Posts Tagged ‘accurate’

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

August 15, 2012

Author: McClure, Wendy

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 336 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple locations throughout the United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Author and children’s book editor, Wendy McClure, takes readers on a humorous, reflective, and contemporary journey to revisit her favorite children’s books, the series of Little House on the Prairie.  In each chapter, McClure shares with readers her research into the history of the books along with her visits to several of the historical sites in the United States where Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie, lived.  McClure even goes to festivals dedicated to the books and tries to camp out and cook as in the 19th century.  However, what adds even more depth to this novel is that McClure learns as much about herself throughout this journey as she does about her favorite series.  McClure leads this novel with a relatable, introspective, and self-deprecating voice. She describes situations and characters in a detailed, vivid, and generally sympathetic style with accessible and conversational language.  Also, while much of the novel is character-centered and informative, numerous funny adventures occur during the course of McClure’s trips.  This novel is an engaging and thought-provoking novel about one person’s relationship with the books that she loves.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading; Arts and Entertainment; Frontier and Pioneer Life; Frontier and Pioneer Life in Literature; Home; Women’s Studies; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Appreciation; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Homes and Haunts; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Little House on the Prairie; 19th Century; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing;

Appeal: leisurely-paced, relaxed, steady, bittersweet, candid, contemplative, gentle, humorous, introspective, moving, nostalgic, poignant, unpretentious, closely observed, detailed, engaging, familiar, quirky, realistic, and vivid primary and secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, episodic, layered, literary references, thought-provoking, accurate, contemporary, historical details, rural, academic, accessible, conversational, descriptive, engaging, informal, informative, thoughtful, well-researched

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: humorous, bittersweet, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrimwill appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another autobiographical novel that highlights a different perspective ofLittle House on the PrairieSimilar toThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is a funny, character-centered, conversational, and contemporary book about how her real life differed from the mean character that she played on the famous television show.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is more about the life of the actress beyond the series while McClure’s novel is a nostalgic and academic return to the past.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another humorous novel about a man who tries to live a simpler life in the country and discovers it is more difficult than he initially expected.  Similar to The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch is a character-centered, chatty, and contemporary book, but unlike McClure, Welsch’s adventures take place in Nebraska.  Also, he continues to live in rural areas despite its hardships.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that itis another autobiographical story about a woman, who reads a book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and decides to change her contemporary life and relationships because of it.  Like McClure, Powell describes the challenges and triumphs of trying to replicate recipes from a famous book in a reflective, conversational, and engaging style.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell is set in New York and focuses solely on cooking while McClure’s journey is in multiple locations and involves many different types of 19th century activities.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is anotherhistorical novel about a strong woman, Meg Mambry, who is investigating the truth regarding a diary from her great-grandmother in the 19th century. UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook is more serious and psychological in tone and takes place in New Mexico.  However, like The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has humorous moments and focuses on women’s lives and relationships.

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another compilation of stories that include subjects, such as homesteading and living on the frontier.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx is set in Wyoming and contains more serious and dark stories in a more literary style.  Nonetheless, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx has humorous moments and focuses on family relationships as well.

An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another historical novel based on the true story of Nancy Kelsey who is the first woman to travel to California in the 19th century.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland is a more serious adventure story of survival.  However, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland has well-researched historical details and focuses on strong women.

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Fun Home

April 11, 2012

Author: Alison Bechdel

Genre: Autobiography; Graphic novels (Nonfiction); Memoirs; Family and relationships; Adult books for young adults;

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 232

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania

Time Period:  1960’s – early 1980’s

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: This graphic memoir—graphic as in comic strip, not explicit (though there is an explicit moment)—centers around the author’s slow revelation that she is a lesbian and her relationship with her closeted English teacher/historical house restorer/funeral home director father.  It’s full of references to Greek myths and American novels and plays that will please literary folks and non-literary types as the graphic representations help convey the meaning of the references.  This dark but not depressing multiple award nominee and winner will appeal to readers that like a more mature coming-of-age memoir.

Subject Headings: Bechdel, Alison, 1960 – Comic books, strips, etc.; Father and daughter; Closet gay men; Lesbian teenagers – Coming out; Brothers; English language teachers;  Gay men; Undertakers and undertaking; Parent and child; Children of divorced parents; Funeral homes; Teacher-student relationships; Divorce; Death; Historic preservation; Cartoonists – United States.

