Friday, August 3, 2012

Looking for Alaska

Green, John. 2005. Looking for Alaska. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-525-47506-0

Miles is obsessed with famous last words and bored with life.  He goes out to find the "Great Perhaps".  Along the way he meets Alaska, who like her name is full of wild unknown.  How much can one person change another persons life?
Looking for Alaska is divided into two parts: before and after.  The chapters are a countdown to and from Alaska's death and the questions it presents.  This book is definetely not for children and should be read by a more mature teen audience.  The novel contains acts of smoking, drinking, profanity and sexual content.  However, the characters are well developed even if Miles is reminiscent of Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye.  Green presents the death/possible suicide of Alaska as an unanswered question that the other characters are left to unravel.  This is much how death occurs in life.  The living are left to sort out the reasons for death.  The fact that the answer is unkown and the characters that remain have to find meaning makes the novel a more satisfying and rewarding read.  The setting is ripe for the type of activities which the characters engage in as it presents minimal adult supervision.  Overall, a well written novel.
Winner, 2006 Michael L. Printz Award
Finalist, 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
2006 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults
2006 Teens’ Top 10 Award
2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
Borders Original Voices Selection

“Green…has a writer’s voice, so self-assured and honest that one is startled to learn that this novel is his first. The anticipated favorable comparisons to Holden Caufield are richly deserved in this highly recommended addition to young adult literature.”
“Like Phineas in John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace,” Green draws Alaska so lovingly, in self-loathing darkness as well as energetic light, that readers mourn her loss along with her friends.”
-School Library Journal, Starred Review
“The spirit of Holden Caulfield lives on.”
Other works by John Green:
An Abundance of Katherines
Paper Towns
The Fault in Our Stars
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

visit the authors website:
Investigate a famous person's last words
Ask students to write their own obituary and include and explain their last words.


Holm, Jennifer & Matthew Holm. 2006. Babymouse: Heartbreaker. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-375-83798-9
Babymouse really wants a date for the Valentine's Day Dance.  But when no one asks her, what is a mouse to do?  Go by herself of course!  Could love be waiting for her on the dance floor?
The Babymouse series by Holm and Holm is obviously marketed and written for young girls.  The graphic are simple with a limited color palette of pink, black, and white.  The limited text is presented in traditional speach bubble format with small block accents.  The storyline is simple and fit for emergent readers. 
positive review- Kirkus  "emergent readers will cheer 'Babymouse!'"
Positive review- The Bulletin "A new hero emerges in...Babymouse."
Check out the Babymouse website
Make your own comic strip at
Explore and read all the Babymouse books
Read The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka
Read Captain Underpants

When You Reach Me

Stead, Rebecca. 2009. When You Reach Me. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-385-73742-5
After Miranda's best friend Sal gets punched by a kid for no reason their relationship changes.  Miranda is now without her best friend. To make matters worse she begins to receive strange notes from the future which make her believe that she is the only one that can stop the death of her friend. 
When You Reach Me is the 2010 Newbery Medal Winner.  The novel is fast paced with enough suspense and questions to make it an interesting and entertaining read.  Miranda is a likable character who develops as the narrative progress.  The big kid who punches Sal is Marcus.  He becomes a pivotal plot element that is essential to understanding the space/time element of the story.  The use of three overlapping storylines helps to propell the plot forward.  Miranda's mother appearing on the $20,000 Pyramid, Sal not speaking to Miranda and the friends she makes because of it, and the appearance of a strange homeless man all work together to bring about an unexpected resolution.
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2009:"teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say,'Wow ... cool.'" Starred Review, Booklist, June 1, 2009:"[T]he mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating;"
Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, July & August, 2009:
"Closing revelations are startling and satisfying"
Starred Review, School Library Journal, July 2009:"This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers."Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 22, 2009:"It's easy to imagine readers studying Miranda's story as many times as she's read L'Engle's, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises."
WINNER 2009 Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"WINNER 2009 New York Times Notable BookWINNER 2009 Kirkus Reviews Best Children�s BooksWINNER 2009 Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the YearWINNER 2009 School Library Journal Best Book of the YearWINNER 2009 Booklist Children's Editors' Choice WINNER 2009 Horn Book FanfareWINNER 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold AwardWINNER 2009 Parents' Choice Gold AwardWINNER 2009 Book Links Lasting ConnectionWINNER 2010 Newbery Medal WinnerWINNER 2010 ALA Notable Children's BookWINNER 2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults Top 10WINNER 2010 NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social StudiesWINNER 2010 Cooperative Children's Book Center ChoicesWINNER 2010 NCTE Notable Children's Trade Books in the Language ArtsWINNER 2010 IRA Children's Book Award for Older Readers
Other Books about time travel:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Time Travelers (Gideon Trilogy)