Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Review: Rapunzel's Revenge

A Book Review of:
Image from GoodReads.com

Rapunzel's Revenge, Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale

It's a GRAPHIC NOVEL! Woo-hoo!
Awards: American Library Association Notable Books for Children AND Young Readers' Choice Award


Rapunzel was taken from her parents by Mother Gothel when she was a baby, and Rapunzel has grown up thinking that Gothel is her real mom.  She lives inside a palace with giant walls surrounding it, and she’s not allowed to see the other side. She finally sneaks to the other side and sees that everything beyond the palace walls is dead—the land is completely barren.  And she sees thousands of workers from the mine lined up to get a drink of water. It turns out that one of them is her real mother.

When she confronts Gothel about this, she is put into a prison cell at the top of a tall magical tree. She’s there for several years and her hair grows long enough that she can finally use it as a rope to escape. She meets an outlaw named Jack who agrees to help her get back to Mother Gothel’s palace.  Along the way, Rapunzel (or Punzie as Jack likes to call her) figures out that she can do a lot more than she can be a pretty good wrangler using her hair as a lasso, and she wants to get vengeance on the woman who stole her from her mother, imprisoned her, and made everyone’s lives in the kingdom miserable.

Hale, S. & Hale, D. (2008). Rapunzel's revenge. New York, NY: Bloomsbury. 

I love the Hales' take on this classic fairy tale. It's adventurous, fun, and transforms the Rapunzel from a quiet obedient woman waiting to be rescued in her high tower to a proactive girl with high hopes for rescuing her real mother and the rest of the kingdom from Mother Gothel's evil nature. It also makes Mother Gothel an even more villainous villain because she is a dictator witch ruling over the land which she controls because of her ability to make things grow or not grow. The budding feelings between Rapunzel and Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk tales) also show how awkward they both can be about confronting their feelings, but this also stops their feelings from taking over the plot. The artistry of the novel is very eye-catching and compliments the text well, conveying emotions and certain actions without words. It's a great way to get reluctant readers reading. Because graphic novels are considered "cooler" than regular books by many children and teens, this lends a certain appeal. It is also appealing because it's a familiar story, but it clearly has Rapunzel as a heroine, which girls will enjoy reading about. But just because it's got a female lead doesn't mean this graphic novel won't appeal to boys either! After book talking this at our library, it was clear that it was a popular choice among all teens, and having won the Young Readers' Choice Award, I'd say this backs that up. Boys will like the amount of adventure and action in the book, and the funny parts as well as the girls will. It's a great read for everyone.

Professional Reviews:

"The popular author of Princess Academy teams with her husband and illustrator Hale (no relation) for a muscular retelling of the famously long-haired heroine's story, set in a fairy-tale version of the Wild West. The Hales' Rapunzel, the narrator, lives like royalty with witchy Mother Gothel, but defies orders, scaling villa walls to see what's outside--a shocking wasteland of earth-scarring mines and smoke-billowing towers. She recognizes a mine worker from a recurrent dream: it's her birth mother, from whom she was taken as punishment for her father's theft from Mother G.'s garden. Their brief reunion sets the plot in motion. Mother G. banishes Rapunzel to a forest treehouse, checking annually for repentance, which never comes. Rapunzel uses her brick-red braids first to escape, then like Indiana Jones with his whip, to knock out the villains whom she and her new sidekick, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), encounter as they navigate hostile territory to free Rapunzel's mom from peril. Illustrator Hale's detailed, candy-colored artwork demands close viewing, as it carries the action--Rapunzel's many scrapes are nearly wordless. With its can-do heroine, witty dialogue and romantic ending, this graphic novel has something for nearly everybody."
[Review of the book Rapunzel's revenge, by S. Hale & D. Hale]. (2008, August 4). Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com 

