AP magazine

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ap magazine

Alternative Press magazine ASIN: B002PXW0KI

Overview: This magazine focuses on music, especially of the alternative, indie, and rock varieties. Many of the articles focus on particular musicians, while others highlight up and coming musicians to check out, and the surrounding alternative culture.

Critical Evaluation: I notice right from the start that AP magazine is much smaller than either of the other two magazines I’ve reviewed (Teen Vogue or Justine). In terms of advertisements, they are throughout the magazine, but not nearly as numerous as in Teen Vogue. Many of the articles are interviews, so each story has a different voice. Others are written by staff writers and feel more sophisticated.

Being a music magazine, I found it interesting to see that articles did not only focus on particular bands or music movements but also looked at the culture surrounding the music, as in the Cool Special, that looked at jobs in the industry, comedians, accessories, and athletes. The article that I found the most interesting was “Do a band’s religious views influence what you think of them?” In it, musicians and readers of the magazine sound off on whether they care about a musician’s religious views. This was in response to one Christian musician who went on an anti-homosexuality rant on Twitter. While the Cool Special article felt at times a little superficial, it is balanced with articles like the “Religious” one that get readers to think more critically about their music.

Reader’s Annotation: For the up to the minute news on your favorite bands, suggestions on what to listen to next, and alternative trends, look to Alternative Press magazine.

Information about the author: Mike Shea is the CEO and Founder of AP Magazine. It began when he was 19 and was published out of his bedroom in his mother’s house in Aurora, Ohio. It is now one of the largest and most influential media companies in the United States for the discovery of new music.

He now lives in Cleveland, Ohio with an English Bulldog. He enjoys reading about history and politics. He was also in Sam Raimi’s indie horror film, “Skinned Alive.”

Genre: Music Magazine

Curriculum ties, if any: This could be used in a music class, or potentially a sociology class to look at trends in alternative culture.

Booktalking Ideas: This magazine will appeal most to teens interested in alternative and rock music, but also teens interested in that alternative culture surrounding it.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  I think the magazine believes itself to target more of an adult audience, with some older teens as well. At my library, the magazine is shelved exclusively in the teen section, suggesting that most of the readers are teens.

Challenge Issues:

  • Language

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

This magazine meets the recreational needs of teens. It is also representative of the way real people talk.

Why did you include this magazine? : I wanted to look at a magazine that would appeal to boys as well as girls, on a specialized subject.

Reference Page:

Mike Shea: Contributor (2013). AP Magazine website. Retrieved from http://www.altpress.com/contributors/profile/mike_shea

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Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

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Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonneblick

Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick, ISBN: 9781611065862

Plot Summary: Alex is mad at his mother for going out on a date, but he’s mostly mad at his father for running off with his 3rd grade teacher. So he gets drunk and tries to drive his mother’s car to his father’s house to yell at him. But he doesn’t get very far. He is sentenced to community service, which turns out to be keeping an old cranky man company at a nursing home. Solomon Lewis doesn’t want him there, and he makes it very clear by berating and insulting Alex every chance he can get. But the letters to the judge asking her to switch his assignment don’t work. Gradually, Alex finds out that Solomon used to be a jazz musician. Conversations turn into guitar lessons, and concerts held at the nursing home. Alex isn’t so eager to finish his community service hours anymore, but Solomon’s health is getting worse.

Critical Evaluation: This book combines several styles of storytelling, which I particularly enjoyed. Most of the story is told from Alex’s perspective, but he also includes his repeated letters to the judge on his case asking for a community service reassignment. So we get Alex’s conversational, inner monologue, as well as his more formal and polite voice as he uses with authority. We also briefly see his drunken voice, which unfortunately for him is reserved for the cops who arrest him. And we see his halting conversation skills with girls that he likes, or has just realized that he likes.

