Daughter of War

Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk
Daughter of War
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, c.2008. 210p. Trade Paperback, $14.95 CAD, ISBN: 9781554550449
Grade 9 and up
Reviewed by: Christine Oosterhof
Popularity: 4p

Daughter of War is the fictional story of 3 Armenian teens living during the Armenian genocides of the early twentieth century.  Marta is in her mid-teens.  She has been lives in a German missionary-run orphanage with her sister, Mariam.  She has fallen in love with and is betrothed to Kevork, another Armenian orphan living in the orphanage.  When the Turkish soldiers come to inspect the orphanage the teens are discovered and sent away as adults.  Marta cuts off all of her hair and poses as a boy.  Mariam, a beautiful girl is carried off by one of the soldiers.  Marta is discovered to be a girl, becomes one of several wives in a harem and is expecting a child.  Kevork is marched to near certain death into the desert with nothing but his will to see his beloved Marta again to keep him alive…

Daughter of War is a heart-wrenching, beautiful story of both the horrors and the wonders the human spirit is capable of.  Skrypuch creates realistic, relateable characters that guide the reader into the story set in a foreign time and place.  Because of it’s accessibility, Daughter of War is ideal for introducing the realities of genocide to high school students and creates a jumping off place for discussions on a variety of topics including war, religion, genocide, abortion and teen marriage.

Daughter of War was a 2009 Ontario Library Association White Pine nominee.


Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Teen Manga Program

I was recently asked to develop a program for teens for a job interview. I thought I would change the name of the library and post it here for anyone who might want to look at it or use it.  Let me know what you think whether you are a teen or a teen librarian

Manga Club Night Poster

Program designed by Christine Oosterhof
Manga Club night @ HTL

Introduction: With the growing popularity of manga among young adults there is a demand for more information and programming related to manga culture.  This program seeks to address this demand and possibly to start an ongoing manga discussion club in the future.

Advertisement: Begin 3 weeks in advance but allow teens to sign up until the day before the event.
Create posters to put around the library (especially near the manga section), on community bulletin boards, in (comic) bookstores and at community centres and sports complexes.

Get your Teen advisory board involved.  Word of mouth is the best way to get teens involved in these kinds of events.
As part of the reference interview mention the program to teens.

The Program:
This program (staff/volunteer permitting) is organized into stations.  There are 4 stations that the teens can visit in whichever order they choose.

1. Shounen Station:  Shounen is the genre of manga that targets young men.  (that being said many girls like shounen and boys like shoujo) The staff member in charge of this station will “book talk” a couple of Shounen manga and then open the floor for questions and discussion.  Teens who have brought their own manga may also wish to present in an informal manner.  There would also be a display of the library’s Shounen holdings

2. Shoujo Station: Shoujo is the genre of manga that targets young women.  Same as above.

3. Graphic Novel Station:  Graphic novels are complete stories told in the manga style.  Same as above

4. Learn to draw anime characters:  Using books from the library students can learn how to draw their favourite manga characters and create some new manga characters.

Anime viewing: After the teens have visited the stations an episode of an anime television show will be viewed in Japanese with English subtitles.  Snacks and drinks will be served.

Staff: Librarians, Library Assistants and volunteers from the Teen advisory board will conduct the program.

Materials/Equipment: Tables (4), chairs (lots), TV, DVD player, anime program (from the collection if possible or from staff private collections), various types of manga (from the collection), plates, cups, napkins.

Cost: $30 – $40 (depending on registration numbers) Drinks and Snacks.  Drinks and snacks could have a Japanese theme depending on budget and preferences of the Teen Advisory Board.

少女Manga Club Night @ HTL!

Do you love Manga?

Are you interested in learning more about it?

少年If so come and join us to discuss your favourite characters, artists and types of Manga. We will also be viewing a classic Anime TV show in Japanese (with subtitles of course)


Where: Hypothetical Teen Library – Main Branch

When: Wednesday July 8, 2009 @ 7pm

Who: Any teens who are interested in Manga

Why: Because Manga is cool!