Appeal: candid; darker; humorous; introspective; melancholy; moving; moody; poignant; reflective; sophisticated; thoughtful; eccentric; quirky; realistic; sympathetic; well-developed; authentic; character-centered; issue-oriented; literary references; accurate; contemporary; accessible; chatty; conversational; direct; frank; informal; smart; straightforward; witty; award winner.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty; reflective; candid

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Epileptic by David B.  This is another moving and thoughtful memoir told in a graphic medium.  Epileptic, like Fun Home, is about a family with problems and how the author came out of the experience, though the problems are different.

You’ll Never Know by Carol Tyler.  This moving and thoughtful story is the first book in this 3-part graphic novel/memoir that centers around the author’s relationship with her father and how it affected her later relationships.  Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home is also a moving and thoughtful graphic novel/memoir that focuses on her relationship with her father.

Running with Scissors by August Burroughs.  It’s not a graphic novel but, like Fun HomeRunning with Scissors is a candid, engaging and witty coming-of-age memoir.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

A Family Matter by Will Eisner.  Though this candid graphic novel only covers a day in the life, it too reveals family secrets that include suppressed dark family secrets.

Martin Bauman: or, A Sure Thing by David Leavitt is also a character-driven, moody and witty coming-of-age novel. Though this tale about an insecure writer struggling to come out of the closet may be based on the author’s own life, it seems that Leavitt may have also had a mentor-type figure that strongly shaped the author’s life.

Escape from “Special” by Miss Lasko-Gross is a coming-of-age graphic novel of a girl trying to get through a difficult childhood with hippie parents.  The muted colors of the artwork is similar to Fun Home (Fun Home uses grayish blues and Escape uses smoky grays) in that it evokes a moody tone throughout the darkly humorous story.

Name: Ally C.

The Andromeda Strain

February 22, 2012

Author:  Michael Crichton

Title:  The Andromeda Strain

Genre:  techno thriller, medical suspense, science fiction

Publication Date:  1969

Number of Pages:  285

Geographical Setting:  Arizona

Time Period:  Late 1960s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  When a government satellite lands in a small Arizona town killing all but two people, a team of four scientists are called upon to investigate the extraterrestrial virus that entered the earth’s atmosphere with the satellite.  From a top-secret military base in Nevada, they work to identify the virus, discover similarities between the two survivors, and find a cure before the virus causes millions to perish.   Maps, computer data, and details of microbiology sprinkled throughout the novel, add a feel of authenticity to this techno thriller that will both frighten and inform the reader.

Subject Headings:  Viruses, Microbiology, Extraterrestrial Life, Satellites, Medical Suspense, Medical Technology

Appeal:  fast-paced, suspenseful, foreboding, dramatic, cinematic, investigative, plot-centered, informative, jargon-filled, well-researched, accurate, details of microbiology

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, investigative, plot-centered

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Coming Plague:  Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett- The Coming Plague examines the outbreak of recent diseases and what can be done to preclude new plagues.  Both The Andromeda Strain and The Coming Plague have viruses as a main topic

First Contact:  Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth by Marc Kaufman- Using recent scientific research, Kaufman provides evidence for the probable existence of extraterrestrial life. First Contact will appeal to readers interested in the extraterrestrial microorganisms in The Andromeda Strain.

Virus Hunter:  Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World by C.J. Peters- A top official at the CDC recounts his career battling viruses.  Virus Hunter will appeal to those readers who enjoyed the individual experiences of the doctors in The Andromeda Strain.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

The Cobra Event by Richard Preston- Government officials attempt to stop a scientist who uses a new virus to depopulate the human race.  Both The Andromeda Strain and The Cobra Event are fast-paced, jargon-filled, medical suspense novels about viruses.

The Hades Factor by Robert Ludlum- An army virologist works to identify and cure an unknown virus before millions perish.  Like The Andromeda Strain, The Hades Factor is a fast-paced, medical suspense novel that deals with viruses.

