Sunday, August 22, 2010

The unexpected benefits of studying

Over the past week I've been working feverishly on my latest uni assignment, writing a paper arguing the case for the inclusion of contemporary realistic fiction in school library collections.

An unexpected side benefit has been the fact that I have read four different children's/young adult novels to prepare my case.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham is a devastatingly beautiful book. I cried rivers of tears reading it.

Tessa is 16 years old and dying. Once she knows that she has no more treatment options, she writes a list of ten things that she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex.

I give this book ***** five stars. It's beautifully written, emotionally affecting, and provides the reader with lots of opportunities to reflect on life and death.

Recommended for older teens and adults.

Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught is the story of a fat girl whose boyfriend decides to have gastric bypass surgery in an effort to lose weight.

I give **** four stars to this story, told via Jamie's school newspaper column, of how a fat girl comes to terms with her place within a world where she is defined by her weight.

Recommended for teens.

I recommend Grace by Morris Gleitzman for pre-teens and younger teens.

**** four stars to this delightful read.

Grace and her family are happy members of a strict, fundamentalist Christian church, until her father is expelled for being too free-thinking.

A great novel for exploring ideas of faith, honesty and family.

Muffin top by Andrew Daddo is a wonderful book for children and pre-teens. **** four stars!

Ashton's mum writes for a newspaper, and has been given the opportunity to have a makeover and write a story about it. The problem for Ashton is, the whole family must get involved, having before and after photos taken at a professional photographer's studio, and spending a week at a health farm.

A great story for thinking about body image and family issues, and would make a great read-aloud.

So how's that for a silver lining? Alls well that ends well, and all that!

I hope you've been enjoying your reading too.

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