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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

Category Archives: children

I’m an aspring Saturday Night Live writer, sitcom writer, and I also perform improv. Comedy is part of my lifeblood, something I simply can not live without. I first fell in love with comedy upon watching Friends, and reading Erma Bombeck’s books in middle school. The theme of comedy in teen and children’s literature is a favorite of mine. Our last improv show until fall arrived, and so I present this.

These are not books that are simply funny, they address the issue of “being funny” and the art of comedy itself. Sadly, this is not a popular teen-lit topic. Please recommend any titles I may not be aware of in the comments.

I’ve starred the ones I’ve read.

* Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes by Louis Sachar – A classic. I read this countless times when I was younger. I remember getting to the surprise ending regarding the talent show and laughing so hard. It’s a great story of how comedy can empower a person and their self esteem.
*Comedy Girl by Stephen Manes – Not exactly all about comedy, but rather a school that embraces the arts.
* Comedy High by Ellen Schreiber – Trixie dreams of performing comedy, but her only audience is the mirror and stuffed animals in her bedroom. One day she gets a shot at a local comedy club, and slowly climbs up the ladder to fame. But she must balance a personal life and a comedy life, and the pressure is weighing.
My Nights at the Improv by Jan Siebold

With the popularity of American Idol, the rise of the socialite and the fame-making power of the internet, the desire to be a celebrity has increased exponetially. USA Today featured a story recently that revealed in a poll conducted among 18-25 year olds, 81% said their generation’s number one goal was getting rich, 51% said getting famous. Also, Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, about a young teen singer, is one of the most popular shows on TV.

It’s only fitting teen literature reflects this ideal.

The following deal with the art of perfoming, whether it be theater, dance, or singing. I know I might be missing quite a few, so leave them in the comments.

*Theater Shoes
*Ballet Shoes
*Babysitters Club: Jessi’s Big Break
*Teen Idol
*Backstage Pass
Confessions of a Backup Dancer
The Star Power series
*Secrets of My Hollywood Life
*Replay
No More Dead Dogs
*True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet
More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet
Confessions of a Hollywood Star
Secrets of my Hollywood Life: On Location
The Hollywood Sisters
Gavilan: A Story of Hollywood During the McCarthy Era
Tales of a Hollywood Gossip Queen
Bad Dog #1: Hollywood and All That Hoo-Rah
Hollywood Bliss – My Life so Far
*Taffy Sinclar Goes to Hollywood
*Pop Princess

Does the idea of teen literature comprised of Hollywood, celebrity adoration, etc further the cycle of the “demand to be famous” or does it simply reflect it?

Does teen literature reflect an accurate picture of Hollywood and the “fame machine” or does it soften it? Consider the recent antics of party girls Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, once beloved teen idols.

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Novels and true-life accounts of the delicate issue of sexuality are a recurring theme in teen literature. Where once only a few books existed on the topic, such as Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, the teen-lit scene offers more nowadays.

The emergence of these novels allows questioning teens and out-and-proud teens to address the issue head-on, living vicariously through the characters, and seeing how society handles the issue.

I’ve starred the ones I’ve read. Comment if you’d like to recommend new titles to me.

*Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
*Am I Blue: Coming Out of the Silence
*Far from Xanadu by Julie Ann Peters
*Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
*Tomorrow Wendy Shelley Stoehr
My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
*The Bermudez Triangle Maureen Johnson
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
*Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters
GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel
*Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block
*Out of the Shadows
The Misfits by James Howe
Good Moon Rising by Nancy Garden
Hello, I Lied by M.E. Kerr
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
Rainbow High by ” ”
Rainbow Road by ” ”
So Hard to Say by ” ”
The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger
Gravel Queen by Tea Benduhn
The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
*Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
What’s in a Name by Ellen Wittlinger
*Crush by Jane Futcher
*Dive by Stacy Donovan
Living in Secret by Cristina Salat
*Deliver Us from Evie
Totally Joe by James Howe

Keeping You a Secret and Empress of the World are perhaps the most real and authentic. We get both sides of the spectum through the girls’ eyes with acceptance and fear, homophobia. The reaction of friends and family isn’t overdramatic, and extends to accepetance and rejection. They’re both tenderly written with realistic dialogue and monologues.

Kissing the Witch is an elegant prose book of fairy tales with a lesbian twist that is not gratitious, only beautiful.

Afterellen.com has an insightful look into the evolution of this genre.

Children’s books addressing homosexuality now extend beyond Heather has Two Mommies. The books present facts frankly and focus on the idea of family and acceptance. Most aren’t overtly focused on the issue but rather approach it in a sutble way suitable for a range of ages.

King and King by Linda De Hahn
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell
King and King and Family by Linda De Hahn
The Family Book by Todd Parr
The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans and Other Stories by Johnny Valentine
Heather Has Two Mommies by Nancy Garden
Molly’s Family by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman
The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein

Tango Makes Three is the adorable true story of two Central Park zoo male penguins who are devoted to each other, sleeping together, and finally tending to a juvenile penguin. While the true-life story ends unhappily with one of the males eventually finding a female mate, the book witholds this information from children, making it a sweet storybook, conveying the idea of alternative families without resulting to preaching.