Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, DVD
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Directed by Peter Sollett
Sony Pictures, 2009
PG-13
Romantic Comedy/Music

Nick, a straight boy in a queercore band, meets beautiful but understated Norah after a rough break up. Their love of music brings them together.

Summary:

After Nick’s hot girlfriend breaks up with him he meets Norah, the daughter of a rich director. Norah is actually a friend of Nick’s ex and has been secretly pining after the mix CDs he creates. The two spend the evening and night trying to track down the band Where’s Fluffy? and bonding over music. Romance and hilarity ensue.

Critique:

I thought the cast did a great job with this terrible movie. I could hardly stand it. The concept is good, though.

Curriculum Ties:

None.

Controversy:

None.

Selection Rationale:

Great actors and actresses! Teens familiar with Michael Cera and who love music will flock to this movie.

“ ‘Slight’ is too strong a word to apply to this teen spin on Martin Scorsese’s After Hours… The compensations are Cera and Dennings, both charmers with a wry way around a comic line.” – Rolling Stone

Booktalking:

One night, one band, one boy, one girl; what will happen?

About the Author:

Peter Sollett is the award-winning director or Raising Victor Vargas.

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Debbie Harry Sings in French
Meagan Brothers
ISBN 0-8050-8080-5
Holt, 2008
Grades 8 to 12
Realistic Fiction/GLBTQ/Music

Johnny is a big Debbie Harry fan, she becomes a mantra for him. But what does it mean when Johnny wants to be Debbie Harry?

Summary:

Johnny’s dad dies in an accident when he’s twelve. Over the next four years Johnny numbs himself with alcohol and music. After he’s slipped Ecstasy at a Goth club, his mother send him to rehab where he is introduced to Debbie Harry’s music. Debbie Harry becomes his idol, he loves her music and her style. More and more, though, he’s finding that he wants to be like her, to have her power and her grace. When it looks like being at home isn’t going to work out, Johnny’s mom ships him off to South Carolina to live with his uncle Sam and cousin Bug. At his new school he meets beautiful Maria and is harassed for being gay. But Johnny isn’t gay, he has a crush on Maria. Johnny and Maria start dating and he tries to explain how he feels about women: he wants to have sex with women, but he also wants to harness their beauty, toughness, femininity, and gentleness for himself. Maria is surprisingly understanding and encourages Johnny to participate in a drag show as Debbie Harry, she even creates the perfect Debbie Harry dress. Johnny doesn’t win the drag show but he does achieve the feelings of beauty and power he has been reaching for.

Critique:

An excellent book, I was pleasantly surprised, and I absolutely loved the ending. I thought that Johnny’s gender identity was handled very nicely, although it came out of the blue. I love that he isn’t gay. I would recommend this as a queer story that isn’t really about being queer. The integration of the 80’s goth/industrial/punk music was awesome! I wish Johnny was my friend.

Curriculum Ties:

Can be used with other GLBTQ titles to explore identity and literature in English classes.

Controversy:

Sexuality and gender discussions.

Let challengers know how important it is for teens to see themselves reflected in books, etc. Ask challengers to read the whole book and refer them to positive reviews.

Selection Rationale:

This is a great story that takes a different look at gender and sexuality. I can’t remember the last adult book I read about transvestites, let alone a young adult book. This is an important addition to library and bookstore shelves.

“…this compelling and ultimately uplifting novel fills a niche in the growing body of GLBTQ literature for teens.” – Booklist

“This hip work by newbie author Meagan Brothers encourages readers to explore the meanings of all the shades of gray that exist between gay and straight.” – ReadingRants.com

ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

Booktalking:

Describe Johnny’s desire to be beautiful, powerful, sexy, gentle, and tough all at the same time… just like Debbie Harry.

Author Information:

This is Meagan Brothers’ first novel.

After Tupac and D Foster
Jacqueline Woodson
ISBN 978-0-399-24654-8
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008
Grade 6 and up
Urban Fiction
Brought together by Tupac and double dutch, three young girls in Queens try to discover their Big Purpose.
Summary:

D Foster discovers Neeka and the unnamed narrator one afternoon while they jump rope on the block in Queens. Narrator and Neeka have been friends forever. D Foster, a girl of mystery, quickly insinuates herself in the two other girls’ friendship. This is not a fast paced story, in the 150 short pages of the book, the girls essentially start growing up and embarking on personal discovery. Although the three girls are all eleven when the book begins, there are differences that make for meaningful interactions. Neeka and the narrator come from relatively stable homes, while D Foster is is in foster care (her mother is a drug addict). The girls meet while Tupac is still alive, and they are motivated and moved by his music. As the girls grow they become closer, but they also discover there is much they don’t know about eachother. Tupac forms a central theme in After Tupac and D Foster; he is a symbol of their lives, they identify with his music and his past. Tupac’s shooting is a sign of the pain in their lives. When D Foster’s mother re-enters the picture, D Foster slips out of Neeka and the narrator’s lives as quickly as she came.

Critique:

This is practically a period piece. Woodson effortlessly evokes the sounds, sights, and news of the 90’s. The development of D Foster,  Neeka, and our narrator are interesting studies in girlhood. Woodson addresses a slew of tough issues in this slim book, but it never feels forced or unnatural.

Curriculum Ties:

None.

Controversy:

Drug use, homosexuality, incarceration, violence.

Have challenger read the book, these  issues are dealt with in an age appropriate and tasteful manner. Point out positive reviews and awards earned by this book and the author.

Selection Rationale:

This is an award-winning book that I think will appeal to a wide age group.

ALSC Notable Children’s Book, 2009

Newbery Honor Book

“Walkmans and bootleg tapes solidify the setting of the previous decade, bringing added authenticity to Woodson’s satisfying tale of childhood friendship.” – Kirkus

“There are so many positive aspects to this work including the portrayal of loving, stable African-American families. One of the troubling points is the adoration the girls have for Tupac. Having said this, I still think that the strong portrayal of family and friends makes this a thought provoking and exalting read.” – Library Media Connection

Booktalking:

Read the lyrics to one of the Tupac songs D Foster loves.

About the Author:

Jacqueline Woodson, born in 1963, has written nine books for young adults and many others for children. Her young adult novel Miracle’s Boys was adapted into a TV miniseries. Woodson has won many awards including the Caldecott Medal, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Newbery Honor Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the National Book Award.