Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rapunzel's Revenge

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Hale, Shannon, Dean Hale and Nathan Hale. New York: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books, 2008. 144 pages.

      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Rapunzel, as a little girl, goes beyond the huge stone wall that surrounds her house (a grand villa) with her mother, Gothel. However, Rapunzel finds out that Gothel stole Rapunzel from her real mother and took all of the green from the county, making Gothel have the power to force everyone else to do her bidding. [Rising Action] Rapunzel doesn’t like what Gothel did and went against her, making Rapunzel get locked away in a tower. Her hair grew extremely long and she was able to escape, planning to stop Gothel from using magic to keep trees and other natural plants from growing. [Climax] Rapunzel meets Jack and they have to travel a long journey to get to Gothel, meeting challenges along the way. They get to Gothel’s villa and crash a party. [Falling Action] Rapunzel finds the source of Gothel’s magic, breaks it, restores the land surrounding the villa, and saves the county. [Resolution] Rapunzel is reunited with her mother and thinks about going on another adventure with Jack, who she falls in love with. Theme: The themes in this novel include adventure, magic, family, making new friends, righting wrongs that occurred, and “saving the day”. Tone: The tone of this novel is very humorous and fictional. The adventure Rapunzel and Jack have include many tales that show Rapunzel as the hero and learning how to lasso her hair to stop the bad guys. Style: The authors’ writing style is a lot of dialogue and a story telling quality. The illustrations were very colorful, pointing out the events that were the most important on every page. Characterizations: Rapunzel is a fighter. She learns to stand up for herself and she goes after what she wants: to stop Gothel from using magic to take away the plants and grass. Jack is a character – he is humorous and funny, making jokes all the way through their journey, but he is also serious at times, talking about his troubles and how he needs to fix them. Readability: This novel was very easy to read. I flew through it very quickly and enjoyed every dialogue and narration – a younger reader could definitely read this on their own.

2. My reactions to the book. I really enjoyed this book. I have always liked the story of Rapunzel since I was little, and this story definitely had a twist to the original story. One of the biggest strengths of this book was the illustrations. The artist really did a great job with drawing the story and drawing the explicit detail of every page. I also liked how the authors changed the story a bit – Rapunzel isn’t a blonde haired princess locked away by the evil lady, but was forced into exile when she didn’t like the cruelty her “mother” treated everyone else in the town. Because the story included Jack and the Beanstalk, the goose who laid the golden egg, and many differences that were not in the original Rapunzel story, the accuracy is not the best. However, this is a cartoon story, a make believe story, so anything can change!

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art is great. It captures the attention of the reader because Rapunzel has red hair, she’s dressed in pants, and is lassoing her hair – definitely not the true Rapunzel story. Because of all these details, the viewer will want to know why Rapunzel is so different and who the young boy in the background is. Very original and will definitely draw attention to many viewers at a library or book store.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. 552 pages.

     1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Death is narrating this novel about a girl named Liesel Meminger who lived in Germany during Hitler’s rising. She is also known as the book thief as she steals books throughout her childhood, wanting to learn to read. [Rising Action] As the war goes south for Hilter’s side, Liesel’s life is turned upside down, but she resorts to stealing books to get a sense of life back. [Climax] Liesel’s town gets bombed and everyone on 4 different streets dies. Everyone that Liesel has come to love and respect for the last 4 years is gone and Liesel is the only one left alive. She was writing her own book in the basement when the bombing happened, keeping her safe from the bomb. [Falling Action] Liesel lives with the mayor and his wife after the bombing, remembering everything that happened and still using books as her life line. [Resolution] Death finally comes for Liesel – many, many years down the road, where Liesel waits for Death and finds out that the book Liesel wrote in the basement when she was 14 was with Death, who read her story over and over. Theme: The themes in this novel include death, war, afraid, survival, reading, and trying to find ways to live through the days during the war. Tone: The tone of this book is very solemn and always afraid. There is a war going on throughout Liesel’s childhood and she had to grown up being scared all of the time. Style: The author’s writing style was very different. He had Death narrate the novel, following the story that Liesel wrote when she was 14 and retelling her story with some tidbits of Death’s own life. Characterizations: Death is very serious, but also puts a tad of humor during parts of the novel. Parts that he deemed worth talking about. Liesel is a strong, curious, and ambitious girl. She wanted to learn to read and reading became a passion for her. She was able to help others during the hard time because of her love for reading – and reading also saved her life in the end. Readability: This is a little difficult to read – one needs to take their time and really think about what the author is saying throughout the novel. It’s a great read – it just takes time and thoughtfulness.

