Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let It Snow, "Freak the Geek" & "The Great American Morp"

Title: Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances     
Author: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Puffin 
Publication Date: September 2008  
Genre/Format: Fiction-Romance/Short Stories as a Novel
GoodReads Summary: Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today's bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses. (Taken from Goodreads on 1/1/12)
What Jen Thinks: Honestly, putting three great authors together can't result in anything but complete awesomeness, right? I love all of these authors and what they have done with this book is to tell three different stories with lots of hysterical characters and then in the end make them all fit together.
     Since this is John Green week, I get to point out that John Green might be the one of the top examples of an author who can demonstrate voice in writing. He is full of wit and energy and charm and it all adds up to brilliance. After watching his Vlogbrothers episodes you can definitely see how his personality is evident in his writing.
     I, of course, have to just say one more time that Lauren Myracle and I are connected psychically. Our brains are set to the same frequency. Every book I have read that she has written makes me feel like she is inside my head and writing the book for me. She makes me laugh and cry and realize how I have to stop and think about my expectations sometimes.
What Kellee Thinks: You cannot go wrong with those authors! What I found was not only a romantic, funny book, but a perfect holiday read! Let it Snow is like those movies where you follow three very different stories and then eventually they intertwine and everything seems to follow into place. I loved reading each story, wanting to learn more about a certain character and then realizing the next story was about them! The authors also did a fantastic job throwing in aspects of Christmas and pushing the holiday cheer without shoving it down your throat. Let is Snow is one of those books that I want to curl up and read by the fire while it snows outside.
Read Together: 9 - 12 
Read Alone: 7 - 12 
Read With: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, Peace, Love and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 
Snatch of Text:  
From "The Jubilee Express" by Maureen Johnson
     "'Oh my god!' said one of the Ambers. 'Is this not the worst trip ever? Did you see the snow?'
     She was a sharp one, this Amber. What would she notice next? The train? The moon? The hilarious vagaries of human existence? Her own head?
     I didn't say any of that, because death by cheerleader is not really the way I want to go." p. 22

From "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle" by John Green

     “I dashed upstairs, my socks sliding on the hardwood floor in the kitchen, and stumbled into my bedroom. I tore open the closet door and began feverishly sorting through the shirts piled on the floor in the vain hope that inside that pile there might be some wondrously perfect shirt down there, a nice striped button-down with no wrinkles that said, ‘I’m strong and tough but I’m also a surprisingly good listener with a true and abiding passion for cheers and those who lead them.’ Unfortunately, there was no such shirt to be found. I quickly settled on a dirty but cool yellow Threadless T-shirt under a black v-neck sweater. I kicked off my watching-James-Bond-movies-with-the-Duke-and-JP jeans and hurriedly wiggled into my pair of nice, dark jeans.” p. 131-132

From "The Patron Saint of Pigs" by Lauren Myracle
     "Being me sucked. Being me on this supposedly gorgeous night, with the supposedly gorgeous snow looming in five-foot drifts outside my bedroom window, double-sucked. Add the fact that today was Christmas, and my score was up to triple-suck. And add in the sad, aching, devastating lack of Jeb, and ding-ding-ding! The bell at the top of the Suckage Meter couldn't ring any louder.
     Instead of jingle bells, I had suckage bells. Lovely." p. 215

Mentor Texts For: Voice, Word-Choice, Characterization, Compound Adjectives
Writing Prompts: Think of a time when you were stuck somewhere that you didn't want to be and couldn't really do anything about it, how did you feel? What did you do to keep yourself busy? Did something happen that you would not have expected or that wouldn't have happened if you weren't stuck or stranded? 
Topics Covered: Friendship, Love, Determination, Loyalty, Trust, Risk-Taking, Kindness, Cheerleaders? (that's supposed to be funny...)