Cost: Free!!!

What to bring: Nothing but your appetite and your favourite manga

There will be snacks!


Filed under Services for teens

Review: Tweaked

Holubitsky, Katherine
Victoria, B.C.: Orca Publishing, c.2008. 179p. Paperback, $9.95CAD, ISBN:978-1-55143-851-1
Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Christine Oosterhof
Popularity: 4P

Tweaked is the story of Gordie Jessup, a young guy with a big problem.  Gordie’s brother, Chase, is a Meth head and Chase’s addiction is tearing his family apart.  As Gordie deals with the regular problems of adolecence – girls, bands, school – he also has to live with a brother who lies and steals and manipulates everyone.

Gordie does his best to keep his head above water in the face of impossible situations caused by his brother.  His parents hope Gordie will clean up and move on but then something horrible happens…

Written by Canadian author Katherine Holubitsky, Tweaked is a realistic story of how drug addiction affects the entire family of the addict. Told from the perspective of Chase’s younger brother, the reader follows Gordie through the stages of anger, denial, sadness and ultimately acceptance.  This book is high interest and low reading level.  I recommend it for any teen reader grade 9 and up.  Tweaked was a 2009 White Pine Award nominee.


Filed under Reviews

Creating teen book discussion using del.ici.ous

Recently I did a group project where I set up a an imaginary teen library book discussion club using social software.  (Imaginary because I am currently just out of school and haven’t found a job yet) 😦  We used del.ici.ous, a social software application which people use to tag and recommend articles from the internet.  We decided to put a different spin on the “normal” use for this application though.  Teens are using other applications like Twitter to communicate in bite sized portions.  Morsels of whit and comm.  In the past blogs, like this one, have been used to encourage teens to talk about books and recommend books while remaining virtually anonymous.  Using del.ici.ous our team used a tag cloud on the teen library web page to organize bite sized reviews of teen books written by “teens”* for teens.

Here is how it works.  The library creates a del.ici.ous account strictly for their teen community.  The library also creates a unique “tag” that teen library users will use to tag relevant content.  It is important that the tag be unique and easy to remember.  I recommend using your library name and something that indicates it is a teen group.  For example our team might have used “hypotheticalteentags“.  The next order of business is to add some content to the tag cloud.  Get your teen librarians, teen advisory board or any teens you know to start busily adding their favourite books, movies, games, magazines etc. with mini-captions about what they liked/didn’t like about the items.  Also make sure they understand tagging and make sure they do it. 🙂

Tagging is the whole point here so don’t let the application’s top feature go to waste.  For a teen library tags should be natural.  This means that teens should be allowed to tag an item with whatever they deem relevant.  No controlled vocabulary here please!  😉 As the tag cloud grows you may even find your teens have developed their own “youthsonomy”!  It is also very important that teens know to tag any relevant content with the unique teen tag ie. hypotheticalteentags and their own personal tag ie. steeny888 (that’s me).

Okay so you have teens tagging to their hearts content now comes your part as the teen librarian.  In order to make sure that your tag cloud doesn’t get hijacked by a company or worse, it is important to keep the passwords to your delicious account a secret.  This is where the unique teen tag comes in.  You, the librarian, subscribe to the unique tag.  This will ensure that everything tagged by your users comes “across your desk”.  When you receive a tagged article, book, movie review etc. READ IT! 😉  Then tag it in the library account.  Then it will appear on the library tag cloud.

There are two important reasons why we felt it was important to read the tagged items and the reviews.  First you can weed out any inappropriate items like commercial tags, pornography, hate messages etc.   Secondly you can and should add a comment especially if you also enjoyed that book/movie/ article.  Most importantly though this is a window into what your teens are reading, watching, playing and it will teach you a lot about your community.  If a post is relevant never never never change what or how the tagger has tagged.  Also make sure the tagger’s tag name appears in the post.  Taggers, over time, will begin to respect the opinions of certain like-minded taggers and seek out their recommendations.  It is important that your teens have individual voices even if they are secret identities.

