Tag Archives: young adult literature

What is Hidden Will Eventually Be Unearthed–Wraithsong by E. J. Squires

Wraithsong cover-1

~Birthed from the cradle of humanity. Destined to break the boundaries of both worlds.~

Eve, mother of all living,

labored and toiled long days and nights.

One day, God came down and visited her.

Embarrassed that she only had enough time

to clean seven of her thirteen children,

she hid the six soiled ones from him.

God found them, and reprimanded Eve

for having been ashamed

of her own flesh and blood.

“Those you have hidden from me…”

God said, “…they will stand out

from the rest of mankind.

 I will clean them for you

so that all men and women will aspire

to be that which you have cast aside.

From this day forward,

they will be known as the Huldra,

meaning secret desire.”

–Origin myth excerpted from Wraithsong

Wraithsong is a YA paranormal romance in which Sonia is a high school senior approaching graduation and her eighteenth birthday.  She is dealing with typical adolescent girl problems: a Mean Girls Regina George  carbon copy, Savannah, harassing her over a guy she could care less about & Sonia’s unique conflict-resolution  style of spitting in the Savannah’s face leading to a principal’s office visit and a work detail punishment with a guy whom she would rather be with, Anthony.

Oh, yeah—the spit has a supernatural effect on people: it brings them under Sonia’s control.

As Sonia approaches her 18th birthday, other powers and secrets about her ancestry are revealed through a sensational chain of events and plot twists that will keep the reader engaged in suspense. She discovers that she is part of a mystical group of beings known as The Huldra.  They are very powerful and beautiful creatures who are facing extinction at the hands of someone deep within their ranks.  But who is it?  Is it Anthony, his mother–The Great Huldra– or someone else?  Things get really complicated as Sonia and Anthony get closer and Sonia’s mother is kidnapped.

Wraithsong is the perfect blend of mythology, the paranormal, and adolescent angst.  It would appeal to middle school and high school readers.  Teens will be especially drawn to Sonia and Anthony.

Six Questions For Evelyn Squires

1) Before you started writing, you were a ballerina and a dance studio director. What do you like about dancing? How are dancing and writing similar or different to you?
I started dancing when I was twelve, and immediately fell in love with the art form—I still love it. I love music, so that is a big part of it, but I also love the freedom movement gives and the creativity behind choreography. In ballet you learn hundreds upon hundreds of different movements or steps, and to choreograph, you weave them together. It is the same in writing, but in writing you use words and weave them together to create a story. They are also the same in that the art form makes you think and feel human experience and emotion if done correctly. They are very different because one words as the medium, the other uses movements with music. Both can be very powerful, if done right, in conveying.

2) How did you come up with the idea for Wraithsong?
My husband actually suggested I write a contemporary novel based on these alluring creatures, and I just started writing!

3) Why would Norse mythology interest young teens?
I think in general any type of mythology and folklore interests teens and adults. There is something compelling about Norse mythology and folklore in general, from Thor’s mighty hammer to light and dark elves, to trolls and beyond. So much of literature is base in Norse mythology (Think Lord of the Rings for example), and most don’t realize how many of these supernatural beings originally come from Norse Mythology (Elves, trolls, dwarfs, giants…)

4) If Wraithsong was made into a movie, which actor and actress would you like to see as Sonia and Anthony?
Sonia: Jane Levy (blonde)
Anthony: Alex Pettyfer

5) What makes Wraithsong stand out among other paranormal YA romance novels? What made you interested in writing for young adults?
It stands out from others because it takes a completely new supernatural creature and weaves it into today’s world. There are no vampires or witches, but a new being with some really amazing powers. Teens can relate to Sonia (the lead) because she goes through a lot of challenges as she matures and grows up. She doesn’t understand what is happening to her and why she is changing so dramatically, and the intense urges and feelings she is experiencing, and I remember feeling that way as a teen (though, of course I don’t have the power she does). I love the YA genre, because you are just coming to truly know yourself and it is an exciting time in life where anything can happen. The world is at your fingertips and there is so much to look forward to.