I do not recall a specific setting for this book, which says to me that it is meant to be more universal, representing a friendship between sixteen year old and senior citizen in almost any town. I keep returning to the funnier elements of the book, like the funny way that Laurie berates Alex for his drunk driving or the pranks Solomon plays on the residents at the nursing home. But I don’t mean to suggest that there is no weight to the book. Our narrator may sound snarky most of the time, but when he thinks he has killed someone, he is devastated and feels the full weight of his actions. Of course it is only a garden gnome, but the moment speaks to the more serious elements of the book.

Reader’s Annotation: After crashing his mother’s car while driving drunk, Alex is sentenced to hang out with a grumpy old man at a nursing home. Alex can’t believe his bad luck, until he finds out that Solomon also plays guitar… and maybe he won’t be grumpy all the time.

Information about the author: Jordan Sonnenblick was born in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1969. He attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he majored in English. He also took numerous classes in Russian, history, and anthropology. He studied abroad in London, was involved in the marching band, played drums for a theater group, and performed as Santa Claus for cancer patients at a hospital.

After college Jordan joined Teach for America and taught 5th grade in Houston Texas. He then taught 11 years of 8th grade English in New Jersey. He lives with his wife and two children.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Humor, Audiobook

Curriculum ties, if any: I think this book could be used to talk about jazz history.

Booktalking Ideas: This is a very funny, but heartfelt story. I think girls will like hearing about Laurie, the tiny but tough best friend that can and does kick Alex’s butt. Musical students will like hearing about that there is a fair amount of music talk in the book. I think it would also be fun to mention that there are a lot of Yiddish insults in the book, and maybe during a booktalk I would point some of them out.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Alex is sixteen years old, and some of the story refers to things that older teens will understand better. School Library Journal finds this book appropriate for readers in 8th grade or higher, while Publisher’s Weekly suggests it for readers 12 years old and up.

Challenge Issues:

  • Drunk Driving

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

The drunk driving in this story should serve more as a cautionary tale than encouragement for readers. After the initial drinking, Alex doesn’t drink again in the book.

Why did you include this book? : It is a funny and touching book by an author I have previously read and enjoyed.

Reference Page:

Bio (2013). Jordan Sonnenblick. Retrieved from http://www.jordansonnenblick.com/bio/

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

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Little Brother

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, ISBN: 9780765319852

Overview: Marcus and his friends are captured and detained by the government after a terrorist attack on San Francisco. They suspect him of having a secret online hacking presence, which he does, but cannot prove anything. So they let him go but warn him they will be watching. When Marcus gets out, his world has changed. His best friend was not released, but the government refuses to admit that they have him. The government is now monitoring everyone, through their computers and cellphones, even the toll passes that log where people travel. If someone is shown to have “abnormal” habits, they are stopped and questioned. Marcus feels violated and angry about the new state of order. So he decides to fight back the best way he knows how. Using his hacking and online networking skills. He amasses a large following and causes more work for the government while also trying to expose the injustices of this new system. But the government keeps getting closer to finding him out and Marcus doesn’t know who to trust.

Critical Evaluation: I had a hard time with this book. I really liked it, but it reminded me of how similar this is to the world we already live in. It raises really valid points on the security vs. privacy debate. Basically, how much of our privacy are we willing to give up to be safe? And do these new policies actually make us safer, or just more afraid? Doctorow raises really interesting issues in this book, about a world after a catastrophic attack, the kind of mentality that can take over, and the injustices that can happen, all in the name of security. While there are voices in the book that argue in favor of increased security, like Marcus’ dad, this is never really seen as a valid opinion. As the book continues to develop, and Marcus’ dad finds out that his son was tortured in the name of this security, his opinions shift dramatically.

Characters from the government organization NSA are seen as almost villainous, getting pleasure from the torture they inflict, or at least not feeling any remorse about it. I would have liked to see more depth to these characters, but I think it is easier to demonstrate the ultimate message of the book with more clear cut good and bad characters. On the other hand, I think we see at a couple of points that Marcus starts to question some of his tactics, and wonder just where the line is between activism and attack. And that is a question that is not really addressed in this book. Maybe there is some reference to it in the sequel. Or maybe that is one the reader is left to ponder on his or her own.

