Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shelf Life [kids]

Tagged by Eric Walters, 136 pages
Tagged @SPL:  YA PB Walte

What is real art and what isn’t? Can some graffiti be considered to be art?

In this story, a spate of clever, elaborate and detailed graffiti and “guerilla art”, signed by “Wiz”, has been appearing throughout the city. Mayor Dumfrey, who portrays himself as a strict “law-and-order” politician (and who is running for re-election), is determined to stamp it out. He considers the street art to be obnoxious vandalism with no artistic merit whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Ian and his friends Julia and Oswald, debate the issue of graffiti as real art. Eventually Oswald is discovered to be the elusive graffiti artist. He reveals that his street art has been a protest against the city’s reduction in hours and staffing at the local art gallery. When the indignant mayor tries to catch Oswald red-handed, his friends and the entire high school come together in a heart-warming show of support for their fellow student, who has impressed them with his talented art and his genuine concern for the future of the city’s art gallery.

An engaging, fast read with a great ending, Tagged focuses on a thought-provoking, relevant issue. Author Eric Walters took his inspiration for this tale from a real street artist in Toronto, “Deadboy”, who became known for his humorous depictions of Mayor Rob Ford (who famously declared “war on graffiti”).

** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years.

Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass, 288 pages
@SPL:  YA FIC Bass

Graffiti KnightGraffiti is also the subject of a second recent teen novel, set in post-Second World War East Germany. The year is 1947.  Life was very difficult during the war – and unfortunately, it continues to be so.

By day, Wilm is an ordinary 16-year-old teen.  By night, he sneaks out to write messages on the walls of Leipzig – messages to inform everyone that the local police are mere puppets of the oppressive Soviet Army, which has held control of East Germany since the end of the war.

The police and the Soviet Army are both after Wilm, of course, but this doesn’t deter him from his cause, which is dear to his heart. His family endured enormous suffering during the war and has been harassed since then by the police. Besides, Wilm feels confident that he can continue to elude the authorities.

However Wilm does eventually get caught, and he realizes that he has been too confident and has gone too far. He also realizes that even the best-intended actions can have very serious, unforeseen consequences.

Graffiti Knight, Alberta author Karen Bass’ fourth book for teens, is a truly gripping story. One of the finalist novels for the 2014 Canadian Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People, her tale features realistic, likeable characters and presents an accurate, suspenseful portrayal of life in post-war Eastern Germany. 

** Recommended for ages 12 to 18 years.
This review was published in the Stratford Gazette. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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