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Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

posted Jul 18, 2013, 2:31 AM by Jennifer Cowley   [ updated Jul 23, 2013, 11:17 PM ]

Yang, G.L. (2011). Level Up. New York: First Second. ISBN: 978-1-59643-235-2

Recommended for grades 9-12, it will have particular resonance for senior grades (approaching graduation), and those students whose interests may not align with their parents' preferences, which is often the case for many children of immigrants, or just regular teenagers.

Included below are both the short booktalk (for evaluation) and a longer, alternate version of the book talk for those who may have a longer RA session OR would like to link to it.

Scripts are included below for both the short and the long versions of the book talk, depending on the time you have available for your book talk session. As this is a graphic novel, parts of the book talk will be most effective as read alouds, showing the pages to the class. Page references are indicated for those segments. (As the book's introduction is not paginated, only the section is indicated.) The scripts are formatted to easily permit reading by multiple voices.




Creative Commons Licence
A Book Talk for Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel Level Up (audio) by J. Cowley 

SHORT—Submitted for evaluation

NARRATOR:
Are you still figuring out what you want to do with your life? What about your parents? Do they have expectations of what you’ll do or become? Are they different from your visions for your future? For Dennis in the graphic novel Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, the answers are all “yes”. As a kid growing up in the ‘80s, Dennis is fascinated by computer games. Not the MMORPGs of today, but the arcade machines. The kind that need quarters. And Nintendo. The old one. The original NES. But even though he’s growing up in the time of these amazing technological advances, he’s not allowed to use any of them. Intead of the NES he dreams of for his 8th Christmas, his father gives him… a chemistry set.

He’s confused. The box was the right size and weight for an NES. A chemistry set?

DENNIS (introduction)

I wanted my father to explain.

DAD (introduction)

To provide that boy with the life he has, I’ve had to eat much bitterness. He must learn to do the same. How will a video game teach him to eat bitterness?

NARRATOR

His father’s decision was final. No computer games for Dennis. Until just before graduation when Dennis buys himself a game system and just doesn’t stop playing. Until his gaming addiction gets him kicked out of college and he’s visited by four angels. Yes, really.

They tell him his destiny is to become a gastroenterologist, and that they’ve been sent to help.

NARRATOR

And so, Dennis gets back into college, becomes a model student, and pursues his destiny to become a gastroenterologist. But he just can’t shake the feeling that he’s chasing his father’s dream, not his own. And when he sees his old friend getting rich as a pro-gamer while he’s stuck in med school analysing crap, literally, he confronts his guardian angels.

DENNIS (p. 114)

I quit.

NARRATOR

But with nothing but amazing gaming skills, can he actually make it on his own? Were the angels really wrong? Was his FATHER really wrong? Will gaming really make him happy?

Read the book to find out.

Level Up . Written by Gene Luen Yang. Illustrated by Thien Pham. Published by First Second in 2011. Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn and Company Ltd.

Small print:

This book talk was created as a component of EDSE 546 (Summer 2013) in the University of Alberta’s Masters of Education in Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning programme. It was written and recorded by J. Cowley.

A Note about Copyright.

This booktalk uses some of the dialogue for Dennis, his father, and the angels from the book under Fair Dealing of the Canadian Copyright act. You can find those frames in the introduction,and on page114.

The audio of this booktalk is licensed by J. Cowley under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The text of this booktalk is licensed by J. Cowley under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

But enough legal stuff. Go read the book!


Creative Commons Licence
A Book Talk for Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel Level Up  (text--short) by J. Cowley 

Creative Commons Licence
A Book Talk for Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel Level Up (audio) by J. Cowley 

LONG—Alternate version for use by those who may have longer Readers’ Advisory sessions

NARRATOR:

Are you still figuring out what you want to do with your life? What about your parents? Do they have expectations of what you’ll do or become? Are they different from your visions for your future? For Dennis in the graphic novel Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, the answers are all “yes”. As a kid growing up in the ‘80s, Dennis is fascinated by computer games. Not the MMORPGs of today, but the arcade machines. The kind that need quarters. And Nintendo. The old one. The original NES. But even though he’s growing up in the time of these amazing technological advances, he’s not allowed to use any of them. Intead of the NES he dreams of for his 8th Christmas, his father gives him… a chemistry set.
He’s confused. The box was the right size and weight for an NES. A chemistry set?

DENNIS (refer to pages in introduction)

I wanted my father to explain. Over the next week and a half, he did. With notes. On the mirror, on my mug, in the fridge, on the TV, on my pillow. The notes highlighted each of his reasons.

DAD (introduction)

How to get into college. Best jobs. The Job Market. The Virtue of Work.

NARRATOR

Dennis moped around the house, but even though his mother was starting to soften up, his dad was stubborn.

DAD (introduction)

To provide that boy with the life he has, I’ve had to eat much bitterness. He must learn to do the same. How will a video game teach him to eat bitterness?

NARRATOR

His father’s decision was final. No computer games for Dennis. Until the night after his father’s funeral when Dennis buys himself a game system and just doesn’t stop playing and playing and playing. That is until his gaming addiction get him kicked out of college and he’s visited by four angels. Yes, really.

ANGELS (pp.38-9)

Dennis Ouyang! We bring you your DESTINY! You shall graduate college, Dennis Ouyang! You shall attend medical school and become…a GASTROENTEROLOGIST! Great shall you be in your profession! This is your DESTINY!

NARRATOR

And so, with the angels’ help, Dennis gets back into college, becomes a model student, and pursues his destiny to become a gastroenterologist. But he just can’t shake the feeling that he’s chasing his father’s dream, not his own. And when he sees his old friend getting rich as a pro-gamer while he’s stuck in med school analysing crap, literally, he confronts his guardian angels.

DENNIS (p115)

I know you’ve put a lot of work into this—into me. I appreciate it. But medical school isn’t for me. It’s not my destiny. And I’m tired of trying to MAKE it my destiny. I don’t have what it takes. I don’t have the will to endure.

NARRATOR

So he gives up. But with nothing but amazing gaming skills, can he actually make it on his own? Were the angels really wrong? Was his FATHER really wrong? Will gaming really make him happy?

Read the book to find out.

Level Up. Written by Gene Luen Yang. Illustrated by Thien Pham. Published by First Second in 2011. Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn and Company Ltd.

Small print:

This book talk was created as a component of EDSE 546 (Summer 2013) in the University of Alberta’s Masters of Education in Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning programme.

This booktalk uses some of the dialogue for Dennis, his father, and the angels from the book under Fair Dealing of the Canadian Copyright act. You can find those frames in the introduction,and on pages 38,39, 115.

The audio of this booktalk is licensed by J. Cowley under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The text of this booktalk is licensed by J. Cowley under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

But enough legal stuff. Go read the book!

Creative Commons Licence
A Book Talk for Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel Level Up (text--long) by J. Cowley

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