6) The Huldra have the ability to take certain qualities from humans. If you could select certain qualities or powers from real or imagined people, which five would you choose?
I would choose the following:

Patience (Could always use more!)

Assertiveness (So I would put myself out there more)

Wisdom (So I would know what to do in difficult predicaments or situations)

Humor (I am not too serious of a person, but more humor in the everyday would be awesome!)

Self-control (So I would stop eating so much chocolate!)

Author Bio
Evelyn J. Squires was born in Asker, Norway and is the second of eight children. Her father, being an entrepreneur, moved the family back and forth from the US to Norway, and finally settled in Utah in 1992. Evelyn completed high school and continued her education at Brigham Young University where she studied Comparative Literature and Ballet among other things, and in 2007 she opened a ballet studio in Florida. Evelyn has always loved to read and has written poetry, lyrics and short stories. In 2012 she decided it was time to change careers so she could spend more time with her three young children and started writing. Her first series, A Viking Blood Saga, though truly an Epic Fantasy, is centered around Norse Mythology and the Vikings. Being from Norway she enjoys learning about her heritage as she writes books. Wraithsong, the first book in the Desirable Creatures series, is her first contemporary Paranormal Romance and is based in Norse Folklore. Currently, Evelyn resides in Florida with her husband and three young children.

Connect with Evelyn on her website:  http://ejsquires.com/about-me.html

Where to Buy Wraithsong

http://www.amazon.com/Wraithsong-Desirable-Creatures-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00IT5ADXC/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Teaching Activity for Wraithsong

Mythology is one of the main genres of literature that is covered in 9th grade. Typically, adolescents become familiar with Greek mythology through works such as The Odyssey, The AeneidAntigone, & etc.  Wraithsong gives teachers the opportunity to broaden the scope.

With Roman & Greek mythology, students learn about the hierarchies of gods and goddesses.  Wraithsong has its own hierarchy as well.  The Huldra have the power to appropriate characteristics from humans.  Students could decide which powers or characteristics they can take from various gods and goddesses and create their own.  Since Wraithsong has the Huldra existing in modern day times, students could place their newly formed creatures in a modern high school setting and write their own stories. The idea of taking different qualities and merging them together seems similar to cooking.  All of those ingredients come together to create a uniform dish of flavors.  Instead of stories, students can describe the composition of their new gods and goddesses in the form of a recipe.  Each appropriated or newly created attribute or power could be listed as ingredients.  The directions could tell how to combine them into a new creature and explain how this creature would impact the world.

The YA novel also poses a real world problem:  people’s misuse or abuse of power.  Whether you are the Great Huldra trying to galvanize different groups within the supernatural race or a CEO running a large corporation, the famous quotes still apply:  1) “With great power comes great responsibility.”  2) “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  There are other real world and/or social problems that plague our society today as well.  In what ways could they be portrayed and solved?  How can the problems that Sonia, Anthony, & the Huldra be portrayed and resolved?

Students could pursue the answer to this question creatively, of course, through recipes and haiku.

Here are two examples that deal with Hurricane Katrina and language discrimination:

A haiku follows this pattern:

1st line—–5 syllables

2nd line— 7 syllables

3rd line—  5 syllables

Hurricane Katrina

Nature’s fury strikes,

Leaving her victims despondent.

Don’t blame; help rebuild.

Cooking up a solution to language discrimination

1 cup of acceptance

½ cup of change

2 teaspoons of each dialect and language

3 cups of grammar rules

4 tablespoons of code-switching

2 quarts of misconceptions

2 cups of stereotypes

Blend stereotypes and misconceptions until the mixture is smooth and all lumps disappear.  Stereotypes and misconceptions must be minimized before change is added.  Fold in change, a little at a time.  Pause during the process to allow the change to slowly dissolve the mixture.  Sprinkle grammar rules into the mixture gently.  They are needed for students to learn Standard English, but dumping them in all at once may threaten the texture of the mixture. Spoon in each dialect and language and stir slowly, allowing each one of them to be represented equally.  Sift code-switching into the batter.  This ingredient allows students to realize that certain situations call for certain types of language.  Pour the mixture into a classroom and cover with acceptance.   Bake at 180 degrees or days.  Give time for students and teachers to compromise on the use and variety of language.

