Captain Underpants

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a while ago, our week’s articles were focused on banning and censorship. I was surprised to see so many books that I had read on the list, but I was even more surprised to see Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. I hadn’t read any of the books, but I watched the movie last summer and wondered how such seemingly harmless books could get such a negative response.

Luckily, Brian Doll had the first four books and allowed me to borrow them. Last week, I read The Adventures of Captain Underpants, Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking ToiletsCaptain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds), and Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. In the first “epic novel,” George and Harold, the two ornery main characters, bought a “3-D Hypno-Ring” and hypnotize their mean principal, Mr. Krupp. They convince him that he is Captain Underpants, a character they created in their regular comic books. Before they can turn him back, he jumps out the window to fight crime. Eventually George and Harold figure out that dumping water on him turns Captain Underpants back into Mr. Krupp. However, whenever someone snaps, Captain Underpants is back! The next three books revolve around different trouble the boys get into with Captain Underpants and his sudden arrivals.

I strongly disagree with whomever thinks these books are inappropriate. First of all, even though George and Harold cause trouble in school, they also create a series of comic books. How cool is that! They’re bored in school, but they’re still writing and creating! Also, the book doesn’t use the most mature humor, but that’s why the book is so popular with young kids. I, a twenty year-old who is somewhat close to earning a Bachelor’s Degree, laughed out loud multiple times in every book.  Admittedly, I don’t have the most mature sense of humor either. Anyway, if you’re looking for a light, funny read, Captain Underpants is for you.

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Social Media & Reading Lives

With social media becoming such a huge part of society, it only makes sense that it is reflected in modern books as well as discovering new adolescent literature. I’m not long out of high school, but I never used social media to find new books when I was a teenager. I would get recommendations from friends and family or I would just wander around the library until I found a title that looked interesting. But once I found an author I liked, I would normally stick with his/her books for a while.

Today, however, finding your next read can be a lot easier. In my exploration of ya hashtags on twitter over the last week, I wasn’t really surprised with how much I found. To start, I found I found one website that had thirty different YA twitter hashtags, and I was busy for a while! A lot of the tweets I found were about new YA books. I think my favorite thing about Twitter, however, is that you can follow famous authors. How cool is it that an average person like me can see what J.K. Rowling or John Green tweet on a daily basis!

I also explored Instagram and Pinterest this week. I currently follow a few YA literature-related pages on Instagram, but I spent time this week looking through hashtags, and I found multiple new pages to follow! I was honestly surprised to see Pinterest on the social media sites to explore, but I actually found it most helpful in finding more books. All I searched for was “ya books” and lists like “29 YA Books about Mental Health,” “10 Most Anticipated Young Adult Books of 2016,” “6 YA Novels About Grief and Mourning,” “20 Biggest Teen Series That Launched in 2016,” and many many more. There were also different categories like “dystopian,” “mystery,” “LGBT,” and “romance” at the top to explore. Before this week, I knew that Twitter and Instagram (somewhat) are popular social media sites to find YA books, but Pinterest really surprised me, and I will definitely be using it in the future.

 

 

 

I found this awesome picture from Epic Reads on Pinterest.

 

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The Hate U Give

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Last semester in Methods, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was book talked by a classmate, and it really intrigued me. Ever since it was book talked, I had only heard positive, raving reviews about it online. Needless to say, I was very excited that my book club chose it as one of our readings.

This book is told in first person from the protagonist, Starr Carter. At the beginning of the novel, she witnesses her best childhood friend get shot by a police officer when they were pulled over after a party. Neither of them were drinking, and they were both unarmed. Starr is the only witness in the case, and she must decide if she wants to stand up for her deceased friend Khalil or keep quiet. Starr also struggles with her identity throughout the story. She lives in a predominantly black neighborhood of Garden Heights but goes to school almost an hour away in a predominately white area and dates a white classmate, Chris. She feels that she has two identities, one around black people and one around white people. This obviously takes a huge toll on her, and she said that she sometimes feels that neither side of her is enough.

I couldn’t relate to Starr’s specific experiences throughout the novel, but I think Angie Thomas’s portrayal of Starr made her a very relatable character. Angie Thomas was born in 1988, making her 29 or 30 years old, but she flawlessly writes from a teenager’s perspective. My book club discussed how all of the references she makes throughout the book are very accurate and popular today. I also found the book to be very convicting. People were more concerned that Khalil was a suspected drug dealer than with the fact that he was shot three times by a cop even though he was unarmed. At one point, the event makes the news with the headline “Drug Dealer Killed in Police Shooting” or something like that. This part really stuck out to me because if I saw that on the news, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.  I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it. I have a copy that anyone is welcome to borrow! 🙂

The Genius of Penny Kittle

First of all, I’d like to say that I really hope that Penny Kittle’s students feel truly blessed to have her as a teacher. Her classroom seems like a magical place. Anyway, our reading from Book Love this week was really insightful.

Penny Kittle said, “a key difference between readers and nonreaders is readers have plans. A to-read-next list helps whens students come to class having just finished an engaging book and are reluctant to start another” (63). I experienced this firsthand. My first book talks were last semester in Methods, and they made a HUGE difference in my reading life. There was multiple books being advertised by students and Dr. Ellington every day, and I started a list in the back of my planner of all of the books that sounded interesting to me. I continued the list on sticky notes and in my notes. A lot of my random sticky notes are lost now, but I think it’s so cool that I got introduced to different books every single class, and I think book talks will make the world of difference to middle school and high school students.

