Friday, August 31, 2012

Joshua C. Cohen's Leverage

I am not the one to be lost for words, but when it comes to this book. I am speechless. There  are no words that I can find in the dictionary that can help me explain this YA novel. What I thought this book was about was not exactly what I expected to be. I really applaud the author for his technique with writing this novel. The author does not hold back any details, images, or language when  he decided to write about teen issues.

The novel is centered around two main characters, Danny and Kurt, who joins together to speak against the cruelty and injustice that seems to stem from this YA novel. As readers, we look into the personal thoughts and emotions of both characters; which we cannot help but feel empathy towards the characters because Cohen's writing seems surreal.

Danny, who is determined to become an Olympic champion has to prove to himself and his father that this is his dream and his goal in life. Danny like other teenagers have to deal with the constant bullying and taunting of other teenagers from his high school football players.

Kurt, who comes from a group home. He was physically and mentally abused and falsely accused of killing his best friend. It was said that he died in a container that he and Kurt shared from being placed in for punishment. Eventually, he was placed in another home, with a woman, whom sees him as her only meal ticket. He, was chosen by a high school football coach, who like most coaches, uses their players, to play on his upcoming winning team. The goal for the coach is to win the state championship. That is the goal, unfortunately, other students have to deal with what has been unleashed. This means, other students have to deal with the harsh, cruel, and physical assaults that are handed down to them by the over induced  football players.

The problems that arises from this novel, which was written from two perspectives We as readers are inside the minds of both characters. What the author tackles in this novel are bullying, sexual assault, friendship, teen suicide, drugs, and speaking up and taking action against bullies. The problems that the gymnastics team faced are being bullied by the football team, who as everyone notices receive school favoritism. For instance, they receive new gym equipment, while other school functions or programs are cut to accommodate the football team. Also, the author make reference to the team, football players, as being overaggressive, which means they are being giving steroids to help build their bodies. From those drugs, the football team, not all, take out their aggression on individuals whom they deem as being weak, which is the gymnastics's team.

The story reaches its climax when a school prank goes terribly out of control. Danny witness and hears his teammate, Ronney, being brutally assaulted by three members of the football team: Scott, Mike, and Tom. Danny and Kurt witness the rape, but it is Danny who was too afraid to help his teammate because he feared they would do the same to him. Kurt steps in and tackle his own teammates because in his mind, he is helping his defenseless and deceased friend, Lamar.  Afterwards, Kurt, Danny, and the other members of the football and gymnastics's team who were there, tired not to think of the incident and told Ronnie to just forget about what happened to him.  No one was going to believe him over the football players. The final climax of the story really hits home because Ronnie committed suicide. Everyone who was there felt horrible about the incident, others called him weak for killing himself without really knowing the full detail of what drove him to it. This was a sad tragedy that impacted the lives of his closest friends, and Kurt because none of them wanted that to occur, but it had to, in order to help them speak up and take action against what transpired in that room with Ronnie, Scott, Mike and Tom.  In the end, I will hold the ending, but it turned out to be the best ending for a well written novel

I really did not want to give the full details of the story because I did not want to spoil it for others who would consider reading this novel. I thought it would be best to give a complete story, and hold the ending. I recommend this novel to any teacher, professor, or anyone who wants to get an inside look on what young adults are facing in this new era. Overall, great novel.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A historical figure that represents African American Heritage. I applaud the author for the way he illustrated Douglass' life. I am a big advocate for teaching students about African American heritage. There is a lot of history to retell, especially when it comes to explaining the cruelty of slavery. What I like best is the way the author incorporated Douglass' voice. It made it seem surreal as if I was Douglass giving a recap of my life as a slave. Also, the illustration and narration that described the cruelty that slaves had to endured, captured my attention. It was an easy read, but it was the pictures and voice that made the book readable.