Anyway that is the project.  I’d be happy to hear your ideas and comments.

The team was comprised of four people:

Lorna Huiskamp,
Kay (Kaori Sato) ,
Lisa Bianchetto
and Christine Oosterhof (me)

*Of course without a real library we didn’t have any real teens so all the tags were created by the above group members

Leave a comment

Filed under Services for teens

The Shack By William P. Young

After hearing all the hype about The Shack by William P Young, I decided I needed to give it a read to see what the fuss is all about.  After finishing the book and digesting it for a few days I am still in awe that it has seen such wide readership and apparently much of it by teens.  I will say right off that this book was not my cup of tea but in saying that I can think of a few people I would recommend it to that would love it.  If you haven’t read it here is a list of the kinds of people I think will enjoy it.

– people who have a strong relationship with the Christian God (especially but not limited to Catholics)
– people who have recently suffered the loss of a member of their family
– people who are struggling with the question – If God loves humans why does (He) allow bad things to happen?
– people who are interested in reading about Christian Faith

This book discusses some very difficult issues in Christianity and does a very good job of explaining issues especially if your faith is already half way there.  Although this book has some indicators that it is up-to-date in its treatment of certain issues, these struck me as a modern dressing for very old-school ideology. (that is not a criticism just and observation).

The Shack is a compelling story of God’s love for human kind and how Christians can return that love with faith and good living.

Young, William P. (2007) The Shack. Windblown Media: Los Angeles.


Filed under Reader response, Reviews

Adult books for Teens: What are they and where can we find them?

Adult books for young adult readers are books that are written and marketed for adults but have an appeal to a teen audience.  We often talk about what makes a teen book a ‘teen book’ the list of often cited characteristics includes: stories with young adult protagonists, subject matter and story lines that teens can relate to and stories about transition and outsiders.  Young adult fiction often reflects the angst and challenges of youth and often incorporates edgy content.  Adult books that appeal to young adult readers will have some if not all of these characteristics.  YA stories can span all the genres of fiction and the same can be said for Adult books for teens.
Compiling lists of adult books that appeal to teen readers is important for many reasons.  Margaret Alexander Edwards (Cater, 2002), a pioneer of young adult librarianship in Baltimore, Maryland, cited two important reasons for why she thought librarians should recommend adult books to teens.  The first reason was that they bridged the gap between teen books and adult books.  By selecting the right books Edwards thought she could foster as much enthusiasm in adult books as her students had in teen books.  The second reason was that high school librarians may not select adult books, especially controversial titles, without the “tacit approval of the American Library Association” (2002).  It should be noted here that Edwards started out as a librarian in the 1930’s.  At that time the sophistication and sheer volume of young adult-centered fiction was not yet what it is today.  However, Carter (2002) maintains that even today lists of adult books for teens are important for fostering enthusiasm in adult literature.  I agree with this assessment.  Carter (1997) also says that it is important for a youth librarian to know the differences between adult and young adult books and make appropriate suggestions when doing reader’s advisory.  After all, young adult readers are reading adult books; young adult librarians should be prepared to suggest others they might enjoy.  I think it is important to have a list of adult non-fiction books to recommend to teen readers as well.  The number of non-fiction books written for young adults has been increasing however; most of the books used by high school students for curriculum based projects are aimed at an adult audience.

To highlight the importance of recognizing and recommending adult books for teens, the Alex Awards were created in 1998.  The Alex Awards are presented to ten titles annually in both fiction and non-fiction categories.  The Alex Awards are named after Margaret Alexander Edwards and are funded by the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust.  When she died in 1988 she left the trust to be used for an “experiment with ways to promote young adult reading” (Carter, 2002).