"This version of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel is set in the old Southwest, complete with cowboys, coal mines, and coyotes. Rapunzel is a young girl living in a fortress with Mother Gothel, an enchantress who can make plants grow at her whim. Although their home is overflowing with fruits and flowers, it is surrounded by a wall that masks the desert and coal mines outside-Gothel owns everything, and the native people depend on her good will to keep their crops growing. When Rapunzel sneaks over the wall on her twelfth birthday, she sees the desolate world over which Mother Gothel rules, and she meets her real mother who was forced to give Rapunzel to Gothel at birth. To punish her curiosity, Gothel imprisons Rapunzel inside an enchanted tree that has only one window, far above the ground. Just as in the original version, Rapunzel's hair grows prodigiously. But this girl does not need a prince to climb up and rescue her. She uses her braid as a lasso to escape the tree and goes on many adventures that lead her ultimately to reunite with her mother and find true love in a boy named Jack, whose companion is an uncooperative goose. The Hale team creates an engaging heroine. Rapunzel gallivants across the unexpected setting, meets a cast of characters both humorous and threatening, and in the end comes to inherit the land that Gothel had stripped of life and returns it to the native people. This novel presents entertaining girl power at its quirkiest."
Lehner, L. (2008, October 1). [Review of the book Rapunzel's revenge, by S. Hale & D. Hale]. Voice of Youth Advocates. Retrieved from http://www.voya.com/

Other Uses:

Writing workshops are a great way for kids and teens to show off their talents and become interested in different types of  literature. Why not doing a graphic novel writing workshop? Show off some interesting graphic novels that have become popular lately, such as Rapunzel's Revenge, and then have them brainstorm and create the hero or heroine of their own story.

Then show them how they can create their own drawings, or they can pair up in the workshop with someone to  create a graphic novel. The workshop can be only one session, or it can be multiple sessions (this would be more effective). At the end of the workshop, provide instructions for them to complete the project, or see them through to the end, and have them present their handmade graphic novels for the group to see.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Review: Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science

Image from Goodreads.com
Book Review of:

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science, by John Fleischman


This non-fiction book for children and young adults gives an interesting look at how one man's accident in1848 that sent an iron rod through his brain left him alive, but completely altered in personality. This is Phineas Gage, a man who worked as a foreman in railroad construction until the accident made him lash out in angry bursts, unable to concentrate on tasks, and basically turned him into a different person.  Part description of this incredible accident and part look at how this came to be a huge breakthrough in what doctors and neuroscientists understand about the working of the human brain, readers will enjoy the shock and awe of Phineas' incredible story, as well as learning about medical conditions and practices in the mid-19th century and how the brain works.
Fleischman, J. (2002). Phineas Gage. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

After learning about Phineas Gage in introductory psychology classes at William and Mary, when I saw this on my class reading list, I jumped at the chance to learn more. The book tells Phineas' story in the present active voice from the first sentence, "The most unlucky/lucky moment in the life of Phineas Gage is only a minute or two away," (Fleischman, 2002, p. 1). It gives readers the feel of how the accident went down, and it's truly one of those stories that, although somewhat horrific, is interesting in only the way that terrible accidents can be-- like watching a car accident. But it's not painted in an overly graphic way. Instead, the tone is scientific, and gives great background of the medical practices at the time, as well as information on different kinds of brain injuries, and a history of how doctors learned about the presence of cells and bacteria. After Phineas Gage's obvious wounds were patched, he began acting in a way completely unlike his old self. He was rude, indecisive, crass, foul-mouthed, and angry.  He lost his ability to interact socially. He ended up dying 11 years later from seizures that were probably another consequence of his brain injury from long ago. This remarkable story is not one to miss for any one-- children to adult-- who want to hear an incredible story of a man's accident and understand how the brain works. Alternating text with photographs and diagrams of the brain, this book makes non-fiction engaging and interesting. Complete with a glossary of terms, a list of resources for further reading, and a detailed index, this would be a great book for casual reading or for research.

Professional Reviews:

