Friday, May 20, 2011

Alphabetical Listing of Entries




Graphic Novels



Friday, May 13, 2011

Literature Resource Center

Title: Literature Resource Center

Publishing Company: Gale and Cengage Learning

Summary: The Literature Resource Center has limited access for users and requires a library card. Within, it contains biographies, bibliographies, and critical essays on authors from all different literary disciplines, ranging from the classics to science and business writers, as well as popular magazines. Like most databases, the Resource Center has a range of search techniques that range from the basic search to the advanced search. The results are sorted into the categories of Literature Criticism, Biographies, Topic and Work Overviews, Reviews and News, Primary Sources and Literary Works and Multimedia. This allows users to limit their results even without having filled out an advanced search form. The Resource Center, along with the basic and advanced search, also provides a person and works search. The downloadable Guided Tour provides a step-by-step introduction to the database for new users. Providing an entire list of the journal titles is a helpful addition that allows users to browse without having a search topic set up.

Critical Evaluation: The Literature Resource Center is an invaluable resource for both teenagers and students of all ages, whether they are currently in school or not. It provides numerous critical articles which are helpful not only as citations for papers but as articles that stimulate intellectual thought regarding a book that is currently being read. For example, when Don Quixote is entered in a basic search, 630 critical articles are retrieved that analyze everything from the dynamic between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to a comparison between Don Quixote and Hamlet. These articles could help inspire a paper topic that had previously not been thought of. The Reviews section also contained News in which Don Quixote was recently referenced, which was amusing to see how classic literature still has comparisons to modern life. While some users may find it easier to use Wikipedia for an author biography, the Resource Center also provides biographies through the Gale Online Encyclopedia.

Reader's Annotation: The Literature Resource Center offers resources on literature from across a whole range of disciplines at the click of a mouse.

Information About the Company: Gale is part of Cengage Learning and strives to perfect online and educational publications for learning across all ages. Its multiple divisions target different age groups, from school aged students to adults and public libraries.
Gale also deals with licensing issues and is based in Michigan. Read more about the company at its website.

Genre: Database; Literature

Curriculum Ties: English Literature

Booktalking Ideas:
  • The Literature Resource Center is an essential database for teen students who are researching articles for papers or just brainstorming ideas on paper topics.
Reading Level: 15+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Database?: Staff Recommendation

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Peninsula Library System Digital Book Library

Title: Peninsula Library System Digital Book Library

Publishing Company: OverDrive

Summary: The Peninsula Library System Digital Book Library, powered by OverDrive, provides a wide range of eBooks and audio books for library users to download onto their computers, eBook readers or smart phones (through the use of an OverDrive application). The homepage provides multiple categories of books available for the online viewer's perusal, ranging from Fiction, Nonfiction and audiobooks in a variety of formats. It also lists the newest additions to each section as well as including a division of new Children's and Young Adult literature, as well as recently returned eBooks and audio books. Each category is broken down into multiple genres, allowing for easy browsing. In order to access this database, users must first sign into their SMCL account which is created through the ownership of having a library card. Next, after location an item they wish to read, the user must place a hold on the item by typing in their library card number and email address. Once the user receives the confirmation email, they must add it to their cart and download it in the format that their browser supports.

Critical Evaluation: Unfortunately, this database is relatively new to the San Mateo County Library System and thus the collection of books available for checkout and download is subsequently quite slim. However, like everything else in the library, it is for free and is currently expanding despite issues from publishing companies like Harper Collins that is attempting to limit the number of check-outs each eBook can have before it needs to be renewed. Also, the check-out system is rather confusing, especially for the average user who has not had the system explained or demonstrated to them. If the number of steps could be reduced or limited to only the Digital Book Library without requiring the need to access the user's email account, it would make it easier for users to check out books as well as improve the circulation. Another issue with the eBook database is that each eBook is treated like a physical print copy and can only be checked out to one patron at a time. On the positive side, the database allows teens who do not have access to an eBook reader or smart phone to read books on the computer, which could be helpful for school projects when all other physical copies are checked out.

