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We need your opinion! Be a graphic novel reviewer.

Every year, the Young Adult Services Association, a national association of Young Adult Librarians/Library Staff/Library Advocates, puts out lists of the best media of the year in a bunch of different subjects.  Don’t like long, slow books? Take a look at the Quick Picks list. Prefer movies? We have Fabulous Films for you. Want to read nonfiction? They have it. Into books published for adults?  They’re onto that too.

There is also a list of the best graphic novels published for teens, and that’s where we need your help.  In January, this list is voted on through a committee.  I’ve volunteered to be on it, so all this year I’ve been reading comics and graphic novels to find what I think are the best ones that teens would like.  The rest of the committee and other graphic novel readers have also been nominating titles for the list.  But we need to know what the teen readers really think. After all, we’re making the list for you.

If you want to let the committee know what you think of the nominated titles, you can do so by

1. finding a nominated title by looking at the list

2. getting it from your library (or asking me if I have a reading copy you can borrow)

3. reading it

4. using this online form to tell me what you thought of it.

Then I can take your opinions with me to help us decide what really are the Great Graphic Novels of this year.

Have a title that’s not nominated yet, but you think it should be?  You can nominate it using this form – but it has to have been published after September 2011.

Happy reading,

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Why We Liked (or Didn’t Like) Why We Broke Up

Joseph: Okay, CLPTeensburgh readers, this is Joseph from the Main-Teen Department…

Morgan: And Morgan, also from Main-Teen.

Joseph: We’re here to talk about the book “Why We Broke Up,” a Printz honor book and one that was named to a number of best of 2011 lists. Morgan, can you start us off with a brief summary?

Morgan: Sure, “Why We Broke Up” is a novel told in words and pictures in which Min Green details the events of her whirlwind high school romance with basketball star Ed Slaterton after all the dust has settled.

It’s written as a letter to Ed, explaining to him, basically, why they broke up.

Do you have anything to add, Joseph?

Joseph: No, except that the author, Daniel Handler might be familiar to readers by a different name.

Morgan: Ah, yes, Lemony Snicket, of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame.

Joseph: Yes, and anybody who wants to see him in action, promoting the book, can go to the link: http://shelf-life.ew.com/2011/12/09/why-we-broke-up-daniel-handler-trailer/ to see him interviewing people in Grand Central Station in NYC about their own tales of heartache and woe.

But the reason we’re here chatting about it is because we both had two different opinions of the book.

Continue reading

Waiting for Liberty: Women’s History Month!

Many of my favorite non-fiction books are shelved in children’s non-fiction.  Writing for a younger audience seems to attract authors who are great at researching, understand the value of historical photos and illustrations, and have mastered the art of focusing their narrative. 

Lately I’ve been reading about some new and old books that are conveniently women’s history-related. Just in time for March! 

With Courage and Cloth: Winning the fight for a woman’s right to vote

by Anne Bausum

 

If this book doesn’t inspire you to register to vote, then your heart must be made of wood. The fight to enfranchise (that’s a term I learned while reading this book) women took so long that some women’s grandchildren were able to join it before it was over.  Women were force-fed, jailed, and chased by angry mobs of men just because they wanted to have a say in who made the laws that affected their lives.

Read this if you like hearing about kick-butt heroes with political savvy to spare.

Almost Astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream

by Tanya Lee Stone

 

They gave her hundreds of X-rays.  Blood tests, lung strength tests.  They injected freezing water into her ears to give her vertigo, destroy her sense of balance, and then measure how  long it took for her to get it back.  They put a rubber hose down her throat and made her drink radioactive water.  They probed her head to record her brain waves and made her pedal on a stationary bike to the ticking of a metronome to ensure that she didn’t slow down when the resistance on the wheel increased.  Then they put her on a tilt table and measured her heart rate and blood pressure. 

The people who had gone before her often passed out during this part.  She didn’t get dizzy. 