Thematic Connections

(These novels also contain some of the themes and paranormal attributes found in Wraithsong.  Listed below is a mix of literature that involves Greek and Norse mythology and fantastical myths and characters representative of different cultures and settings. They can be paired together for whole group, small group, or a thematic feature for independent reading areas.  Wraithsong can also be paired with classical literature such as Dante’s Inferno & Paradise Lost because the YA novel’s detailed history of the Huldra includes similar elements.)

Fall of the Nine Realms ebook cover

Blufire

WSW Final front cover brandi

evelyn1

evelyn2

evelyn3

evelyn4

evelyn7

evelyn8

evelyn9

evelyn11

evelyn12

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

When Your Back Is Against the Wall, What Else Are You Gonna Do Except Hustle?: Tyrell by Coe Booth

Image found on Google Images

Image found on Google Images

Edu-my-cation

By Alexandra Caselle

Extra! Extra!

Read all about it!

Urban schools

are failing, failing, failing!

People, people,

What must be done?

Our kids can’t read or

write ; they can’t do math.

Man, please.

I know how to read and write.

I know that 2 + 2 =4.

I am not illiterate.

See, where I come from

2 + 2 don’t always equal 4.

It equals me getting shot

if I walk on a certain set

or getting beat down for

what I wear, who I associate

with, or where I live.

I know how to read words.

I sometimes comprehend what I read.

But, I also know how to “read” life.

I got to “read” guys standing on

the block trying to find out if

they are trying to be down with me

or use or abuse me.

I got to “read” the cops patrolling

my hood, trying to figure out

if they are really trying to serve

and protect or are they trying

to put another brother in the clank.

I got to worry about if my mama

is coming home tonight or if

I  have to feed my little brother

and be both parents

and on top of that handle being

a kid my damn self.

Oh, yeah.  I know how to write.

But, writing on some bs topic about

why the principal should enforce uniforms

doesn’t help me.

Let me write about why society

doesn’t erase the class boundaries that

make junkies and the homeless

roam aimlessly.

Let me write about the importance

of daddies sticking around so

their daughters don’t seek love inside

a fifteen minute sexual excursion

instead of themselves.

I know I need to get the skills

needed to survive in the real world

and gain my e-co-nom-ic  mo-bil-i-ty.

But, every time I look around you telling

me how I am failing and I’m trying to push

all these obstacles out of my way.

And now you wanna wonder why so

many of us are dropping out.

You hear those bells ringin’?

Class is over.

tyrellBooth, Coe. Tyrell. Push: 2007. 978-0-439-83880-1.

Tyrell is facing a lot to be only fifteen years old.  His father has been sent to jail for the third time.  His mother is not the poster child for the typical parent.  She wants him to get out on the streets and hustle to bring in income.  The burden of taking care of his young brother falls squarely on his shoulders.  To add to the family drama, he has girl trouble.  A new girl, Jasmine, poses a threat to his relationship to Novisha.  But he discovers that Novisha may have some skeletons in her closet that may destroy his trust in her.  Will Tyrell succumb to the sway of the streets?

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  I had used this book as a read-aloud with 11th & 12th grade struggling readers who had failed the state assessment exam several times.  They connected to Tyrell’s story and looked forward to hearing about what happened next every day.  Some of these kids abhorred reading.  A book was the other four-letter word just like pork was the other white meat.  But Booth pulled the students into the narrative.

Tyrell is a gritty tale that includes some mature scenes.  With the read aloud format, I could skillfully skip over those sections and maintain the students’ interests.  Since my classes had no set curriculum, I read aloud young adult novels as an opening exercise for my classes.  It gave me an opportunity to model reading strategies, teach vocabulary, and hone comprehension skills.  I often created tests based on the read aloud books because I believed in the interconnections among curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

 I specifically chose Tyrell for another reason.  It highlighted the broader definition of literacy that our students function in today.  Learning the basic tenets of literacy such as reading, writing, and mathematics is very important.  Literacy also entails technology and discourses.  According to James P. Gee, author of Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses, literacy is a type of a discourse.  A discourse can be defined as ways of reading, writing, acting, believing, thinking, etc.

