Author Archive

Joy School

June 15, 2009

Joy School
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Title: Joy School
Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships
Publication Date: 1997
Number of Pages: 208p
Geographical Setting: Missouri
Time Period: Late 1950s/Early 1960s
Series (If applicable): The Katie Nash Series

Plot Summary:
Katie Nash is a 13-year-old “army brat”.  Her mother recently passed away, and her father has moved her from Texas to Missouri.  Katie is left to fend for herself in a new school with new neighbors in a new town.  Her best friend’s letters are getting shorter and shorter, and Katie is not so sure about her new friends.  While ice skating one day, she falls through the ice and eventually makes her way into a nearby gas station to Jimmy (who looks just like Superman and saves her life.)  Told from Katie’s point of view, this book covers a lot of ground in the 13 year old’s life from scary new friendships, the bad girls at school, how love is supposed to feel, and what it has been like growing up without a mother.  Katie is precocious, careful and full of questions that she has to answer for herself.

Subject Headings: First Loves, Adolescence, Loss of Mother, Father and Daughter Relationships, Coming of Age Story

Appeal: Character driven, heartfelt, measured, heartbreaking, honest, awkward, giddy, funny, introspective, reminiscent, nostalgic, sweet, memorable.

3 terms that best describe this book:
Internal, passionately youthful, reflective

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Still Here With Me:  Teenagers and Children on Losing a Parent by Suzanne Sjoqvist and Margaret Myers (children and teens express their own feelings of loss)
Vintage Fashions for Women: the 1950s & 60s (photos and patterns for A-Line Skirts and Peter Pan collar blouses that Katie and Taylor Sinn love)
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff: Stories of Tough Times and Lessons
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger (Teens sharing stories about difficult life situations)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen (12 year old’s perspective of family life)
Offsides: A Novel by Kerry Madden-Lunsford (Coming of age story of a girl who moves to a new town with her father)
The Usual Rules by Joyce Manard (a young girl moves in with her father after the loss of her mother)

Katy A. Hite


The House on Mango Street: Latina Fiction

June 8, 2009

The House on Mango Street

Author: Sandra Cisneros
Title: The House on Mango Street
Genre: Latina/o, Short Stories
Publication Date: 1984
Number of Pages: 110p
Geographical Setting: Chicago, IL
Time Period: Unspecified, early 1980s

Plot Summary:
Told in a series of vignettes, this work relays the story of Esperanza, a young Latina girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago.  The book almost reads like poetry, as Esperanza tells stories of her life, her neighbors and her family struggling to find an identity as immigrants.  Esperanza is exposed to the lives of women in her community who are afraid to leave there home because they can’t speak English, girls who are mistaking sex for love at an early age, and the pains of growing up too fast.  While it reads very quickly, vivid images of struggle, poverty and ultimately the beauty of life remain long after the book is resolved.

Subject Headings:
Hispanic Americans—Chicago, Girls—Chicago, Mexican Americans, Chicago, Short Stories.
Appeal: Vignettes, character sketches, multi-faceted, funny, measured, coming of age, wise, sorrowful, playful, memorable, cultural, youthful, musical.
3 terms that best describe this book: Vivid, colorful, heartbreaking.
Similar Authors and Works:
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Migrant Daughter: Coming of Age as a Mexican American Woman by Frances Esquibel Tywoniak (Mexican American woman’s experience in the US)
City of Dreams by Wilfredo Cruz (Latino experience in Chicago)
Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez (History of Latinos in the US)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Woman I Kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez (Latina immigrant poetry)
Playing With Boys by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Modern story of 3 Latina women)
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (Coming of Age for Mexican American boy)

Katy A. Hite

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

June 8, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Genre: Bestseller, Fantasy, Parody
Publication Date: 2009
Number of Pages: 319p
Geographical Setting: England, The Lake District
Time Period: mid-1800s

Plot Summary: England has been stricken with a strange and unavoidable plague.  The five daughters of the Bennett family, who are trained in the fine art of slaying the unmentionables, would like to find love in the village of Meryton.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes Jane Austen’s story of love, deception and honor, and throws in, well, zombies, to give the story a whole new doomsday twist.  Elizabeth Bennett is put off by Mr. Darcy’s snobbery and arrogant attitude towards the Bennett’s, even as they slay zombies at Mr. Bingley’s dinner party.  The Bingley family, the Bennetts, and the Darcy’s continue to meet at society events throughout the country and the quarantined city of London; upon Darcy’s unexpected wedding proposal, Elizabeth must practice her ninja training skills to defend her honor.  Grahame-Smith adds the undead to Ms. Austen’s classic, taking a fresh (or not so fresh) look at Regent society.

Subject Headings: Bennett, Elizabeth (Fictitious Character), Darcy, Fitzwilliam (Fictitious Character), Zombies—Fiction, Young Women—England, Social Classes—England, Family—England, Sisters, Courtship, England, Parodies

Parody, humor, dark, classical, emotional, action-packed, absurd, witty, fast-paced, wry, satire, romantic.