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card- A virologist works to stop a geneticist who is altering human DNA for evil purposes.  Like The Andromeda Strain, Invasive Procedures is a fast-paced, medical suspense novel dealing with a virus and a top-secret agency.

Elissa

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

December 1, 2011

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie & Julia [sound recording] : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen

Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in.

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: current day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Julie Powell is a 29 year old living in New York City who is fed up with her dead end secretarial job and depressing apartment in Queens.  In an attempt to find deeper meaning in her life, Julie takes up an ambitious project: she resolves to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year.  To document what she calls “The Julie and Julia project,” she begins writing a blog that captures not only every frustration encountered in following each recipe to exaction but also one that reveals aspects of her marriage, her friends, and her wry observations about daily life.  This memoir delivers a more fleshed out version of events than her blog but still retains its chatty, observant, and hilarious tone.  This inspiring and encouraging book is well written and honest.   It is as much about the character of Julie and her relationships as it is a food memoir that that conveys the challenges and triumphs of a novice young cook attempting masterful French cooking in a tiny New York apartment.

Subject Headings: Powell, Julie.

Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.

Women cooks Anecdotes.

Cookery, French Anecdotes.

Audiobooks (Abridged).

Appeal: compelling, easy, engrossing, earnest, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, thoughtful, upbeat, quirky, realistic, well developed characters, character-centered, domestic, accurate, contemporary, details of cooking, chatty, candid, conversational, engaging, informal, witty, descriptive, informative, entertaining,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engaging, witty, entertaining

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Flinn, Kathleen. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry: Love, Learning and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Like Julie and Julia, this book is a memoir that centers on cooking.  The author recalls how she changed careers and attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Like Julie and Julia, the author recalls humorous anecdotes, explores love relationships, and uses cooking as a metaphor for life. 

Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table. Like Julie and Julia, this is a memoir that is centered on food.  It recounts the life and career of the restaurant critic from The New York Times.  Like Julie and Julie, this is a heartwarming account that takes place in New York, features a strong woman character and contains humorous anecdotes and recipes.

Wizenberg, Molly.  A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. Like Julie and Julia, this memoir was derived from a popular blog that recounts the author’s life in terms of cooking and recipes.  Also like Julie and Julia, the author’s accounts are sometimes touching and sometimes humorous in this charming account.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bender, Aimee.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Rose Edelstein has the ability to taste the emotions of others when tasting their cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel is a witty, offbeat account of a woman’s relationship with food and with loved ones.

Esquivel, Laura.  Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tito, a doting daughter who cooks every meal for her parents in Mexico, finds love and herself through her cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this is a witty story that centers on cooking, love relationships, and contains recipes.

Mileti, Meredith.  Aftertaste, A Novel in Five Courses: In this novel, Mira Rinaldi is a New York City restaurant owner whose life is in a shambles.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel contains many descriptions of delicious food and recipes and features a strong female character who overcomes personal struggle and gains self-worth through cooking.

Name: Meghan M.

Fahrenheit 451

October 12, 2011

Author: Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451

Genre: Science fiction

Publication Date: 1953

Number of Pages: 165

Geographical Setting: An unnamed California city in the United States.

Time Period: Distant Future

Plot Summary: Guy Montag lives in a society without any books.   Guy is a firefighter whose job it is to respond to emergency calls of citizens who are found with books.  His job is to burn those books, and in a sad instance, those who own the books.  This is a society purely based on entertainment delivered by TV screens in the household.  He is walking home from work one evening and meets a young girl, Clarisse, who causes him to question his job, his morals, his marriage, and his happiness.  Clarisse, in society’s view is considered mentally ill, but in our contemporary society, appears to be perfectly normal with a normal family- life.  Clarisse’s insight causes Guy’s to re-examine his life, which leads to disastrous consequences for Guy, his family and his co-workers.

Subject Headings:  banned books, book burning, censorship, conformity, dystopias, fires, futurism, mass media, reading, repression, totalitarianism.

Appeal: visionary, prophetic, accurate, scary, eerie, disturbing, bleak, hopeful, lyrical, dystopian, poetic, world-building.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  heroic, character-driven, atmospheric

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 1)Bradbury Chronicles: The life of Ray Bradbury by Sam Weller-Interviews with editors, friends, family and the author about the author’s work ethic, struggles, successes and inspiration.