With school literacy (reading, writing), there is a certain way to interact with text.  Within one’s neighborhood, church, family, workplace, culture, or society itself, there is a certain way to act, believe, think, etc.   All of those literacies impact our students, and we should embrace those other types of literacies in our classroom as a stepping stone toward guiding our students to the mastery of school literacy.

Tyrell is an excellent example of how different types of literacies or discourses impact an adolescent.

Text-to-Text Connections

upstate Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon  This epistolary novel describes the relationship between a young girl and her boyfriend and how his imprisonment changes both of them. I used this novel as a read aloud as well and used the epistolary format to teach different reading skills and reinforce vocabulary development.

bronxmasq  Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes  This multigenre novel blends poetry and narrative to tell the stories behind each chapter’s character.  Adolescent readers see how domestic violence and other social issues affect young people.  This is another great choice for a read aloud because the chapters are short and it works well for teaching different reading strategies.

bees  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd  Lily and Tyrell are connected by the impact their circumstances make on them.  Both live with one parent, and Lily’s father and Tyrell’s mom are cut from the same cloth.  One can’t say that kneeling in grits for a long period of time will not distract a child from learning the three R’s.  Adolescent readers also learn the discourse of sorrow as they read about May’s wailing wall.

firstpartlast The First Part Last by Angela Johnson  Being a teenage father is hard enough.  Raising a young daughter alone because her mother is no longer there is even harder.  This is the dilemma that Bobby faces as he takes care of Feather.  Johnson’s narrative style of alternating chapters between the past and present engrosses reader into Bobby’s life.

Teaching Exercise for Tyrell

This exercise depicts a scene that did not occur in the novel.  I used the cloze technique (removing words from a passage and requiring students to use clues within the passage to choose the correct word) to assess students’ understanding of the weekly vocabulary words. In the upcoming weeks, I will begin posting short stories that will teach a vocabulary word, a reading skill, or literary term because I believe that stories can teach concepts.

Directions:  Choose the word from the list below that will best complete the sentences.

ransack

panache

circumvent

ambivalent

expatriate

Novisha was angry with Tyrell.  Her girlfriend, Tasha, stayed at the same hotel.  She saw Tyrell walk into Jasmine’s room.  She called Novisha on her cell phone and told her what she had seen.  Novisha cried at first. Then she wanted to believe that Tyrell would not cheat on her.  She felt (1) ______________.  Novisha caught the subway over to the hotel.  On her way there, she noticed several people from different countries on the train.  They were (2) __________________from their homelands.  Even though she was mad at Tyrell, Novisha felt badly about them leaving without choice.  Novisha got off at her stop.  She showed (3) _______________ as she walked quickly down the sidewalk with her Timberland boots, Apple Bottom jeans, and matching Apple Bottom sweater.  She went inside the building and found her friend in the hallway.  Tasha pointed to room 207.  Novisha cracked her knuckles and popped her neck. The door was slightly cracked.  She threw it open and cried about the sight before her.  Tyrell and Jasmine were kissing each other passionately.  They did not notice Novisha at all.

Tasha took off her earrings and put her hair in a ponytail.  “Oh, no!  Girl, let’s beat both of them up!”  Tyrell and Jasmine looked up.  Tyrell stumbled toward Novisha.  Novisha slapped him so hard that she left her handprint on his jaw.  Jasmine got mad and shoved Novisha.  Tasha jumped in and the girls started to fight.  While they fought, Novisha (4) _______________the room and looked for more signs of Tyrell’s unfaithfulness.  Tyrell saw his chance to (5)_____________the drama.  He paused at the door and smirked at the girls.  It made him feel good to see three chicks fighting over him.   Today was a good day.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Supernatural Synergy of the Adolescent Kind–Manifest: A Mystyx Novel by Artist Arthur

Image found on Google Images

Image found on Google Images

It reverberates

throughout her inner being

Calling, connecting.