Reader's Annotation: The Peninsula Library System's Digital Book Library allows users to download eBooks and audio books for free onto their computer, eBook reader, or smart phone all for no cost.

Information About the Company: OverDrive is a digital distributor of eBooks and audio books. Founded in 1986, OverDrive currently hosts more than 500,000 titles.
OverDrive deals with both publishers and libraries as well as schools and retailers. Read more about this company at its website.

Genre: EBook database

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • Need to read the Scarlet Letter by tomorrow and your classmates have checked out all the library copies? The Peninsula Library System's Digital Book Library has a copy available to check out and read onto your computer or smart phone. While our collection is currently expanding, there are many titles that may catch your eye and allow you to test our newest database.
Reading Level: All ages; Teen items 15+

Challenge Issues:
  • Unlike common thought, you do not need an eBook reader like the Kindle or the Nook to read eBooks. The Peninsula Library System Digital Book Library allows users to download eBooks and audio books onto their computers and read them right off the screen.
Why This Database?: System-wide eBook database

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Title: Gale Virtual Reference Library

Production Company: Gale and Cengage Learning

Summary: The Gale Virtual Reference Library is offered from the San Mateo County Library System's database section with only a library card needed for complete access. The Reference Library has a variety of reference material that is helpful for teens ranging from medicine, law, the environment, education, history, literature, multicultural studies, and science. Users can do a basic search for keywords within specific strata of the results, such as in the documents' titles, the keywords, the subject, or the entire document itself. They can also browse via the available publication via subject matter. Like most databases and information retrieval engines, the Reference Library has an advanced search as well as a Subject Guide Search. The subject guide allows for users to search for specific subjects rather than keywords and allows users to discover overarching subjects that they might have not originally thought of. Two other helpful sections of the Library are the Dictionary and Title List that users can access at any step of their search.

Critical Evaluation: The Gale Virtual Reference Library is a helpful source for teens to receive reference help from reliable sources at a time in which they may not be able to access a physical library, whether the school media center or a public library. With their library card, teens can log on and search for articles and book excerpts and read them online for their research. While not as extensive as other databases, the Reference Library is a good starting point for research topics and its full-color photographs and illustrations should not be too daunting to any student, as the layout of many of the encyclopedias referenced are similar to textbooks. This database is also a good fact-checking information area whose references will not be looked down upon by teachers as the information is originally from published encyclopedias rather than Wikipedia. The related subject results after performing a search will be helpful and familiar to users who are used to clicking hyper links and following a train of thought to its conclusion.

Annotation: An online reference tool, the Gale Virtual Reference Library provides 24/7 access to a medley of encyclopedias and other published reference materials that would otherwise be unaccessible when libraries are closed.

Information About the Company: Gale is part of Cengage Learning and strives to perfect online and educational publications for learning across all ages. Its multiple divisions target different age groups, from school aged students to adults and public libraries.
Gale also deals with licensing issues and is based in Michigan. Read more about the company at its website.

Genre: Database; Reference Services

Curriculum Ties: Information Retrieval

Booktalking Ideas:
  • For those who love using Wikipedia but whose teachers frown when they see it referenced for a paper, the Gale Virtual Reference Library provides a plethora of information with only a library card needed for access. Available 24/7, just like Wikipedia, the Reference Library provides excerpts from numerous published reference materials for students to use whenever they want.
Reading Level: 15+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Database?: Staff Recommendation

Femme Fatale

Title: Femme Fatale

Musician: Britney Spears

Publisher: Jive

Copyright: 2011

Summary: Femme Fatale is an edgy, dance-floor club album from Britney Spears. Starting with Till the World Ends and Hold It Against Me, these two songs have a strong beat and sexualized lyrics that directly reference dancing on a darkened dance floor. Hold It Against Me, itself a pun, continues the sexual attraction in the club theme with an even faster beat than the first song. Together, these two are a strong start the the album and set the theme. Britney Spears alternates the speed with the song Inside Out and lets the listeners take a breather while continuing a steady beat and increasing her own singing speed. Inside Out continues the tension but increases it through the lyrics which state that the couple will break up despite their sexual attraction. Almost immediately, I Wanna Go increases the tempo once more and rarely lets up until the end of the album. The remaining songs continue the partying and love theme while inserting more sexual innuendo puns into the lyrics and song titles.