They put her in a tank of body temperature water in a pitch black room and told her to stay there as long as she could.  She stayed so long they had to ask her to come out, and not the other way around—an unprecedented result.

 Was this secret government torture?  Illegal medical experimentation?  Neither.  It was 1960 and Jerrie Cobb had signed up for all of it—she was a volunteer.  She worked as a pilot and had been flying airplanes since she was twelve years old.  She’d set a world speed record and a world altitude record, and she thought women should be part of the new space exploration project going on in the country.

 Jerrie Cobb was the first woman to go through the testing that all the male astronaut candidates went through.  She performed better than they did, and 12 women followed her through the tests.  Now they just had to convince NASA and the President that women should be allowed into the space program.

Let me play : the story of Title IX : the law that changed the future of girls in America

by Karen Blumenthal

 

If you play a sport, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

Here are some other books about real women in history that look fascinating, but remain yet unread by me:

Amelia lost : the life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart

by Candace Fleming

 

With chilling details about the last flight of Earhart.

I’ll pass for your comrade : women soldiers in the Civil War

by Anita Silvey

About the hundreds of women who assumed male identities, put on uniforms, enlisted in the Union of Confederate Army, and went into battle alongside their male comrades.

Factory girls : from village to city in a changing China

by Leslie T. Chang.

In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for theWall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta. As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a never-before-seen picture of migrant life—a world where nearly everyone is under thirty; where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a mobile phone; where a few computer or English lessons can catapult you into a completely different social class. Chang takes us inside a sneaker factory so large that it has its own hospital, movie theater, and fire department; to posh karaoke bars that are fronts for prostitution; to makeshift English classes where students shave their heads in monklike devotion and sit day after day in front of machines watching English words flash by; and back to a farming village for the Chinese New Year, revealing the poverty and idleness of rural life that drive young girls to leave home in the first place.

Rat Girl

by Kristin Hersh

In 1985, Kristin Hersh was just beginning to find her place in the world. After beginning her music career at the age of fourteen, the precocious child of unconventional hippies was enrolled in college while her band, Throwing Muses, was getting off the ground, amid buzzing rumors of a major label deal. Then, everything changed. Her emotional troubles were diagnosed as bipolar disorder, and – just after the band was signed – Hersh was processing news of a very different sort: she was pregnant. Suddenly, she found herself wondering whether antidepressants could be mixed with prenatal vitamins, how to balance a guitar on her swollen stomach, and whether a rock band could tour with an infant.

LOL JK: Practical Jokesters in Fiction & Real Life


The greatest practical joke I ever played at school wasn’t really so great. One fall, in seventh grade, I went to school wearing a wig and a new outfit.

“Hey, I’m, uh, a new student,” I told everyone.

Luckily, I had enough imagination to create a new name and back story. I had moved from California when my parents split up; hobbies included trumpet, soccer, and comic books.

The weird thing, however, was that everybody bought it. And more than that, my fake self seemed way more popular than my real self. So in the end, the joke was on me.

Practical jokes and the jokesters who impart them have been a staple of teen movies and books for years. Outside of dating drama, death, and supernatural occurrences, practical jokes give authors an impetus–or an event–to drive the narrative forward.

Thankfully, though my efforts have failed, teen authors have been way more inventive with the practical jokes their characters carry out, though the success of the characters themselves is sometimes much more disastrous. Here are some of my favorite fictional jokesters:

Looking for Alaska
by Green, John

Sixteen-year-old Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

 

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove
by Kate, Lauren

South Carolina high school senior Nat has worked hard to put her trailer-park past behind her, and when she and her boyfriend are crowned Palmetto Prince and Princess everything would be perfect, except that a prank they played a few nights before went horribly awry.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by Lockhart, E.

Sophomore Frankie starts dating senior Matthew Livingston, but when he refuses to talk about the all-male secret society that he and his friends belong to, Frankie infiltrates the society in order to enliven their mediocre pranks.

