Young Adult Lit/Crit

May 10, 2008

Enter Three Witches

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — katefrazer @ 10:21 am

I read Enter Three Witchesby Caroline Cooney for a lit circle.  The novel tells the story of Macbeth from several different perspectives.  The most frequent perspective is that of Mary, the teenage daughter of the Thane of Cawdor, who is hanged as a traitor in the beginning of the novel.  I really enjoyed reading this novel.  I had it at school a few days, and a few of my students also commented on what a great book they thought it was too. 

As Mandy mentioned on Wednesday night, this book really gave me a better understanding of the play.  I read Macbeth in high school and I didn’t love or hate it.  However, now that I have read all these stories surrounding the events Shakespeare writes about, I kind of want to reread the play.  The characters, specifically Lady Macbeth seemed more real in Enter Three Witches and more even more evil.  If I taught Macbeth in my classroom, I would definitely want to include this novel in any work I did.  I think it would also be interesting to take both of these works and some nonficiton pieces on the time period to evaluate the historical accuracy of the overall story. 

This is definitely a book that I’m going to recommend to my students!


April 29, 2008

King of Attolia

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — kariredmond @ 10:12 pm

Last week (sorry again for the delay) Raph and I had a mini lit circle on a book called The King of Attolia.

(Still trying to figure out this new format of posting…) Both of us agreed that it was difficult to get into and very hard to follow with all of these names and places and situations that we, as readers, were dropped into the middle of. About halfway through the novel I decided to try and investigate some and I realized (as did Raph after he had already started the novel) that it was the last novel of a trilogy. The author, Meg Whalen Turner, does little or nothing to lead into the story of this novel and operates under that assumption that readers have read The Theif and The Queen of Attolia. Despite the logistical difficulties, the book itself made us want to go back and read the first two books so that we would have the neccessary information to process what was happening in the plot and have a better understanding of the interactions between the characters. I was thankful that Raph had a similar experience with this novel because I was worried going into class that he would have gotten more out of it and our discussion would suffer. On the contrary, we had a solid discussion based on the weaknesses of the novel (basically we thought there should be more elements of traditional fantasy ie. dragons) like the lack of introductory background information. In addition we both thought that the author did a good job with dialogue and made the characters interesting enough to make us want to read the rest of the series. I have put The Theif on my summer reading list!

April 28, 2008

Lit Circles for Last Class??

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — sunyprof @ 7:07 pm

Please lend a hand to your classmates (or indulge your own interests) who may still need a 3rd lit. circle (May 7) to complete the semester.

Options include HITLER YOUTH as well as A TRUE AND FAITHFUL NARRATIVE (which sadly we will not talk about next week), OPHELIA, OTHELLO (Lester), ENTER THREE WITCHES and graphic novel and manga versions of ROMEO & JULIET.

If you are interested, comment here. If you need the book, please let me know. Thanks!

And do post on A NORTHERN LIGHT as you continue to read. You might want to look at Mandy and Joyce’s comments on an earlier post. Karen

April 25, 2008

I Call Last Lit. Circle: OTHELLO

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — jexter1 @ 1:40 pm

Hello All~

Today I signed out Lester’s adaptation of OTHELLO and would like to facilitate the lit. circle on it. Please let me know who else wants to join me in this lit. circle and if there are any problems.



Heir Apparent, Lit Circle thoughts

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — Joyce @ 11:35 am

Just wanted to recap our mini-lit circle yesterday. Mandy and I read HEIR APPARENT, and if you’re a gamer you’ll probably want to check it out, too. I’m the type of person who ordered N64 from a store in Chicago when it first came out because all the stores around me were sold out. I’m the sort of person who was more excited about PS2 than books for Christmas when it first came out. (I know, it’s hard to believe that’s even possible. I liked it better than books?)

This is definitely a fun read, and we both enjoyed discussing our thoughts on the protagonist Giannine (in the game she is Janine) and her choices during the gaming event. If she trusts one character, someone else might not work with her in the future. I personally wouldn’t have trusted the same people she did, and if you play video games-you’ll definitely be surpised at the people Janine decides to spend time with as well.

I suggested that this might pair well with a screening of Run Lola Run. The following is a link to the intro . 

I haven’t watched this movie in a couple of years, so I would have to rewatch it with age-appropriateness in mind before solidifying this suggestion. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should check it out. The idea I think would work so well here is the notion of choice. Not only would these two materials inspire some philosophical convos about how we know things, and scientific convos about the possibility of time being non-linear, but also- importantly- the idea that even small choices may make a huge difference later in our lives. This may illuminate how important it is for our students to really think about their actions.

Liked the book. Will definitely bring it to my classroom someday with the intent of exploring how we “choose our own endings” and how that should empower us, and inspire us to think before we act.


April 23, 2008

Keturah and Elsewhere

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — erinlbowman @ 9:49 am

Hey guys,

For lit circle this week, we read two books Keturah and Lord Death and Elsewhere. I really enjoyed both of them and would recommend them for you to read. I have not read much fantasy in my experience, and never thought that I would enjoy it. These books however do more than play around with things that could never happen, they offer hope and something to really think about. Both novels discussed death, and how horrible it is in the beginning, however both protagonists end up accepting it and seeing it differently. They help others, they console others, they struggle, and they fight.

Both novels were very strong and very unique. I do really enjoy how fantasy has twists and turns that other genres can’t have because of the restrictions of reality. Though I had always thought of fantasy to have happy endings, I actually (sad to admit it) cried at the end of each. This is proof of how much I really got into the stories and felt like I was there.