Kellee "hearts" it

Jen "hearts" it

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Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd HerdAnthology Title: Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd
Editor: Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2009
Genre/Format: Short Story Anthology/Novel
Short Story Title: "Freak the Geek"
Author: John Green
Summary: Kayley and Lauren, BAOFs (Best And Only Friend), attend Hoover Preparatory School for Girls where traditions ring true.  Unfortunately, they find themselves on the wrong end of the tradition "Freak the Geek" where two juniors are chosen to be Freaked.  This year, it is Kayley and Lauren. 
What Jen Thinks: It sucks to be a lone geek among others who seem to think they are cool but it's not so bad to be a geek when you have someone else to be a geek with you. It makes me think of Nerdy Book Club, actually. I like that this short story is about friendship, the kind of friendship where you can get mad at each other, talk it out, and then get back to being BAOFs. John Green also points out some many of the backward ways of following a tradition without knowing what it's all about and going along with the crowd.
What Kellee Thinks: When I found out that John Green's newest novel was from the point of view of a girl, I was a bit worried. Everything else that he's written (I believed...) is written from a male's point of view.  But after reading "Freak the Geek" I realize I am ridiculous for being worried- John Green can write from any point of view.  He is able to capture the voice of any character he wishes including a female's. Lauren is someone who everyone who has ever been picked on will connect with and the "lesson" this short story teaches is one that is so important to share with anyone who is feeling the same way as Lauren. 
Snatch of Text: 
"...I think doing things solely because they were done in the past is absolutely idiotic. I suppose it shows respect to our teachers when we stand every time they come into the room, but you know what would show more respect? If the insolent students who have colonized this awful place paid attention in class. Or took notes." (p. 274)

"Sometimes I like things the cool kids like. But I find it a little ridiculous to like ALL of the things that the cool kids like. I mean, dip? Really? All the tooth-staining power of coffee with the extra added bonus of mouth cancer? Thank you, but no." (p. 274)

"It's not your problem or my problem; it's their problem.  They're the demented ones, not us, so don't take it out on me, because the only thing that holds anything together for me is having someone else on the Not Demented Team." (p. 281)
Topics Covered: Bullies, Friendship, Traditions, Individuality

*   *   *

21 PromsAnthology Title: 21 Proms
Editor: David Levithan
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: March 2007
Genre/Format: Short Story Anthology/Novel
Short Story Title: "The Great American Morp"
Author: John Green
Summary: When Maggie breaks the news that her parents will be the photographers for the prom to her best friend, Carly decides it's a perfect opportunity to host a Morp - a backwards prom where they celebrate the best of prom without having to actually go to prom. 
What Jen Thinks: It might have made my day to read "The Great American Morp"! The single positive aspect of having gone to prom for me is that I can say I now have a ridiculous prom-night story to tell. This story makes not having a date to the prom seem preferable. I love the non-prom night Maggie gets in this story. Like in "Freak the Geek", John Green makes readers stop and think about tradition - in this case prom - and decide if it's worth it to go through all the hype and hoopla just to say you did it when doing things your way and rocking it out will always be infinitely more fun. 
Incidentally, I love the crazy Morp outfits guests show up in. They are exactly the kind of dress or tuxedo I would love to create and sport to a party with friends who've also created and are sporting such insane articles of clothing. A duct-tape-bumblebee Morp dress? I say no more.
Snatch of Text: 
"...Dad says, 'Are you sure you don't want to go? It's a night you never forget, prom.'
My mom looks askew at him and says, 'Didn't you get stood up by Suzie Spears?'
Dad smirks. 'And I never forgot it.' (p. 279-280)

"'No drinking,' says my dad, and I just laugh. I like the idea of drinking just fine, but in practice it never works for me. Beer tastes like carbonated pee, wine tastes like spoiled grapes and gives me a headache, and anything harder than that tastes like dragon breath.
'No house messing up,' my mom says.
'Don't worry,' I tell them. 'Nobody would ever come to my house looking for a crazy-fun party.'" (p. 280)
Topics Covered: Friendship, Traditions, Taking Risks, Being Yourself

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