 

The Shadow Club
by Shusterman, Neal

A junior high school boy and his friends decide to form a club of “second bests” and play anonymous tricks on each other’s arch rivals. When the harmless pranks become life-threatening, however, no one in the club will admit responsibility.

 

If you’re looking for inspiration, you can also check out these awesome guides to real world pranks:

Mischief Maker’s Manual
by Hargrave, John

This is the definitive guide to pranking and mayhem. Written in the style of a training manual, but with hilarious illustrations, this book is broken up into five sections. The “Basics” shows kids how to find a pranking partner and how to pull simple pranks like making crank calls. “Prank Moves” explains how to pull pranks at places like home, school, or camp. “Do-It-Yourself” demonstrates things like putting a real worm inside an ice cube. “Experts Only” covers such advanced pranks as how to fake an alien landing. And “Recipes” gives step-by-step instructions on how to bake tuna cookies.

Mischief Maker’s Manual
by Todd, Charlie and Alex Scordelis

Improv Everywhere is a comedic performance art group based in New York City that carries out public pranks such as faking a street concert by the band U2 or overwhelming a Best Buy store with people dressed in Best Buy uniforms. In this work, Charlie Todd, the founder of the group, together with Scordelis, a member, describe 13 of Improv Everywhere’s “missions” or pranks.

Have any lively pranks in your personal history, either as a perpetrator or a target? Feel free to leave them here!

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Exit Through The Comment Section: A Banksy Post

Last weekend, I saw the film Exit Through the Gift Shop, a cinematic sleight of hand that at first seems to be about the saucy, enigmatic street artist Banksy before it substitutes him for the character Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash). The movie’s gracious winking and good humor seems to belie its sarcastic faux-documentary style that skewers the art world in a very youthful, teen-friendly, urban Rufio meets a can of spraypaint sort of fashion.

One of my favorite Banksy pieces, because of its humor, social commentary, and brilliant use of existing space.

Based out of Bristol and coming of age in the burgeoning Bristol, England street art scene, Banksy has been giving an artistic middle finger to everybody since at least the late 80s. He recently went as far as to paint over the longest-lasting piece of graffiti in England.

This Robbo, Inc. piece was the longest-lasting work of street in England until Banksy reworked it.

If you’re interested in more of Banksy’s work, you can go to his site (linked above) or check out the Flickr Banksy pool. For a link to the most up-and-coming street art worldwide, check out the Wooster Collective site.

And since this is a library, you can of course check out these very cool books:

The Street Art Book : 60 Artists in Their Own Words
byBlackshaw, Ric and Liz Farrelly

This street art anthology explores the reasons why style-writing, or graffiti, is turning out to be a major art movement. This collection offers 50 complete biographies of top street artists along with examples of each artist’s work.

From Style Writing to Art : A Street Art Anthology
by Danysz, Magda

This street art anthology explores the reasons why style-writing, or graffiti, is turning out to be a major art movement. This collection offers 50 complete biographies of top street artists along with examples of each artist’s work.

Graffiti Women : Street Art from Five Continents
by Ganz, Nicholas

This volume surveys the work of female graffiti and street artists, with approximately 1,000 color illustrations making up the bulk of the book. Often ignored, these women have had to fight against the idea that graffiti is a male realm. Ganz briefly discusses the trend in all parts of the world, and shows the work of many artists around the globe, with some background on them accompanying photos of tags, characters, and other art. No index is present. Ganz is a street and fine artist based in Germany. He is the author of Graffiti World.

Street Scene : How to Draw Graffiti-Style
by Lee, John

The first step-by-step instruction book on how to create grafitti-style art. More than 25 simple step-by-step demonstrations*Covers a range characters such as skaters, hip hop artists, punk rockers and other tattooed types and shows how to put all them into cool, colorful backgrounds. Readers will learn to create their own finished graffiti-style artwork beginning with traditional mannequin outlines and shapes and building up to completed, colorful scenes. The step-by-step instruction makes it possible to learn to draw and color everything from faces, figures and clothes to abstract and wild backgrounds.