3 terms that best describe this book:
Brisk, satirical, fun

Similar Authors and Works :
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Jane Austen for Dummies by Joan Elizabeth Kingel Ray (Describes the world of Austen)
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead by Max Brooks (parody survival guide for zombie attacks)
The Black Death: A Chronicle of the Plague by Johannes Nohl (the effects of the plague on Europe)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
Austenland by Shannon Hale (young woman retreats to an “Austen resort” to fulfill her love of Mr. Darcy)
World War Z by Max Brooks (An account of the world after zombies take over)
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (Dickensian parody of a Christmas mystery)

Name: Katy A. Hite

Sick Puppy

June 1, 2009

Sick Puppy

Author: Carl Hiaasen

Sick Puppy

Genre: Humorous Suspense

Publication Date:

Number of Pages:
353 pp

Geographical Setting:
Southern Florida

Time Period:
Present Day

Plot Summary: Twilly Spree, veteran of anger management classes, and unwillingly the recipient of a million dollar inheritance that came from dirty Florida real estate money, likes to teach litterbugs a lesson.  He is the definition of the eco-terrorist.  Palmer Stoat, corrupt lobbyist, who appreciates the finer things in life, isn’t getting Spree’s message.  Things start off small with a load of garbage in the BMW, and dung beetles in the polluting SUV, but Twilly hits home when he takes the Stoat family dog.  Palmer realizes things are serious and begins wheeling and dealing to get the dog back, and Spree (along with Palmer’s wife) continue to spread their message across Southern Florida.  With a bright collection of secondary characters, Hiaasen takes readers on a breakneck tour of how the other half lives: cigar bars, call girls surgically altered to fulfill a Barbie Doll fetish, and a bounty hunter who listens to 911 tapes for fun.

Subject Headings: Eco-terrorists—Florida; Dognapping—Florida; Labrador Retrievers; Greed—Florida; Real Estate Developers—Florida; Lobbyists—Florida; Anger in Men—Florida; Canned Hunting—Florida; Hunting; Florida.

Appeal: Fast-paced, detailed, eccentric, character-centered, wry, graphic, contemporary, political, candid, humorous, colorful, witty, compelling.

3 terms that best describe this book: Darkly comic, compelling, colorful characters.

Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Labrador Retrievers (Complete Pet Owner’s Manual) Kerry Kern (colorfully illustrated with photos of labs, tips on buying, training, and caring for labs)
Confessions of an Eco-Warrior by Dave Foreman (Foreman recounts the necessary measures to maintain the planet’s ecological resources and admonishes the administration that is destroying it)
Priceless Florida:  Natural Ecosystems and  Native Species by Eleanor Noss Whitney et. Al (ecological field guide of Florida’s mainland and wetlands, good sense of location).

3 Relevant Fiction Authors:
Randy Wayne Wright (eco-centered, Florida based spy)
Elmore Leonard (rich characters, dark humor)
Richard Grant (off-beat characters, eco-themed and humorous)

Name: Katy A. Hite

The Undertaker’s Wife

May 27, 2009

Author:  Loren D. Estleman
Title:  The Undertaker’s Wife
Genre:  Western
Publication Date:  2005
Number of Pages:  284p
Geographical Setting:  Buffalo, Cleveland, Monroe, MI, San Francisco, Hayes, KS, Virginia City, Chicago (and towns in between).
Time Period:  Post Civil War

Plot Summary:  Told in four parts, this is the story of Richard Connable, his wife, and his “invisible art.”  To avoid scandal, Richard is called out of retirement to make the suicide of a famous financier look as if the man died of natural causes.  His wife Lucy is left to recount the moment that brought them together:  Richard restored her injured brother’s corpse to a presentable state for his funeral.  Following their marriage, the couple moves to the Barbary Coast of San Franciso where Richard wants to bring his services to the West.  Told from both Lucy and Richard’s points of view, The Undertaker’s Wife recounts dirty politics, infidelities, professional gains and losses, prairie life (Wild Bill Hickock makes an appearance as sheriff), the loss of their only child, and their solemn dedication to one another as they slowly make their way back East.

Subject Headings:  Married women—funeral rites and ceremonies—undertakers and undertaking—capitalists and financiers—San Francisco–  Suicide victims–Secrecy

Appeal:  deliberate, measured, reflective, somber, character-centered, minimally detailed, stark, frank, grotesque, bleak, wry, simple, heartbreaking, crisp.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Solemn, macabre, even.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Wild Bill Hickok, gunfighter: an account of Hickok’s gunfights by Joseph G. Rosa (historical background on Hickock, who dominates Richard’s time in Hays, Kansas)
Rest in peace: a cultural history of death and the funeral home in twentieth-century America by Gary Laderman (more in-depth look at the culture of the undertaker)
Eyewitness to the Old West : first-hand accounts of exploration, adventure, and peril by Richard Scott (adventure in the settling and establishing of the West).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Whose names are unknown by Sanora Babb (female centered story about difficulties surviving in California).
A Gentleman In Charleston and the Manner of His Death by William Baldwin.  (details of David Lawton’s death are filled in through flashbacks of his life with historically accurate detail, with language “evocative of the period”.)
The master tanner heads west by W.C. Bamberger (woman moving her family West and dealing with the struggles)

Name: Katy Hite