"Gr. 7-10. Railroad foreman and blasting expert Phineas Gage was hard at work in 1848 when an improperly prepared charge of gunpowder rocketed a three-foot-long iron rod through his brain. Bloodied and blackened, Gage remained coherent and surprisingly relaxed as he rode an oxcart back to town to get help. He survived the accident for nearly a dozen years, though his personality changed drastically: the once amiable man became crude and argumentative. The author combines this believe-it-or-not story with a history of brain research, including everything from phrenology to high-tech tools. The text is vivid, though curiosity seekers drawn in by the promise of a gruesome story will get bogged down in heavier sections on brain physiology and chemistry. The illustrations are well captioned but don't have enough visual interest to attract browsers for more than a moment. Report writers and science buffs will be the book's best audience. A glossary and an annotated bibliography help make this a terrific resource."
Meyer, R. (2002, March 1). [Review of the book Phineas Gage, by J. Fleischman]. Booklist. Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/
"The fascinating story of the construction foreman who survived for 10 years after a 13-pound iron rod shot through his brain. Fleischman relates Gage's "horrible accident" and the subsequent events in the present tense, giving immediacy to the text. He avoids sensationalizing by letting the events themselves carry the impact. The straightforward description of Gage calmly chatting on a porch 30 minutes after the accident, for example, comes across as horrifying and amazing. The author presents scientific background in a conversational style and jumps enthusiastically into such related topics as phrenology, 19th-century medical practices, and the history of microbiology. He shows how Gage's misfortune actually played an intriguing and important role in the development of our knowledge of the brain. The present-tense narrative may cause occasional confusion, since it spans several time periods and dates are not always immediately apparent from the text. Illustrations include historical photographs; one showing the iron bar posed dramatically next to Gage's skull is particularly impressive. Other photos and diagrams help explain the workings of the brain. The work of Gage expert Malcolm Macmillan, cited in the list of resources, seems the likely main source for the quotes and details of Gage's life, but this is not clearly spelled out in the text or appendixes. Like Penny Colman's Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts (Holt, 1997) and James M. Deem's Bodies from the Bog (Houghton, 1998), Phineas Gage brings a scientific viewpoint to a topic that will be delightfully gruesome to many readers."
 Englefried, Steven. (2002, March 1). [Review of the book Phineas Gage, by J. Fleischman]. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/

Other Uses:

 Use this book in a book talk to introduce older children and teens to nonfiction books that might interest them. In this book talk, I would center my books around books that revolve around science, but also the horrific, because these tend to hook reluctant readers. Here are several options of other books to include in such a book talk. Book with pictures and diagrams are often good choices here because reluctant readers can sometimes be overwhelmed by text.

  • Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science, by John Fleischman
  • Bury the Dead: Tombs, Corpses, Mummies, Skeletons, & Rituals, by Christopher Sloan
    • Read my review of this book here-- This book discusses burial practices as uncovered by archaeologists in this book published by the National Geographic Society.
  • Bodies from the Ash, by James Deem
    •  About the bodies in Pompeii and Herculaneum that were recovered from the ashes of Mt. Vesuvius' AD 79 eruption. 
  • Bodies from the Bog, by James Deem
    • About bodies that have been recovered from bogs in Northern Europe.
  • Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch, and What It Takes to Win, by Judy Dutton
    • An international science fair that shows that science fair projects can go WAY beyond growing plants in different kinds of water.

A Review: Bury the Dead

Image from Goodreads.com
Book Review of 

Bury the Dead: Tombs, Corpses, Mummies, Skeletons, & Rituals, by Christopher Sloan
Foreward by Dr. Bruno Frohlich


This non-fiction book for children and young adults describes different burial practices from past cultures up to today's practices for burying the dead. The burial practices covered include prehistoric burials, mummification in Egypt, golden tombs of the Amazons, the thousands of clay soldiers found in a Chinese emperor's tomb, tombs of the Moche lords of Peru, and a modern look at how we bury the dead in our own societies and how they might affect how people view us in the future. This book will satisfy morbid curiosities about ancient burials as well as teach a little anthropology and archaeology to show what scientists make of these remains and how anthropologists interpret them.
Sloan, C. (2002). Bury the dead. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society.

Taking a topic and a book cover that will draw in lots of inquisitive minds, this National Geographic book by Christopher Sloan does a great job of introducing different burial practices throughout history to children and young adults. The language is not dumbed or watered down for children. It defines concepts throughout and provides a glossary at the back for easy reference, but also challenges kids to use their minds. With brilliant photographs of real burial practices, as well as imagined drawings of ancient burial rituals, it gives kids a view of the past, and translating that to how anthropologists study the past through scientific techniques in the present.

For kids who are naturally curious about morbid things like all of the things listed on the cover of this book-- tombs, corpses, mummies, skeletons and rituals, it is an enticing book. It is also easy to use and understand.  Each chapter features a case study of burial practices in a different part of the world. Organized from oldest to the present, day, it analyzes different practices in an unbiased way. In addition, the text isn't overwhelming, as it is broken up by great diagrams and photographs and some side bars.  With the type of research you'd expect from a National Geographic book, readers and parents of readers can see that this book is supplied with expert knowledge from very specific fields. Included are a table of contents, an index, and a bibliography that can aid interested readers with further resources.

