My final project for this class was to create a mini-collection of 15 titles and present them online. Feel free to go check it out at Awesome Female Protagonists!
Summary: Taylor Swift’s sophomore album contains 13 tracks that describe the emotional highs and lows of high school and romantic relationships. The country starlet sings about Romeo and Juliet in the lead single, “Love Story,” taking the star-crossed lovers and changing their fate. Swift says of the song, “I just took my favorite characters and gave them the ending that they deserve.” The song “You Belong With Me” captures the intense feelings of a crush on a boy dating someone else, and dreams that he will realize that they are meant for each other. Swift wrote the sweet song “The Best Day” as a surprise for her mother, and the title track “Fearless” can be described as a thank-you letter to her fans (the music video contains footage of Swift on tour and interacting with her fans). Fearless was the top selling album of 2009.
Highlights: This album is an encapsulation of the high school experience, and appeals broadly to those who are experiencing it, the tweens who are anticipating it, and the adults looking back sentimentally. Swift, who writes all of her songs, knows what her fans are looking for and has a gift for writing catchy and relatable tunes. The fairy tale imagery she uses in many of her songs will appeal to anyone who has dreamed of being a princess, and I think the message of having high standards and waiting for a deserving partner comes through. While the subject is high school, younger teens (and pre-teens!) will love this song, and parents will be delighted that there is no objectionable content. It will be exciting to see what Swift does next!
Summary: Three Oxford scholars – John, Charles and Jack – are strangers to each other until an unusual murder brings them together, and sets them on a voyage into the Archipelago of Dreams, a world comprised of all the lands of fantasy and legend. John is entrusted with the task of Caretaker Principa of a mysterious book called the Imaginarium Geographica, the only collection of maps that encompasses the Archipelago. The three scholars and their companions find themselves opposing the evil Winter King, who literally sucks the soul out of lands and their inhabitants, encompassing them in shadow (resulting in their disappearance from the Imaginarium). Can they prevent more worlds from being destroyed? More importantly, can they keep the precious Imaginarium out of evil hands?
Highlights: This fun fantasy adventure will be especially enjoyed by avid readers who will recognize the literary allusions in the Archipelago of Dreams – from Avalon to Prydain to Atlantis. There are references to Greek mythology, Arthurian legend, and even Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Rather than finding it derivative of these sources, I found Here, There Be Dragons to be an original concept even as it nods to these inspirations. There is much darkness and light in this book – there is real violence and death, but there are also many genuinely funny moments (it is rare to find a book that makes me laugh out loud – one of these moments explains how the Loch Ness monster legend originated). The identities of the main characters, which I will not give away, are revealed on the last page and manage to give even more depth to the story. I enjoyed this book and am not surprised that they are already planning a movie!