The author retells the life of Frederick Douglass who was and still is a figure in history to remember. Like many slaves, he did not remember either of his parents. Taken away from his mother was typical because he was viewed as property, many slaves were. He was subjected to learn at an early age how, African Americans, slaves were treated. By witnessing first hand, that his childhood and everything that he truly cared for was eventually coming to an end. He, like many women, children and men, was subjected to physical and mental violence, hunger and sometimes other forms of punishment in order to have them (slaves) become submissive to their master. A form of abuse that later would hold merit and end slavery in the United States.

This new biography, which I really enjoyed brought new light in retelling history. I can see myself recommending this book or incorporating it in a lesson or two.  Overall, I great book to read.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jackie Morse Kessler's Hunger

Lisabeth Lewis is not your average teenager. In my opinion, she has everything a teenager wishes for, to live in the same household with both, working parents and to have their own room. She has friends and a boyfriend, what young girl would not view her life as being perfect.

As the novel unfolds and reveals that people cannot judge a book by its cover is exactly how I view Lisabeth's life. This novel explores the life of a young girl who is dealing with anorexia, which is a mental issue that young girls are facing in today's society. People, adults/parents, are unaware of the danger that t children are dealing with on the outside surface. For instance, Lisabeth's mother is not fully involved in her daughter's life because she is always out of town due to her work schedule. Also, her father who looks at his daughter as his little princess, a little girl in his mind, does not recognize the changes in his daughter.  In addition, both parents noticed something is different but was too afraid to really point out the differences in what they view within their daughter besides telling her she needs to eat, or she looks too thin. What can parents do in situations like Lisabeth?  The author does not touch on that subject on how to help parents help their children or beware and even notice certain behavior problems that screams out, I need help. I also disagree with the author on how he depicted the parents as being self-involved in their own lives, rather than focus on what is bothering their daughter. It should have been told from both view points, so that young adults can view both sides of how a mental disease can change relationships, even with their parents as well as with their friends.

From my point of view, the novel is really not that appealing, it was really boring. There was no suspense with developing the plot, nothing stood out, it was basically handed to the readers, something that I do not like in my readings.  It did not  keep my attention, but the issue at hand was easy to point out. Lisabeth is fighting with her own demons. Something that everyone, young or old has to face in reality. How to overcome certain obstacles that may stand in ones way of growing and reaching ones goals. The idea of creating the Four Horseman, to represent different hallucinations of the mind, was something that I did not find appealing at all, but I am not a young adult. What I do applaud the author on is creating a novel that can reach out to young girls and boys to let them know that they are not alone when facing an issue. For example, Lisabeth's friends was concerned about her, they tried reaching out to her, and they never left her side. Overall, I can recommend this book to other teachers because of the message that it represents.

Richard Delgado's Age of Reptiles The Journey

I am not a big fan of comic books, and when I opened this book and realize that there are NO words, no bubbles with text, sound effects, animals jumping out of the book, NOTHING, that is when I threw the book. Why would I, and English/Literature major enjoy non-reading material? What can I get out of trying to decode a message, if any, of what the author is illustrating through his pictures? Then, I thought about it. This book is not meant for me to enjoy, it is meant for me to try and get an understanding of different techniques to teach, when trying to fuse young adult fiction into an English class.

The idea of the book is to teach students a different way to view historical contexts of dinosaurs. They have been exposed to movies, books with words, old fashion illustration that does not allow students to view dinosaurs from their own perspective.  I like dinosaurs, and I think this book is an additional source that exemplifies an open view on how to look at dinosaurs from a different light.

There are a lot of kids who come from environments who cannot read, or cannot express themselves emotionally. This book can be a great example to show students that it does not take words to express how one truly feel. They can also create a story, with a hidden message to illustrate, just like the author, what it is they want their authors to learn just by flipping through the pages.

 I can recommend this book to teachers because it can help students break away from the traditional way of teaching to show students that there are many ways to express their ideas with limited or no words. This will be a great book to use in Art classes to show different shapes and colors in pre-K through 3rd grade. In addition, I do not think this book can  be used in a high school setting because the book may come across as a children's book. Overall, introducing students to new things is a good way to get them to open up and view the world differently, than the traditional method of teaching.