Critical Evaluation: Overall, Femme Fatale is a high-energy dance album that will entertain those who are a fan of fast-paced and heavy-beat songs that they can jump around to in the club or listen to while exercising. The beginning of the album started off the strongest with the two hits and often aired on the radio songs Till the World Ends and Hold It Against Me. Adding a slightly slower song right afterwards allowed the listeners to rest before launching into the remainder of the dance album, blending together different tempos in order to provide some variety instead of high-intensity monotony. The music could have been changed to still contain a melodic beat but at a different pace, such as one of Britney's old hits I'm a Slave For You. The lyrics of the songs themselves are not groundbreaking nor as intriguing in composition in comparison to Britney Spears' old hits. While some may be entertained by song titles like Hold It Against Me, and the album itself, others may criticize it and its highly sexually charged lyrics.

Listener's Annotation: Britney Spears' newest album is all that it promises to be: a high-energy dance album that can be listened to at a club or while exercising. Femme Fatale includes the hit songs Till the World Ends and Hold It Against Me.

Information About the Musician: With six albums under her belt and her personal life part of general media knowledge, Britney Spears is a common household name. From the girl-next-door to the scandalously sensual singer, Britney Spears has guaranteed her place in history.
Femme Fatale is her newest and seventh album. Visit her website to see where her Femme Fatale promotional tour stops next.

Genre: Rock; Pop; Dance

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • Fans of Britney Spears' high-energy songs and who have heard the song Hold It Against Me over and over on the radio will love her seventh and newest album release Femme Fatale. Consisting of twelve club-worthy songs, this CD will give the listeners energy enough to keep dancing or exercising, whichever the situation calls for.
Listening Level: 16+

Challenge Issues:
  • While some of the lyrics on this CD are charged with sexual tension, these songs are also available on the radio as well as for download or streaming online. With the overall sexualization of society, many songs have similar content, which does not make it acceptable but should create a certain lens with which to view this CD.
Why This CD?: Circulation; Billboard 200

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


"Victoria, for your hand in marriage, I'd cross oceans or continents. I would go to the gold fields of San Francisco and bring you back your weight in gold. I'd go to Africa and bring you back a diamond as big as your fist. Or I'd go to the Arctic and I'd slaughter a polar bear and bring you back its head."

Title: Stardust

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Publishing Company: Paramount Pictures

Copyright: 2007

Plot Summary: Stardust begins in the village of Wall, its namesake which divides England and the magical kingdom of Stormhold, and a young man named Dunstan Thorn. Dunstan escapes through the Wall and meets a beautiful, leashed woman at a bizarre marketplace. They sleep together, and nine months later, Dunstan, having returned to England receives a baby named Tristan. Eighteen years later, Tristan is also a young man who attempts to win the heart of his true love Victoria against the elegant Humphrey. In Stormhold, the ailing King pits his sons against each other in the race to return light to a ruby pendant which only responds to royal blood. The ruby flies into the night sky and knocks a star out of orbit. Seeing the star fall, Tristan vows to fetch it in return for Victoria's hand in marriage. Also seeing the star fall, a trio of aging witches yearn for eternal youth and also go on the hunt for the star. When the dust settles, the star turns out to be a beautiful young woman who stares at the pendant that knocked her out of the sky. As Tristan crosses the Wall, all Stormhold powers converge on the fallen star's whereabouts.

