YA Guy Lit – Fantastical Dudes: The Monstrumologist

Darker fantasy definitely has its place in YA guy lit. One of the best within this subgenre over the last few years is definitely Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. Honestly, it is amazingly awesome. The book even won the 2010 Michael L. Printz Honor Award.

 

The story itself follows the lead Will Henry and his tutor Dr. Warthrop. The two are a team who work to track down monsters called Anthropophagi and try to control the rise in the monster population. They attempt to save the lives of humans who have been made as hosts to the Anthropophagi fetuses that will soon eat their way out of the human’s body. This premise alone was enough to draw my attention.

 

The style of the writing itself is a truly wonderful take on gothic adventure. However, rather than being a little bit intense and overbearing like historical gothic adventure literature, The Monstrumologist is a very fast and easy read. It is truly a page turner if there ever was one!

monstrumologist

 

 

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Make Will’s key!

 

While I won’t spoil anything about this key, I will say that Will finds one. Yet, it clearly is not just a standard key. The best way to celebrate this book is to decorate a fantastical key of your own.

 

Antique-looking keys can be found at most stores for decoration. They look great on their own but can be combined to create a work of art. Spray painting them to a stunning color is the easiest way to make them special. Here are some ideas to get you started!

 

keys1 keys2

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YA Guy Lit: Fantastical Dudes – The Savage Fortress

Finding fantasy for teen guys is never easy. Like I mentioned before, the teen male brain develops differently than females. Many feel that guys tend to prefer more practical and realistic literature since that part of their brain develops more quickly during this stage. On the other side, teen girl brains tend to develop the areas more in charge of creativity and imagination more quickly.

 

With this being said, everyone is obviously different. Also, for a long period of time, most teen guy lit was only realistic fiction and nonfiction. The majority of it even concentrated on sports—despite the fact that not all guys like sports! Thankfully the industry and authors are starting to come around. There are plenty of fantastical dudes…like Ash Mistry from The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda.

 

Ash spends a large portion of his summer vacation in India where he stumbles upon a golden arrowhead like that used to defeat the evil King Ravana. Obviously, Ash assumes the item is just a cool bit of Indian culture to take back home. This assumption does not last long as he is soon becomes hunted by monstrous shapeshifters called rakshasas.

 

This book is amazing and is a great look into Indian mythology. Many people have been linking it (obviously) to Percy Jackson. It is quite similar in terms of bringing an ancient fantasy culture into the modern world. However, The Savage Fortress is WAY more grown-up. People seem to forget that Percy is actually just 12 years old, and the adventure is toned down for that reason. Ash Mistry is more intense though. Several deaths occur and in a rather gore-based way. The actual listing says that the reading level is fifth grade, meaning the increased story, action, and gore can be great for older YA guys who might have a lower reading level or be struggling readers. It is a win-win either way though.

 

savage fortress

 

 

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Indian fun time party!

 

Pull out the kurtas and sarees! Get all dressed up in the most extravagant way. Order authentic Indian cuisine. Gather plenty of friends and have a mythology storytelling session! Each person can tell their favorite story about the Hindu gods and goddesses while everyone is beautifully dressed and chowing down.

 

P.S. – Bollywood flashmobs can be fun too! :-p

 

indian party

YA Guy Lit: Fun Fridays – King Dork

It’s Fun Friday again!

 

Rather than memes, I’ve decided to embrace the funny in a new way. Some of the best guy lit is actually within the humor genre. Therefore, here is a great selection that is funny and is good literature as well.

 

The book choice is King Dork by Frank Portman. It follows the exploits of slacker musician Tom during his sophomore year of high school. There are some serious topics investigated like Tom dealing with the death of his father six years prior to the novel’s timeline. However, the inner dialogue is satirically humorous in its own right. I especially enjoy is frustration with teachers who are obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. Seriously…the book is terrible. STOP TEACHING IT! I actually let my high school students make dry erase graffiti on the copies that I most certainly would never put on my syllabus.

 

For those with a drier sense of humor and a strong grasp of “sad funny” in some situations, King Dork is hysterical. Even though Tom is a sophomore, it might be for more elevated grades due to the humor being more poignant that way. There is even word about a possible film adaption. At the moment, the film is slated for a 2014 release with director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) taking the helm.

King_Dork_cover

 

 

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Guitar pick art!

 

The band that Tom is in with his best friend Sam is a major part of King Dork. The actual band name varies as the two try to find an identity for their music and themselves. However, taking the music in a different direction can be a great way to bring Tom’s experiences to life. Guitar pick art is simply art that is made from collected picks. Here are a few picture ideas to get you started on making a cool piece of art that is all your own and shows the coolness of music in a visual way.

guitar pick1guitar pick4guitar pick3

guitar pick2

YA Guy Lit: Truthiness – You Don’t Even Know Me

A large number of teen guys actually seem to prefer nonfiction. The teen male brain actually appears to be more stimulated by the real life depicted in these books. In fact, I’ve done several action research studies about this nonfiction preference is the root of what librarians and teachers call “the boy problem.” Side note, there is no “boy problem.” The main issue is that YA librarians tend to be women (who are normally fiction crazy) while YA males themselves are more into nonfiction as a generalized standard. Therefore, the issue is mostly a lost in translation problem.

