Thursday, June 24, 2010


June is still GLBT pride month!

This is the second of two posts to celebrate pride month.  The previous post was two weeks ago here.  Realizing that these are the only four books in my GLBT repertoire I'd better get reading!

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Lethe Press, 2008
ISBN: 9781590211304
204 pages

In a small town, a lonely teen walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road.  Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face not only the ghost but youthful dreams and childish fears.  With its cast of offbeat friends, antiques and Ouija boards, Vintage offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love that is not your typical teen romance.

 The cover of this books is what originally caught my eye.  I was a bit surprised to discover the protagonist was gay.  Somehow I missed that information in the description.  In any case, I'd dub this novel a "paranormal romance" about a somewhat typical mixed up teen, and, oh yeah, he's gay.  Admittedly, the relationship between the ghost and the teen gets a little strange, but that's what you get!

The Blue Lawn by William Taylor
Alyson Books, 1999
ISBN: 1555834930
122 pages

David is 15 and the star player of his school's rugby team.  Sixteen-year-old Theo is an outsider, attractive but not altogether likable, and not particularly interested in making friends.  In this award-winning novel set in New Zealand, initial hostility between the boys turns into an unlikely friendship--which masks a growing attraction that neither boy understands.  In the pages of The Blue Lawn, author William Taylor explores the angst, confusion, and desires experienced by gay teens the world over.  Whether your are a young adult or a not-so-young adult you will identify with and be swept away by David and Theo's engaging relationship.

I originally picked up this novel as a result of my banned books reading spree that I mentioned previously.  This novel follows the lives of two boys.  They start off as boys being boys, but the reader experiences the gradual shift and understanding of the narrator as it becomes something more.  Of the four, this is probably the most honest depiction of the confusion and awkwardness befalling questioning teens.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Listen Up

June is audiobook month!

Celebrate this month by listening to an audiobook!  What's fantastic is that as technology has improved so have your options for fulfilling your desire to listen.  You can go old school and listen to books on cassette (this is how I personally am "reading" a favorite mystery series), or if cassettes are as outdated to you as records, well there's always books on CD.  

Oh you like media that's more "on demand."  No problem, just download an audiobook from sites like Overdrive or Netlibrary (these or similar databases might be available from your local library).  Amazon even offers downloadable audiobooks from  Here's the link for Treason by Don Brown and the results page where I found it on Amazon.

Downloadable material gives you portability, but what about not having to worry about how to get it off your iPod? Or maybe you're not as tech savvy? For that you should check out Playaways.  These self-contained MP3 players hold one book for your listening pleasure.  

In the spirit of the celebration of audiobook month, I have decided to make use of the new playaway technology and listen to my very first one.  I utilize books on CD and cassette in my car and at home, but have never listened to a playaway.  Hopefully Pirate Latitudes is a good listen!

Teens are not often encouraged to make use of audiobooks.  Some people even refer to it as "cheating."  This is a stance that desperately needs changing.  It's a good start to instill an interest in reading with the use of audio formats.  Hearing words can be as helpful to students as reading them.  Besides, not all books are available in audio formats, and many assignments and such are in print formats.  So traditional reading will not be lost.

Want to encourage your teens to listen up?  Here's a good place to start: Audiobook Community.  This recent development is modeled after social networking sites to bring together those who love to have others read to them.  There are various groups available to join.  One group of particular interest is Sync: YA Listening.  The individuals in this group share ideas and strategies for encouraging audiobook listening among teens.  Also, beginning in July Sync will be offering two free audiobooks a week until the beginning of September.  So check it out and encourage your teens to listen up!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month!

It's important for both boys and girls to read novels portraying sexually confused and or curious characters.  It allows them to work out their own feelings of confusion and curiosity.  

I'll admit, I read these books a while back when I decided to read banned books to see if they were as horrible as challengers made them seem.  Usually the reason was "Oh my gosh! Gay People!" To which I respond: *steps onto soap box* Get over it!  Teens really have to deal with these issues and its important for them to have resources available that (as I guess I said above) allow them to safely and confidently work through their feelings. *steps off soap box*

Below are two titles that provide such characters and situations.

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
HarperTeen, 2003
ISBN: 0060012234
226 pages

I knew that any wrong action, however slight, could reveal my true identity...

Russel is still going on dates with girls.  Kevin would do anything to prevent his teammates on the baseball team from finding out.  Mine and Terese tell everyone they're just really good friends.  But after a while, the truth's hard to hide--at least from each other--so they from the "Geography Club."  Nobody else will come.  Why would they want to?  Their secret should be safe.

Set in a typical high school, this novel provides a real look at how difficult it is to keep this type of secret.  These kids create a "Geography Club" in order to meet and discuss their sexuality related troubles.  Problems arise when a few other heterosexual students decide to join the club too.  Who knew geography would be interesting to people?

I like this book for its realistic experience.  Characters come to an understanding about themselves and show that falling in and out of love hurts whether its with someone of the same or opposite sex.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003
ISBN: 0375824006
185 pages

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: the cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he's found the one his heart is made for.  Until he blows it.  The school bookie says the odds are 12 to 1 against getting Noah back, but Paul's not giving up without playing his love really loud.  His best friend Jon might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon...but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

In this celebration of love in all forms, David Levithan has crafted a world full of engaging and enduring characters that readers will want to visit again and again.

Tinged with magical realism, Boy Meets Boy offers a perfect world scenario where teens are accepting and understanding of differences.  It provides an escape to a place where sexuality is always accepted and right for the individual.  Even with the perfect world, Tony's character is fearful is the repercussions of admitting his sexuality to his parents.  They are zealously religious and poor Tony feels (and is) trapped. 

My only problem with this novel is the cover.  I realize it is a love story and blue is a "boy" color, but the combination of a slightly darker baby blue and candy hearts screams femininity and could definitely steer boys away.