2)Universal History of the Destruction of Books: from ancient Sumer to modern-day Iraq by Fernando Baez-This book examines the many reasons throughout history of the destruction of books (Novelist).  This book also makes reference to Fahrenheit 451.

3)Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi-Chosen for a contemporary and political take on book banning and illustrating “the power of literature to nourish free thought” (Kirkus Reviews)

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)1984 by George Orwell- a story with a timeless quality and political and social issues and a heroic protagonist.  A “dystopian classic” (Novelist).

2)Night bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger-A graphic novel that highlights the personal importance and memories associated with books we have read.

3)Brave New World by Aldous Huxley-Chosen for its literary feel, the protagonists feel there is so much more to be experienced than their “utopian”, totalitarian society offers.

Name:Cheryl

North and South

September 28, 2011

Author: John Jakes

Title: North and South

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 1982

Number of Pages: 812

Geographical Setting: North and South United States, Mexico, West
Point, New York State.

Time Period: 1842-1861

Series (If applicable):
Part 1 of The North and South trilogy

Plot Summary:  The story revolves around the Hazards from Pennsylvania and the Mains from South Carolina during the time period from 1842 to the breakout of the Civil War.  George Hazard and Orry Main meet as cadets at West Point in 1842 and serve together during the Mexican War where Orry is severely injured and released from service. The men meet again closer to the onset of the Civil War and resume their friendship.  The book is made up of various family related conflicts but places emphasis on the two family’s
differences.  These would be common differences that set apart Northern and Southern Americans from one another at this point in time.  The Mains are rice growing southerners while the Hazards are industrial business minded northerners.  The issue of slavery is also a central part of the story.

Subject Headings: Family relationships, abolitionists, United States, History, 19th Century, Slavery, Revenge

 Appeal: Character-driven, historical details, dense, descriptive, accurate, emotionally charged, engaging, dramatic, complex

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Character-driven, historical details, engaging

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Battle Cry of Freedom: The
Civil War Era
by James McPherson.  Although the book deals with the entire Civil
War emphasis is placed on pre-war economical and political issues that drove
the war.

The Civil War by Bruce Catton.  Although
covering the entire war this book does cove the pre-war time periods that Jake’s
North and South takes place.

The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote.  Foote’s
historical series flows like a well written novel.  Time line wise volume 1 will coincide the
most with Jake’s North and South.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara. This book deals with time period in the prior to
the outbreak of the Civil War.

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.  This
book presents the Civil War from both the Northern and Southern
perspectives.

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk.  Although
not from the Civil War time period.
Similar to Jakes, Wouk is historically accurate and the book deals with
war time family situations.

Name: Bill P.

No-No Boy

August 17, 2011

Author: John Okada

Title: No-No Boy

Genre: Multi-cultural, Asian-American

Publication Date: 1957

Number of Pages: 260

Geographical Setting: Seattle, WA

Time Period: 1945, just following World War II

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: 25 year old Ichiro grew up in Seattle, but for four years sat captive, experiencing the horrors of internment camps and prisons. The United States punished Ichiro, as they did countless Japanese-Americans, because he resembled the enemy. Ichiro was a no-no boy, a Japanese-American who refused to fight in WWII. Now, the country he loved and viewed as a beacon of hope has turned its back on him because he did not have the heart to fight a war. Following the end of WWII and his release from prison, Ichiro constantly struggles with shame and regret for his decision. Although Ichiro’s parents represent his biggest supporters, home offers little comfort; Ichiro’s mother believes Japan has won the war and awaits the arrival of Japanese ships to bring the family home. Meanwhile, Ichiro’s internal struggles alter his once bright personality and strong ambition. The only chance for Ichiro to regain his lost identity is through friendship and self-acceptance.
Okada, a Japanese-American, respectfully and accurately depicts the struggles of Japanese-Americans following World War II. The author examines key issues related to immigration including profound conflicts of culture and racism. Okada does so in a detailed and accessible manner. The themes and writing style render this book a timeless resource for any one living, or curious about, the immigrant experience in the United States.