–By Alexandra Caselle

manifest

Arthur, Artist. Manifest:  A Mystyx Novel. $9.99. Kimani Tru/Kimani
Press: 2010. 978-0-373-83196-8.  
People always say to beware of things that look good on the outside. One never knows the hang ups that are inside.  But why does this cute guy who suddenly appears in fifteen-year-old Krystal’s life has to be a ghost?  Some boys don’t shower or have bad breath.  But who has ever heard of a boy who is part of the undead? And the undead wants her to find his murderer.

It is bad enough that her parents have divorced, her mother remarries, and she is in a new school. Now she is the teen Long Island medium.  As Krystal struggles with this newfound power, she discovers other teens at her school, Sasha and Jake, who possess the powers of teleportation and telekinesis.  Now they want her to acclimate to her new power as if she were just adjusting to a change of clothing or hairstyle.

Arthur includes new and old ways of communication such as texting and letters from someone in the past to pull middle and high school readers into the plot.  In the middle of all of this mayhem in Krystal’s life, there is the mysterious power that may not only threaten her but everyone around her.

This novel gives adolescents an African American paranormal heroine and charts her journey of coming-of-age and coming into her powers. They will identify with her plight of accepting what makes her different as a gift instead of a curse and dealing with the real-life changes that occur in most families today.

Text-to-Text Connections

blood magic  Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton  Reese and Silla have family problems of a different kind than what Krystal endures.  Their parents were killed in a murder-suicide.  The whole town thinks that they are crazy,too.  Well, piercing her finger and using the blood to conjure up the supernatural doesn’t help change public consensus.  Silla discovers her father’s journal and begins experimenting with spells.  The “blood magic” rituals catches the attention of Josephine, a centuries-old ghost who is not to be crossed.

good houseThe Good House by Tanarive Due It is often heard that the sins of the father become the sins of the children, and that which is in the dark always come into the light.  For Angela Touissant, she discovers how one person’s actions can have a detrimental, generational impact on her family.  She returns to her grandmother’s home to reconcile her own family, but she ends up challenging a formaidable spirit that may be more detrimental than the loss of her son.  Due’s narrative style will send chills up adolescent readers’ spines as her details make them feel like they are standing right beside Angela as she faces evil incarnate.

Due’s short story, “Summer,” would be another chilling work to pair with Manifest.  http://nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/summer/

bad to cursedFrom Bad to Cursed  by Katie Alender  With the name like the Sunshine Club, an adolescent girl would think that this club was harmless.  All of the girls who join it become popular and beautiful overnight.  Everyone would die to be in their shoes.  In order to be a Sunshine girl, a girl literally would die.  Behind the chillingly bright smiles is a psychic connection to a force known as Aralt.  Unfortuantely for Alexis, she has already had enough of the supernatural.  She and her sister Katie just survived Katie’s ghostly possession.  Alexis and her friend, Megan infiltrate the group in hopes of saving her sister, but Alexis soon finds out how easy it is to get the “devil” in her.

sea rising red  When The Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen  Vampires, magic, competing royal houses—When The Sea is Rising Red is a novel that blends fantasy, the paranormal, and the fantastic into an intriguing tale of one girl’s desire to buck tradition and live life according to her rules.  Felicita is born into one of the richest ruling classes in Pelimburg.  When her best friend, Ilven, commits suicide right before she is betrothed, Felicita runs away to the mainland and tries to shed her royal ties.  The further she gets away from home, the less power she has.  The scriven dust is the root of her power and her family is the only one who manufactures it.  As she juggles her growing interest in Jannik, a vampire who also struggles with family tradition, and Dash, the mainland’s bad boy, Felicita begins to realize the true impact of Ilven’s suicide and the true identity of the sea spirit that threatens the land.

mama day Mama Day by Gloria Naylor  Set in an island off the coast of Georgia, this novel again shows the impact of one’s actions on a family’s lineage.  Mama Day is a force to be reckoned with, a conjure woman who can cause lightning to strike with one wave of her stick.  But the beauty of Naylor’s work is how she uses the supernatural to make social commentary.  Her work is reminiscent of the late Octavia Butler’s style, whose novels Kindred and Wild Seed can also be used with Arthur’s Manifest.