The titles are selected by the YALSA Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force based on a list of criteria. The Task Force in charge of selection decided there would be a greater variety with more balance between fiction and non-fiction and the various genres if there were ten winners (ALA, 2009).   Titles must be published in the calendar year prior to the announcement, must come from a publisher’s adult list, selected from genres that have special appeal to young adults, are potentially appealing to teenagers and are well written and very readable.  Works of joint authorship or editorship are eligible as are books published in other countries in English or in the United States in translation (ALA, 2009).

The 2009 winners of the Alex Awards are:
City of Thieves, by David Benioff
The Dragons of Babel, by Michael Swanwick,
Finding Nouf, by Zoë Ferraris
The Good Thief, by Hannah Tinti,
Just After Sunset: Stories, by Stephen King,
Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan
Over and Under, by Todd Tucker
The Oxford Project, by Stephen G. Bloom
Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow
Three Girls and Their Brother, by Theresa Rebeck

These books appeal to teens for a variety of reasons and they come from a variety of genres.  Most of the fiction titles have a teenage protagonist.  For example, City of Thieves is about two teenage boys, Finding Nouf is about a sixteen year old girl who is murdered and Over and Under is about two fourteen year old boys.   These books also keep within the definitions of YA literature in the subject matter and story lines.  These books are about friendship, misfits, adventure and success in the face of adversity.  These titles also display the requisite edgy content.  City of Thieves has cannibals, murderers, prostitutes, and assassins, Just After Sunset: Stories is a collection of vulgar stories and Sharp Teeth is a about drugs and gangs, sex… oh yeah, and vampires!

As you can see these books although written and marketed for adults have strong appeal for a young adult audience.  As an interesting note, YALSA also has a list of books that are young adult books that could be adult: these include Dangerous Angels by Francesca Block, America: A Novel by ER Frank, and The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (YALSA, 2009).

Here are the different lists adult books with appeal to young adult readers that I found.  Happy Hunting!
Booklist recommends adult books suitable for teen readers in every issue. Books are marked in three categories:  YA (for general readers), YA/M (for mature YA readers), YA/L (for limited or special readers), or YA/C (indicates the book has special curriculum value) (Carter, 1997).  Booklist also prints the annual Alex awards for National Library Week (YALSA, 2009).  School Library Journal has a section called adult books for high school students, Resource Links, a Canadian journal, also has lists of adult books for young adult readers.  Finally, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) publishes 3 useful lists annually: Clueless? (Adult mysteries), The Best SF, Fantasy and Horror and The Best Adult Nonfiction For High School Libraries.


American Library Association (ALA) (2009). ALA | Alex Awards policies and procedures.   Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/alexawards/alexawardpolicie          s.cfm

Cart, M. Young adult literature comes of age.  In Pavonetti, L.M. (ed) Children’s literature remembered: Issues, trends and favorite books. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Carter, B.  The Alex Awards: Introduction and list in: Edwards, M.A. (2002) The fair garden and the swarm of beasts: The library and the young adult. Chicago: American Library Association.

Carter, B. (1997). Adult books for young adults. The English Journal, 86(3). 63-67.

Engberg, G. Choosing adult romances for teens. Booklist  101(2). P 237.

Mackey, M. et al (2006). Adult Canadian Books for Strong Teenage Readers. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://www.ualberta.ca/~mmackey/adultbooklist.pdf

Mooney, B. (2002). Writing through the ages. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://www.belmooney.co.uk/journalism/writing_ages.html

Thompson, J. (2005). Crossover Books. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://ccb.lis.illinois.edu/Projects/yalit/jsthomps/home.htm

Wakenshaw, H. (n.d.) Crossover Books in American Book Centre (n.d.) American Book Centre. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://www.abc.nl/news/index.php?nldate=1&nlid=1

Young Adult Library Services Association (2006).  YALSA 2006 President’s Program “How Adult is Young Adult: The Sequel”. Retrieved on February 17, 2009 from  http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsaPresProgramyaasadulthandout.pdf

Leave a comment

Filed under Other assignments

My Booktalk

This is my book talk for Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1