Subject Headings: Japanese-Americans; Japanese-Americans—Mass Internment, 1942-1945; Immigrants–United States; Racism–United States; Post World War II; Japanese-Americans–Family Relations; Suicide; Conflicts of Culture–United States

Appeal: Relaxed, Emotionally-charged, Poignant, Sympathetic, Evocative, Introspective, Issue oriented, Thought-provoking, Character-centered, Historical Details, Accurate, Timeless, Accessible, Intimate, Dialect, Detailed, Flashbacks

Three Terms that Best Describe this Book: Character-centered, Emotionally-charged, Timeless

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
(This memoir offers an emotionally-charged account of Japanese-American internment during WWII and the experience of Japanese-Americans following the war. Like No-No Boy, this book offers the perspective of a young Japanese-American during WWII who experiences racism, imprisonment, and culture conflicts.)

Paper Daughter by Elaine M. Mar
(Although the frame of this book differs slightly from No-No Boy because it involves Chinese immigrants in a more contemporary setting, this autobiography manages to accurately and emotionally convey the immigrant experience in the United States. A distinct similarity between the books involves the account of the struggles between an immigrant mother who denies American values and a child who embraces them,)

Looking like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald
(Gruenewald offers an emotionally-charged and accurate description of life in internment camps during WWII. The Japanese-American author offers numerous historical details in an accessible manner. The result is a timeless book about racism, immigration, overcoming adversity, and self-acceptance.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
(This novel revolves around the tumultuous life of a Japanese-American who has just returned to the Pacific Northwest after being held captive in an internment camp. The novel appears character-driven, issue oriented, and presented at a relaxed pace. Racism represents one of the most thought-provoking issues tackled in the book.)

Color of the Sea by John Hamamura
(This story details the experiences of a Japanese-American man who is torn away from his loved ones after they are placed in an internment camp. The main character deals with a major conflict of culture as he enlists in the US army to carry out a secret mission upon Japan. This issue-oriented and character-centered book offers a timeless account of prejudice and racism. The writing style accessible and detailed.)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(This thought-provoking and issue-oriented classic tackles racism, stereotype, and prejudice within a single US community. The plot revolves around the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman. This is a timeless, coming-of-age story told through the prospective of a young protagonist. The storyline is character-driven.)

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale

August 10, 2011

Author:  Art Speigelman

Title:  Maus A Survivor’s Tale My Father Bleeds History

Genre:  Alternative comic books; Autobiographies (Adult literature);  Graphic Novels (Non-fiction)

Publication Date:  1973

Number of Pages:  159

Geographical Setting: New York, Poland

Time Period:  1935-1958

Series (If applicable): Maus

Plot Summary:

Art Speigelman depicts the experiences of his father, Vladek Speigelman during World War II.  Vladek is a Polish Jew who lived through the Holocaust.  Vladek tells about the discrimination he faced, the work camp that he was taken to, his eventual release, hiding with another Polish family and the story of how he met Art’s mother.  The illustrations and dialogue in the story are simple yet powerful.  The Nazis and Germans are depicted as cats, the Jews are depicted as mice and the Polish people are depicted as pigs.  This is a great story of a father-son relationship in addition to hearing the plight of the Jewish people during this time.  This book is good for teens and adults as it takes a difficult topic and makes it more accessible to readers, while still maintaining the integrity of history.  This graphic novel is the first of two novels continuing the story of Vladek and Art.

Subject Headings:  Speigelman, Art; Speigelman, Vladek; Children of Holocaust survivors; Father and sons—Queens, New York City;  Holocaust, Jewish (1933- 1945)—Poland;  Jewish- Americans- Biography; Comic- book writers—Comic books, strips etc.

Appeal: Haunting, Moving, Sobering, easy, bleak, nostalgic, atmospheric, realistic, multiple points of view, detailed, accurate, historical details,

3 terms that best describe this book:

Haunting; Moving; historical details

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Persepolis: a story of a childhood By Marjane Satrapi (A graphic novel of a child growing up in Tehran during the Islamic revolution.  It also explores family and relationships).

Safe area Gorazde: the war in Eastern Bosnia  By Joe Sacco (A graphic novel that describes the lives of those living during the Bosnian War).

I was a child of Holocaust survivors  By Bernice Eisenstein (The author depicts her experiences of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors and details her families’ memories of the war and the Holocaust).