2. My reactions to the book. This book is amazing. It is a slow read book – one has to be very dedicated to come back and read this book, but it is definitely worth it. The biggest strength of this book is the emotion – the reader can tell what the emotion of the book is and see how the events occurred. One of the weaknesses, though, is how it was written. After awhile, the way it’s written won’t matter because the reader gets used to it, but at first, it’s very difficult. Death narrates numerous characters’ lives and the reader has to be able to keep up with the changes. As for accuracy, I think the content was very accurate when it came to the current events of what happened during the war when Hitler was ruling Germany.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art is not what one would expect when reading the title of the book. Honestly, the cover is what kept me away from reading this book earlier because it just didn’t look that interesting. After reading the book, though, I can see one meaning that can go with the cover: suspense/waiting for the inevitable. That domino is going to crash into the other ones, destroying all of that work, just like the contents of the novel do. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

False Princess

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal. New York: Egmont, 2011. 319 pages.

      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] The problem is that Sinda grew up as a princess, was then told that she was a fill in because a prophecy was given that the real princess might die before her 16th birthday and the royal family didn’t want that to happen. Then, Sinda was sent to her only living relative (her aunt) and found out that she had magic powers. Sinda then found out that the girl who was claimed to be the real princess was in fact a false princess as well and Sinda went to find the real princess. [Rising Action] Sinda then goes to find the real princess, learning about a royal wizard who was supposed to be part of the royal family and wanted the crown for her once again. [Climax] Sinda finds the real princess, while also discovering that the “fill in princess” was the wizards daughter, and Sinda had to use her magic to free all 3 claimed princesses from the mess that was created. [Falling Action] After Sinda fixes the problem, she realizes that she has nothing else to do, now that she was a poor girl with power that she was just starting to control. [Resolution] In the end, Sinda was able to help the real princess understand what a princess is supposed to do, and live with the boy she grew up with, and in love with, at the end of the book. Theme: The theme of this book is magic, royalty, and adventure. Tone: The tone of this book is a mixture of suspense and adventure. Sinda needs to find the real princess but it’s suspenseful because she finds out that a wizard is going to kill someone at the end of the book, making the mission very important but dangerous. Style: The authors writing style is a mixture between formal and casual. She writes formally when talking about the court, but when Sinda goes to the small town after being sent away from court, the writing becomes very casual. More descriptive paragraphs than dialogue are in this novel. Characterizations: The main character, Sinda, is an adventurous character, but she’s also very loyal. Even though her “parents” (the king and queen) lied to her, she wanted to find the real princess and right what was wrong. Readability: This is a very easy book to read – took less than 2 days for me and it’s very fast paced.

2. My reactions to the book. This was a very well written, fast past story. This would attract mostly female gender audience since it’s about a princess, which is a weakness because it’s a smaller audience, but one of the strengths about this book is the plot. This novel has a great story line and plot action. There are no loop holes and the author was really able to create a great story full of twists and turns to find the culprit who stole the real princess and how Sinda would be able to fix the problem at the end of the book. Not much can be said about the accuracy of the story since it’s about magic, but the way Sinda was brought up when she was a princess sounds very accurate when looking at real royalty.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art is a part of a girls face. While this is mysterious and intriguing, I feel that this cover set has been overused in many of the new books coming out, so it could be a hit or miss for attracting young girls’ attention.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2009. 563 pages.

