Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman--Blabberize

Bibliography: Korman, G. (2006). Born to rock. New York, NY: Hyperion.

Summary: Leo Caraway--president of the Young Republicans club, 4.0 GPA, future Harvard student--had his entire future perfectly planned out. That was, until the X factor. As in Marion X. McMurphy, aka King Maggot, the lead singer of Purge, the most popular, most destructive band punk rock has ever seen. As in Leo's biological father.

At first, Leo is horrified to find out his real father is punk rock's most notorious bad boy. Not only is he not a punk rock fan, but he believes the X factor (the Maggot blood in his veins) is a dangerous time bomb just waiting to explode. And sure enough it does--when Leo stubbornly defends the unlikeliest of people, thereby getting himself falsely accused of cheating on a test.

Because of the blemish on his record, the once-star pupil finds his scholarship to Harvard taken away. So he accepts a job as a roadie with Purge's summer revival tour, all the while secretly hoping to convince King Maggot to pay his tuition. But life on the road is even crazier than Leo bargained for, and before the summer is over, he will finally discover the surprising truth about his dad, his friends, and most important, himself (Hyperion).

Tool: Blabberize

Blabberize is a crude tool used to create simple, often humorous videos. To make a blabber, simply upload your image, draw in a mouth, and insert your 30-second audio. The result is an animated, flapping mouth cheerfully blabbing away. There are some tricks to using Blabberize successfully. First, know that the call-in option (in which you use your phone to record your audio) is no longer available. Second, if you are using a Mac (or a PC, just to be on the safe side), Blabberize often has trouble recognizing your microphone. The best solution is to download a free recording tool (I highly recommend Audacity. Find it at, record your audio and save it as a WAV file, and upload it into Blabberize. Third, in order to embed your blabber, you must convert it into a downloadable video, which Blabberize does free of charge in an MPEG format. Blabberize would be a good tool to use with elementary students if the teacher has set up and is manning Audacity.

Review: Born to Rock is good, simple fun. Going on the road with Leo is like watching a comedy that doesn’t need to rely on bathroom humor for cheap laughs. Gordon Korman is comical without being malicious, which is refreshing when so much popular humor today depends on putting others down—think Saturday Night Live. That being said, Born to Rock will still appeal to the YA audience because Leo is both the representative Typical Teenager and gets to live like a rock star. Of course, being a roadie on the equivalent of a Sex Pistols reunion tour may not be quite as glamorous as it sounds...

Korman’s characters are well developed in addition to being entertaining. Leo is a very personal narrator, letting the reader in on his secrets from the get-go. He has a lot to learn over the course of the novel, however, and the reader makes discoveries right alongside him. Young Republicans may not be quite so conservative, hardcore Goth girls may have more Gap clothes in their closet than they might at first be willing to admit, and punk rock legends may be getting that perfect high from...Google.

While the ending seems slightly contrived, it is a humorous finish to an overall enjoyable reading experience and is appropriate for both male and female readers. When asked to describe Born to Rock, a girl once told me, “It’s like Meg Cabot…but about boys.” Grades 7+.

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