Friday, September 4, 2009

Fantasy and Science Fiction

Middle School


Bibliographic Information:
Collins, S. (2003). Gregor the Overlander. New York: Scholastic Press

Eleven year old Gregor is the man of the house after his father disappeared two years ago. This summer he has to stay home for the summer and babysit his two year old sister, Boots. But when they are in the basement of their apartment building doing laundry, Boots begins to fall into a vent in the wall. Before Gregor can catch her, they are both sucked down the hole. So starts the beginning of an adventure that seems to have been prophesied hundreds of years earlier. Is Gregor the Warrior written about all those years ago? Why does Boots seem to fit in so well down in the Underland? A Battle where all the creatures of the Underland must choose a side, may just be the answer to where Gregor's Dad has been all this time.

Lead Comments:

Scary and dark, but funny, too, this book seems to have it all. An adventure that leads to war, where being friends with the enemy helps find the enemy among friends. Gregor is brave beyond his years and Boots is the Ambassador of Love. The creatures are overgrown, intelligent, and some are even kind, but the Rats are dangerous. The war against the Rats leads Gregor and Boots into the dark, damp tunnels and to their dad, but at what cost? I fell in love with the Underland and its people, and I can't wait until I have time to read more of the Underland series!

School Library Journal: (Excerpt)
This fantasy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2003) is skillfully written with well-developed characters and enough action to keep listeners' attention. With the hint of a sequel, this would be an excellent selection for libraries to add to their fantasy collections.–Lisa D. Williams, Chocowinity Middle School, NC Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (Retrieved October 23, 2009 from

Booklist: (Excerpt)
What if Alice fell down an air vent in a New York City apartment building instead of down a rabbit hole? Collins considers a similar possibility in her exceptional debut novel, a well-written, fast-moving, action-packed fantasy. Collins creates a fascinating, vivid, highly original world and a superb story to go along with it, and Gregor is endearing as a caring, responsible big brother who rises triumphantly to every challenge. This is sure to be a solid hit with young fantasy fans. Ed SullivanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved. (Retrieved October 23, 2009 from

Teacher Tools & Library Leads:
Much discussion on bravery and courage versus treachery and deceit can be made. Why did Gregor choose to do what was right even though it was so difficult? Why did the traitor choose the wrong path? How did this effect the royal family? Have students write an essay on the quote: "Courage doesn't count until you can count." What does this mean? How did the meaning of this as it relates to Boots effect the outcome of the quest?

High School

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Bibliographic Information:Werlin, N. (2008). Impossible. New York: Dial Books.


Seventeen year old Lucy Scarborough loves her foster parents, has a best friend who needs looking after, and a real mom who is a mentally disturbed bag lady. Working hard to live a normal life, Lucy makes plans to go to her junior prom with Gray, a boy she thinks she could really like. But prom night changes everything. Lucy's world becomes wrapped up in the supernatural as she tries to deal with the very really issues resulting from prom night. After reading her mother's journal, Lucy has a choice: believe in the curse and try to stop it, or not. It all seems so impossible.

Lead Comments:

Real teen issues such as dealing with a mentally ill parent, date rape, and teen pregnancy are intricately intertwined with a family curse that has continued for generations. A strange version of the song "Scarborough Fair" by Simon and Garfunkel, is the only thing Lucy's mother has given her and it takes on a whole new meaning after she reads her mothers journal. Nancy Werlin is able to tell a story of elves and fairies that is believable and real because of the realistic background of Lucy's life. Werlin keeps the reader believing and supporting Lucy until the very end. A great fantasy book for readers who may not be fans of fantasy, and for those who are.
Publishers Weekly: (Excerpt)
Werlin...melds fantasy and suspense in a contemporary setting for a romance with plenty of teen appeal. Werlin disguises the retro elements..., and...she builds nail-biting tension. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (Retrieved October 24, 2009, from

Werlin earns high marks for the tale's graceful interplay between wild magic and contemporary reality. Starred review (Retrieved October 24, 2009, from

Teacher Tools & Library Leads:

Rethinking the ballad "Scarborough Fair" by Simon and Garfunkel was how Nancy Werlin began the book, Impossible. Later, after researching and finding many versions of the same song, Nancy writes her own version that becomes the one Lucy's mom hands down to Lucy. Have students research the ballad all the way back to the 1670 version. Compare and contrast the many different versions to the one in the book. What makes Lucy's version different? Then have students rewrite the lyrics of a favorite song to fit something in their life or to begin a story.

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