Street Art : The Graffiti Revolution
by Lewisohn, Cedar

Over the last decade, street art—art made in public spaces including graffiti, stickers, stencil art, and wheat-pasting— has become one of the most popular and hotly discussed areas of art practice on the contemporary scene. Developing out of the graffiti-writing tradition of the 1980s through the work of artists such as Banksy and Futura 2000, it has long since reached the mainstream. Street Art is the first measured, critical account of the development of this global phenomenon. Tracing street art’s origins in cave painting through the Paris walls photographed by Brassai in the ’20s through the witty, sophisticated imagery found on city streets today, the book also features new and exclusive interviews with key figures associated with street art of the last 35 years, including Lady Pink, Barry McGee, Shepard Fairy, Futura 2000, Malcolm McLaren, Miss Van, and Os Gemeos. Street Art reveals the extent to which the walls and streets of cities around the world have become the birthplace of some of the most dynamic and inspirational art being made today.

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Ripped from the Headlines

I don’t watch much tv, but when I do it’s usually Law & Order: SVU (or any other version of Law & Order). But while Stabler and Benson have a badge and a team of forensic scientists to crack the case, all a teen can do is use their wits.

Luckily, books are a safe place to dabble in crime without having to deal with the predators, stalkers, murderers, and other assorted creeps who the detectives on Law & Order deal with on a weekly (or hourly, if there’s a marathon) basis. And there’s even a whole genre of non-fiction, called “true crime,” that can help indulge your fantasies.

True crime features in-depth accounts about and investigations into crimes that took place in the real world. Sometimes they put together their information based on newspaper articles and television stories, and sometimes they go the extra mile to do their own private investigation. And don’t forget: in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

Jacobs, Thomas A.
They Broke the Law, You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime

They Broke the Law, You Be the Judge offers readers an inside look into the juvenile justice system, from behind the bench and through interviews with the teens themselves. From truancy to auto theft, you’ll be presented with 21 real-life cases and asked what you think the sentence should be. Afterward, you’ll get the real sentence so you can compare your reasoning with the judge’s.

Joyce, Jaimie
Toe Tagged: True Stories from the Morgue

What can dead bodies tell you? Surprisingly, a lot. They can say when the body died, what kind of drugs the were in its system, what the bruises mean, which bullet was the one that killed it, where the body had been in the last 24 hours, and more. This book presents you with cases which used DNA analysis, facial reconstruction, and other tests to figure out the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a slew of awful murders.

Geary, Rick
Treasury of Victorian Murder (series)

A Kansas family murders residents of its inn. An upperclass woman poisons her scandalous lover in Scotland. A woman buries a hatchet into her father and stepmother. What do these stories have in common? They’re all included in a series of graphic non-fiction called The Treasury of Victorian Murder. With pen and ink, Rick Geary recreates some of the most fascinating murders to grace the 19th century.

True Crime: Seventeen, Real Girls, Real-life Stories

Pranks gone terribly wrong, sexual abuse, and murder mark the pages of this page turner of true crime stories compiled by Seventeen magazine. From 14 year-old girls who rob a bank in the hopes of saving their family home to a mom who makes a dangerous decision about her pregnant daughter, this book gives girls a lot to think about.

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main

Murder, Thievery and Other Dastardly Deeds

Every day when I open the newspaper (or the newspaper’s website, as the case may be) I’m assaulted by stories of crime — abuse, murder, burglary.  After my car was broken into a couple of months ago, those stories really began to hit home, and I now read the newspaper more often and with greater attention.  Frankly, it depresses me to read about all of the horrible things that are happening in the world, but I rather feel like it’s my duty to be aware of them.

I also feel, though, that it’s important to know history and to have an understanding of where we have come from.  History’s fascinating, both because of stories that make me think “wow, that explains a lot” and those that leave me wondering “what were they thinking?!?”