Professional Reviews:

"Gr. 5-9. Kids will find it hard to resist picking up a book with words like corpses and skeletons in the title. And this one doesn't disappoint. Sloan, an editor at National Geographic magazine and the author of two previous books for children, does a terrific job of providing an intriguing, reader-friendly text that is not overshadowed by the fabulous color photographs from the National Geographic Society's archives. These pictures do not shirk from their subject: a full-page photo of a Peruvian mummy staring out from his burial cloth, his knees raised to his chest; a close-up of a "bog person" clearly showing, as the caption says, skin turned to leather by acidic conditions in the swamp. There are also many pictures of excavations, artifacts, and burial sites. Along with discussions of how and why people bury their dead are chapters on particular peoples and their traditions. There's material on the Egyptians, of course, but also on the Chinese, the terra-cotta soldiers of the Qin dynasty, and the Russian tombs of the Amazon women who lived between 800 and 100 B.C.E. Sloan had access to experts to vet his book, and it shows. This has the ring of authority and the look of quality."
Cooper, I. (2002, December 1). [Review of the book Bury the dead, by C. Sloan]. Booklist. Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/

"Gr 5-9-An exceptionally handsome book on a macabre topic. The lucid text discusses the why of funeral rites and internment and then presents a vista of burials, beginning with the shadowy reaches of far prehistory through the colorful tombs of ancient Egypt, the golden graves of the Scytho-Siberians, the horde of clay warriors surrounding the tomb of the first Qin emperor, and the caparisoned grave of the Moche Lord of Sip ne Peru. The author closes with an investigation into more modern burial practices and speculates on what they may reflect about our relatively recent cultures, with a note on offending ethnic groups when ancient burial sites are disturbed for research. Formal in tone, the book includes location maps; a time line; colorful diagrams; realistic artwork; and an array of clear, color photos (some may find that the close-ups of mummies, fleshless skulls, and other mortal remains make them queasy). For those who have been fascinated with such dynamic titles as James M. Deem's Bodies from the Bog (Houghton, 1998), Donna M. Jackson's The Bone Detectives (Little, Brown, 1996), and Johan Reinhard's Discovering the Inca Ice Maiden (National Geographic, 1998), this title will prove irresistible."
Manning, P. (2002, October 1). [Review of the book Bury the dead, by C. Sloan]. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/  

Other Uses:

Around Halloween, have an educational program at the library for tweens and teens that discusses holidays that celebrate the dead such as All Saints Day, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), and Halloween. Discuss what these holidays used to mean. Use this book to introduce different ways that people have buried their dead.

After a short talk about how people bury and celebrate their dead, do a craft project by making Day of the Dead masks. For a food component, introduce them to "Pan de Muertos" (bread in the shape of a skull and crossbones can be lots of fun!), offerings to the dead of "wine" (AKA grape juice) and bread. You could also take them through a "House of Horror" where they would have a blindfold on and be forced to feel brains! (spaghetti), eyeballs! (peeled grapes), ears! (dried apricots), and skin! (fruit roll ups).


Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Review: Al Capone Does My Shirts

Book Review of 
Image from Goodreads.com

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko

2005 Newbery Honor Book
New York Times Best Seller

In 1935, twelve year old Moose and his family move to Alcatraz Island where his father has taken a job as an electrician. They have moved there to be closer to a special school for Moose's sister, Natalie, who has special needs. Moose is forced to get along with the children on the tiny prison island, including the warden's snotty daughter Piper, who is troublesome and used to getting her way. In addition, Moose is forced to take on the responsibility of caring for his sister every day after school and his mom and dad try to make ends meet working multiple jobs so that they can afford to send Natalie to a school they think may help her fit into society.
Choldenko, G. (2004). Al Capone does my shirts. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Although this book's setting is historic in time and place, it is not slow or bogged down with historic details which can turn some readers (especially young readers) off of historic literature. In addition, the setting-- on Alcatraz in the 1930s, with one of the most legendary criminals in recent American history-- is one that may draw in those reluctant to read historical fiction. Moose is a relate-able character who is forced to grow up too fast because of his sister's mental condition-- she is autistic, and in 1935 there are limited options for his sister Natalie. Although Natalie is actually older than he is (she's 15 but their mother tells everyone she is 10 because of the way she acts), Moose is forced to take care of her, which keeps him from playing baseball after school with friends, and prevents him from feeling like he fits in. He is constantly torn between wanting to be free of his responsibilities and wanting the best thing for Natalie, which ultimately wins out every time. Although this book has serious undertones, it remains humorous throughout, and is a fast and interesting read. Moose is a well-developed character, and the problems he faces-- balancing responsibility with a need for freedom and the ability to act as a kid, make him interesting and his situations realistic.

