Draper, S.M. (1994). Tears of a Tiger. New York: Simon Pulse.
This very real drama begins with a newspaper article reporting that a high scho...moreDraper, S.M. (1994). Tears of a Tiger. New York: Simon Pulse.
This very real drama begins with a newspaper article reporting that a high school senior basketball player, Rob, has died in a fiery car crash. There were three other boys who survived the crash, including Andy, who was driving.
What follows are the conversations, prayers, letters and homework assignments of some of those teens most closely affected by the accident. At the center is Andy’s voice: He struggles with taking Rob’s place on the basketball team, his distant relationship with his parents and his own guilt over the accident. While the conversation format of most of the text may be difficult to follow at first, it becomes easier as the reader continues on to encounter discussions of race, class, suicide, loss, discrimination, familial expectations, etc.
This dark but real work of YA kicked off Draper’s Hazelwood High Trilogy.
Activities to do with the book:
This book would lend itself to having journal entries made in reaction to the text. Students could also write their own dialogues based on events or issues that have occurred in their own high schools and record them or act them out.
This book can serve as a first step for students to discover many of Draper's other young adult novels. Many of which evoke emotional responses.
“And I’ve just been glad that I had such good friends. Now one of them is gone and I feel responsible” (p. 17).
“Last week I learned that kids my age could die. That was the most frightening experience I ever had. A boy that I knew real well, that sat next to me in study hall, died in a car crash” (p. 18).
“The inside of me is hurtin’. You know what I mean?” (p. 23).
“Well, if you really wanted to know, I wanted to die right after the accident. I wanted it to be me that was dead instead of Rob. He had so much goin’ for himself” (p. 24).
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Frank, E.R. (2002). America. New York: Simon Pulse.
The story of sexually abused and institutionalized fifteen-year-old America is a cha...moreFrank, E.R. (2002). America. New York: Simon Pulse.
The story of sexually abused and institutionalized fifteen-year-old America is a challenge to get through. Written by a clinical social worker who has “known many Americas,” the book switches back and forth between ‘then’ and ‘now’ showing the experiences that brought America to the office of Dr. B, the psychiatrist who just may be able to help him decide against committing suicide.
America struggles with being ‘lost’ and feeling abandoned and unloved. He must deal with issues involving his distant relationships with violent half-brothers, his mixed racial background which not even he can specify since he does not know his father and with his questions over his sexual orientation. While I don’t like to give spoilers in general, I do feel, with this book, it is important to know there is hope and comfort at the end of this novel.
Activities to do with the book:
America would be good for encouraging empathy and reflective journal writing. It can also be used with struggling teenage readers because the book includes American’s own struggle to become literate.
Other discussion topics include the use of America as a name, issues of love, forgiveness, trust, suicide, abandonment and recovery.
The book could also be paired with Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999) because both books deal with trauma, secrets, metaphors connecting plants with growth, and physical labor assisting in recovery.
“You have to watch what you say here because everything you say means something and somebody’s always telling you what you mean” (p. 1).
“Can’t believe it’s s--- made this garden grow,” I tell her. “Believe it,” she tells me. “The more s--- things get, the better they come out” (p. 237).
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Appetizer: Titus and his friends went to the moon for a good time and while it was kind of fun since he met a girl named Violet, it wound up sucking because some of their feeds were hacked. But after that, Titus's life isn't quite the same, a fact he has trouble dealing with.
The feed is--essentially--an internet connection in most people's heads, complete with advertising, chats and viruses. Through Titus's voice, M.T. Anderson reveals a possible future in which skin legions are becoming cool, the English language is diminishing, schools are run by companies and consumerism is a requirement. Although only written in 2002, some of Anderson's predictions feel as though they are only several years or decades away from becoming realities.
The audiobook was a fun read. The ads that are sprinkled throughout the novel are brought to life with actual jingles and all of the comments made from the President sound vaguely George W. Bush-like (dating the book a little).
This week my students had the choice between reading Feed and Brave New World. As I was re-reading Feed though, I thought of an even better book pair: Feed and A Walk to Remember. No, seriously. The different ways that the protagonists deal with the declining health of their girlfriends is fascinating.
When we discussed the book, my students didn't seem to enjoy Feed as much as I thought they would. But it became apparent from our discussion why they were resisting the text: It was scary. Aspects of the scary dystopian future were a little too familiar.
Frankly, that just makes me even more impressed with Anderson's Feed.
