Friday, December 14, 2012

For What It's Worth

Title: For What It's Worth
Author: Janet Tashjian
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Publication Date: July, 2012
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: The year is 1971 and the place is Laurel Canyon, California. Quinn, a fourteen-year-old music “encyclopedia,” writes a music column—called "For What It's Worth"—for his school paper. But Quinn’s world is about to change when he is faced with helping a war dodger and must make some tough decisions. When he starts receiving cryptic Ouija board messages from Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix (all members of the 27 Club), he knows he is in over his head. Fortunately for Quinn, his new girlfriend Caroline helps him get a grip and channel his inner self. 
What I Think: I loved the mood of this book. It made you feel as if you are in high school with Quinn in the 70s. Quinn is such a music fanatic and I really enjoyed how Tashjian weaved his love for music in with the historical part of the book.
     For What It's Worth is a wonderful introduction to the 70s especially because with the help of Quinn's articles scattered throughout the book. I felt was quite important because it gives the readers some great background information but does so without seeming like a lecture. Unfortunately, may middle and teen readers are not aware of the Vietnam War, the protests that went along with it or the 70s culture, so Quinn's articles definitely add that element that students would need to help them understand what is going on. The only thing that would have made the book better would have been a soundtrack that you could have listened to while reading. And Tashjian not only gave lots of love to the music of the 70s, but also discussed photography and the impact that a spectacular captured moment can have on the viewer.
     On top of my love of the historical fiction and art/music aspect, I really liked the characters in this book. Quinn's story of his first love makes me reminisce about my middle school boyfriend because that crazy joy you fill for that first love is hard to duplicate and yet Tashjian captures it perfectly in this book. It is actually the realistic emotions throughout that drive the book- love, paranoia, fascination, sadness, anger, fear. 
Read Together: Grades 6 to 10
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: Biographies of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and other musicians/groups from the 1970s that Quinn mentions, Non-fiction books about the Vietnam War (specifically the protesting, dodging and controversy about the war)
Snatch of Text: "When the Byrds heard the demo of Dylan's song "Mr. Tambourine Man," they decided they wanted to record it too. But their producer, Terry Melcher, didn't think the Byrds were strong enough to perform it. So he hired the Wrecking Crew to play it- local guys who are the best studio musicians around. Besides the vocal harmonies, Roger McGuinn's twelve-string Rickenbacker is the only Byrds' music that's heard on the record. Their version of the song went to number one anyway, a first and only number one for Dylan. The record was credited with ushering in the whole folk rock genre, but besides McGuinn, the other guys hadn't played a note. Were they just happy for the monster single, or did they secrecrly wish they'd played on it too? This is the kind of thing I think about when I'm lying in bed, stalling before getting up for breakfast." (p. 18-19) 
Mentor Text for: Newspaper Articles (Expository Writing), Making Connections, Voice, Characterization, Emotional Impact
Writing Prompts: Like Quinn, research your favorite article and write an informative article about an interesting fact you found.; Quinn also includes a lists throughout the book. Look at one of his lists and make a modern one including songs/albums you think should be on the list. 
Topics Covered: 1970s Rock 'n' Roll, Photography, Fashion, Vietnam, Protest, Fashion
I *heart* It:

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