Critical Evaluation: Stardust is a dark and twisted fairy tale which for readers of Neil Gaiman's published works, would not be a surprise. The overall tone of the movie is dark and yet humorous, in which playful music blends with horrific actions done by the characters on screen. The dialog within the movie is witty and allows the viewers to get to know the characters. Tristan Thorn as the protagonist is a rather sympathetic and entertaining character despite his bumbling beginnings. He is a hardworking young man whose earnest love for Victoria shows with his every action despite her being unworthy of such efforts. Yvaine, the fallen star, is a rather unsympathetic character but it is rather understandable, having been knocked out of orbit by a magical pendant. The plot of the film is well-paced with the Stormhold royalty and the witches hunting the fallen star with their lives at stake contrasted with Tristan and Yvaine walking by foot looking for the Wall.

Viewer's Annotation: Tristan Thorne is a normal English boy who crosses a gap in the Wall, into the magical kingdom of Stormhold, to retrieve a falling star in order for his love's hand in marriage. Little does he know what forces of darkness he will face as witches and Stormhold royalty also seek the star.

Information About the Director: Matthew Vaughn is an English born director and producer. He is best known for directing the movies Layer Cake and Kick-Ass as well as the upcoming newest installment in the X-Men universe, X-Men: First Class.
As a producer, Vaughn worked on the famous Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch.

Genre: Fantasy; Romance; Coming-of-age

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • How is Tristan Thorn an endearing and respectable hero, despite his rather bumbling beginnings as a humble English shop-boy? How could average teenage viewers relate to his attempts at happiness?
Viewing Level: 15+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Movie?: Hugo Award Winner

Reference Page:
Vaughn, M (Producer and Director). (2007). Stardust [Motion picture]. USA: Paramount Pictures.

Easy A

"Maybe this is gonna sound stupid and, believe me, it's not like I was expecting, you know, fireworks or a string quartet or anything but I always thought pretending to lose my virginity would be a little more, I know know, special? Judy Blume should've prepared me for that."

Title: Easy A

Director: Will Gluck

Production Company: Screen Gems

Copyright: 2010

Plot Summary: To avoid spending time with her best friend's wacky family for the weekend, Olive Penderghast lies and says she spent the weekend losing her virginity with a college student. Like most rumors, Olive's spread like wildfire through her school and soon all the Christians say she will be damned and everyone is can't keep their eyes off her. Reveling in this newfound attention, Olive starts to change her wardrobe and demeanor at school. She uses her new popularity to help downtrodden guys at school like her gay friend who wanted to play straight until he graduates. Soon, every unpopular guy wants to spread the rumor that he spent time with Olive by paying her in gift cards and her best friend won't even talk to her. Olive starts receiving unwanted attention in the form of the Christian students protesting over her sexual exploits and she begins to feel the full impact of her so-called adulterous lifestyle. To make things worse, Olive has never been on a date with a guy, let alone had sex with one.

Critical Evaluation: Olive's use of her webcamera to talk directly to the audience reduces the distance between her as protagonist and the viewers, quite like in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. She also narrates the storyline as events unfold and her witty and strong personality really pull the movie through. With her newfound identity in school, Olive is able to remake herself through clothing and overall demeanor, especially how she acts among the other students. This could be taken as a positive cast to the otherwise negative image of an "easy" girl that Olive cultivates. The multiple references to 80s movies, especially those with chivalrous male leads, is a wink to the past from Olive and the older characters in the movie also make references to when times were different. While the ending was not as concrete as it could have been in terms of how everyone takes Olive's webcast, it summed up the story well and left it to the viewer's imagination.

Viewer's Annotation: Easy A tells the story of a rumor gone wild when Olive Penderghast lies that she lost her virginity to a college student. Soon the entire school knows and Olive's previous squeaky-clean image goes wild.

Information About the Director: Will Gluck is a New York born director, producer, and screenwriter. Gluck has written for many television series as well as directed and produced multiple movies.
He has directed the movies Fired Up and Friends with Benefits, along with Easy A. Some of Gluck's television series were the John Larroquette Show and The Loop.
Genre: High School; Rumors; Romance

Curriculum Ties N/A

"Booktalking" Ideas:
  • How does Olive's original lie get blown out of proportion? What are other dangerous rumors that can be spread without much prior notice? Why do you think that Olive embraced the rumors so strongly instead of rejecting it whole-heartedly?
Viewing Level: 16+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Movie?: Critics Choice Winner

Reference Page:
Gluck, W. (2010). Easy A. Screen Gems.

Nintendo Power

Title: Nintendo Power

Publishing Company: Future US, Inc

Summary: Nintendo Power's articles and reviews range in length from single paragraphs to a couple of pages and their depth and intricacy vary to the same extent. The articles are all written in the second-person point of view with the authors talking directly to the readers and gamers. Advertisements are integrated into the general layout of the magazine and add to the general mood of the publication. Nintendo Power also includes interviews with game publishers and designers that provide insight as well as intriguing and entertaining conversations with people who know and have built the game from the bottom-up, versus those who only know the end product. The Letters corner contains reader responses to specific questions and allows gamers to hear multiple points of view on specific subjects such as whether or not they have bought games because of the artwork on the box or around specific topics such as old handheld games like the Game Boy or the Super Nintendo.

Critical Evaluation: From even the covers of the magazines, Nintendo Power is colorful and eye-catching to the readers and also set a tone of youthfulness, from that of Link riding a horse to two-tone Pokemon set in a ying and yang background. As the majority of the articles are written as reviews with a walk through of the game included (a walk through being a basic guides to the plot and game play of a game), they are written in the second person, addressing the readers directly through the use of the pronoun "you." While this could be more engaging to some readers, the repetitiveness of the second person point of view could start feeling like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. However, this writing style does make it easy for readers to quickly find the information they are looking for, also assisted by the use of quick and easy subtitles such as Knowing the Score and Hey! Listen!.

Reader's Annotation: Nintendo Power covers all things gaming, including reviews, tips and tricks, strategy guides, and previews. While targeting a younger audience through its heavy coverage of youth-games, Nintendo Power also entices older teen gamers with its insightful reviews and hints.

Information About the Publishing Company: While Future US, Inc is not the original publisher of this magazine, they have a history of publishing self-interest magazines that cover a range of topics from gaming, music, and technology. Their monthly audience for their multitude of print and online publications is 29 million strong.
Future US, Iinc is headquartered in South San Francisco, California. Read more about the company at their website.

Genre: Gaming; Reviews

Curriculum Ties: National Gaming Day

Booktalking Ideas:
  • For the young gamer or one who reminisces about the good old days of Zelda, Nintendo Power covers games that other reviewers might overlook, as well as covering themes in game releases such as Japanese visual novels' rising popularity in the United States and the general progression of the Zelda series.
Reading Level: 14+

Challenge Issues:
  • While Nintendo Power's games are targeted for younger gamers than GamePro, there still is a large amount of animated violence within them, even if there is no gore. For example, the Dead or Alive series centers around one player's character defeating another player's character, or an Artificial Intelligence character by beating it up. The screenshots within the magazine are all easily PG and the tend more towards the Pokemon end of gaming rather than that of Mortal Kombat.
Why This Magazine?: Circulation statistics

Transworld Skateboarding

Title: Transworld Skateboarding

Publishing Company: Bonnier Corporation

Summary: Transworld Skateboarding is a magazine directly targeted to fans of skateboarding and contains mostly photographs of skateboarders doing tricks in a variety of locations all around the world. They range from posed photos in which skaters pick the perfect time of day as a backdrop, to run down areas that lack any special lighting. The layout of the magazine provides for large images that allow skateboarders to see how a trick looks as it plays out. It does not, however, show how to do the trick or lay out a description of it other than its title. Transworld also contains spotlight articles interviewing or focusing on the careers of skateboarders who have worked their way up from parks to having multiple sponsors. The articles provide a glimpse into the different levels of the sport of skateboarding and how skaters of all ages participate. The advertisements within Transworld are integrated into the magazine and lack price tags, often looking just like the photos of the skateboarders doing tricks.

Critical Evaluation: The images of the skateboarding tricks are breathtaking, especially as they are so rapidly taken that when viewed in the proper sequence, the skateboarders almost look like they are darting across the page. Similarly, the layout design of the magazine is akin to that of a photo-book and the amount of text is incorporated in a manner that it does not distract readers from the action. The advertisements did not have prices or much information regarding how to purchase the products, or how to even locate it. This made the integration of advertisements and articles easier and lends more weight to the photo-book design. However, the main problem that the magazine has is that it caters towards expert skateboarders or at least those who know the jargon, especially the names of the tricks. For those who are just starting to skateboard, there is no "starter" version or portion that can help them acclimatize to the sport.

Reader's Annotation: For fans of skaters, Transworld contains all the best skateboarding tricks documented in frame-by-frame photographs.

Information About the Publishing Company: Bonnier Corporation is an American publishing company. Bonnier was formed in 2007 when its Swedish company combined with World Publications.
Bonnier's magazines are all based on special-interest activities such as sailing, parenting, popular science and fishing. Read more about the company at its website.

Genre: Skateboarding; Sports

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • For those who love skateboarding or for those who want to learn more about it, Transworld offers interviews and photographs of skaters doing tricks that will make your jaw drop.
Reading Level: 15+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Magazine?: Staff Recommendation


Title: Seventeen Magazine

Publishing Company: Hearst Corporation

Summary: Seventeen contains quick blurbs about fashion, makeup, hairstyles, and other topics that teenage girls will find interesting, such as how to make quick money and interviews with famous teens. Written for those who do not have a lot of time to read lengthy articles, most of the articles are very succinct and to the point and contain a large amount of graphics and price tags, along with locations at which the clothing or other product can be purchased. Similarly, the advertising is all targeted towards teens and, for the most part, have younger models in them. Most of the articles are organized by specific themes, such as Sporty Chic for Spring and Sunny Steals, containing a comparison of different brands and the price ranges. While there are a few longer length articles in Seventeen, they are at the back of the magazine and are not easy to locate. Seventeen also contains quizzes for teens to fill out and test their knowledge, as well as quizzes to discover how they relate to others.

Critical Evaluation: Seventeen is not a literary magazine as much as it is a fashion guide for teens, containing reviews and comparisons for those who want to update themselves on the newest fads quickly without having to dig through lengthy articles. The clean design of the magazine allows for readers to alternate between different products and find out information about where to buy them and the cost. While some spreads may be more cluttered due to the number of products per page, such as Her Style which combines shoes, makeup, bags, etc, it still is easy to find distinguish what text goes with what item. The blend of advertising and articles is almost seamless which, on one hand, makes for a uninterrupted reading experience, but on the other hand makes the entire magazine a shopping catalog rather than a published work that reviews products. The how-to articles were the most interesting, as they did not require the purchase of an item.

Reader's Annotation: Chock full of beauty and styling tips, fashion deals and how to deal with teen issues, Seventeen is a quick and easy reference and entertainment magazine for busy teens.

Information About the Publishing Company: Hearst Corporation is an American publishing media organization. Hearst publishes a multitude of media, from newspapers to magazines as well as broadcasting and interactive media.
Heart's published magazines range from Cosmopolitan and Esquire to Oprah and Popular Mechanics. Read more about the company at their website.

Genre: Fashion; Shopping; Teen Life

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • Seventeen Magazine provides all the fashion tips, hints, and reviews that teens could need. Written in an entertaining and easy to read manner, it also contains a handful of articles that go in depth into subjects that are applicable to and should interest teens of all ages, from how to make money or how to help someone going through difficult situations.
Reading Level: 15+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Magazine?: Circulation Statistics