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The contract with God trilogy: life on Dropsie Avenue  By Will Eisner (This is the story of Jewish people living in New York. This is a 3 part series.)

Adolf 1, a tale of the twentieth century  By Osama Tezuku

(This is a novel that portrays the stories of 3 Adolf’s, one that is Adolf Hitler.  This is the first book of a series.)

            The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay  By Michael Chabon

(The story of a refugee from Hitler’s Prague and the superhero adventures in New York).

Name:  Sara Bartels

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

August 8, 2011

Author:  Rebecca Skloot

Title:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Genre:  Non-Fiction

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  328

Geographical Setting:  Baltimore, Maryland & Clover, Virginia (plus several other U.S. cities mentioned)

Time Period: 1951-2009 (with historical details included as far back as the 1850s)

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  History is dotted with unsung heroes, and perhaps one of the greatest examples of such is Henrietta Lacks.  In 1951, the 31 year-old black mother of five was suffering from a terminal case of cervical cancer, and during her treatments at Johns Hopkins, doctors removed some of her cancerous tissue without her or her family’s knowledge or consent.  Subsequently, the cells they harvested (HeLa cells) became pivotal to medical research, helping scientists find the cure for Polio, as well as furthering cancer and virus research as well.  In this work, Skloot investigates the life of the woman behind these immortal cells (that are still pivotal to research today), investigating Henrietta’s exploitation and the effects it had on her family. It focuses on the deplorable history of medical treatment and experimentation on African Americans, but also examines the issue of bioethics as well.  This compelling tale reads like a novel, providing an intimate look into the life of the woman behind HeLa cellls, and a family struggling to make sense of their mother’s legacy.

Subject Headings:  Biography, Science writing, African American history, Health, Cancer, Henrietta Lacks, African American women—history, Medical research, Medical ethics

Appeal:  compelling, engrossing, candid, haunting, engaging, multiple points of view, issue-oriented, layered, thought-provoking, accurate, rich historical details, accessible style/language, dialect, direct, informative, well-researched

3 terms that best describe this book:  compelling, issue-oriented, thought-provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present—Harriet A. Washington (History of using African Americans in medical experimentation, science writing, well documented and researched)

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer—Siddhartha Mukherjee (focus on the history and future of cancer research, extensively researched, compelling subject)

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration—Isabel Wilkerson (African American history, thought-provoking storyline, accessible writing style)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Help—Kathryn Stockett (engaging characters and storyline, historical details, multiple points of view)

A Mercy—Toni Morrison (haunting tone, historical frame, compelling storyline)

Passing—Nella Larsen (issue-oriented, thought-provoking, historical context, African American experience)

–Jessica

The Killer Angels

July 25, 2011

Author: Michael Shaara

Title: The Killer Angels

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 1974

Number of Pages: 35

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

Time Period: June 30, 1863 – July 3,1863

Series (If applicable): NA

Plot Summary: Old friends and new enemies face one another across the battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during four of the bloodiest days in American history. Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet butt heads over military stratagem as the untried Union regiment, the 20th Maine, led by Joshua L. Chamberlain learn the horrors of the battlefield. An insightful and informative narrative of the men who shaped the events that would turn the tide of a war and determine the fate of a nation.

Subject Headings: Civil War, Gettysburg, America, war stories, soldiers

Appeal: character-driven, strong secondary (characters), historical detail, accurate, descriptive, informative, well-researched, dense, realistic, insightful, unaffected, bleak

3 terms that best describe this book: character-driven, historical detail, insightful

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg: General Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (first hand account of the Battle of Gettysburg from one of The Killer Angels’ main characters)

Stars in Their Courses by Shelby Foote (study of the 1863 Gettysburg campaign from the perspective of the soldier)

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (one volume narrative account of the American Civil War that interweaves the political, military and social timelines of the Civil War)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Courage on Little Round Top by Thomas Eishen (novel of Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Gettysburg; well-researched, realistic, accurate)

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (a Confederate deserter walks for months to return to the love of his life; character-driven, historical detail, realistic)

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield (Persian king Xerxes explores Spartan history and culture through the eyes of the lone Spartan survivor of the Battle of Thermopylae; character-driven, soldiers, realistic, insightful)

Denise Benson