I have to read a lot of Young Adult books, for my YA class this summer. This is good, even if I don't like them, because it means I won't waste the entire summer sitting in front of a computer. And they go by quick. And they're super easy to have opinions about.
I was thinking on starting a new blog, dedicated to my reading, but I have my doubts about my commitment to keep it up. So, I'll just post here
I read and listened to a bunch of crap. Let me tell you, I didn't realize there was such a dividing line between what adults want kids to read, and what might actually interest them
First, I should probably start with my non-school book, the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel. Thanks Tom for getting the autographed copy from the Alternative-Press Expo. I love it. I love that the BSC is getting a makeover to be relevant to today's girls. I really had my doubts, but it worked really well in graphic novel form. Granted, I'm likely to enjoy anything BSC related, even if I don't (read: BSC: Friends Forever), but really, it was good. And, Kristy's older brother Charlie is super cute! I have a crush on him now.
The best book I've read so far is the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (anyone want to watch the movie with me?) It seems to be very similar to the movie trailer. There are 4 girls, each with different personalities, who do different things. It's easy to identify with at least one trait of each of them. And since the book is written in short snippets if a girl gets too angsty it's over quick and on to the next girl. And, like the Baby-Sitters Club, there are handwritten letters to break up some of the sections.
I haven't read the Chocolate War yet, and surprisingly, I've never read it. This, along with the Outsiders are the quintessential, original YA novels. I did borrow the Chocolate War video from the library though. My gosh, it was awful. Horrible, slow, boring, and all sorts of other adjectives with unpleasant connotations. But, being a movie of the 80's the soundtrack was fantastic. It opened with Yaz, and I practically jumped off the couch singing when Kate Bush ended that awful thing. If it was available on CD, I'd definitely buy it. The book damn well better be better than the movie.
Now, on to crappy Newbery books
For week one we read only Newbery award winning or Newbery honored authors. Books for late childhood, so we could move smoothly into YA the next week. Let me tell you. If this is true, I don’t want to read any other books published for the year.
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
From what I can tell, this award is given to books about poor minority children from the past who are miserable. And I have no patience for any of that nonsense.
Because of Winn-Dixie is an ok book. I can see how kids would like it. It’s about a girl, her dog, and the misfit friends they make. And learning valuable lessons about humanity. It’s kind of Wizard of Oz like, in that sense. I’m going to have to see the movie. And, I think the main character is neither poor nor ethnic, but her mom is gone though. It’s fine, but it’s not remarkable.
Kira-Kira means glittering in Japanese. And nothing in this book is. The main character is a Japanese girl from the 50’s who moves from Iowa to Georgia. she’s not a smart as her older sister, and she keeps using the word kira-kira incorrectly, making her a disgrace. There’s a small Japanese community in Georgia, and they all work in the chicken factory. They have low paying jobs, and no benefits. The union organizers are being squelched.The main characters sister is her idol. Of course, she dies of Leukemia. This books was pretty lame, but I could recognize a few traces of Japanese-American culture. And at least it’s not quite as depressing as other books, because the main character is young, and usually hopeful.
A Single Shard is set in 12th century Korea, The main character is a boy named Tree-Ear, he doesn’t have a proper name because he’s an orphan. He lives under a bridge with an old homeless man. One day Tree-Ear sees a potter, and eventually gets the courage to ask to apprentice. And the potter is grumpy! He makes Tree-Ear do all the grunt work, never letting him near the wheel. Boringness ensues. And one day Tree-Ear, a kid who has never traveled anywhere, is sent to take a vase to the palace. IT turns out ok, until right near the palace, he’s robbed, and the pot breaks. So all he has is a single good shard to take to the palace. But, it’s good enough to get an order from the palace. Of course, when he returns home, the old man has died. But magically, the Potter and his wife have softened, they take him in as their son, and teach him to make stuff. Seriously, it doesn’t get more boring that this. Plus, the characterizations of everyone are completely retarded.
Bad, but not quite as bad is Bud, Not Buddy Bud is 10, black, poor, and orphaned. Boringness ensues. I listened to this on tape, and I almost crashed my car to stop the torture. But it got a little interesting on the last (3rd) tape. The story is really too long and boring to deal with. We meet tons of people who come and go, never getting much character development. And in the end everything magically works out ok and he finds his long lost grandfather. I really had very little hope for a happy ending. It came out of nowhere, really.
But, worst of all is Out of the Dust. This book is only 2 tapes long, but I can’t bring myself to listen to the second tape. The main character is a girl who lives in the dust bowl, she’s poor, but at least this character is white. She loves to play piano. Her mom wants her to study more. One day there’s a freak accident involving gasoline by the stove. The mom is super burnt, and dies soon after, The girl just burns her hands, and can’t play piano anymore. The whole place is dusty, there’s no hope. And it makes me want to die, why do we inflict this nonsense on children? According to Amazon, it ends with hope, which seems unlikely. I’ll have to get the book and skim to the end.