Information: Paper Towns was published in 2008 by John Green, through the Penguin Group. ISBN: 978-0-525-47818-8
Plot Summary: Paper Towns is about a boy who loves a girl he’s known his whole life. Unfortunately, Margo fell in with a different crowd, causing them to have different friends and hobbies. Q is convinced Margo has even forgotten he existed. Then one night, Margo sneaks into his room, asking for Q to help her get revenge on everyone who has ever done her wrong. Q is then faced with a decision to either stay home to continue his ordinary life or embark on a one night adventure with his dream girl. But after the night is over, Margo disappears, leaving a trail of clues and a growing mystery behind her for Q to find. Q is left to wonder if he ever knew Margo at all.
Critical Evaluation: Paper Towns is a realistic view of what happens when a teen learns to separate his goals, high ideals, and dreams with what is actually happening around him. Paper Towns falls in line with all of his other novels that examine teen relationships through challenging times. His previous line of work as a children’s chaplin greatly shaped his perspectives of teens and how he writes them realistically. John Green composes an honest look into loving someone for who they really are instead of loving them for who we want them to be. His characters challenge the need for a happy ending and what it means to find yourself as a teenager.
Reader’s Annotation: One night, after years of loving from afar, Q’s dream girl appears in his room, asking for his help. It isn’t until after she mysteriously disappears, does Q realize she might not be the girl he knew after all.
Author Information: John Green is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was the 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than 55 languages and over 24 million copies are in print. John is also an active Twitter user with more than 5 million followers.
John and Hank launched educational YouTube channel Crash Course in late 2011 with funding from YouTube’s original channel initiative. John, Hank, and a range of other hosts teach humanities and science courses to viewers, with multiple new series launching each year. World History, Literature, Economics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Government are just some of the courses available to date. Crash Course has over 4.6 million subscribers and 420 million views.
John and Hank are involved with a myriad of other video projects, including mental_floss video, The Art Assignment, SciShow, sexplanations, hankgames, and Healthcare Triage.
John’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Booklist, a wonderful book review journal where he worked as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing Looking for Alaska. John grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College. He currently lives in Indianapolis with his wife, children, and Fireball Wilson Roberts, the family’s west highland terrier (John Green).
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Adventure, Realistic Fiction
Curriculum Ties (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas
Book Talk Ideas:
- As Q built up Margo to be the ideal person in his head, how often do we build up other people in our own lives? Be they friends, love interests, or heroes, how many of the people we admire do we truly know?
- As Margo tried to fit into a life that wasn’t right for her, it’s true that everyone acts differently when they know people are watching. What is the most common aspect people change about themselves to make others like them?
Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12 (Scholastic) Ages 14-18 (Lexile)
Challenge Issues: Adult Language, Sexual Content, and Death
Challenge Defense File:
The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.
The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).
Green, J. (2008). Paper Towns. New York, New York: The Penguin Group. Paper Towns was intended for an audience of the ages of 14-18. Paper Towns is about how Q gets to live the ultimate night with the one girl he’s been in love with since pre-school. But when she goes missing after that night Q discovers he might not have known her as well as he thought he did. Paper Towns offers a teen’s perspective on the high school pressures of social experiences and relationships and how those pressures can shape how teens see each other. Problems of the novel could include strong language and sexual content. Despite these challenged issues, Paper Towns offers a deep look at how teens perceive love and relationships with others. Alternative readings could include: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid.
Active Listening Skills
- Remain calm
- Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
- Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree
- Winner, The Edgar Award
- An ALA BBYA title
- A Booklist Editor’s Choice title
- An SLJ Best Book of the Year
- A VOYA Editor’s Choice title
- An Amazon Top Ten Books for Teens title
- A Chicago Public Library’s Best Books title
- An NYPL Book for the Teen Age
- Positive Reviews: School Library Journal and Booklist
Why I picked it for the collection:
I chose Paper Towns for its compelling look at what it means to truly know someone. Q believes he loves Margo, but what does that really mean? Paper Towns is a realistic look at romantic relationships, where ending up with the dream girl might not be the best thing that happens to Q.