"We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." (p. 3)
"I guess if I'm honest? Then I was hoping to meet someone on the moon. Maybe part of it was the loneliness of the craters, but I was feeling like it was maybe time to hook up with someone again, because it had been a couple of months." (p. 5)
"Link and I were chatting about the girl, like I was going, She is meg youch, and he was going, What the hell's she wearing?, and I was going, Wool. it's wool. Like from an animal, and then Calista did her own chat to us, which was, If you want to hear about an animal, what about two guys staring with their mouths wide open so they look completely Cro-Magnon?" (p. 21)
"She was on the moon all alone. Here it was, spring break, and she was on the moon, where there was all this meg action, and she was there without friends. She said she just walked through the crowds and watched, and she saw all these great things that way. She said she was there to observe." (p. 28)
"She took me up to a huge window. We stood in front of it. Outside the window, there had been a garden, like, I guess you could call it a courtyard or terrarium? But a long time ago the glass ceiling over the terrarium had cracked, and so everything was dead, and there was moon dust all over everything out there. Everything was gray. Also, something was leaking air and heat out in the garden, lots of waste air, and the air was rocketing off into space through the hole, so all of the dead vines in the garden were standing straight up, slapping back and forth, pulled toward the crack in the ceiling where we could see the stars. "Whoa," I said. "Isn't it beautiful?" "It's like...," I said. "It's like a squid in love with the sky." She was only looking at me, which was nice. I hadn't felt anything like that for a long time. She rubbed my head, and she went, "You're the only one of them that uses metaphor." She was staring at me, and I was staring at her, and I moved toward her, and we kissed. The vines beat against each other out in the gray, dead garden, they were all writing against the spine of the Milky Way on its edge, and for the first time, I felt her spine, too, each knuckle of it, with my fingers, while the air leaked and the plants whacked each other near the silent stars." (pp. 62-63)
Ursu, A. (2006). The Shadow Thieves. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.
Not to be confused with one of the books in the Peter and the Starcatchers...moreUrsu, A. (2006). The Shadow Thieves. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.
Not to be confused with one of the books in the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson that has the same name, The Shadow Thieves is the first book in the Cronus Chronicles which features Greek gods and creatures. (Although, with all the shadows being separated from their children, it is difficult to not think PETER PAN! YAY!)
Appetizer: Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Mielswetzski (Meals. Wet. Ski.) thinks her life would be a terrible story since nothing much has happened to her. (I disagree with a humorous narrator like hers, her life seems pretty interesting to me. But terrible or not, her life is about to change: Her cousin Zachary is moving in with her family, her odd new English teacher, Mr. Metos, is doing a unit on Greek mythology and Charlotte keeps having dreams of the ground breaking under her feet and her falling.
Her cousin, who likes to go by Zee, is having some problems of his own. His grandmother died over the summer and ever since then it seems all of the other kids around him are getting sick. It will be up to him and Charlotte to figure out what is going on and to fix it.
This story won me over from pretty much page one. The narrator rambles humorously in a way that I wish I could write. Plus, the narrator is very pro-kittens (How could you not be?!). Writing as someone who has read...oh, over thirty-something novels that include the gods in the modern world, the narrator's voice was very refreshing.
I did struggle a little with the way that the text shifted perspective. I immediately loved Charlotte and did want to leave her story-line to hear about other characters. I also felt like some of the characters figured out what was wrong a little too easily.
But aside from that, I looooooved The Shadow Thieves. I'm not saying everyone will love it, but I recommend it highly.
"Pay attention. Watch carefully, now. Look at the sidewalk, there. See that girl--the one with the bright red hair, overstuffed backpack, and aura of grumpiness? That's Charlotte Mielswetzski. (Say it with me: Meals-wet-ski. Got it? If not, say it again: Meals. Wet. Ski. There. You thought your name was bad?) And something extraordinary is about to happen to her. No, the extraordinary event will not be related to that man watching her behind the oak tree...that oddly pale, strangely thin, freakishly tall, yellow-eyed, bald-headed man in the tuxedo" (p. 3).
"So, anyway, there she was, walking along in an ordinary way, muttering to herself about curses, with her bursting backpack and her metaphorical black cloud and her ordinary bad mood--when something extraordinary happened. A kitten appeared in front of her. Not--poof!--not like that. Nothing magical at all. Quite ordinary, in fact. A normal chain of events, just what you would expect with a sudden appearance of a kitten" (p. 5).
"Charlotte did not sleep well that night. For a few days she had fancied herself on the periphery of some great mystery, one that had begun with the sudden arrival of her British cousin and then seemed to encompass her English teacher as well. But suddenly Charlotte wasn't living in a mystery anymore, in a fantasy world made of dark secrets and hidden tunnels and vampiric teachers and foggy London nights. Now Charlotte lived in this horrible world where her best friend could get so sick she couldn't lift her head" (p. 70).
"Lots of kids are sick. So I guess--" "Wait," Zee leaned forward. "How many?" "I dunno," Charlotte shrugged. "Maddy's got it. She's been gone for a week." Zee leaned toward her and grabbed her arm. Bartholomew fell off his lap. "What is it? What does she have?" Charlotte stared at him. "I don't know! Nobody knows. She can't get out of bed, it's really awful, she's just lying there-" Zee fell back into the couch. "Oh no." His hands flew to his face. Charlotte and Bartholomew stared. "What?" "It's my fault," he said slowly. "It's all my fault." Charlotte could not stand it anymore. "What's your fault? Zee, what's going on?" Zee had lost all color in his face. He seemed to be shaking. "They followed me." (p. 84)(less)