Manifest is the first of the Mystyx series.  Read more about these mysterious teens who share powers that are out of this world.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a supernatural power and to be connected to someone through it?  Oh wait, we do.  As part of the human race, we are connected by the power of love.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

When Pipe Dreams Hold You Hostage: Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson

Picture found on Google Images (FanPop)

Picture found on Google Images (FanPop)

A geyser spewing water up in the air

A rollercoaster hitting a low point 75 mph

A bubble popping in midair

A river raging against a dam

A soul finally seeing the brink of a horizon

A musician crooning out a high note

A woman clenching her man in a tight embrace and gazing

at him like he is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen.

A drug addict twitching and grabbing his thigh after a fix

Multiply those images by 100 and divide them by infinity.

Then you will understand how a high feels to me.

Then you will understand why I can’t let it go.

–By Alexandra Caselle

51ItTFMjorL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a Meth Moon. $16.99 (hardcover price). Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group: 2012. 978-0-399-25250-1.   

When tragedy strikes, you feel like all of life’s anchors have unhitched and you are floating in limbo.  Reality disintegrates into white tufts of dandelions in mid-flight. Your feet are in motion on top of terra firma; to you, it feels like nothing is grounding you.

Your past becomes an old friend, walking hand-in-hand with you.  It has certain images set on instant replay, a gag reel of moments you want to go back to and retouch or edit, but you can’t and you are not laughing.  You search for a way out, even though you are already free from harm’s way, though, in your mind, it is as real and fresh as an open wound.

Traumatic events are like that.  They fracture your inner core and you are left with the pieces.  You try to put them back together, but some of the edges won’t fit into their original places. Your only solace is a coping mechanism that only deepens the dissension.

Laurel is a teenage girl who is dealing with this type of situation in Jacqueline Woodson’s novel, Beneath a Meth Moon.  Although Hurricane Katrina displaced bodies, the mind, unfortunately, was left behind.  Laurel struggles with the memories of this natural disaster and the loss of her mother and grandmother.  She relocates to another city and begins a new life. Her boyfriend, T-Boom, introduces her to the “moon,” and the drug provides an escape.

Woodson’s use of italics to enter Laurel’s mind transcends her experience to the reader.  The reader does not see her as just a meth addict.  He or she establishes an emotional connection and becomes overwhelmed with the urge to enter the story and grab her by the arms and save her from herself.  The reader can also connect to the father’s anguish as he witnesses Laurel’s decline.

Adolescent girls can also connect to Laurel’s relationship with T-Boom.  Often, they face a situation in which they must deal with someone trying to exert control over them.  They may not know how to handle it and stay where they are.

As you follow Laurel’s journey and discover if she succumbs to the allure of the meth moon, you will come to understand the true meaning of the phrase of not judging someone until you have walked a mile in her shoes.

Text-to-Text Connections

Product DetailsThe Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow.   Rachel Morse is a  young survivor of a family tragedy.  Her traumatic experience is not a natural disaster, but she and Laurel definitely have similar journeys in trying to cope with life-altering experiences through different ways.  Not only does Rachel has to deal with trauma, but she also has to face issues involved with being biracial.  It is another book in which the author’s writing style draws you into the characters’ experiences and hooks your emotions.

Product DetailsThe Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper  This young adult novel deals with the issue of death by hazing.  Jericho and his cousin undergo the ritual of being initiated into the high school band.  One of the events results in the death of Jericho’s cousin.  Jericho has to cope with the aftereffects of his cousin’s death.  Draper’s book, along with Beneath the Meth Moon, offers an opportunity to bring real-life events from the media into the discussion of this narrative.