Reader’s Annotation: Marcus is arrested and detained during a terrorist attack on San Francisco. He knows the government is watching him, so he decides to challenge the new culture of surveillance with a couple of tricks of his own.

Information about the author: Cory Doctorow is Canadian born. He started selling fiction when he was 17. One of the first stories was called “Craphound,” hence the name of his website.  He has a comic character based on him (perhaps the ultimate honor)! He is featured in the webcomic xkcd and flies around in a hot air balloon in the blogosphere wearing a red cape and goggles.

He is well known as one of the founders of the popular blog BoingBoing. Forbes Magazine named him one of the Web’s twenty-five “influencers.” He now lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery, Dystopian

Curriculum ties, if any: This would tie into discussions about civil liberties and technology.

Booktalking Ideas: Teens should be aware of privacy issues we are having on a national level already, and surely have strong opinions about their own privacy. So I would emphasize that part of the book. I think a lot would also appreciate the mischievous, prankster nature of some of the things that Marcus does.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Because of the violence, language, and sexual situations, I think this is a better read for an older teen.  School Library Journal recommends this book for grades 10 and up.

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence
  • Language
  • Sexual situations
  • Drug Use

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

Violence is a central part of this book, and liable to make a fair number of people uncomfortable. The detailed descriptions of torture and predatory security tactics fit that description. Again, as we’ve said before, teens do experience this situation in real life, therefore, it is important for it to be represented in literature. And this book has definite potential to help teens think about what they would do in a similar circumstance.

Why did you include this book? : This was one of the required reads for the class, and unfortunately one of the only books I think I read that could be considered science fiction.

Reference Page:

Cory Doctorow. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Doctorow

Cory Doctorow author page. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved from http://us.macmillan.com/author/corydoctorow

Night Visions by Imagine Dragons

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Imagine Dragons

Night Visions by Imagine Dragons,  ASIN: B00B81B0HC

Overview: This is the debut album of Imagine Dragons. It was released on September 4, 2012. In a review on All Music, Gregory Heaney describes the album as “track after track of hooky and emotional mid-tempo jams.” They have an ambitious, “arena made sound” that is nontraditional for someone at their stage in the music career, but for some, it works.

Track List:

1 Radioactive
2 Tiptoe
3 It’s Time
4 Demons
5 On Top of the World
6 Amsterdam
7 Hear Me
8 Every Night
9 Bleeding Out
10 Underdog
11 Nothing Left to Say/Rocks

Critical Evaluation: Overall, this album is very ballad heavy, ballad being a song that has a chorus you can sing along to. Beyond that, I don’t find most of the songs to be very memorable. They sound a lot like other musicians, and rely a little too heavily on synthesizers for my taste. I was interested in this band initially because of their first single, Radioactive. After listening to the rest of the CD, that is the only song that really stands out. It has a post-apocalyptic feel that relies on the kick drum to punctuate the song. It’s also the only song on the album that leans more towards rock instead of pop rock. Tiptoe is okay, but there is a synth heavy moment that I found kind of cheesy. After that, the album kind of devolves into ballad-y anthems. Some have a message, like Demons, but I find they veer too much towards preachy. To be fair, I have very high standards for my music with a message, so there are not many musicians I think can pull that off effectively. Several of the songs, like On Top of the World and Underdog remind me of Caribbean music in a way that feels gimmicky. These songs remind me of Jack Johnson, so I imagine that for some listeners, this is very enjoyable. For me, it got a little pop and light music heavy.

Reader’s Annotation:  Imagine Dragons blend engaging, synth-based dance-pop with emotionally charged, Brit-pop-inspired alt-rock. Known for the singles, “Radioactive,” “It’s Time,” and “Demons.”