      1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] The problem in this story is that Lena, a new girl, comes to a small town and strange things start to happen. Ethan, a local boy in the small town, befriends her and finds out she’s a Caster (witch). Lena is turning 16, which will decide if she is a “good” witch or a “bad” witch, so Lena is dreading her 16th birthday. [Rising Action] Ethan and Lena try to find a way to break the curse on her family so she could pick her fate: good or bad Caster. They have flashbacks of Lena and Ethan’s ancestors which tell the story of the curse and they try to find the book that created the curse. [Climax] when Lena’s 16th birthday comes, she meets her mother, an evil Caster, who wants Lena to become evil as well. In the end, Lena hides the moon on her birthday, which changes everything because the moon, at the stroke of midnight, would have determined if she was good or evil. [Falling Action] Lena is then part good and evil, have two different colored eyes (green =good and gold=evil) showing that she is both. [Resolution] After fooling fate, Lena has another year to be “undecided” whether she is good or evil, and she and Ethan have more time to find out about the curse. Theme: The theme of this book is a mixture of Southern Gothic, magic, witches, and mystery. Tone: The tone of this book is very solemn and very serious. It’s getting closer to Lena’s birthday, which she is dreading, and she doesn’t want to turn into a “bad” Caster. Style: The authors’ writing style consisted of lengthy, descriptive background information, but also a lot of dialogue between the characters. It was very casual overall. Characterizations: There are two main characters in this story: Ethan and Lena. Ethan is a small town boy who wants to explore the world and not stay in his small town. He is adventurous, a reader, wants to learn more, and is very helpful. Lena is a new girl, very mysterious, quiet – toward most that is. When she is with Ethan, she a very powerful Caster, open, tells stories, and writes many of her thoughts wherever is accessible – wall, hand, journal, etc. Readability: This book was very easy to read and was a very fast read, even though it was close to 600 pages.

2. My reactions to the book. When first starting to read this book, I was intrigued: the reader doesn’t know what Lena is – only that she is different from everyone else. I was also very interested in the fact that Ethan, the male character, was the narrator – many YA books I’ve read are from the female perspective. Those, I felt, were the strengths of the book. A weakness I found was that it seemed the authors dragged on when they could have skipped a scene, making the story longer than it had to. Many young adults don’t like to read longer novels and that might deter them from reading this book. The writing was amazing; the authors really took their time to write an amazing novel. As for the material, since it’s about witches (or Casters, as they are called in this book) there isn’t too much that can be called accurate.

3. Comment on the cover art. The cover of Beautiful Creatures is very simple but shows the darkness of the book. I think it would appeal to teens because it’s not gender based – both boys and girls could be attracted to the cover – and the simplicity might make the teens want to read the back to find out more about what the story is about. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rules/Guidelines of My Reviews

Before I post a review that I've done for my class, I thought that I would tell you what the guidelines are that I had to follow for my class. Remember, there are spoilers so if you haven't read the book but are dying to, I would advise against reading the post. Here is what my teacher wanted me to review on:

1. A succinct evaluative annotation that should be detailed and descriptive. This should include the book’s plot, theme, tone, style, characterizations, readability, etc. This is not a booktalk, so please reveal necessary plot elements. Examine review journals, especially VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates), for samples.

2. Your reactions to the book. Detail aspects you believe would or would not appeal to teen readers. Evaluate the “worth” of the book in respect to quality in writing, truth or accuracy of the material, and/or values explicit or implicit in the work. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the book. These should be brief, but complete.

3. Comment on the cover art and how or why it does or does not appeal to teens.

There were some more points, but they aren't necessary to put on this blog. Hope you all enjoy the reviews! (The first review will be posted shortly!)

Friday, May 13, 2011

YA reviews!

I'm finally going to start with my book reviews ;) It's taken awhile, but now that my YA class is requiring me to read 22 novels and talk about them, it's a starting point! However, I'm going to have to put some disclaimers in this post - my teacher wants me to put all of the plot key lines into my review so...

There will be spoilers!

Just a heads up. Also, I'm going to list what she wants me to talk about, so you'll have an idea when reading this about what I should be talking about haha. If I decide that I absolutely love the book, though, I may have additional information with more enthusiasm than I had for my class project.

Until then!