Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Booktalk: Yummy, The Last Days of a Southside Shorty (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Yummy is a young boy, only four feet tall and eleven years old. He lives with his grandma, loves candy and sweets, and even has a teddy bear. His real name is Robert Sandifer but everyone knows him as “Yummy.” He sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t he? Unfortunately, Yummy is mixed up with a gang, is from a broken home, lives in a tough part of town in Chicago, and wants to prove himself. Those are four factors which are going to work hard against him.

One way to move up in a gang’s hierarchy is to beat up or kill an enemy of the gang. Yummy tried to do this, but he shot and killed an innocent young girl instead. She died near her house with her parents inside: a complete tragedy. Yummy immediately went on the run, followed by a manhunt. When you’re 11, and you’re running from the cops, where do you go? What goes through your mind?

Before you feel too angry at Yummy, consider this. From the age of 3, Yummy had a bunch of scars and burns on his body: a sign that he was abused. One of the burns came from when he was whipped with an electrical cord. As much as he was a killer, Yummy was also a victim. Just like the girl he killed, his situation was also a tragedy. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. Graphic novel: 94 p. 2010: Lee & Low Books. Booktalk to high school. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Booktalk: Because I Am Furniture (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Anke is a normal 9th grade girl who plays volleyball, writes poetry, resents the popular kids, and has a crush on a senior boy. But her home life is far from normal. Her father is verbally abusive, physically abusive, and sexually abusive. Anke has an older brother and an older sister, both of whom seem to bear the brunt of her father’s abuse. Anke’s mother is mostly silent and powerless. The children never have people over to the house: it’s almost unthinkable. So Anke does what she can in order to stay emotionally and physically alive in a house which feels like a prison. Even the title – Because I Am Furniture – gives you a view into her mental state. Anke doesn’t feel human at home: she feels like an object, taken for granted, hardly noticed, like furniture. Yet Anke dares to be hopeful. She made a list of things she could live without, and here are some of the things she listed: cars, cell phones, whitening toothpaste, Polo cologne, choosing sides … a father. Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas.

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. 352 p. Viking: 2009. Virginia Readers’ Choice for 2011-2012: high school. Due to subject matter, know both the text and your audience when booktalking this title.