Information about the artists: Imagine Dragons is based in Las Vegas. They formed in 2009 in Provo, Utah. According to their biography by James Christopher Monger, they “blend engaging, synth-based dance-pop with emotionally charged, Brit-pop-inspired alt-rock.”

They released two well received EPs before signing with Interscope Records. Night Visions was recorded at Westlake Recording Studio in West Hollywood with producer Alex Da Kid. Alex has worked with such artists as Eminem and Paramore.

Genre: Pop/Rock Music

Curriculum ties, if any: This could be examined in a music class.

Booktalking Ideas: I would compare the group to Jack Johnson, Fun, or Coldplay for the similar sound on some of the tracks. I would appeal to teens interested in rock and melodic, ballad-y songs.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  This album does not particularly apply to a certain age. It was on the top albums on the Billboard list at the time, which makes me think that many teens are listening to it.

Challenge Issues: None that I could discern. I didn’t hear any language or explicit lyrics.

Why did you include this album? : I picked all three albums for this project from the top albums on the Billboard list. I also attempted to pick musical groups with diverse styles to be more representative of what teens are listening to.

Reference Page:

Heaney, G (2012). Night Visions review. All Music. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/album/night-visions-mw0002409529

Monger, J.C. (2012). Imagine Dragons biography. All Music. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/imagine-dragons-mn0002040645/biography

Mango Languages (database)

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mango languages

Mango Languages database

Overview: This database provides tutorials for learning a variety of languages, like Spanish, German, Japanese, even English for English Language Learners. It operates similarly to Rosetta, in that you are learning the more conversational elements of the language. The site describes its software thusly, “Mango uses real-life situations and actual conversations to more effectively teach a new language. By listening to and repeating after material designed from native conversations, you’ll not only learn the individual words and phrases, you’ll know how they’re used in practical situations and conversations. You’ll learn more than grammar, vocabulary and conjugation, you’ll learn how to communicate.” The lessons start with introductory conversations and first play native speakers in the language. Then they break it down by word, and allow you to practice saying the words and comparing your voice to what it should sound like.

Critical Evaluation: One of the cool features I got to try during this tutorial was a wave sound representation. To compare your pronunciation with the correct pronunciation, they show you what a native speaker’s sound representation looks like, as compared to yours. It doesn’t seem as helpful as having a physical person to correct you or tell you how you are pronouncing it wrong, but with a little interpretation I could see that I was putting too much emphasis on the second part of the word, while native speakers have more emphasis at the beginning. They also quiz you immediately after learning the word, which ensures that you are practicing right away.

In a lot of ways, this can’t really compare to learning the language from another human, and I do think that Rosetta involves more human interaction, albeit through chat groups, but I imagine that this would help a lot to be certain that your words are understood. However, as a service offered for free to patrons, I think this has a good concept of how it is that people actually learn languages and get good enough to be able to use them. In contrast to some of my language classes in school, I got a lot of theoretical knowledge of the language, but had no practical concept of how to use it. As I continue to search around the site, I see that there are two tracks for learning: the basic, which takes a few hours and gives you simple practical skills, and the complete, which would incorporate comprehensive language and grammar skills. I think having both options will be very useful and allow users to find the track which better suits their present needs.

Reader’s Annotation: Learn languages your way! Choose whether you want basic conversational skills, or if you want to learn the language and grammar skills for a better understanding of the language. Great for helping with your language class or before you go on vacation.

Information about the providers: Mango Languages is the name of the company that provides this service. They are based in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Genre: Language Learning Database

Curriculum ties, if any: This has a direct correlation with what teens will learn in their language classes, and could be used to tie into class work or as an extension of what is done in class.

Booktalking Ideas: I would encourage teens to use this software to learn languages for fun, or if they need additional assistance with their class. I might demonstrate the page using a fun language, like Pirate.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Mango Languages is designed for older learners. There is also a Little Pim service for children. So this version is best suited for adults and teens.

Challenge Issues: None.