It’s the latter thought that crossed my mind most often while reading this article about the newly released England and Wales Historical Register, 1791 – 1892.  Punishments were, to my modern mind, ridiculously harsh — can you imagine being sentenced to death for cutting down a tree?  Or being deported to New Zealand for stealing table linens?  There was often little difference between sentences for petty thievery and murder.

My fascination with crime and history combine to make me a lover of historical fiction, and perusing the Register got me thinking about all of the exciting and thought-provoking teen fiction titles set during the 18th and 19th century.  Below are some examples — along with information about the crimes involved!

**Please note: Access to the England and Wales Historical Register requires registration, although they are offering a two-week free trial.  To research your ancestry or find other historical information for free, check out one of our databases!  Another great resource for information about historical crime is Victorian Crime and Punishment. All definitions in green below come from Dictionary.com.**

Body Snatching: The act or process of robbing a grave to obtain a cadaver for dissection.

Medical science made great strides in the 18th and 19th centuries, and scientists were always looking for bodies to dissect for studies of human anatomy.  In Great Britain, the only bodies that could legally be used for dissection were those who had been condemned to “death and dissection” by the courts.  While this was fine in the 18th century when so many people were executed for various crimes, in the 19th century the number of people condemned decreased dramatically — and so scientist had to find another source of bodies.  Body snatching became commonplace.  It was considered a lesser crime than larceny and was punishable by fine and imprisonment.

Richards, Justin

The Death Collector

What starts as an ordinary picket-pocketing incident in Victorian London unites three teens against a madman. Eddie is the pickpocket; George is an assistant at the British Museum; Elizabeth has a nose for trouble—and all of them are being hunted by Augustus Lorimore.  Lorimore is a sinister factory owner, a villain bent on reanimating the dead, both humans and dinosaurs—and one of each is already terrorizing the streets of London. It’s up to Eddie, George, and Elizabeth to stop Lorimore’s monsters . . . or die trying.

Welsh, T.K.

Resurrection Men

London, 1830s. Twelve-year-old Victor, an orphan, knows that life is dangerous, and death by disease or accident is common. But to Mr. Tipple and Mr. Biggs, these are streets teeming with possibility, where a child, once dead, is a commodity, and a fresh subject can fetch as much as nine guineas. In this dark underworld, Victor must uncover the identity of the ghoulish murderer who is at the heart of London’s furtive trade in human corpses.

Highway Robbery: Robbery committed on a highway against travelers, as by a highwayman.

Most highwaymen committed their crimes from horseback and were considered a higher class of criminal than common footpads — in fact, they were sometimes refered to as “Gentlemen of the Road.”  There’s a strong tradition of highwayman  “robber heroes” (think Robin Hood), but most highwaymen were notorious villains.  Highway robbery with violence was punishable by death, although many highwaymen were deported instead.

Morgan, Nicola

The Highwayman’s Footsteps

Inspired by “The Highwayman,” the famous poem by Alfred Noyes, this dramatic and moving historical adventure is set on the stark, ghostly moors that seem as menacing as the pursuing redcoats. A thrilling adventure featuring a feisty heroine, a rebellious young man, and a galloping, heart-clutching story.

Rees, Celia

Sovay

In 1794 England, the rich and beautiful Sovay, disguised as a highwayman, acquires papers that could lead to her father’s arrest for treason, and soon her newly-awakened political consciousness leads her and a compatriot to France during the Revolution.

Infanticide: The act of killing an infant.

Despite severe punishments (usually execution), many unwanted infants were murdered or left for dead by their mothers.  In some cases, however, women were executed for infanticide even if they miscarried or their child was stillborn.

Gavin, Jamila

Coram Boy

“Coram Boy” is a tale of two cities and a tale of two boys: Toby, saved from an African slave ship, and Aaron, the illegitimate heir to a great estate. It’s also a tale of fathers and sons: slave-trader, Otis, and his son Meshak; and landowner Sir William Ashbrook and the son he disinherits.