(Also, there is probably an issue associated with not much fiction variety being targeted toward teen guys until quite recently, but my original YA guy lit post tried to address this problem.)

 

Nonfiction is still a great option for teen guy lit though. One of the best recent additions to YA nonfiction is You Don’t Even Know Me, composed by Sharon G. Flake. The book itself is a compilation of poems and stories from a rather diverse group of young African American males. The heart of these works show real life problems, fear, strength, and passion that many teen guys feel but tend to keep inside. The amazing book You Don’t Even Know Me shows that letting out these inner emotions and turmoil can produce stunning beauty and truth.

 

For those who are not fond of poetry (*cough*me*cough*), this selection is perfect. It also can help show YA guys that poetry is not limited to romance and old dead dudes from hundreds of years ago.

youdontevenknowme

 

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Write your own poem!

Choose a favorite of the 15 poems and try to write your own in the same style or about a similar feeling. Do not worry about form. Just write. See what happens in the end result!

fiction-writing

P.S. – I’d love to read a few of these if you feel like publishing on the blog!

YA Guy Lit: Fantastical Dudes – The Graveyard Book

Anyone who knows me personally know about my love for Neil Gaiman. He is an amazing author for all the right reasons. His work is wonderful experiments in format, theme, and traditional literary features. BUT! It also tends to be fun and relatively straightforward reading. The combination of these two areas is very rare in every single genre and age range.

Gaiman’s main young adult book that is one of my favorites of all time is The Graveyard Book. The story follows a strange boy named Bod (full name Nobody) who is the only living inhabitant in a graveyard. The ultimate Gaiman twist in the book is that creatures that normally should inspire fear (ghosts, vampires, etc) are actually the “good” guys. The bad side of things is much more complicated though.

Basically, this book is more of a fantastical version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In fact, if any high school teachers are reading this post, know that a comparison study of the two books would be AWESOME! You get the classic Kipling shoved against the newer and more fast paced Gaiman.

The Graveyard Book has won tons of awards too, including Gaiman’s first Newbery Medal (since he just gained official U.S. citizenship to be eligible for the award before the book was released). It is great for a wide range of readers from reluctant to seasoned due to the multiple layers that can be analyzed depending on the reader’s personal level.

TheGraveyardBook_Hardcover

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Make your own ghost family!

The ghosts take great care of Bod and are amazing teachers. A great craft associated with The Graveyard Book is to make your own ghosts. My personal favorite is the cheesecloth technique.

Needed:

  • Cheesecloth
  • Black felt
  • Craft or fabric glue
  • 4 Cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Various tall cups
  • Fishing Wire or Thread

Method:

  1. First make the liquid starch. Heat 3 3/4 c water to a boil. Mix the remaining 1/4 c of water and the cornstarch together. When the water just reaches the boiling point, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. After the starch is cool, cut various shapes of cheesecloth. Dip the cloth in the starch. Squeeze out excess starch and drape over various cups to make ghostly shapes. The addition of a small ball or balloon to the cup can make a more rounded center shape. You can make small ones to hang or larger ones which will stand on their own. Wait for them to dry.
  3. Once dry, carefully remove them from the cups. Sometimes they will stick a bit, but just gently peel them. Glue on felt eyes and hang wherever you want with the fishing wire or thread.

ghost craft

From Mamaguru.com

YA Guy Lit: Reality Bites – I Hunt Killers

Hey-lo all!

 

Sorry I’ve been gone so long. The move took longer than expected and took a much bigger toll on my body than I planned. My bruises have finally started to recede though and are currently that ugly yellow brown color. It basically looks like I got in a fight with a dirty highlighter and lost. >_<

 

Anyway!

 

I decided to just pick up where I left off in the middle of the Guy Lit Theme rather than going through the process of skimping on the amazing guy lit that I wanted to cover and picking something new. In fact, we’ll start back up with another reality-based fiction selection—I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.

 

I Hunt Killers is like a reality-based book that is extended slightly into the extreme end of fiction. It follows the story of Jazz, a very likeable teen boy who is quite the charmer. The only issue is that he is the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer. These shaky foundations help Jazz see crime scenes from the view of the criminal, which makes him an amazing addition to the local cop force.

 

The story is almost like a ‘Dexter’ for teens. However, instead of the very adult theme of highly questionable moral ambiguity, the tale focuses more on proving that evil is not necessarily inherited and the apple can in fact fall far from the tree in some aspects. Then, these themes are woven into an incredibly exciting plot of chasing a very active serial killer. Two thumbs way way up. It is also great for reluctant readers due to its excitement and page-turning potential.

i hunt killers

 

 

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Embrace crime shows!

 

  • Have a marathon of watching good old CSI episodes (I’m talking Grissom’s heyday here).
  • Give Dexter a try if you are a bit older. NOTE: HBO’s Dexter is not recommended for teens unless they have the parental ok!
  • Also, I definitely have a thing for Criminal Minds, and it plays into the higher level mental themes of I Hunt Killers by studying what makes a serial killer in terms of thought patterns and desires.

crime shows