Sal Paolantonio to speak at Rowan

Announcement from Rowan News

Best-selling author Sal Paolantonio, national correspondent for ESPN, will discuss his book, How Football Explains America, and his career covering the National Football League during a talk on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 1:45 p.m. in Rowan University’s Pfleeger Concert Hall in Wilson Hall.

A national correspondent for ESPN since 1995, Paolantonio’s How Football Explains America, published in 2008, was the top-selling football book in America for six straight months, according to amazon.com.

During his visit to Rowan, Paolantonio will discuss the book, and, also, take questions from the audience.

Paolantonio primarily covers the NFL for “SportsCenter,” “Sunday NFL Countdown,” “Monday Night Countdown” and “ESPN.com.” Since 2004, he has hosted “NFL Matchup,” ESPN’s 30-minute Sunday morning preview show, where he appears alongside analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hodge.

He also contributes frequently to 97.5 The Fanatic, ESPN’s radio affiliate in Philadelphia, where he hosts “The Sal Pal Football Hour” on Thursday evenings during the NFL season.

The recipient of three Sports Emmy Awards, Paolantonio is a former Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter for Philadelphia Inquirer. He also spent eight years covering politics for the Inquirer.

Paolantonio’s other books include 2007’s The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches and Moments in NFL History (written with Reuben Frank) and 1993’s The Last Big Man in Big City America, a biography of the late Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo.

Read a Banned Book

September 25 to October 2 is Banned Book Week for 2010. This annual event celebrates books and reinforces the importance of the first amendment in our ability to engage in a societal discourse about all issues and hear a diversity of voices. Books that have been the target of banning are highlighted during the week. Often, the books highlighted in Banned Book Week were not, in the end, banned from libraries, due to the efforts of concerned librarians, teachers, and other citizens to protect this important right.

In 2009, there were almost 500 challenges reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom. The books most challenged in that year are listed below, with the reason for their challenges and a brief synopsis drawn from the publishers or reviewers (source noted). In honor of BBW, I plan to read at least one of these books over the course of the week. How about you?

1. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle – (challenged for nudity, sexually explicit content, offensive language, being unsuited to age group, and drugs)

Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for “talk to you later”), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

Myracle already proved her command of teenage girl-ness with Kissing Kate, but the self-imposed convention of ttyl allows a subtlety that is even more brilliant. Parents might like reading the book just to quantify how out of touch they are, but teens will love the winning, satisfyingly dramatic tale of this tumultuous trio.  – Review of first book in series from Amazon.com

2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson – (challenged for homosexuality)

Review from School Library Journal – This tale based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City’s Central Park Zoo will capture the hearts of penguin lovers everywhere. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are “a little bit different.” They cuddle and share a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the others start hatching eggs, they want to be parents, too. Determined and hopeful, they bring an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and proceed to start caring for it. They have little luck, until a watchful zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at having their own family and gives them an egg in need of nurturing. The dedicated and enthusiastic fathers do a great job of hatching their funny and adorable daughter, and the three can still be seen at the zoo today. Done in soft watercolors, the illustrations set the tone for this uplifting story, and readers will find it hard to resist the penguins’ comical expressions. The well-designed pages perfectly marry words and pictures, allowing readers to savor each illustration. An author’s note provides more information about Roy, Silo, Tango, and other chinstrap penguins. This joyful story about the meaning of family is a must for any library.

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky – (challenged for homosexuality, being sexually explicit, being anti-family, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group, discussing suicide)

What is most notable about this funny, touching, memorable first novel from Stephen Chbosky is the resounding accuracy with which the author captures the voice of a boy teetering on the brink of adulthood. Charlie is a freshman. And while’s he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He’s a wallflower–shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts. We learn about Charlie through the letters he writes to someone of undisclosed name, age, and gender, a stylistic technique that adds to the heart-wrenching earnestness saturating this teen’s story. Charlie encounters the same struggles that many kids face in high school–how to make friends, the intensity of a crush, family tensions, a first relationship, exploring sexuality, experimenting with drugs–but he must also deal with his best friend’s recent suicide. Charlie’s letters take on the intimate feel of a journal as he shares his day-to-day thoughts and feelings:
“I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.”
With the help of a teacher who recognizes his wisdom and intuition, and his two friends, seniors Samantha and Patrick, Charlie mostly manages to avoid the depression he feels creeping up like kudzu. When it all becomes too much, after a shocking realization about his beloved late Aunt Helen, Charlie retreats from reality for awhile. But he makes it back in due time, ready to face his sophomore year and all that it may bring. Charlie, sincerely searching for that feeling of “being infinite,” is a kindred spirit to the generation that’s been slapped with the label X. – Review from Amazon.com