I think that others of you who may not be fans of fantasy or that really love fantasy should, if you haven’t already, read these books. I can’t wait to discuss them in class!


April 22, 2008

Elsewhere: a safe opportunity to talk about death and life

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — scrollman @ 1:08 pm

For those of you who haven’t read Elsewhere,it’s basically about a girl who dies and goes to a place called “Elsewhere” (which looks a lot like Earth), where people grow younger until they become babies again and are then sent back to the world of the living.  It is a fantasy novel, but its themes are rooted in the grounds of reality, where dealing with and accepting death is perhaps the greatest struggle we face in life.   This is an important novel for young adults because it creates a safe space for thinking about and discussing the topic of death– a topic that is very much neglected in secular culture.  Death is something that we all must face, the mystery of all mysteries, the only certain thing in life, and yet we don’t really talk about it in school.  Why not?  Well, obviously, there are some separation of church and state issues.  Death and what happens when we die is a major focus of all religions, but I don’t think the subject of death need be solely religious.  If we talk about death in terms of accepting and understanding it in the context of life, then we are able to bypass many of the “what happens when we die” questions.  

Elsewhere happens to be a highly creative book about where we go when we die, but it seems to be more about what happens when we live, and how we come to terms with inevitability.  After Liz dies, she finds that the world of the dead comes with many of the same issues as the world of the living; it turns out that growing younger, in many respects, is the same as growing older.  In both cases, she is forced to deal with changes that she did not choose, but are thrust upon her, and that she must accept.  This is actually a lot like adolescence, where we struggle against forces outside of our control: school, parents, social pressures etc.  Accepting situations that we don’t like, and learning how to live, and love the world,  in spite of things we can’t control is basically what life is all about.  As our students make the transition from childhood to adulthood, we need to help equip them with the intellectual and emotional tools they will need to adjust to a life that in many ways is unfair.  Death epitomizes all that is coercive and unjust about the world.  Like Sysiphus rolling the boulder up the hill, as hard as we try, (with the possible exception of being frozen) we can’t get out of it.  How many other things can’t we get out of?  Life binds us to responsibility, forces us to survive, or smashes us into tragic defeat–to be, or not to be.  We constantly find ourselves swimming upstream, fighting against the current, struggling to remain afloat.  It’s a wonder that any of us can be happy in this world.  But we can be; and that is the lesson of Elsewhere.  People die, but people are born as well.  We may lose friends, but we can gain others.  Everything has its duality.  Kids need to know this.  We need to to be having these types of conversations in our classes, because without them, life can seem like a nightmare.  It doesn’t have to be.  Sisyphus can be happy, rolling the boulder up the hill, and so can we.  How?  As Ray Bradbury said, do what you love.  Follow your, passion, which is what they do in Elsewhere.  Form connections with people, as Liz does with Betty.  Learn to love life, in spite of, and because of its flaws.  What choice do we really have? — Jonathan


April 21, 2008

Heir Apparent; no spoilers

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — Joyce @ 7:47 pm

Fun read.

In this book, the protagonist Giannine visits a futuristic sort of gaming center, and cashes in a birthday gift certificate from her terrible father (not a very likable character.) She picks a virtual-reality-kind-of, total-immersion-sort-of, electronic-cranial-stimulation-type game. Then, due to some unfortunate incidents she gets stuck in the game and HAS to win it, or DIE!

Plus: the setting is Rochester, New York- perhaps in the future. A reference to Tetris makes me think it’s not awfully far in the future, though some other details put it (I think) a little ahead of us.

Double Plus: Giannine must become king of her game, and there seems to be no gender issue with her becoming king, even though she is a girl. No one argues that she has to be the queen instead. Incidentally, she is the illegitamate child of the recently deceased king. The queen is her father’s legit wife, so if she (Giannine) becomes king—-> what will her relationship be to the queen? I’m still trying to puzzle that one out.  

Funny moments: every time Giannine dies (Wait! I thought you said funny!) she has to start at the beginning of the game again. As she sums up the parts the reader has already spent time learning about, the mentions of these parts get sillier and sillier.

Does she become king? Does she die? Read it and find out….

Mandy, what did you think?


April 8, 2008

Lit Circles on the 24th

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — sunyprof @ 4:54 pm

We will want to clarify next lit circle participants on TH. Next time it’s fantasy.

Please do some investigating of the titles on the syllabus and decide on what you might like to read for the 24th.

I suggest we include DREAMHUNTER rather than DREAMQUAKE which is the second book in that right now 2-book series.

The other titles stay the same. Do comment if there is a title or titles you’re interested in so that we can put circles together easily on TH night.

Thanks!! KES

April 3, 2008


Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — erinlbowman @ 2:21 pm

I am definitely enjoying this book, it’s easy to both pick up and put down. Not too tough to get through and deals with some issues that some “artsy” teenage boys would love to read about. I think it’s really great how it’s about a boy who likes being alone, and everyone makes him feel like this is such a problem. It is in some respects, but they take it to extremes, and don’t treat him the way that would be best for him.

It’s a great showing of how parents misread, and misunderstand the needs of their children, and the pressures that are put on kids are sometimes the opposite of what the kid actually wants for their life.

As for on a writing level, I thought it could drag and be a bit boring, but loved how up-to-date it is and what issues and audience it addresses.

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