Professional Reviews:  

"In 1935, notorious gangster Al Capone is one of three hundred convicts housed in the maximum-security penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan also lives on the island. His father has taken a position as an electrician and guard at the prison in hopes that Moose's sister, Natalie, will be accepted at a special school in nearby San Francisco. Not only has Moose been forced to leave friends behind and move with his family to a fortress island, but he also cannot play baseball or make new friends now because he is stuck taking care of his sister whenever he is not in school. Natalie is afflicted with the condition now known as autism, and even at age sixteen, she cannot be left unsupervised. Everyone in the family has been under a strain because of Natalie's special needs. Meanwhile Piper, the warden's pretty, spoiled daughter, makes life complicated for Moose. The island's residents have their laundry done by the convicts, and thrill-seeking Piper drags Moose into her wild stunt of marketing Al Capone's laundry services to their middle school classmates in San Francisco. But when his family desperately needs a break in their efforts to get help for Natalie, Moose knows that only Piper has the connections and the audacity to help him pull off a reckless scheme involving the island's most famous inmate. Choldenko, author of Notes from a Liar and Her Dog (Putnam's, 2001/VOYA August 2001), weaves three As-Alcatraz, Al Capone, and autism-into an excellent historical novel for middle-grade readers. A large, annotated 1935 photograph of Alcatraz Island and an informative author's note give substance to the novel's factual sources."
Hogan, W. (2004, April 1). [Review of the book Al Capone does my shirts, by G. Choldenko]. Voices of Youth Advocacy Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.voya.com/
"Moose’s world is turned upside down when his family moves to Alcatraz Island where his Dad has taken a job as a prison guard. Super-responsible Moose, big for 12, finds himself caught in the social interactions of this odd cut-off world. He cares for his sister who is older, yet acts much younger due to her autism and he finds his life alternating between frustration and growth. His mother focuses all of her attention on ways to cure the sister; his dad works two jobs and meekly accepts the mother’s choices; his fellow island-dwellers are a funny mix of oddball characters and good friends. Basing her story on the actual experience of those who supported the prison in the ’30s—when Al Capone was an inmate—Choldenko’s pacing is exquisite, balancing the tense family dynamics alongside the often-humorous and riveting school story of peer pressure and friendship. Fascinating setting as a metaphor for Moose’s own imprisonment and enabling some hysterically funny scenes, but a great read no matter where it takes place. (lengthy author’s note with footnotes to sources) (Fiction. 11-14)."
 [Review of the book Al Capone does my shirts, by G. Choldenko]. (2004, March 1). Kirkus' Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com

Other Uses:

In this book, Moose writes a letter to Al Capone asking him to help his sister get into the special school. Have young adults write a letter to an historical figure and have them relate it to something about that person. If you want to get really spiffy, have a letter exchange where one teen writes a letter to an historical figure, and another person must answer it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Review: The Case of the Left-handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery

Image from goodreads.com
Book Review of 

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, by Nancy Springer


 Enola Holmes has avoided being sent to boarding school by her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. At fourteen years old in Victorian London she should still be in the care of men, and should be practicing feminine arts of crafts and become a lady worthy of marriage. But Enola has other ideas. Having been left by her mother (because her mother believes she is capable of running her own life), she uses money left to her to open up her own shop to find missing persons and things under a fake name: Dr. Ragostin: Scientific Perditorian. She pretends to be Ivy Meschle, Dr. Ragostin's young secretary, while she in fact solves the cases. She takes on the case of a missing young woman called Miss Cecily who has been in communication with a young merchant's son and expresses to him her leanings toward equality of the classes. Meanwhile, Enola must balance her own feelings of loneliness with her feelings for independence, and try not to be caught by her intelligent brother Sherlock, whom she's sure would send her away to boarding school to make a respectable young lady out of her.
Springer, N. (2007). The case of the left-handed lady. New York, NY: Philomel Books.


