always book-lists and handouts that can be placed at different service desks or in the sections they are promoting.
Through searching the internet and various websites, I found a handful of books that came up on several “Best YA for Adults” lists. The sites and lists used came from Refinery29, BuzzFeed, InStyle, and Flavorwire. While these are not “literary” sites, they are ones used often by the general public and give you a sense of what people are currently reading and what is trending. I've included the list in case anyone is interested.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
A Court of Thorn and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
Crank, Ellen Hopkins
Divergent, Veronica Roth
The Diviners, Libba Bray
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
I'll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson
Jellicoe Road, Melissa Marchetta
Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
Legend, Marie Lu
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
Monster, Walter Dean Myers
Paper Towns, John Green
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
Sabriel, Garth Nix
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle