Tag Archives: biographies

Five Biographies/Autobiographies

You probably rarely read biographies for fun, or maybe you do and you’re looking for some new ones to read. I have recently read several noteworthy biographies that I feel discuss significant people and subjects, and that were actually interesting to read because they were written in new or unconventional styles. There are some really amazing people that have made or are making significant contributions to the world, and I believe that it is important to read about them and their work. So why not try reading one? It might just change your life!

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Biography of Legendary Race Horse Seabiscuit

seabiscuitTitle:  Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Author:  Laura Hillenbrand

Summary: This book takes a look at the life of Seabiscuit, one of the legendary race horses of all time.  This book is non-fiction but feels and reads like an extremely well written novel. Hillenbrand goes through the life of Seabiscuit and his career as a racehorse.  Not only does the biography of Seabiscuit tell the story of Seabiscuit, but it also tells the story of the jockeys and owners.  From the training of Seabiscuit to the low-tier races, and from the low-tier races to the high stakes championship races, the biography is action-packed and incredibly heartwarming.

Why I Started Reading: Biographies narrated as stories appeal to me, so when I saw this book, I picked it up and decided to start reading.  Even though this book is fact-heavy, the story never stops moving forward, and the reader is always looking forward to the next story about Seabiscuit or the trainers/owners.  Consider this as a biography of one of history’s most famous sports “players”.

Why I Kept Reading: The narration is exquisite and the description of each race is so thrilling that you could hear the crowd thundering and cheering at each race. The details and facts are accurate and well researched, all adding to the flow of the story.  Although I have never raced horses or attended a horse race, this book explained the details of each race clearly such that I was able to envision every single detail.  In addition, one thing that makes this book great is that it doesn’t only focus on Seabiscuit, but also tells the stories of Seabiscuit’s jockeys as well, and delves into the precarious life of a jockey.

Six Word Recap: Biography of Legendary Race Horse Seabiscuit.

–Matthew, Lake City, Teen Blogger

LCY

Are Bullies Here? Part IV

bully-infographicThis month we first discussed what bullying is, then we discussed how to recover from or prevent bullying, and last week we discussed what to do if you see someone being bullied.
It seems like everyone wants to be unique and create their own stamp on the world. On the other hand, many people have a hard time embracing the wide variety of “different” characteristics and beliefs that make people unique. I recently read the speech author Lois Lowry gave when accepting the Newbury Award in 1994 for The Giver. Her take on “sameness” bringing comfort and how her college roommates shunned a girl because she wasn’t the same as them is certainly thought provoking.
Here are stories about teens who have been bullied because of their unique circumstances:
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk – When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.
  • Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah – Year Eleven at an exclusive prep school in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, would be tough enough, but it is further complicated for Amal when she decides to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full-time as a badge of her faith–without losing her identity or sense of style.
  • The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake – 13-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and discovers how to love who she is and what she looks like.
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.
  • Empty by K. M. Walton – Deeply depressed after her father cheated on and divorced her mother, seventeen-year-old Adele has gained over seventy pounds and is being bullied and abused at school.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
  • Diary of a Witness by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Ernie, an overweight high school student and long-time target of bullies, relies on his best friend Will to watch his back until Will, overwhelmed by problems at home and guilt over his brother’s death, seeks a final solution.
  • It Gets Better: Coming out, overcoming bullying, and creating a life worth living – A collection of original essays and expanded testimonials written to teens from celebrities, political leaders, and everyday people.
This list of books can be found on a list of swtteen’s profile called: Bullying, unique circumstances.

Teen Review: It Chooses You

It Chooses YouTitle:  It Chooses You
Author:  Miranda July

Summary:  Miranda July was struggling to finish writing the screenplay for her much-anticipated second film. During her increasingly long lunch breaks, she began to obsessively read the PennySaver, the iconic classifieds booklet that reached everywhere and seemed to come from nowhere. Who was the person selling the “Large leather Jacket, $10”? It seemed important to find out–or at least it was a great distraction from the screenplay. Accompanied by photographer Brigitte Sire, July crisscrossed Los Angeles to meet a random selection of “PennySaver” sellers, glimpsing 13 surprisingly moving and profoundly specific realities, along the way shaping her film, and herself, in unexpected ways.

