Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daring Holocaust Story

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti is a work of historical fiction inspired by her research and writing of the acclaimed non-fiction work Hitler Youth. It tells the story of one German teenage boy, Hugo, who becomes disillusionsed with the Nazi propoganda. The loss of so many civil freedoms leaves him wondering about the true nature of the party in power. It is when he obtains a radio from his older brother and secretly tunes into a BBC broadcast in German, however, that he learns the truth: Nazis are lying to their own people about the war. This leads him to take dangerous risks that land him in prison awaiting trial. The story is told intermittently through flashbacks as he ponders his fate in prison- a technique used effectively by the author. What really hit home here is the boy's perspective. He was not one persecuted by the Nazis, but one who could have, and was encouraged, to contribute to the good of the Fatherland. His questioning of the ideals and the Nazis in addition to their techniques, allows the reader to question along with him. This book is a powerful read that has much in it to stimulate discussion or introspective reflection. Pair this with Orwell's 1984 for a really thought-provoking analysis of current government regimes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I took my time recovering from that one! But we now have a list of 54 graphic novels for middle and high school students!
What are my favorites? Well, the ones I nominated of course! Which would be Maximum Ride, Stuff of Life, Outlaw, Emiko Superstar, Salt Water Taffy, Coraline, Amulet, and Rapunzel's Revenge. Seriously, though, I was delighted to enjoy some new nonfiction like Photographer, What It Is and The United States Constitution. New manga is always fun- check out Jyu-oh-sei and Pluto for some pretty good characterization and detailed sci-fi settings. For traditional comics, Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars and Wolverine: Prodigal Son are both great but impart some important life lessons. Since I love re-made classics, I'll advise you to check out Fahrenheit 451, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Hound of the Baskervilles . Those were the ones we included, but by no means the full range of what's available these days in graphic novel format. Let me just add a couple not-to-be-missed titles: Good Neighbors: the Kin and Flight Vol. 5. But that's not everything- I don't know how much I missed, so check out the full list!