Chapter six was about reading conferences. Although the word “conference” seems intimidating, her conferences are extremely low-stakes. She simply walks around and has a conversation with students about what they’re reading. Common questions are “What are you reading?” “Why did you chose it? “How do you find good books?” “What’s on your to-read-next list?” “What authors are your favorites?”

What I thought was most interesting from this chapter was when she talked to a student about a Stephen King novel that she hadn’t read. She said, “It isn’t my imagination. Park sits up taller. There is something powerful about giving students the authority to teach us” (86). She wouldn’t know if what he describes to her is correct or not, but he is so excited about having the chance to share a story with her. I find that really incredible.

A Girl Named Disaster Pt. 2

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Over break, I finished A Girl Named Disaster and almost completed The Hate U Give, but I’ll save that for another blog post. I was again surprised about how long it took to finish the book. I was able to learn some of the words, but I still kept my finger in the glossary. Nhamo also travels much quicker the second half of the book, and I frequently looked at the map in the front of the book as well. While traveling, Nhamo keeps small mementos of her mother and often communicates with her as well. Much of the second half, Nhamo was living on an island that was also inhabited by baboons, and I can’t imagine how terrifying that would be. I also frequently forgot that she wasn’t even in her teens yet, but this poor girl was fending for herself for months! I’m nowhere near capable of doing that.

It’s set in the early 1980’s, and I think it’s really interesting that the story seemed so much further in the past than it actually is because of cultural differences.

Spoiler! Kind of. I won’t give the exact ending of the book, but it wasn’t as eventful as I thought it was going to be. Personally, I like dramatic, surprising endings, so I was a little disappointed with the happy ending at the end of this novel. However, take my opinion with the grain of salt because I have a very specific opinion about endings!

As I said last week, I think this book is a fantastic window read for students. It may be a bit difficult because of the length and background information for junior high students. It’s definitely the most challenging YA book I’ve read so far this semester, but I think it would be great for students who want to challenge themselves and learn about different cultures.

A Diverse Reading Life

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Photo CC By: Viva Vivanista

What does it mean to have a diverse reading life?

We’ve studied diversity over the past few weeks, and it’s something that has really peaked my interest. Hannah Gomez, in On Trying to Read Diversely, questions why people have to force themselves to read diversely. She said, “it seems like saying that you’re ‘trying to read diversely’ means you’re already doing it wrong.” At the end of her blog, she asks if diversity reading challenges are a crutch or necessary to some readers.

I think she raises some very good points. If we’re reading “diverse” books just to read “diverse” books, are we missing the point? Should reading diversely come naturally if we are truly dedicated to reading as much as we can? I think the answer is yes. However, I think “diversity challenges” are great for people to get out of a rut they may be in. I’ll be the first to tell you that my YA reading choices haven’t been the most diverse, and they’ve all been very much within my comfort zone. Challenging myself to read diversely was necessary for me.

To me, an ideal diverse reading life would be to read “diversely” without being challenged or actively trying to do so, and I think diverse books are about people unlike myself. I classify as female, Christian, a student, middle class, heterosexual, and Caucasian. Reading about characters who don’t share one or more of those categories would be reading diversely. Because I didn’t get much time for independent reading in high school, I read strictly in my comfort zone when I had the time to read. When reading was a privilege, I read books I knew I would like. I wish someone would have challenged me to get out of that habit, and that’s what I hope to do for my students. I think putting books in categories of mirrors and windows is an extremely accessible method to challenge students to actively diversify their reading.

A Girl Named Disaster

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Last week, I started the novel A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer. It’s the first YA book I haven’t been able to finish in four hours of reading, so I’m planning on finishing it this week. So far, I absolutely LOVE this book, and it was a perfect reading for the topic of diversity we’ve been studying.

This book follows Nhamo  who’s from a small village in Mozambique, Africa. Nhamo’s mother earned a scholarship to attend a Catholic school, and while she was there, she got pregnant with Nhamo and had to move back home. Nhamo’s father had nothing to do with her, and her mother was killed by a jaguar when she was very young. After a cholera outbreak in their village, a muvuki (medical specialist who deals with causes of death) decides that the cause of this outbreak was an angry spirit, specifically the spirit of a man who Nhamo’s father killed in a bar fight. The muvuki decides that Nhamo’s life must be given to calm the angry spirit. She is set to marry the man’s old, cruel brother. She isn’t even a teenager yet. Nhamo’s grandmother, Ambuya, tells her she must run away to Zimbabwe to find her father. Nhamo sets out with gold that Ambuya gave her on a small boat down the Musengezi Basin. I haven’t finished the book, but what was supposed to be a three-day journey has turned into much, much longer.

I’m really glad I began reading this book last week because it is an excellent sliding glass door book. It gives readers a great opportunity to learn about a different culture while also reading an interesting, suspenseful story. At the beginning of the book, there is a map showing Nhamo’s journey which has been really helpful. There is also frequent Shona words used throughout the book, and there’s a glossary in the back. While reading, I keep a finger in the glossary because I have to look at it at least once per page. There’s also a section called “The History of Peoples of Zimbabwe and Mozambique” and “The Belief System of the Shona” in the back as well. I thought this was extremely helpful because there was a lot of traditions talked about in the book that I wasn’t familiar with. Bride price is an important custom, and when Nhamo’s cousin began menstruating, she went to visit her aunt to celebrate her womanhood. Nhamo’s problems aren’t directly relatable to me as a reader, but reading A Girl Named Disaster has been a great learning and entertaining experience.