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Karen's Young Adult Book Reviews
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The Earth, My Butt, and Other.../Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal .../Chocolate War

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<DIV><FONT color=#336600 size=2>The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things

Virginia is a high school student. She has what seems to be the perfect family. She thinks she is the only one that doesn't fit the mode. She is concerned about typical things as a girl, her weight, her love life, and her family. Virginia is slightly overweight which concerns her mother more than it does her. Her best friend has moved away, and she feels alone. She falls in love with a boy who has a rather unusual name, Froggy Welsh the Fourth. She has an undercover romance with him for awhile, until she finds out that her brother has committed a crime against a girl he has dated. She admires her brother greatly and swears off boys completely from the hurt she has to contend with through her brother's actions. She comes up with rules of ethics for being overweight. She avoids others who talk about her and finds that she is not the only one with a problem. When she discovers one of her rivals has anorexia, she feels compassion. She eventually decides that her weight problem isn't an issue to her as long as she is happy with herself.

Mackler's book is a humorous work of insight that clearly shows how teenagers have to cope with others, mainly the stereotypical parent who is always trying to change them in some form or the other. The story covers many areas of concern in teen life today, such as date rape, being overweight, and parental pressure to be different. The personal narration of the character Virginia makes it seem more personal through her journal entries and emails to her friend. She portrays Virginia as someone who clearly decides to stand up for what she wants and show everyone she is comfortable with herself, which is probably an insight that teen readers are looking for in themselves and what they read.

Mackler writes in such a way that the reader can see Virginia not just a character, but as a real life person. She gives readers a sense of hope that even though things seem to be impossible, there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

One teen reviewer wrote, "This is one of the few books that I have read that actually captures what it's like to be a teenager and what teenagers actually go through (weight issues, boyfriends, sibling rivalary, etc...)"; Another wrote, "I loved how Virginia thought and the way she was so easy to relate to." http://www.amazon.com.

Mackler's viewpoint is a superb insight into the mind of an adolescent. The story line makes the reader want to read more.

Sources

Book reviews. Available from http://www.amazon.com.

Mackler, Carolyn. 2003. <EM>The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.</EM> Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763619582.







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Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging

Georgia writes a journal of her life for an entire year. She is a typical high school girl, that is not all that pretty who desires to have a boyfriend. She helps introduce one of her friends to a boy in a grocery store and finds the perfect boy for herself. One that is handsome and everything she desires. From the title, you find that Angus is a cat, a horrible cat, that loves to terrorize not only people but also the neighbor's dog, thongs are underwear that Georgia finds hideous, and snogging, of all things, is kissing. Georgia attends an all girl school, while the boy's school is very nearby. She has a three year old sister who cannott talk very well and invades her space. Her parents and uncle seem to be a complete bother to her, and she detests some of the things her uncle says to her, as he seems to have forgotten that she is no longer a little girl. She winds up with a boy who is not what is called socially acceptable and makes the boy she likes, Robbie, wonder about the company she keeps. She hates his girlfriend, whom she wishes he would dump for her. She takes lessons from a boy who teaches snogging to girls. Eventually, her cat disappears, her dad takes a job elsewhere and wants to send for the family, and she decides to go too since her life is not what she wants. In the end of course, Georgia wins.

Louise Rennison captures the essence of a teen girl and her dilemma of life. One of Georgia's life dilemmas is she considers herself less than pretty and wanting the love of her life to pay attention to her. It is hilarious in the fact that it reminds the reader of what it is like to&nbsp;be a teenage girl and a wishful thinker. Maybe most typical Americans do not understand the British lingo, but then again maybe teens of today do know. She includes a glossary at the back just in case you do not know what snogging or tosser actually means. Rennison sprouts humor&nbsp;on almost every page. The novel moves at a fast pace with the diary that Georgia uses to record her life. The story is so intriguing that it becomes a novel you just can not put down.

