Monday, December 3, 2012
Houghton Mifflin, 2009
Plot Summary: Lucius and Aurora are both new students at a new high school. Both moved to begin new lives after tragedy. Aurora because her mother finally lost her battle with cancer and her and her father’s old home contained too many memories; Lucius because, in an explosion of his own doing, he blew up his family’s house and blew off his hands. Aurora is a beauty who catches his eye on the first day of school and smiles at him—unlike the other jerks that jeer and make fun of him or are scared of his hook hands that he deliberately chose instead of artificial ones. However, she is quickly snatched away by the popular crowd. While everyone around him avoids him, Aurora actually seeks him out and is nice to him. When he convinces his parents (who hold a tight rein on him now) to let him take part in the school play of Grease by being the stage manager, he and Aurora get closer and everyone around them finally begin to see he isn’t all that bad and has talents that should be respected not feared. At the cast party, he can hardly believe that Aurora returns the feelings he has for her. However, the jealousy of fellow classmate, Jessup, who thinks Aurora belongs to him, causes a school scandal to erupt that threatens Aurora’s father’s job as teacher and lays the blame on Lucius. With Aurora refusing to talk to him, can Lucius put things right?
Critical Evaluation: This book is billed as a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”. I’m not really sure if that applies as the only parts of the tale that apply to this story is Aurora being the beauty and Lucius, with his hook hands, being the beast. However, asides from some possible false advertising, the story is a good, albeit short, one. Both characters go through some tough emotions—Aurora with the death of her mother and Lucius with the destruction of his family and his own self. I was very glad to see an explanation of the hooks given in the book. I know some teens may read the jacket blurb and think “how could anyone want hook hands?” but a realistic, and moving, explanation is given in the narrative as to why Lucius picked the way he did. The medical reasons for why one would choose hooks in this day and age are also explored which makes the far-fetched idea of hook hands more plausible and realistic. All in all, the book features likeable characters in a safe and satisfying romantic tale.
Reader's Annotation: A modern day retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” in which the beast in question is a boy who has hooks for hands.
Author Information: Baratz-Logsted grew up in Monroe, Connecticut, where her father owned a drugstore at which her mother was the pharmacist. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she majored in psychology. She also has what she calls her “half-Masters” in English from Western Connecticut State University. Upon graduation, she began work at Klein’s of Westport, a now defunct independent bookstore. There she bought and sold books for 11 years. Between 1994 and May 2002—when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy her first novel, The Thin Pink Line—she worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer. Since then she has written a variety of novels for adults and young adults, including Little Woman & Me, The Twin’s Daughter and The Education of Bet. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter (Baratz-Logsted, n.d.).
Genre: Realistic, Romance
Curriculum Ties: (Possible) modernization of fairy tale
Booktalking Ideas: Read a scene in which Lucius is ridiculed for his hands.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 12+
Challenge Issues: Minor language and alcohol use
Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill)
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/ftrstatement/freedomreadstatement)
· A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
· A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
· Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
· Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
· Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges/strategiestips)
Reason for Inclusion: An interesting romance with a twist. Also interestingly depicts why someone in today’s day and age would voluntarily choose to have hook hands.