Hooper, Mary

Newes from the Dead

Anne can’t move a muscle, can’t open her eyes, can’t scream. She lies immobile in the darkness, unsure if she’d dead, terrified she’s buried alive, haunted by her final memory—of being hanged. A maidservant falsely accused of infanticide in 1650 England and sent to the scaffold, Anne Green is trapped with her racing thoughts, her burning need to revisit the events—and the man—that led her to the gallows.

Larceny: The unlawful taking or removing of another’s personal property with the intent of permanently depriving the owner.

A common sentence for larceny was hard labour, the length dependent on the severity of the crime.  Individuals who committed larceny also risked deportation or, in some occassions, execution.

Buckley-Archer, Linda

Gideon the Cutpurse

1763.Gideon Seymour, cutpurse and gentleman, hides from the villainous Tar Man. Suddenly the sky peels away like fabric and from the gaping hole fall two curious-looking children. Peter Schock and Kate Dyer have fallen straight from the twenty-first century, thanks to an experiment with an antigravity machine. Before Gideon and the children have a chance to gather their wits, the Tar Man takes off with the machine — and Kate and Peter’s only chance of getting home. Soon Gideon, Kate, and Peter are swept into a journey through eighteenth-century London and form a bond that, they hope, will stand strong in the face of unfathomable treachery.

Updale, Eleanor

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman

When a petty thief falls through a glass roof while fleeing from the police, it should have been the death of him. Instead, it marks the beginning of a whole new life. Soon he has become the most successful — and elusive — burglar in Victorian London, plotting daring raids and using London’s new sewer system to escape. He adopts a dual existence to fit his new lifestyle, taking on the roles of a respectable, wealthy gentleman named Montmorency and his corrupt servant, Scarper.

Smuggling: To import or export (goods) secretly, in violation of the law, especially without payment of legal duty.

In the 18th century, excise taxes for importing goods were very high and many merchants resorted to smuggling their goods.  This was a lucritive endeavor both for the merchants and the seafarers and fishermen doing the smuggling — but not without a large price if caught!

Bajoria, Paul

The Printer’s Devil

After printing the “Wanted” posters for some of London’s most notorious inhabitants, a printer’s boy is entangled, by a genuine convict, in a series of mistaken identities and events leading back to the boy’s own mysterious past.

Lawrence, Iain

The Smugglers

Young John is charmed by the Dragon, the schooner he is planning to sail to London and use for the honest wool trade.  But a mysterious gentleman delivers an ominous warning to “steer clear of that ship,” because the ship was “christened with blood.”  The ship looks clever and quick, and the crew seems to know how to man it, but with such a warning John is left to wonder how well he really knows what lies ahead.  Will he heed the advice given by the mysterious man?  Or will he brave the unknown on his own?

Treason: The offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.

In the 18th and 19th centuries (and even into the 20th century) any protest or activism against the government could be considered treason, if you were attempting to overthrow the government or some part of it.  For example, in the early 19th century a protest over food costs and supplies in Ely, Wales got out of control and turned into a riot.  300 fought, 80 were arrested, and five were hung for treason.

Grant, K.M.

How the Hangman Lost His Heart

What’s a nice girl like Alice doing with a hangman called Dan Skinslicer? He likes a good clean killing and a hearty supper afterwards. She likes pretty dresses and riding a well-bred horse. But fate throws them together on a mission of mercy–to save Alice’s poor uncle Frank’s head and restore his dignity. Soon they find themselves on the run from every soldier in London. It could be their necks next!

Woodruff, Elvira

The Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape from the Tower of London

It’s 1735. Forrest Harper’s life inside the Tower of London consists of three ways to pass the time: chores, chores, and more chores. His only friends are the spirited ravens he tends with his father. So when vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest can’t wait to prove his courage by standing guard. If only Forrest’s prisoner hadn’t turned out to be a noble and daring girl named Maddy. And if only Maddy wasn’t about to be executed…

Enjoy reading about dastardly (and not-so-dastardly) deeds!

Karen Brooks-Reese

Teen Services Coordinator

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