One reader enjoyed the book so much, she stated, "Just lose yourself in this enjoyable piece of fiction for a day and you will find yourself laughing out loud and looking for someone to share the many hysterical bits of Georgia's life."&nbsp;She also states, "The scenarios are endless as well as hilarious." Another reader comments, "For months, I had seen this book shadow the shelves of stores wherever I went. The somewhat inappropriate series name title provided an ultimate taboo upon it- though I was tempted to buy it many times. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer and just purchased it! I opened up to find a girl of whom many teen girls, such as myself, can relate to... well... in most cases..." (http://www. Amazon.com).

Rennison definitely captured the teenage girl in such a delightfully humoristic light that this is one novel that readers will love to see a sequel appear.

Mackler's viewpoint is a superb insight into the mind of an adolescent. The story line makes the reader want to read more.

Sources

Book Reviews. Available from http://www.amazon.com

Rennsion, Louise. 1999. <EM>Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson.</EM> London: Picadilly Press Ltd. ISBN: 006028871X.</FONT></DIV>

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The Chocolate War

Jerry is the new student in Trinity school, a religious school for boys. As part of an initiation in the Vigils, Jerry has to perform an assignment given to him. The school takes part in a chocolate sale every year to raise money for the school. The acting administrator tells Archie, the Vigil assigner, that the school must have the backing of the Vigils in order to succeed in the chocolate sale. Archie is a known bully in the school and most of the boys are scared of him. They take their assignments because they fear the Vigils and do not want to be ostracized by them or the entire school. The chocolate sale had doubled two ways from the year before. Each student was to sell fifty boxes of the chocolate, previously they had sold only twenty-five and they were to charge two dollars a box instead of the previous one dollar. Jerry's assignment was to refuse the chocolates for the first ten days of the sale. Jerry decides after the ten days to still refuse to sell the chocolates and not only outrages Brother Leon but the Vigils as well. This leads to serious complications for Jerry, even almost to the point of death.

Cormier captures the typical bully in the school world not only at the time of his writing this story, but of a bully in the school system today. The book takes on a serious note when Jerry is terribly hurt in football practice for refusing to sell the chocolates to the heart wrenching assault he takes from Janza. Cormier makes the reader want to step up and defend poor Jerry and take on hating the Vigils and Brother Leon for their participation in the beating of Jerry. Then Cormier has the reader jumping for joy at the way Brother Jacques steps up to control the situation of the fighting at the end. The story line leaves the readers with a longing for Archie to get what is coming to him, but the story ends with the realization that Archie too had won. The language is less than what you would expect from a religious school setting and the practices of the teachers, as well as the students, tend to make the reader question what really could go on in any school setting where even those who are supposed to be protectors of the students actively participate in the dirty dealings of the aggressive students. An obvious case of abuse of power shows up in the situation.

The story is very suspenseful, but shows human frailty along with cruelty that is possibly faced on school campuses.

According to American Library Association, The Chocolate War was one of the most challenged books last year because of its sexual content, language, its perspective on religion, and horrible violence (http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com). The book drew numerous complaints from mostly parents.

One reader writes, "The Chocolate War story made me laugh, made me think, and also made me mad. This story unlocks many secrets about public and private schools. Many of the issues that were revealed in The Chocolate War are in our daily school life. Problems between students and other students, and teachers with students. This story is not just revealing real life situations but also gives out a message to all students who are being influenced by certain groups of people in school. Don"t let your self get bullied around, if you don't want to do something your being forced to do, just do what Jerry did and stand up for what you want. Even if you have to confront the whole school" (http://www.amazon.com).

Cormier presented the school scene in a light that some of us don't really want to see or want to know what happens. Especially when it tends to bring out memories of the Columbine shooting where others couldn't take the bullying they received and took matters into their own hands.

Sources

Book Reviews. Available at http://www.amazon.com.

'Chocolate War'is Most Challenged. 2005. School Library Journal. April. http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA514029.html. Accessed on June 18, 2005.

Cormier, Robert. 1974. The Chocolate War. New York: Pantheon. ISBN:0440944597.

Created by K. Braswell for LS5623 at Texas Woman's University.