4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee – (challenged for racism, offensive language, being unsuited to age group)

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow…. When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.”
Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.
Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout’s first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children’s consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well–in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout’s hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind “when you really see them.” By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often.- Review from Amazon.com

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer – (challenged for being sexually explicit, offending religious viewpoint, and being unsuited to age group)

Review of book 1 from Barnes and Noble – Stephenie Meyer’s thrilling debut novel is a love story with a bite. In this suspenseful and sensual tale, 17-year-old Isabella moves to a small town in Washington State and gets more excitement than she bargained for when she falls for an enigmatic classmate — who happens to be a vampire. Filled with fantastic mystery and romance, it’s a heart-stopping novel that captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires.

6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger – (challenged for sexually explicit content, offensive language, being unsuited to age group)

Synopsis from Amazon.com – Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation. 

7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult – (challenged for sexism, homosexuality, sexually explicit content, offensive language, being unsuited to age group, offending religious viewpoint, suicide, violence, and drugs)

From School Library Journal – Anna was genetically engineered to be a perfect match for her cancer-ridden older sister. Since birth, the 13-year-old has donated platelets, blood, her umbilical cord, and bone marrow as part of her family’s struggle to lengthen Kate’s life. Anna is now being considered as a kidney donor in a last-ditch attempt to save her 16-year-old sister. As this compelling story opens, Anna has hired a lawyer to represent her in a medical emancipation suit to allow her to have control over her own body. Picoult skillfully relates the ensuing drama from the points of view of the parents; Anna; Cambell, the self-absorbed lawyer; Julia, the court-appointed guardian ad litem; and Jesse, the troubled oldest child in the family. Everyone’s quandary is explicated and each of the characters is fully developed. There seems to be no easy answer, and readers are likely to be sympathetic to all sides of the case. This is a real page-turner and frighteningly thought-provoking. The story shows evidence of thorough research and the unexpected twist at the end will surprise almost everyone. The novel does not answer many questions, but it sure raises some and will have teens thinking about possible answers long after they have finished the book.

8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler – (challenged for sexually explicit content, offensive language, being unsuited to age group)

Virginia Shreves lives in Manhattan and attends a prestigious private school. She lives by her Fat Girl Code of Conduct. She has a budding romance with Froggy the Fourth, but she doesn’t want his wandering hands to feel her fat. Her baggy clothing helps her to “hide.” Her mother, Dr. Phyllis Shreves, is an adolescent psychologist obsessed with her imperfect daughter’s weight, and her father is rarely around. Her older sister joined the Peace Corps to escape mom, and brother Byron is big man on the Columbia campus-until he’s suspended for date rape. Finally, Virginia stands up to her mother and takes charge of her life. Strong points in the novel are the issue of date rape and its consequences and, however glossed over, eating disorders. Parental pressure is overdone. Mom and dad are stereotypical of adults so involved in themselves that they cannot see their child for who she is. Some passages are very well done, but the book has an uneven quality in prose style and character development. Told through first-person narrative, journal entries, and e-mail, Virginia’s story will interest readers who are looking for one more book with teen angst, a bit of romance, and a kid who is a bit like them or their friends. – From School Library Journal

9. The Color Purple, Alice Walker- (challenged for sexually explicit content, offensive language, being unsuited to age group)

Publisher’s synopsis – Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier – (challenged for nudity, sexually explicit content, offensive language, being unsuited to age group, and drugs)

Stunned by his mother’s recent death and appalled by the way his father sleepwalks through life, Jerry Renault, a New England high school student, ponders the poster in his locker-Do I dare disturb the universe?

Part of his universe is Archie Costello, leader of a secret school societ-the Virgils-and master of intimidation.  Archie himself is intimidated by a cool, ambitious teacher into having the Virgils spearhead the annual fund-raising event-a chocolate sale.  When Jerry refuses to be bullied into selling chocolates, he becomes a hero, but his defiance is a threat to Archie, the Virgils, and the school.  In the inevitable showdown, Archie’s skill at intimidation turns Jerry from hero to outcast, to victim, leaving him alone and terribly vulnerable. – Publishers synopsis

Happy reading!

LBA