Posted in Fantasy/Science Fiction, Michael Printz Award Winner, Module 3, Young Adult Fiction

Module 3: Ship Breaker

Title: Ship Breaker

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

ISBN: 978-0316056199

Publisher: Little Brown & Company


This is an edgy dystopian adventure in which the main currency is salvaged goods. Nailer and his friends must work together to salvage metal from tankers. Nailer discovers just how dangerous it is when he falls into a pit of hidden oil and almost drowns. He learns that he must think carefully about who he can trust, and finds that every decision he makes could change his future.

Bacigalupi, P. (2010). Ship breaker. New York, NY: Little Brown & Company.

My Impressions:

This book wasn’t for me. It was well written, but there was too much dialogue and world building, and not enough plot advancement. I found my mind wandering throughout the dialogue, wondering when something was going to happen. I was mostly unable to relate to the characters-they all seemed kind of gray and flat. I was unable to picture most of the scenes in my head, possibly because I have absolutely no past experience with boating, or working with scrap metal. I was intrigued by the idea, the alternate world that this story offered, and I do think there are a lot of readers who could really get into this one, but I was not one of them. I would recommend this book to readers with a tad bit of background experience in boating, or living out at sea. It would probably make a good recommendation to a male reader interested in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic adventure story Gr. 8-12.

For Use in the Library:

Ship Breaker would probably make a great read for a high school boy’s book group. It’s edgy, and I think it could really appeal to that age group. It could also be a good recommendation for a reader who is looking for a dystopian adventure story.


Teenaged Nailer is living in a dystopian fixture America where climate change and humankind have wreaked havoc on the land and society. Nailer works as a ship breaker, scavenging copper wiring from the insides of abandoned oil tankers being disassembled along the Gulf Coast. A lifealtering, near-death experience—he gets trapped in a chamber filled with oil (“I’m going to drown in goddamn money”)—is just the beginning of Nailer’s adventures as he survives a hurricane and then discovers a wrecked clipper ship and its sole survivor, a rich girl named Nita. Nailer chooses to protect her from harm and help her find her family even though it means leaving hehind the only home—and means of survival—he’s ever known. With Nailer’s menacing and ahusive father, vicious half-men, and a corrupt shipping company all after them. Nailer and Nita journey to the drowned city of Orleans in the hope of rescue. Nebula Award winner Bacigalupi’s debut YA novel vividly depicts a bleak vision: a “whole waterlogged world.. .torn down by the patient work of changing nature.” It is difficult for characters to know who to trust as money and greed separate the haves from the have-nots and dictate loyalty. ‘This thriller will grab and keep readers’ attentions as Nailer and Nita “crew up” in their fight to survive.

Ritter, C. K. (2010). [Review of the book Ship breaker, by P. Bacigalupi]. Horn Book Magazine, 86(4), 98-99. Retrieved from

Posted in Michael Printz Award Winner, Module 3, Young Adult Fiction

Module 3: Midwinterblood

Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
ISBN: 9781596438002
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press


This is a tale of love and mystery. Sedgwick links seven stories of seven lives together, through a mysterious island housing an even more mysterious flower. In each story, Eric and Merle are someone else, yet always find each other. However on each solstice moon, something inevitably happens to break them apart. In the last story, the story of a king, the mystery unfolds, revealing that upon his sacrifice to the gods, the king vows to his bride that he will come back, living each of his seven lives as someone new. As he takes his last breath, the king asks his bride if she will follow him into his future lives. Years later, when she is old and dying, the bride whispers her promise to follow him, and thus their story begins anew.

Sedgwick, M. (2013). Midwinterblood [Audiobook]. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press.

My Impressions:

I picked up the audio version of this title at my local library. It was phenomenal. The story was expertly read, rather edgy, and drew me in from the first page. Sedgwick’s character development was top notch and I became emotionally invested in the main characters’ lives very early on in the story. Furthermore, the plot was so mysterious and intriguing I almost couldn’t stand it. More than once, I was tempted to listen to the end of the story just so that I could figure out the mystery behind the strange flower and bizarre island. Sedgwick kept me guessing until the beginning of the epilogue, which at times made me feel desperate- almost as if I were worried that the story wouldn’t unravel into a tidy conclusion. In the end, all of my waiting paid off, and I was rewarded with a perfect ending to this beautiful, tragic love story. I do think that this title is not for just any reader. To enjoy this book, you must be patient, enjoy the bits and pieces of clues you are given, and trust that everything will work itself out in the end. Overall, I would recommend this title to those patient readers looking for a mysterious love story, and who aren’t afraid of a little blood. It would be a great read for young adults 12-17, but can absolutely be enjoyed by adult readers as well.

