This Just In: Graphic Novels are Cool!!

ArrivalI have found something new to be exited about, graphic novels will officially be making their way into my reading routine. I can’t believe I have lived this long without knowledge of these hidden gems of literature. At first, I picked up Shaun Tan’s The Arrival as my first graphic novel for Adolescent Literature… That book has no words in it. I was intimidated to say the least.

PrimatesSo, Dr. Ellington decided to lend me Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks. This one had words. It was actually a nonfiction graphic novel about the lives of the renowned scientists Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas. This one got me to thinking about the use of graphic novels in the classroom as a learning tool. I learned that Beowulf is available in graphic form and I definitely remember trudging through that epic in high school. So, why not make it a more enjoyable experience with the help of vivid illustrations?

Another one I picked up was Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. This would be a perfect graphic novel to show teenage girls that these are not comic books for boys. Paige is a teenage girl who has Pagejust moved to the city. At first she’s upset, but then she uses the experience to invent a new and improved version of herself. Like any teenage girl she struggles with school, her parents, friends, and boys. It’s a very relatable story and has awesome illustrations that mirror  how Paige is feeling and how you feel as the reader.

Matt Phelan’s Bluffton is such a beautiful graphic novel with water color illustrations and such a unique version of a story about small-town boy with big-time dreams. I fell in love with this one. Bluffton


What I’ve Been Reading

I read quite a bit this week, several texts being graphic novels, but I wont mention those here… Yes, they are being used as fuel for another blog. Here are a few YA titles that I read this week:

BombFirst off, I finished Bomb. I can’t believe how absorbed I became in this book! I mean, we all know what’s going to happen by the end of the story, but through the character development and the way Steve Sheinkin presents the plot I could not put this book down. A “Must Read” for the history nut… or for the non-history nut.

First LastAngela Johnson’s The First Part Last was an extremely quick read for me. My prediction of what happened to Feather’s mother was completely wrong. It was a great story about taking responsibility and doing the right thing. It was also a love story on several levels. I definitely think that this is a book for a high school classroom library!

Forgive Me

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a hard novel for me to recommend to others, but at the same time I want everyone I know to read this story! After I finished it, reading it on and off in a day’s time, it caused me to have a strange feeling that I couldn’t explain. I wanted to put it down several times, but I also couldn’t force myself to put it away whenever I had to. You’ll want to jump into the pages and shake Leonard by the shoulders, but through sympathy, you’ll also try to justify something that is nearly impossible to justify. Like I said… hard to explain!

Have you read any of these novels??

It’s Wednesday! What are you reading?


Yes I took this meme hostage and forced it to live on the most boring day of the week…



Madame Bovary

I am a few pages away from finishing Gustave Flaubert’s romantic-realistic story of Madame Bovary. Although I am completely uninterested in a majority of the characters and Flaubert’s writing style can be a bit tedious, I am proud to say that I have read every single page and haven’t given up on this one. However, Madame Bovary has caused me to need a bit of relief from this laborious reading…



John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars!!! I don’t even know what to say about this beautiful book. I loved absolutely everything about it. I was crying by the third chapter and I couldn’t put it down the entire day. I felt physically pained when I had to go to work that afternoon with only fifteen pages left.  I can’t even form a thought to describe how wonderful this book is… Just read it!


Bomb by Steve Sheinkin is a very quick read, yet it’s so packed with accurate historical information. I am not a history girl and yet this book is truly fascinating to me. I read over half of it in one night. A great YA book to get students interested in learning more about historical events!

Willful Creatures

Hmm… not really sure what to say about this contemporary selection of short stories, but not for the same reasons as The Fault in Our Stars. Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender is interesting to say the least. The first story left me with a disturbed feeling, but after pushing aside the strangeness I actually came to the conclusion that I liked it. So I kept reading and each story highlights a person or persons who are flawed, selfish, lonely and willful creatures.

Book Love

Penny Kittle’s Book Love has been teaching me a bit more about the reluctant teenage reader, the reasoning behind the reluctance, and what teachers/ adults can do to change this. She also goes into depth about the importance of creating lifelong readers, when students are young, for future success. My previous post goes into this book a little more.

