Archive for February, 2009

American Born Chinese Book Talk

A video booktalk about the the book American Born Chinese by: Gene Luen Yang

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more about “ABC“, posted with vodpod


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Book Talk

A video booktalk of the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by: Sherman Alexie

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Parttimeindian“, posted with vodpod

Copper Sun Book Trailer I made for class

A video booktalk about the book Copper Sun by: Sharon Draper

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more about “CopperSun“, posted with vodpod

American Born Chinese Review


American Born Chinese cover art

American Born Chinese cover art


Yang, Gene Luen.  American Born Chinese.  New York: First Second.  2006.  

240 Pages

Grades 6-12

Q4 – P4 – J – S

American Born Chinese cleverly weaves together 3 story lines dealing with the Asian American experience.  Yang begins the book with his retelling of the Chinese legend of the Monkey King, who comes to despise his monkey form and seek the status of a god after being denied entrance to a dinner party in heaven.  Then we meet the story’s protagonist, Jin, as he moves to a new school, becomes a minority, and an outcast among the majority white students who make fun of and bully him.  The third narrative woven into the text is the exaggerated sitcom world of all American white boy, Danny, and his cousin Chin-kee, a walking racial stereotype who humiliates Danny in front of his friends at school.  
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Looking For Alaska Review




Green, John.  Looking For Alaska.  New York: Dutton Juvenile.  2005.

225 Pages

Grades 9- 12

Q4 – P3 – S

Looking For Alaska begins with 16 year old Miles leaving his uneventful adolescent life in Florida to seek a “Great Perhaps” at boarding school in Birmingham Alabama.  Once there he quickly makes friends with the local counterculture.  They are a quirky and witty band of characters who exist in opposition to the rich-bitch preppy “Weekday Warriors” who leave campus on the weekends. First we meet Mile’s genius roommate the Colonel, who has a penchant for planing and executing elaborate pranks.  He is particularly well drawn and his banter with Miles (aka Pudge) is sharp and intelligent.  Then Miles meets the Colonel’s best friend Alaska and, like nearly everyone else (including the reader), becomes instantly smitten with her wit, intelligence, beauty, and reckless abandon.  Both the Colonel and Alaska launch Pudge into that “Great Perhaps” he was looking for: they teach him how to smoke and drink, promise to get him laid and get him a girlfriend; they help him with his precalc and introduce him to new literary  masterpieces.  While they do partake in some trappings of teen delinquency they also study and do well in school.  Alaska and Pudge in particular are introspective and philosophical, musing on the labyrinth like nature of suffering and what this life is for.  
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The First Part Last Review


The First Part Last cover art

The First Part Last cover art


Johnson, Angela.  The First Part Last.   New York: Simon & Schuster.  2003.

Grades 8-12

144 Pages

Q4 – P3 – J – S

If Spike Lee ever made a movie of Angela Johnson’s The First Part Last it would be called Do the Right Thing 2.  The book documents 16 year old Bobby’s life before and after his girlfriend Nia becomes pregnant and gives birth to their daughter Feather.  They struggle with everything from telling their parents and their friends to parental pressure to give the baby up for adoption.  What’s the right thing to do?
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Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography Review


Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography cover art

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography cover art


Helfer, Andrew and DuBurke, Randy.  Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography.  New York: Hill and Wang.  2006.

112 Pages

Grades 8-12

Q4 – 3P – J – S

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography documents the human rights activist’s life, from his troubled childhood, days as young street hustler, and his involvement in the Nation of Islam (NOI), to his departure from the group and his subsequent assassination in 1965.  Most teens will have heard of Malcolm but will probably have little idea as to what he stood for or what his actual role in the civil rights movement was; indeed Malcolm was a complex and conflicted public political figure who wasn’t always easy to like or understand.  The very mention of his name will pique the interest of many teens who loosely associate Malcolm with extreme and violent views to move black people forward, “by any means necessary”.  They will want to know more about him and the graphic novel format is more accessible to them than X’s 500 page autobiography (which this work pulls heavily from).   Indeed, this graphic version of events is succinct yet accurate and mindful of the complexity and conflicting versions of Malcolm’s life; it also reads with all the ease, dramatic effect, and suspense of watching a movie. 
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