Review:  This book was thought-provoking and kept my interest the whole way through.  It is a marvelous depiction of the recession and the penny-pinchers in the world.  The journalist Miranda July visits many homes in America, the homes who put collectable items in the magazine, The Penny Saver.  She meets odd men, sweet grandmothers, and hipster twenty-somethings along the way.  With haunting photographs by Brigitte Sire decorating the page, I absolutely love this book and I strongly recommend it for any teen looking to learn more about the recession.

–Peter, High Point Teen BloggerHIP

Cracking the Hub: My Friend Dahmer

reading challenge logo - finisher

Last week I finished The Hub Challenge just before the deadline elapsed.  Stay tuned to see if I win any prizes. 

Back to the books.  The twelfth book I finished for this challenge was My Friend Dahmer by Derf (Backderf).

My Friend Dahmer was honored by the Great Graphic Novels, Alex Awards, and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. It is a graphic novel about the infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and the author who was Dahmer’s friend during high school.
 
The artwork is notable.  It imparts meaning, despair, suspense, and an overwhelming creepiness.  We know what Dahmer ended up doing, but in those carefree days of high school Backderf and his friends had no clue of what their “mascot” Dahmer would do as an adult.  The reader sees a young man isolated from society and enduring a difficult family situation while trying to restrain and dampen the disturbing urges emerging from the recesses of his mind.  His friends saw an increasingly strange and self-medicating Dahmer withdrawing from high school life.
 
This was a quick read.  It was a fascinating read, and ultimately it will be an unforgettable read.  For those of our readers who are on the queasy side of things – don’t worry, most of the disturbing events happen off the page and are merely alluded to in drawings and text.  When you read this graphic novel – don’t skip the Sources section where you learn more about how the author researched the book as well as more details of Backderf and Dahmer’s adolescence and adulthood.
 
What do you think – should the author have included more detail about Dahmer’s crimes in this graphic novel?
 

Cracking the Hub: Drama & Steve Jobs

Hub Reading ChallengeI’ve been reading steadily and am a third of the way through The Hub Challenge
I just finished my eighth book, Drama, by Raina Telgemeier and my ninth book, Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal.
 
Drama was an honor book for the Stonewall Award as well as one of the Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens and Top Ten Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. Drama follows a middle school girl who designs sets for the drama club and all the drama that surrounds their production of Moon over Mississippi.  Friendships, romance, and drama abound in this relatively short story.  I don’t usually read graphic novels, so it was a nice change of pace to read this light story where the art is instrumental to understanding the story.
 
Today I’ll give you a two for one post – I also finished reading Steve Jobs by Karen Blumenthal which was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.  Blumenthal repeatedly jumps between a speech Jobs gave at a college graduation in 2005 and back to his chronological life story in this narrative biography.  You won’t find dry recitations of facts here, rather, the book is more like linked stories that show how Jobs’ reacted in situations, his early influences, and how his charisma and difficult personality made an odd sort of sense and influenced his life’s work.  Steve Jobs was not always a pleasant person to be around, but he was never ordinary.
 
Next up: Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Teen Review: Lakota Woman

Lakota WomanTitle:  Lakota Woman

Author:  Mary Crow Dog (Brave Bird)

Summary:  Lakota Woman tells the true story of Mary Crow Dog’s life during the Second Ghost Dance and the beginning of the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the 1970s. Mary grows from someone with little to live for that wanders the country to a strong, independent woman.

I started reading it because… it was assigned in school.

I kept reading because… it showed a glimpse into a life so different from my own that I was fascinated.  I learned so much about Native American culture and their life styles that I just wanted to keep on learning more.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To:  Become a feminist leader.

Six Word Recap:  Indian Woman becoming strong and empowered.

This book reminded me of books by Sherman Alexie.  He too reveals the harsh facts of how Native Americans really live their lives.

Interesting fact: In the sequel, some of the transformations Mary made are reversed.

Roxy, Northeast Teen Adviser