LIBRARY IDEA FOR NOVEMBER:

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA GAME: Looking for zero-prep Thanksgiving activities for middle school? This trivia game helps keep your students learning and engaged, even in the days before a holiday break. It’s zero-prep for you, and text and images are 99% editable.

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CHILDREN OF RAGNAROK:

Since Ragnarokthe great war between the gods and the forces of chaos—the human realm of the Midlands has become a desperate and dangerous place, bereft of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones—his family has remained prosperous. But he stands to lose everything when he’s wrongly convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is Eiric’s half-systir, Liv, who’s under suspicion for her interest in seidr, or magic. Then a powerful jarl steps in: He will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove—the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reginn Eiklund has spent her life performing at alehouses for the benefit of her master, Asger, a fire demon she is desperate to escape. After one performance that amazes even herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make Reginn an irresistible offer: return with them to the Temple to be trained in seidr, forever free of Asger.

Eiric’s, Liv’s, and Reginn’s journeys converge in New Jotunheim, a paradise fueled by magic and the site of the Temple. They soon realize that a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface and that old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

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Review: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend (Keplinger)

AUTHOR: Kody Keplinger
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Little Brown/Poppy
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 20, 2010
ISBN: 9780316084239
PAGES: 280
SOURCE: public library/Overdrive
GENRE: contemporary romance
GIVE IT TO: upper-HS, reluctant readers

SUMMARY: While waiting miserably for her partying friends in the “bar” area of a teen dance club, 17-year old Bianca encounters Wesley Rush, a boy with a reputation as a “man whore” at their school. Wesley teases Bianca, calling her the DUFF–the Designated Ugly Fat Friend–which Bianca absolutely hates. Never one to back down from an argument, Bianca dumps her Cherry Coke on Wesley and storms off. But it isn’t long before Bianca finds herself kissing Wesley and eventually in an enemies-with-benefits sexual relationship with him. But as Bianca’s family problems go from bad to worse, Bianca is surprised to find that Wesley is a good listener whose family is also imperfect.

REVIEW: I loved this book and finished it in one sitting. Bianca’s sarcastic remarks cracked me up, and I loved Wesley’s comebacks. I really felt the chemistry that grew between Bianca and Wesley and rooted for them all the way through. Yes, Wesley was a JERK, but Bianca isn’t a sweetie-pie herself. Their personalities fit together perfectly.

I also loved Bianca’s two best friends and their take on the term “DUFF.” I love how they know each other really well and support each other during hard times. For once, the best friends did not irritate me!

The DUFF features a frank and realistic discussion of sexuality, and for that reason, high school librarians may want to review it prior to purchase. There is a TON of language, and the sexual content is closer to New Adult than YA. However, if I had a HS daughter who hated reading, I might give her this book. Many teens can handle this content just fine, and I like how sex is explored honestly in this one. Characters use condoms 100% of the time, yet they are still concerned about the risk of pregnancy and STD.

There will be people who say that the sexual content is way too high for teens, and I’m not here to debate that. Parents and teens need to make their own reading choices, and I agree that The DUFF might not be for everyone. But there is absolutely a market for this book. Teens are more aware of sex than many adults would like to admit, and for some, sexual activity begins in their early teens. Regardless of how their parents feel about it (or even know about it), some teens do use sex to escape problems and stress. Those teens will identify with Bianca and see themselves in her character. And there is character growth concerning this issue: eventually, Bianca figures out that she deserves more respect than perpetual one-night stands.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The DUFF is a fun, funny read that kept me engrossed the entire time. Due to mature sexual content, high school librarians considering this title are advised to read it before purchasing.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: Sexual content is way too high for middle school.

READALIKES: Fat Hoochie Prom Queen (Medina)

RATING BREAKDOWN:

  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:

  • Language: very high; includes lots of fu**, bit**, sh**, ass, damn
  • Sexuality: very high; frequent casual sex, open discussion of sex, oral sex, frequent use of terms “whore” and “slut”; possible pregnancy of a minor character; discussion of STD; condom use
  • Violence: mild; one minor assault
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium; Bianca’s father is recovering alcoholic who relapses
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