World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti

Dokument Press: UK (2013)

ISBN: 9781781310731

A global romp through the streets of the biggest cities in the world, this book brings the amazing works of today’s contemporary graffiti and street artists to light in a way not seen before. Arranged geographically, this book takes readers to places they may be familiar with and shows the beauty and art there that they may have simply walked past before. Incorporating both familiar and foreign artistic forms, this atlas of the world is unlike anything else in that section marked “Art Books.” In a genre of art not always accepted as mainstream, street and urban art is so much more today than youth with spray pain cans in a duffel bag in the dark of night. Cultural, political, local, and  beautiful – these sometimes edgy sometimes simple things of aesthetic display challenge us to consider the definition of art. An amazing and thought-provoking addition to any library, this book is worth the high price tag.

Quantitative: No Lexile Level or ATOS available.

Qualitative: Middle to Upper Grades (8-12) The language is suitable for middle grade students. The content and some art depicted in this book may not be appropriate for younger students as it contains some content that is sexual or violent in nature. With guidance, this book could be used as a reference item for students in grades 6-7 also.

Content Area: Art – Urban Art; Graffiti

Additional/Digital Resources:


Review: Flipped

FlippedFlipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Random House (2001)

ISBN 9780375825446

A romantic comedy of eighth grade awkwardness and tragedy, this story is boy-meets-girl-girl-meets-boy-both-miss-bus. The alternating voices of the two main characters here is terrific – bringing readers in and out of their comfort zone as we suffer through the missed opportunities, poor word choices, shy moments and general middle school social stumbling that these two try to overcome. Who you are and who you want to be are questions every middle school student asks but only a middle schooler would think there was any sort of answer. This story is heart warming and hopeful as this young couple learn to see each other, and themselves, for who they are below the surface.

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 720; ATOS 4.8

Qualitative: Upper Grades (9-12)

Content Area: English

Common Core Standards: RL.9-10.3; RL.11-12.3

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Review: Dreamland

DreamlandDreamland by Sarah Dessen

Penguin Books (2000)

ISBN 9780142401750

The story of misguided love and the spiral of abusive teen relationships, this story explores the uncontrollable cycle of abuse that so many teens encounter in their early relationships. Our narrator, Caitlin, is 16 and after her sister runs away, Caitlin is desperate to make some big changes in her own life at home. when she meets the mysterious and seductive boy with the dark green eyes, she knows he is trouble but she cannot resist the temptation to try a little danger for a change. She does not realize he may be a danger to her until it is too late for her to stop her feelings from growing.

This story is a good one for teens but also parents of teens, as it explores a very difficult and often invisible topic in a way that makes it safe for discussions and consideration when it is only hypothetical.

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 920; ATOS 5.8

Qualitative: Upper Grades (9-12)

Content Area: English; Health – Abusive Relationships/Teens

Common Core Standards:

Additional/Digital Content: Teen Health:

Teens Against Abusive Relationships:

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Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Penguin Books (2005)

ISBN 9780141012698

First and foremost, this is the story of a nine-year-old boy named Oskar. But it is much more than that. It is the story of a great void – a void as vast as the hole left on 9/11 in Manhattan where the Twin Towers once stood. The void in Oskar’s life,  the void in his mother’s life, in his grandparents’ lives, and many of the lives of the many strangers that  Oskar meets in his journey to find the lock that goes with his father’s key. The key is Oskar’s only piece of his father left behind for him to fill his void and he is relentless in his search for the possible owner of the matching lock, using every bit of cunning his father ever taught him as he explores the five Burroughs of New York. Oskar’s search takes him deeper into his own family as well as the far reaches of the city, and in his search for deeper understanding of his father, he also unravels the mysteries of his grandfather and the void there.

This is the story of a boy who hides in the closet, dreams of ways to save the world from bad things, plays the tambourine to stay calm, punishes himself when he thinks no one else will, and keeps his void hidden and his quest secret (so he thinks) in order to protect those he loves. The void left by the events of 9/11, whether deep or distant for readers, will resonate in this story. With humor as well as gravity, we walk in the shoes of one boy learning to deal with his void and gain an understanding of the process of healing that is the human spirit.

