Module 10: Amulet: The Stonekeeper

12 08 2010

Book Cover

Summary: When Emily and Navin move with their mom to an old family house in a small town they aren’t expecting much. But when their mom is kidnapped by a strange tentacled creature Emily and Navin follow them through the basement door and into another world. Here they discover a strange land beset by many dangers that they must survive in order to save their mom. With the help of some unexpected friends and a strange amulet they will do whatever they must to get her back.

Citation: Kibuishi, Kazu (2008) Amulet: The Stonekeeper. New York: Scholastic.

My Impressions: I began this book with low expectations and not expecting to like it. I’ve never read a graphic novel, and have never had a desire to. I like having lots of words on the page to be able to understand the story and characters better, and I wanted to create my own images in my mind. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I liked Amulet. The story was entertaining and fast-paced and despite the lack of words I was able to get a firm grasp on the characters and plot. This book definitely changed my view of graphic novels. While I probably won’t be reading many on my own, they certainly have their place and they are not without merit.

Reviews:

“Almost too clever and poignant, Amulet is, on the surface, about navigating the murky waters of adolescence and, beneath that, an exploration of abandonment and survival. This first volume of Amulet isn’t a disappointment, but it does feel like a warmup to the main event. If anything, it’s a clear indication that Kibuishi has just begun skimming the surface of his own talent.” —Publishers Weekly review excerpt

Library Use Suggestion: This would be a good book to recommend to an ESL student or one who does not like reading. Since the story is told through pictures and words are secondary (but still present on every page) this would be a good book to try to get a patron interested in reading and books.

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Module 8: The Dollhouse Murders

6 08 2010

Book Cover

Summary: When Amy goes to live with her Aunt Clare for a couple weeks she is entranced by the dollhouse she finds in the attic that is an exact replica of her Aunt’s house. However, her feelings soon turn to fear as she discovers that the dolls in the dollhouse come to life and reenact an unsolved murder that happened in that same house years ago. Is there an evil spirit haunting the dollhouse or is someone trying to tell the truth of the murder from beyond the grave?

Citation: Wright, Betty Ren. (1983) The Dollhouse Murders. New York: Holiday House.

My Impressions: At first I was thoroughly creeped out by this book. In my opinion nothing is more frightening than the unknown and with an unsolved murder and dolls mysteriously moving around acting out the murder I couldn’t help but be a little scared. However, the book is far from action-packed and the initial fright quickly dissipated as Amy deals with the much more mundane matters of her life. Maybe it was because I read this book on the heels of the action-packed, fast-paced 39 Clues: Maze of Bones, but overall this book failed to truly impress me.

Reviews:

“[T]aut, suspenseful novel…A subplot about Amy’s relationships with her parents, younger sister and best friend adds depth and warmth to this crisply paced tale.” —Publisher’s Weekly review excerpt

Library Use Suggestion: What the dolls do when they come to life is a vital part to Amy solving the mystery. Using the book’s descriptions children could act out what they think the dolls did.





Module 5: Ender’s Game

12 07 2010

Book Cover

Summary: At some point in Earth’s future aliens that resemble giant bugs, a.k.a. Buggers, have attacked Earth twice and Earth is in fear of a third attack to finish humans off. Though he is only six military commanders believe that  Ender Wiggins is the answer to Earth’s survival and the destruction of the Buggers. For five years he is trained and tested to see if he has what it takes to command the fleets of starships. Ender must prove that he has what it takes to survive his constant hardships and save the earth.

Citation: Card, Orson Scott. (1991) Ender’s Game. New York: Tor.

My Impressions: I had no trouble breezing through this book, but I might have breezed a little too quickly because I definitely missed some key points in the scientific explanations. Despite that I was able to understand the book. Although I enjoy and read quite a bit of fantasy, I don’t often read science fiction so I don’t have a lot to compare Ender’s Game with, but I thought the book was interesting and different. At the same time it was a little unnerving to see how Ender’s freedom and childhood is stripped from him and how he is a pawn, albeit an important pawn, but a pawn nonetheless. While the book was definitely good, I was a little depressed by the end because I didn’t feel like Ender ever truly found happiness. However, I know that Ender’s Game is the beginning of a series so perhaps in one of the later books he truly finds happiness.

Reviews:

“Card has taken the venerable conceits of a superman and an interstellar war against aliens, and, with superb characterization, pacing, and language, has combined them into a seamless story of compelling power.” –Roland Green, Booklist Online review

“Now, in this novel, Card fulfills his early promise…and more.”–Ben Bova

Library Use Suggestion: In the book Colonel Graff suggests that the perpetuation of the war between the buggers and humans is because there is no way for the two species to communicate. This could open a conversation about communication barriers and how to breach them. How deaf people communicate with people who don’t know sign language and how people who speak different languages communicate could be discussed.





Module 3: A Wrinkle in Time

27 06 2010

Book Cover

Summary: Meg Murray just doesn’t seem to be like everyone else. With her fly-away hair, glasses and braces she knows she is far from beautiful. She can’t seem to control her emotions, she doesn’t do well in school, and she hates that everyone thinks her younger brother, Charles Wallace, is dumb. On top of that her father she hasn’t seen or heard from her father in over a year, and the whole town thinks he ran off with another woman. But one night three strange women take Meg, Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a wild journey across space and time in an effort to find Meg and Charles Wallace’s father who has been trapped on another planet. The three children will have to fight for their lives and their identities on a journey full of danger and adventure.

Citation: L’Engle, Madeleine. (2007) A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Square Fish.

My Impressions: I really enjoyed this book, it was a quick, easy read. I think children will be able to identify with Meg as the awkward girl who just doesn’t fit in and isn’t quite like everyone else. At the same time there’s a great sense of adventure that will also appeal to children. The science fiction aspect of the book might turn some children off reading it, but if they give it a chance I think it’s on that can appeal to most children. I was a little surprised by the Christian references in the book particularly the parts that quoted entire Bible verses, although they were not cited so only someone  familiar with the particular verses would notice.

Reviews:

“Here is a confusion of science, philosophy, satire, religion, literary allusions, and quotations that will no doubt have many critics. I found it fascinating. To children who read and reread C. S. Lewis’ fairy tales I think it will be absorbing. It makes unusual demands on the imagination and consequently gives great rewards.” –Horn Book review excerpt

“With this award-winning story, Madeline L’Engle has captivated millions of readers throughout the world. Her universal themes of courage, perseverance, and love are interwoven with imagination and suspense. A Wrinkle in Time, published in 1962, won the distinguished Newbery Medal for children’s literature in 1963.” –bn.com review excerpt

Library Use Suggestions: This book could be used to talk about how differences can be a good thing. If it were not for Meg’s differences she would have not been able to make it off Camazotz and avoid giving in to IT.