YA Readers: Where’s the Hunger?

Book Love

In Penny Kittle’s Book Love, she shares with us her personal experience as a teacher with individual readers or should I say non-readers. She says they were “Nice students, not defiant, just not interested.” Why?

  1. These students were not reading at their level
  2.  The material they were reading was not entertaining to them
  3. The books they were assigned were “written by adults for adults”
  4. They don’t have time

“If school reading is like boot camp, we’ll lose readers.”

It’s not that the typically assigned classic novels aren’t important, but if a student is not ready for reading of that complexity they will get nothing from it and furthermore they won’t do anything with it. Hence the no reading…

Where is the Hunger? We must cultivate it.

Teenagers want to read – If we let them.

If a young adult got to read what they wanted to read, at their level, they would make time for it. And eventually they will advance levels at their own pace to challenge themselves and to engage more with what they are reading.

Penny Kittle wants to build stamina in her students so they CAN read the classics when it is the right time.

“What our students read in school is important; What they read the rest of their lives is more important.”

Feeling like The Blonde of the Joke

The Blonde of the Joke

Am I missing something? Because I don’t get the punchline of this novel? It definitely didn’t end up how I thought it would and Bennett Madison did not bother filling me in or tying up the loose ends.  There was so much ambiguity in this story… granted it was probably unimportant to the overall plot, but it distracts the reader and takes away from the novel’s overall effect… or maybe that’s the effect he was going  for all along. See confusing.

Besides that, the writing was really strong and the descriptions of scenes and characters were very clear.

Val is the brunette wallflower until the fearless blonde Francie chooses her to be her partner in crime- literally. The two shoplift their way through the mall on the hunt for their “Holy Grail”. At first this seems like a talisman they need to cure Val’s dying brother, but as the journey continues it becomes something much more. As Val is transformed with the help of Francie, she is no longer scared of anything and starts to shine. She even becomes a blonde.

“When it comes to that kind of girl- the kind of girl who doesn’t need a name, the kind of girl who was me- the requirements are loose. Maybe certain criteria are not exactly set in stone. It’s a type, but there are variations. There are misinterpretations. For instance, it’s possible that people just think she’s a slut, even though she’s never actually gotten down with anyone at all.”

This novel deals with friendships, real-life family issues including the loss of a loved-one, moral lessons, finding ones identity, and a lot more than what appears on the surface.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/3/14 #imwayr


Well since this is my first time participating in this meme and I have been terribly ill the past couple of days I am going to cheat a little and mention some books I have finished over the last week or two.



The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt is my idea of a perfect Middle-grade type of book as I mentioned in my previous blog post. Holling Hoodhood is in the 7th grade dealing with typical dilemmas and crises of a middle school boy. Convinced that his homeroom teacher Mrs. Baker hates him, Holling fears their Wednesday afternoons that they spend alone together. In the end Mrs. Baker helps Holling become the star of a local Shakespeare play, finish first in a Varsity track meet, and stand up to his overbearing father. A true “coming-of-age” story with a lot of fun aspects.



Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass won the Pura Belpré Award. “The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.” As can be gathered from the title, this YA novel is centered around the issue of bullying. It is also about a young Latina girl named Piddy who is coming-of-age and questioning her culture, her identity, her family, and so much more.


I am about to finish this collection of short stories for my Contemporary Literature class. Jumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth seems to be focusing on the loss of culture due to immigration and Americanization, specifically with Bengali-Indian peoples. There are also themes of family issues and obligations, failed relationships, communication problems, and more of the usual epidemics that ail contemporary short stories.

The Blonde of the Joke

This YA novel by Bennett Madison really caught my eye. First the book cover is so bright and sunny and then the first words on the inside of the jacket read: “There are three and only three rules for shoplifting,” Francie instructed me. I was hooked immediately for some reason. Not because I am interested in the criminal-insider methods to stealing makeup from Sephora, but after reading that I just had to know what was going to come of this scheming. I am still waiting to find out… Future blog post. Stay tuned.