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 940; ATOS 4.7

Qualitative: Upper Grades (9-12) and Adult. This book is full of nuances and subtle references that are suitable for mature readers. Familiarity with historical events in Europe as well as some understanding of the geography of City of New York is helpful but not necessary. The alternating voices of Oskar and his grandparents can also be challenge but this story is engrossing and suitable for readers who are willing to tackle it.

Content Area: English; Social Sciences – U.S. History – 9/11

Common Core Standards: RL.11-12.1 – RL.11-12.10

Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books;

Recommended Reading: ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound

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Review: Eve & Adam

Eve & AdamEve & Adam by Michael Grant

Feiwel & Friends (2012)

ISBN 9780312583514

Set in present day, this is a great story of a girl (Eve) who is nearly killed in a car crash but because her emotionally distant mother runs one of the most exclusive biotech research and treatment centers in the world, Eve is brough there to be surgically mended and cared for. As her condition improves, Eve is assigned a project to keep her occupied: build a boy. With vivid descriptions and intriguing ethical and practical obstacles, we watch as Eve creates the “perfect” boy. Should he be smart or funny? Should he be athletic or intelligent? Can he be everything or will some things cancel out others? It is a discussion-starter for sure and readers will want to talk about the themes in this story. A good pairing with Frankenstein.

This is science fiction – teen style. Short chapters and shallow characters might get tedious but because the book is short, it reads very quickly. There are only a few other characters in this story: Solo, a boy who has lived with Eve’s mother at the biotech facility all of his life, and Eve’s best friend Aislin who is described as a slutty girl with a drug dealing boyfriend. Neither of these characters adds much, although Solo and Eve have an antagonistic relationship that makes for witty and sharp dialog.

Quantitative: Lexile Level:560; ATOS 3.9

Qualitative: Middle Grades (6-8) and up. This book is considered “High-Low” for use with older students who may have a lower reading ability. It is a high interest subject and the characters will appeal to older readers.

Content Area: English; Science – Biology

Common Core Standards: RL.8.3, RL.8.9

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Review: Shoo, Fly Guy!

Shoo, Fly Guy!
Shoo, Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The adventures of Fly Guy are just gross enough to capture the imagination of young kids and make them laugh and smile as he ventures out of his jar to explore and search for his favorite brown, lumpy food. His perilous exploration brings him full circle, as he returns to his human friend Buzz who is waiting with a big giant hunk of that brown stuff – Fly Guy is a favorite hero for K-2 students and icky factor is a great way to get the whole class into the story!

The illustrations are great (love when he tastes roadkill to see if it is good!) and the process of elimination used by Fly Guy as he explores and searches for his favorite food is great – the view we have is what he sees – and some pages use the placement of the words to illustrate his meandering trail as he swirls around in circles and doubles back, so does the type on the page. This book, and others in the series, are what you will find a few 2nd graders sitting on the floor in the corner of the library reading and giggling over.

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Review: Wings

WingsWings by Christopher Myers

Scholastic Press (2000)

ISBN 9780590033770

Books like this are simple – and profound – and they make a real impact on young readers as well as older ones. Ikarus Jackson is the new boy at school – and he is different. His strength to be himself and embrace his diversity in face of intolerance is inspiring, especially to lower grade students who are just learning what it means to be tolerant of others and at the same time experiencing the first stings of self-consciousness as they begin to recognize differences in themselves.

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 400 (Adult Directed); ATOS 3.4

Qualitative: Lower Grades (K-3) with adult directed reading recommended. This picture book contains themes more mature than the quantitative reading level and should be read and discussed with very young readers to allow them to understand the meaning behind the words.

Content Area: English; Social Science – Equality/Diversity

Common Core Standards: SL.1.1, SL.1.2, SL.1.3, RL.1.1, RL.1.3, RL.1.4

Additional/Digital Content:  Meet Christopher Myers in this interview from Reading Rockets

Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books; Booklist Editors’ Choice; Publishers Weekly Best Book; Charlotte Zolotow Award/Honor Book

Personal Note: Christopher Myers is the son of  award-winning young adult author Walter Dean Myers. Both strong voices for young people – highly recommend.

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