For Use in the Library:

Recommend this title to readers looking for an unconventional love story. Or, as a creatice writing assignment, have students create their own story linked together through short stories. Show them similar titles and ask them to analyzing the writing conventions that make each story work.


Seven related stories chronicle life on a remote Scandinavian island, from the future (2073) backwards to the distant past (“time unknown”), gradually revealing Blessed Islands profound dependence on a strange drug and the islands disturbing history of human sacrifice. Each tale centers on two bonded souls-reincarnated variously as family members, lovers, and intergenerational friends-who reunite only to be wrenched apart again. Subtly changing pronunciation to reflect each time period, narrator Rhind-Tutt emphasizes the texts use of shifting language through the reverse progression of centuries. More importantly, Rhind-Tutt ably captures the emotional extremes of this unsettling novel: the uncanny recognition and tender reunion of the protagonists; the desperate fear and violence of their community; and the dark machinations of the island itself. KATIE BIRCHER

Bircher, K. (2014). [Review of the book Midwinterblood by, M. Sedgwick]. The Horn Book Magazine, 90(6), 133. Retrieved from

Posted in Module 3, Pura Belpre Award Winner, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Module 3: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Title: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Author: Meg Medina

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5859-5

Publisher: Candlewick Press



Piddy Sanchez is in trouble. Her mother recently moved them out of their old crumbling apartment, which means Piddy has to change schools mid-year. Worse, she soon finds out that the wrong girl hates her- Yaqui Delgado. The problem is, Piddy doesn’t even know what Yaqui looks like. Not that it matters to Yaqui. Piddy soon finds herself the victim of a malicious gang of girls, and must do what she can to protect herself. Piddy dons a hard mask, begins skipping school, and becomes a girl her own family doesn’t recognize. She swears she is never going back to school again. When a concerned classmate reports Piddy’s problem to the counselor, she at last gains the confidence to speak up to the adults in her life. In the end, Piddy has to learn what is important, and decide what kind of person she wants to be. She decides to be someone she is proud of, someone not afraid to dance to her own rhythm.

Medina, M. (2013). Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

My Impressions:

I recently went looking for this title at Half Priced Books. I couldn’t find it on the shelf, so I decided to try my luck asking a very knowledgeable looking clerk shelving books. When I told him that I was looking for a young adult book by this title, he asked, “Are you sure this is young adult with THAT in the title?” I assured him that it was, and that it even won the Pura Belpre Award. Needless to say, we were not able to locate this title in the store, but I soon found it at my local library, in the young adult section. Well- I loved it. In fact, it might be my favorite book I have read thus far this summer. Piddy Sanchez’s story was captivating, to say the least. Told in first person point of view, this title follows the thoughts and fears of a Cuban American teenager, who is having trouble with the other girls at her new school. I’m normally not fond of reading young adult titles written in first person, however this one was an exception. Piddy’s conversational style of storytelling added humor to the text, and made the story seem much more realistic than it would have otherwise.  The problems that Piddy faces throughout the story are problems that every teenager will relate to, and connect with. Teenage girls will find it especially powerful, and culturally diverse teenage girls even more so. This is a high-low book, meaning it is of high interest to teenage readers, but has a low enough level of vocabulary that struggling readers can read it independently. There is some content that could be inappropriate for younger readers. I highly recommend this title to readers 14 and up.

For Use in the Library:

This is an excellent high-low title to recommend to a reluctant reader, or a teenager who is struggling socially at school.


School Library Journal
( April 01, 2013; 9780763658595 )
Gr 7 Up-Piedad Sanchez moved at the beginning of her sophomore year, and a few weeks into classes at her new school a girl comes up to say that “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.” As a first line, it sets the focus for Piddy, who has always had friends, gotten good grades, and managed quite well in her old school. There’s no real reason for the enmity, but the threat is more than real and begins to permeate Piddy’s life. Gradually readers see that her mother’s best friend, who works at a hair salon and has been her support, is the only adult who even has a clue about what is going on. The Queens, New York, neighborhood is solidly Hispanic and the language reflects the culture. Piddy does a downward spiral as the torment gets increasingly worse. The school reaction and the dilemma she faces are realistically portrayed. Yaqui can get to her in and out of school, and she is vulnerable to being terrorized by a whole group of Yaqui supporters. The way that the abuse and threats impact Piddy to try to become a bad girl herself is logically presented. The plight of a pair of abandoned kittens parallels her own loneliness and loss. The Latino cultural milieu adds a richness and texture that lifts this up above many problem novels. The plot points are dexterously intertwined, and the characters are distinct. A real bonus for those looking for a bullying book for older readers that is not simplistic.-Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Edwards, C. A. (2013). [Review of the book Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass, by M. Medina]. School Library Journal, 59(4), 168. Retrieved from