Product DetailsGo Ask Alice by Anonymous  This book is an account of an adolescent’s experiences as a drug addict.  Its eye-opening portrayal submerges the reader into what it is like to struggle with addiction.

Product DetailsLike Trees, Walking by Ravi Howard  Even though this novel looks at the tragedy of lynching through a historical lens, the common bond between it and Beneath the Meth Moon is the effects of trauma on those who are left behind, mainly young people who are intricately connected to the victims.

Product DetailsCome Hell or High Water by Michael Eric Dyson  This nonfiction book examines Hurricane Katrina through a critical and sociological lens.  It connects to the Laurel’s narrative because it provides an intimate look into the natural disaster and its effects through the social constructs of race and class.  Through Laurel’s eyes, the reader delves into the personal, psychological, and emotional effects of the hurricane.

What other books or stories that deal with traumatic experiences, natural disasters, or drug use can you suggest?

In what other ways can traumatic experiences affect an individual, a family, a community, or a nation?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

No Color, No Gender, Nothing Can Hold Her Back: Flygirl By Sherri L. Smith

FLYGIRLSmith, Sherri L.  Flygirl.  $7.99.  Penguin Books/Speak: 2008. 978-0-14-241725-6.   Ida is one determined eighteen-year-old.  Tired of living on her family’s farm, collecting silk stockings, and cleaning houses, she feels the open sky calling her.  Flying is in her blood.  Her father flew crop duster planes when he was alive and taught her how to fly.  Her brother was already serving as a WWII medic.  It is her time to shine.  But race and color pose a problem.  Well, not for people like Ida.

Ida’s drive and determination enables her to devise a plan.  She would pass as white and join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) organization.  Ida succeeds and adapts to the culture and expectations of the organization.  But she realizes passing comes with a price.  She alienates herself from her best friend, Jolene.

She strains her relationship with her mother, especially when Ida has to refer to her mother as a housekeeper during a family visit to the field. Ida consistently has to stay in character and wear a mask.  Every part of her charade must be intact because one little slip-up could betray her real identity.  Can you imagine having to hold it together?  The lines from William Butler Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” come to mind http://www.potw.org/archive/potw351.html :

                               Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

In the skies, Ida doesn’t have to worry about the farce.  Her ability to handle a plane is what matters.  The sky symbolizes freedom.  It provides the catalyst for her to be who she really is.

womanlutionpress logo(Clip art designed by Mike Smith)

Middle grade and adolescent readers will constantly wonder if Ida will be discovered as they engage in the storyline.  Through Smith’s deft development and description of Ida’s character, readers will want to emulate this strong teen.

Discovering Its Educational Value

Text-to-Text Connections

Here are just a few classic, contemporary, and young adult novels that could be paired with Flygirl:

  • Product DetailsTsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions–a postcolonial novel African novel set in Rhodesia that deals with a young girl trying to come of age under the scope of European expectations of beauty and gender. It can be tied into Ida’s ruse of trying to fit in with the WASPs by passing white and how it affects her and her relationships. http://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/nervousconditions.html
  • Product DetailsSharon Flake, Money Hungry— a young adult novel that traces Raspberry’s ambition to earn money any way she can despite her circumstances.  Her drive and determination mirror Ida’s. http://www.sharongflake.com/books/money/

Educational Resources

These resources give additional information that ties into the historical connections within Flygirl:

What other novels, stories, and/or memoirs can you think of that feature women or young teens who have the drive and determination that Ida possesses?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Taking The First Step into UnChartered Waters

Image

 

Hello!

Welcome to my blog.  I have had the concept of this blog in my mind for 11  years.  I have always loved young adult literature.  It speaks to the adolescent inside of me who wishes she had known about it while being a teenager.  As a teacher, I always tried to connect my students to YAL.  I wanted to create a space to share African-American YAL reviews, create YAL flash fiction stories, and share ideas for using YAL in the classroom and my own personal stories. 

On next Wednesday, I will post my first YAL book review. I hope that everyone, not only teachers and YAL readers will find this site useful.

 

Until next Wednesday….. 🙂

 

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized