Monday, December 3, 2012
Viking Juvenile, 2012
Plot Summary: It is the mid-1500s when Catherine Howard (called Cat by her friends) and her best friend, Kitty, are waiting for a chance to leave their current household of the dowager Duchess and be asked to come to court. However, one needs connections or a love match to find their way there and neither girl has much prospects. When King Henry’s new wife proves to be unable to conceive an heir, the marriage in annulled and Cat sees her chance at power. She worms her way into Henry’s bed and becomes his new wife. She takes Kitty with her to court as one of her maids. However, married life doesn’t prove to be the wedded bliss that she thought it would be and Cat is soon back to her old ways of flirting with other men and disaster. She could lose her head (literally) if she is caught—even if her past is discovered and the King learns that she’s not as virginal as he thought when he married her she could be in trouble. When Kat begins to think Henry might be the conceiving problem, she courts her old boyfriend, Thomas, in an attempt to bear a child. But her actions and words can easily be overheard and lead to her—and Kitty’s—death.
Critical Evaluation: An interesting historical novel about Catherine Howard’s rise and fall told from the perspective of Kitty—a real girl that not much is known about historically. While the dialogue is very modernized from what would have been said in the 1500s (you know, no “thees” and “thous”) the words themselves are kept pretty much to their time period. A few 1500s slang words are used; sadly, there is no dictionary attached to explain them so one has to do their best to guess the proper meaning. The interesting thing about this story is that while it is historical (showing the cattiness of a long ago royal court) the things that Kitty faces are some common teen dilemmas that help the story, while being historical, still be relatable to a degree. Kitty is a sympathetic character and since her whole existence is so wrapped around Cat’s almost to the point of getting executed because she’s so loyal teaches a good lesson to not be so wrapped up in other people’s lives and to stop and take time to make sure you are happy (since Cat really didn’t seem to care at all what happened to Kitty).
Reader's Annotation: A fictional presentation of Catherine Howard and how she lost her head.
Author Information: Katherine Longshore has been writing since she could hold a pencil. While in her teens, she fell in love with the theatre and eventually went to university on an acting scholarship. When she traveled on the Semester at Sea she came back, dropped out of school, and then planed to become a travel writer. She travelled around the world and eventually moved to England with her husband she met while in Zimbabwe. She fell in love with English history which inspired Gilt (Longshore, n.d.).
Genre: Historical, Romance
Curriculum Ties: While written for girls (making the broad appeal limited), it is a good fictional view of Catherine Howard’s life.
Booktalking Ideas: Historical time period, glamorous court life.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+
Challenge Issues: Language, partying, sexual situations
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: Engaging historical novel. Also introduces Kitty, who is a real person that has remained a bit mysterious in history.
Longshore, K. (n.d.). Biography. Retrieved from http://katherinelongshore.com/about.php