________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 22. . . .February 8, 2013


Reality Rules II: A Guide to Teen Nonfiction Reading Interests. (Genreflecting Advisory Series).

Elizabeth Fraser.
Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2012.
230 pp., hardcover & eBook, $47.69 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-61069-292-2 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Teenagers-Books and reading-United States.
Young adult literature-Stories, plots, etc.
Young adult literature-Bibliography.


Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4



Some four years ago, I gave Elizabeth "Betsy" Fraser's Reality Rules! (Vol XV, No. 9, December 8, 2008) a most positive review, and my response to Reality Rules II is no less enthusiastic. Reading Fraser's five-page reworked Introduction, which now provides a definition of nonfiction as well as an update to Trends in Young Adult Fiction, continues to be the essential starting point for those who intending to use this volume. There, in addition to clearly setting out the volume's purpose and scope, as well as identifying the criteria used in selecting the items for inclusion, Fraser makes the important point that:

The books covered in this guide have been published since 2007 and were not [emphasis mine] included in Reality Rules; thus this book can be seen as a companion to, rather than a replacement of, that book.

     As well, Fraser notes that "[b]ooks used exclusively for schoolwork and those that have largely been supplanted by online sources, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, have not been included." Fraser also clarifies that not all of the books in Reality Rules II were originally published for a YA audience. "Some books published for adult audiences that teens will enjoy have also been included."

      Obviously a believer in the idiom, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Fraser has maintained the organizational structure of the original volume, and so the contents of Reality Rules II are again divided into three major sections: Part 1, Nonfiction Genres, which includes two chapters, True Adventure and True Crime; Part 2, Life Stories, also consisting of two chapters, Memoirs and Autobiographies, and Biography, and Part 3, Nonfiction Subject Interests. This last segment is once again the longest and contains seven chapters: History; Science, Math, and the Environment; Sports; All About You; How To; The Arts; and Understanding and Changing the World. As before, each chapter begins with a definition of the nonfiction area, a statement of its appeal to adolescents, and then an explanation of how the particular chapter is organized. For example, the contents of Chapter 11- Understanding and Changing the Worlds are subdivided into three subdivisions: Popular Media and Culture, Social Customs and Issues, and Religion. Each chapter concludes with sections labelled Consider Starting with… and Fiction Read-Alikes. According to Fraser, the former lists popular, highly accessible titles from the chapter that would make good starting points for people just introducing themselves to a new area of nonfiction. The latter section, Fiction Read-Alikes, is a terrific inclusion as it suggests a number of novels whose contents can be connected to the chapter's nonfiction focus. For example, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's historical fiction novel, Daughter of War, is connected to Chapter 5 - History.

      Within each subgenre, entries are arranged alphabetically by the authors' last names. Books in a series that have been written by more than one author are listed in series order under the name of the series. Entries include the book's author, title, publisher, publication date, and 13 digit ISBN. Each book has also been given a symbol to suggest its reading level: M - middle school, grades 6-8; J - junior high, grades 7-9, and H - high school, grades 10-12. Four other symbols are each used to identify one of the following: that a book has won an award; that it is a book that both teens and adults will enjoy; that the book is suitable for reluctant readers; or that the book is in the form of graphic nonfiction. The last symbol, GN - graphic nonfiction, is new this volume. Three symbols that were used in the 2008 volume have been eliminated - one indicating that a book was aimed at male readers; another identifying a book as being suitable for use with book groups/clubs; and a third which identified "core titles that have stood the test of time." Fraser's elimination of the core title symbol is understandable, given that, as noted earlier, "[t]he books covered in this guide have been published since 2007...", but she does not explain why she dropped the other two symbols. As was the case with Reality Rules, the award symbol is accompanied by one or more acronyms or short forms to identify the award(s) (or honour book status) that a book has won. The Pura Belpre and James Madison Book Awards have been dropped while the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, Red Maple and National Book Awards have been added.

      Fraser says that she "has read and reviewed each individual title" that is found in Reality Rules II, and the brief annotations which accompany the book's entries continue to be written in a way that is truly fresh and engaging. About 10 percent of the book entries are followed by Now Try suggestions that suggest authors, subjects, themes or styles that connect with the book just described. Reality Rules II concludes with two appendices, Nonfiction Readers' Advisor Resources for YA Librarians and Bibliography plus an author/title index and a subject index.

      In summary, like its earlier companion volume, Reality Rules II is a superbly compiled reference work/selection tool that should be owned by all public library systems and school divisions in Canada. Additionally, librarians-in-training, whether school or public, could use the contents of Reality Rules II as a most engaging introduction to the wide range of nonfiction that responds to teens' recreational reading interests.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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