 I like this series because you don't need to read the books in order, which is useful when suggesting this books to children because you don't have to rely on having the right one available at all times. Enola is a great character. She's smart and courageous, and wickedly independent. But she isn't stoic, and the reader often commiserates with her loneliness.  I think this book may really connect with kids in middle school-- a time when children often struggle with the need for independence and the need for acceptance and friendship.  Enola's situation-- having a mother who is independent and expects Enola to be the same-- is unique because it allows this young protagonist in a very male-dominant world to be the main character and running her own show, which is very empowering.  Boys and girls alike will appreciate her wittiness and her courage, but young girls will also appreciate the feminist angle of this story set in Victorian England, a notably oppressive time for women seeking independence.  Although it has some of these serious issues, the book remains a light easy mystery, but is historical in setting as well.  Those who appreciate historical settings and commentary would appreciate this book.

Professional Reviews:

"In The Missing Marquess (2006), Springer introduced 14-year-old Enola Holmes, Sherlock's younger sister. In this book, Enola starts her own detective agency in London, complete with costumes and circumventions to hide her age. When a young lady of privilege goes missing, Enola uses several of her personas to find the girl. The mystery, laced with buzzwords of the time, won't have much resonance for contemporary kids, but Enola is beautifully drawn, as are the sights and sounds of late-nineteenth-century London. A surprise reunion for Enola will touch readers."
Cooper, I. (2007, March 15).  [Review of the book The case of the left-handed lady, by N. Springer]. Booklist. Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/

"Young Sherlock Holmes fans will delight in Nancy Springer's sophisticated and absorbing mystery (Philomel, 2007), the second title in a series featuring Enola Holmes, the famed detective's younger sister. Enola, age 14, goes into hiding so as not to be sent to a finishing school by her older brothers. Using disguises, she makes up a detective agency and sets herself up as the secretary, intending to solve the cases herself. A visit from Sherlock Holmes's friend Dr. Watson inadvertently brings her a missing persons mystery to solve. Enola need to keep herself hidden from her brothers and society while braving the dangers of the London streets makes for a fast-paced and suspenseful tale. Narrator Katherine Kellgren is a master at the haughty British accents necessary for the high society of the Victorian era, always keeping a measured and engaging tone."
Bilton, K.T. (2007, December 1). [Review of the book The case of the left-handed lady, by N. Springer]. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/

Other Uses: 

Have a contest at your library where kids must create their own special code to communicate with, which includes a key to the code. Post the five best codes up on a wall to reward those with the most creative or difficult to unlock code, giving them an "Enola Holmes Code" award.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Trailers-- Now showing in select blogs.

When I told people I was working on book trailers, no one seemed to get the concept. It's easy though, I swear. A book trailer is a short video that gives you information about a book the way a movie trailer does for a full length film. It hooks your interest and then makes you want to read it... well, if it's good anyway.

They are great because they get people interested in reading a book that might not have picked up otherwise. It gives you a little more information than the back of the book might, but not enough that it gives the entire plot away.

I've seen some great book trailers out there, and now I've finally done some of my own. It started out being for one of my classes, but it turned out to be a lot of fun (well, minus the citations-- does anyone think citations are fun?). So, I'm hoping to do some more once I get a little more time. Woot!

The book trailers are for Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember, Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, and M.T. Anderson's Feed. Check out a previous post to get a full book review for The City of Ember.

All of them are young adult novels that feature kids in future dystopian societies who realize that their worlds aren't as they seem. These kinds of books make readers really think about the society we live in.

They are short, around 1 1/2 minutes, so it doesn't take too much time. Check them out and leave me a comments!

The making of a book trailer:

If you're interested in making your own, or were just curious about what making a book trailer entailed, I'll tell you how I did it.

To do this, I had to use all images and music that were able to be shared-- like, I wouldn't get sued if I used them. I used Creative Commons, a great search engine for finding all images and music that you are able to use for free, so long as you credit your sources. I credited mine on YouTube in the description section.

Once I had all the pictures and music saved on my computer, I used Windows Live Movie Maker to put it all together. It lets you upload pictures, music, video, etc., and you can stitch them together, put captions on them. I wrote "scripts" for each book trailer, and worked from those to decide what types of images I should use for each slide.

You can just have words on the screen, or you can upload audio to add to it for a narrated book trailer. I would have done this, but my voice is high and squeaky and doesn't really fit the tone of the books. It would be like having Alvin and Chipmunks do Darth Vader-- it just wouldn't make sense. After I was done, I just uploaded them to YouTube, which you can also do through Window Live Movie Maker- it can turn them into a movie file (it makes them .wmv files), and then it can connect with your YouTube account to upload them directly into your account. Pretty sweet right?  If you want to share a book trailer, I'd love to see it!