Why did you include this database? : I mention it for this database because I think that high school students in language classes will find it particularly helpful.

Reference Page:

User Dashboard (2013). Mango Languages. Retrieved from http://libraries.mangolanguages.com/dashboard (Need to create an account to see this page, but similar information is on commercial website.)

King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher

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King of the Mild Frontier

King of the Mild Frontier by Chris Crutcher ISBN: 0060502495

Plot Summary: Chris Crutcher chronicles his life, from his childhood to his job as an adult, and how his life led him to write for teens. His parents had a happy marriage, though his mother was always drinking. His brother was very good at tricking Chris, which led to a lot of funny situations. And Chris deals with not being good at sports or with girls for many years. As an adult, Chris works as a therapist. It is in this work that he meets everyday heroes; people who must deal with difficult circumstances but rise above and do what it is right. These Encounters with heroes lead Chris to become a young adult author. This is a funny and heartfelt story about the trials and tribulations of growing up, and what’s on the other side.

Critical Evaluation: Chris Crutcher writes in a very genuine and straightforward manner. The tone is conversational and somewhat self-deprecating, as Chris shares rather embarrassing stories about his childhood and his strengths and weaknesses. It makes the whole experience of reading the book very accessible and down to earth, which I appreciate. This gives me the impression of Chris as an approachable and humble author, who does his best to relate to his readers.

This is not really an exciting book. There are plenty of funny moments, especially when Chris discusses his involvement in sports, and moving moments, like when Chris talks about some of his encounters with patients as a therapist. Some of the other books I’ve read this semester were hard to put down; there was so much going on and so much at stake I just had to keep reading. In contrast, I could read this book at a more leisurely pace, put it down to start something else, and come back to it later. That might make it a tougher book for a reluctant reader to get through, but I don’t think of this as a downside to the book. I believe that this book will most appeal to those who have already read Chris’ other books, and they will be motivated enough to complete the book.

Reader’s Annotation: Even authors have to deal with pimples, and bullies, and gym class. In his memoir, Chris Crutcher talks about his childhood, and how he finds inspiration for his books.

Information about the author: Chris Crutcher was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1946. He grew up Cascade, Idaho. Before becoming an author, Chris taught in Washington and California and acted as director of an Oakland alternative school for almost ten years. He also has 25 years of experience as a child and family therapist specializing in abuse and neglect.

These experiences led him to become a YA author. His numerous books are critically acclaimed, and he is one of the most frequently banned authors in America, which he considers an accomplishment. He continues to write novels and is a contributor to Huffington Post and the Voices from the Middle Column. He lives in Spokane, Washington.

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Curriculum ties, if any: This could be tied into any class that was talking about a particular Chris Crutcher book, or for a discussion of how one’s life influences their writing.

Booktalking Ideas: I would definitely sell this to teens who have read Chris Crutcher. I would also emphasize that it is funny and heartfelt. Chris’ experiences as a teenage boy, with pimples and masturbation should resonate with other teenage boys, though I probably won’t bring those particular examples up in a booktalk.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Chris chronicles most of his life in this book, so at certain points he is younger, and at other points older than the teen readers we are targeting. He writes it as an adult, and is unapologetic in his descriptions of somewhat racy or controversial topics (there is mention of masturbation, but no details). Since most of his books are YA titles for older readers, I imagine this is read by the same age, despite being told in a more adult way.  Booklist suggests this title for grades 8-12, and School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly for grades 8 and up.

Challenge Issues:

  • Sexual situations
  • Language

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

This is a true story, so it obviously has true accounts of Chris’ life, but also of incidents he has been involved in or witnessed. As such, it does no one any good to avoid these subjects. Chris Crutcher also talks at some length about heroes in a way teens might not expect, which I think is important for teens to read about.

Why did you include this book? : I think of Chris Crutcher as a YA heavyweight, so it seemed only natural to include one of his titles in my project. I was attracted to his memoir because I thought it would provide a better understanding of all of his other books and that devoted fans of his would also be interested in learning more about his background.

