Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Very Red Blogpost

Coincidentally, I read two red books in a row. And the dork in my can't resist blogging about them together.

Rose Sees Red-- Cecil Castellucci

It's the early 80s and Rose is your typical teen age girl trying to carve out her own identity and place in the world. When she decided to sacrifice popularity in order to attend an arts-based high school, she didn't realize how lonely it would be. Even her love for dance can't mask the depression she feels. One evening, her next door neighbor (with whom she's never had a conversation) climbs through her bedroom window. Yrena is Russian born, and lives an extremely protected life. Yrena decided to ditch her body guards for just one night, and she and Rose take on New York City with a vigor that can only come when you free yourself from your personal prisons. It's a nice story, and engaging, but not really groundbreaking in any way. I do wonder how much teens will be able to relate to the story. The U.S.S.R/USA tension that was rampant in the 80s isn't really felt now, and that is a key component to the story.

Sisters Red-- Jackson Pearce

What if Little Red Riding Hood wasn't a squeeky little girl who obliviously traipsed through the woods only to be saved by the big brave woodcutter? What if she was a hatchet-wielding, one eyed, scarred up badass? Wouldn't that story be so much better?

Scarlet and Rosie March are Fenris (werewolf) hunters. When their grandmother was brutally murdered by a Fenris, and Scarlet was brutally mutilated defending her sister, the sisters red were born into a new destiny. Killing Fenris is Scarlet's entire reason for living, and she wants to make sure her sister Rosie will never be hurt... and Rosie herself is quite skilled with a knife. Scarlet shelters Rosie to the point of smothering, and Rosie decides that she and her knives need some action of their own. But when Rosie falls for the woodcutter's son, and gangs of Fenris descend upon the city, the life Scarlet has designed for them falls apart. Plenty of love and plenty of gore... I think this book will please fans of Twilight and other romance/horror novels.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty-- G. Neri and Randy DuBurke, Illustrator

Robert Sandifer is 11 years old. Everyone calls him Yummy because he has a sweet tooth that just won't quit. He lives with his grandma in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. He's just a little guy, a shortie, only 4 feet tall and maybe 60 pounds. Yummy still sleeps with a teddy bear. And Yummy shot a 14 year old girl. He shot her with a gun that was given to him by his mentors, members of the gang Black Disciples.

Yummy has an extraordinarily hard life. His father is in prison. His abusive mother has been in and out of jail for drugs and prostitution over 40 times. Yummy learned that the only way to be safe was to have a gang watching out for you. But being a part of the Black Disciples has it's price and Yummy paid it in the fullest.

This powerful graphic novel is short, but compelling; you really feel for Yummy. He was a criminal by the age of 11, but still completely a child. He was used and abused by almost everyone who entered his life, and his loyalty to his chosen family, his gang, only led to betrayal. In a situation as horrific as Yummy's, it's hard to blame him for his actions... yet an innocent girl was dead and he shot her. So how is that not his fault?

Oh, and did I mention that this is a true story? Robert "Yummy" Sandifer really did live in Chicago and this incident happened in 1994. While the topic of this story is mature and could be hard to handle for some youth, the pictures and description of events are appropriate even for younger teens. I would recommend this to teens who want true stories, reluctant readers who aren't afraid of the topics covered within, and teens who like gritty street stories.