Reference Page:

Very brief biography (2013). Chris Crutcher website. Retrieved from http://www.chriscrutcher.com/biography.html

Halo: Reach (video game)

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halo reach

Halo: Reach (video game)

Overview: Halo is set in the year 2552, on the planet Reach. An alien race called the covenant has invaded. Players control an elite squad of soldiers as they battle the Covenant and a third race of Zombie-like creatures known as the flood. This game is considered a prequel to the other Halo games, on which there exist Halos that are designed to wipe out all existence. In other games, you are learning more about Halos and subsequently destroying them. In other Halo games, you are the master chief, a cyborg elite soldier. In Halo Reach, you are a regular human soldier on a highly trained operative team.

There are several ways to play Halo: Reach. The first is the campaign, which is single player or local multiplayer, meaning that you have to be in the same room as the other player. The other is the online multiplayer version, which in addition to a copy of the game requires an Xbox Live subscription. In this version, you are playing against other players. The most common way to play is the Slayer game, where you are on teams and try to be the first team to reach 50 kills. Rounds must be over in 12 minutes, but sometimes can be over in a matter of minutes. There are also games called Capture the Flag, Headhunter, Generator Defense, Firefight, and Stockpile.

Critical Evaluation: This is a very popular game, especially among teens and new adults. People tend to play this game obsessively and get really good at it. That makes it a hard game to play as a beginner, which I most certainly am. I am most familiar with the Slayer game you can play within Reach, which is fast and easy to understand. The campaigns are more story based than the other methods of playing, and contain more cinematic elements involved that convey the storyline. I must confess that I was a little confused about the plot of the campaign, but it would probably make more sense if I knew more about the other versions of Halo. Since this is a more individual version of the game, it does provide you with more opportunities to practice the game on your own before attempting to square off against other players.

For me, this first person shooter type of game raises a couple of issues. I wouldn’t say that I think video games like this make people more violent, because I think that would lend credence to the idea that books with controversial elements can make you more likely to do those controversial things. However, I personally have a hard time playing something that is so rooted in the idea of killing others. In conversations with gamers, I haven’t gotten a satisfying answer yet about why these violent games are more fun than say, a game where you solve puzzles or play soccer. My initial impression is that there is a violent part of people that needs an outlet, whether it is in video games, or in a kickboxing class.

Reader’s Annotation: You are on an elite team of soldiers, trying to save the planet Reach from an invading alien force. Can you defeat them and keep the planet safe?

Information about the developers: This game is developed by Bungie. They are currently located in Bellevue, Washington. Bungie was established in 1991 and originally based in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2000, they were bought by Microsoft, but split from them in 2007. They now have a publishing deal with Activision Blizzard. Besides Halo, they have most recently released Crimson: Steam Pirates and are working on one called Destiny.

Genre: First Person Shooter Video Game

Curriculum ties, if any: None

Booktalking Ideas: This game basically sells itself. If I was talking to a teen about it, I would emphasize that it is fast paced and exciting, and talk about the plot of saving the earth from aliens and zombies.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  This game is rated Mature, which means that technically, it should not be sold to minors. However, in practice, I believe that most of the people playing this game are teens and new adults. Therefore, it is important to look at to help teen librarians be aware of the kinds of materials their teens are consuming.

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with game. As I’ve played this game, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a game I had not played, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this game is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the game.
    • A description of who the game is best suited for.
    • A summary of the game and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the creators.
    • My justification for including the movie. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on players.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the game
    • Alternative works a student could play
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

This game meets the recreational needs of teens. It may also be a healthier outlet for a teen’s aggression in that it does not actually harm anyone else.

Why did you include this video game? : It is really popular, so I wanted to learn a little more about it. It also represents the first person shooter genre of video games.

Reference Page:

Bungie (2013). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bungie

List of Bungie video games (2013). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bungie_video_games