. Allison Van Diepen - Author of Teen Books
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Raven - Allison van Diepen

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Snitch - Allison van Diepen
Allison van Diepen
Order this book!
Allison van Diepen
Snitch - Allison van Diepen
Allison van Diepen
Order this book!
Allison van Diepen

OLA Handout and book list at the bottom of the page

Street Pharm Study Guide

Snitch Study Guide Pre-reading Questions:

1. a) Based on the cover and the title of the book, predict what it will be about.
b) Now read the blurbs on the back cover. How does this information fit with your prediction?
2. Describe what you think the life of a young gang member would be like. How do you feel about gangs? What factors have influenced your views? How do you think reading this book will affect your views?

Homework Questions:

pp. 3-33

1. What do we learn about Julia and her personality in the first scene?
2. Describe Julia's home life and her relationship with her father.
3. In what ways do gangs affect Julia's daily life? How does Julia deal with the popularity of gangs at her school?

pp. 34-66

4. Analyze Julia's friendship with Black Chuck. Why do you think they are such good friends despite their differences?
5. What are Julia's expectations for the party? In what ways does Eric fulfill (or not fulfill) those expectations?

pp. 67-104

6. Identify at least two new things Julia learns about Eric in these chapters. Why is she so impressed by him?
7. Contrast Q's relationship with her mom with Julia's relationship with her father.

pp. 104-146

8. In the chapters Jumped In and Low, why does Julia feel betrayed by both Eric and Black Chuck?
9. What important decision does Julia make at the Lava Lounge? What would you have done if you were in her place?
10. What do you predict after reading page 129?
11. Why does Julia come to accept Eric as a gang member? How do you feel about her change of heart?

pp. 147-185

12. What happened in the locker room and what is your reaction to it?
13. How does Q react to what happened to Julia? Does this surprise you? In her position, what would you have done?
14. Why does Julia decide to join? What factors were key in influencing her decision?

pp. 186-217

15. Identify several ways in which Julia's life changes after she has joined the Crips.
16. What does Julia learn about the gang's activities? How does she deal with it?
17. What are some ways in which Eric proves himself to the gang in these chapters?

pp. 218-251

18. How does Julia handle Marie's threats?
19. What startling information does Julia discover while researching gangs?
20. Describe Julia's encounter with Scrap. Why doesn't she tell anyone about it?

pp. 252-297

21. What shocking news does Julia receive when she returns from the game?
22. What does Julia think of Black Chuck's accusation that Eric is a snitch?
23. How do the Crips treat Julia at school?
24. Summarize Eric's reasons for doing what he did.
25. How does Julia bargain her way out of being jumped out officially?

Discussion questions or essay topics:

1. The use of first-person narrative allows readers to put themselves in the place of the main character. How well did you identify with Julia throughout this book? Were there times when you found her decisions difficult to relate to? Explain your answer.
2. Discuss the relationship between Julia and either Q, Black Chuck, or Tony DiVino.
3. Examine Julia's relationship with the Crips throughout the novel. How does her view of them evolve over time?
4. Discuss the impact of Julia's family life on her decisions. Do you think she would have made different decisions if her mother had been alive, or if her father had been more attentive?
5. Discuss the character: Q. Did your feelings about her change throughout the book? Explain your answer.
6. Compare the conflicts Julia faces in this book to conflicts that you have faced. How was your situation similar or different to Julia's?
7. At one point, Julia describes her world as Livin' in the Gray (p. 222). What do you think she means by this? In what ways can you relate to this feeling?
8. Analyze Julia's relationships with her teachers in this book, specifically Ms. Ivey.
9. Predict what's in store for Julia in the next year or two of her life. Will she adjust to her new high school environment? Will the Crips leave her alone? Will she and Eric continue their relationship?
10. Analyze the character: Eric. How did you feel about him at the end of the book? Is he a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Explain your answer.
11. How has this book changed or reinforced your views about gangs?

Creative Writing Assignments:

1. Write a deleted scene that might have been in the book.
2. Write an epilogue that could take place one year or more after the book ends.
3. Write a scene from Ms. Ivey's viewpoint. Include her thoughts on Julia and how she believes Julia has changed.
4. Write an alternate final scene.


Pre-reading Questions:

1. a) Based on the cover and the title of the book, predict what it will be about.

b) Now read the blurbs on the back cover. How does this information fit with your prediction?

c) Have you read other books that touch on similar topics? How much did you enjoy or dislike those books?

2. Have you, or someone you know, ever done something that was against the law? How did you or your friend justify what you were doing at the time? How do you feel about it now?

3. Describe what you think the life of a teenage drug dealer might be like. How do you feel about people who deal drugs? What factors have influenced your views? How do you think reading this book will affect your views?

Homework Questions:

pp. 1-30

1. What is your initial reaction to the character of Ty Johnson? Do you like or dislike him, and why?
2. How does Ty keep his true activities from his mom?
3. What is Ty's attitude toward school?
4. How does Ty feel about Michael Brown's arrest? What does this say about Ty's character?
5. What do you think is the author's purpose in showing this flashback?

pp. 31-70

1. What do Ty's recollections of his first girlfriend tell us about his views on women?
2. Analyze the interaction between Ty and Dean Baxter. What do we learn about how Ty sees authority figures?
3. Describe Ty's relationship with his father.

pp. 71-106

4. What does Ty learn from the mushrooms incident?
5. Why do you think Ty is so deeply affected by the lesson on Bushido?
6. What does Ty feel he has in common with Jimmy Pennington?
7. How is Alyse different from the girls Ty is used to dating?

pp. 107-146

8. What is Ty's explanation for not wanting to have Kevin King killed? Do you think he has other reasons for not wanting to do it?
9. How does Ty rationalize his involvement in the drug trade? What do you think of this rationale?
pp. 147- 183

10. Why does Ty's mom kick him out, then change her mind and want him to come back?
11. How do you feel about K-Ron pointing the finger at Ty?
12. How is Ty affected by the package from Jones and Menendez?

pp. 184-225

13. What effect does the shooting have on Ty's strategy for dealing with Darkman?
14. Why doesn't Ty go back to school?
15. What happens to Jimmy Pennington and how does Ty make sense of it?

pp. 226-275

16. To what extent does Ty feel responsible for what happened to Rob Monfrey? What responsibility do you think he should feel?
17. Why does Ty decide to go back to school?

pp. 276-302

18. What are Ty's realizations on his walk in the park?
19. Why does Orlando react so strongly to Ty's decision to quit the business? How would you rate Orlando as a father?
20. What do you think of the way Ty has chosen to show Alyse that he has turned his life around?

Discussion questions or essay topics:

1. Ty Johnson's story is told in the first person. Why do you think the author chose to tell it this way? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the first person?
2. Discuss the character: Orlando. How has he influenced Ty's views on life?
3. Why would the author choose someone like Alyse as Ty's love interest?
4. Loyalty plays an important role in this novel. Discuss the place of loyalty in at least three relationships. For example: Ty and Orlando, Ty and Clarissa, Ty and Monfrey, Ty and Michael Brown, Darkman and Crow, etc.
5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is Ty's bible. What about it appeals to Ty? Do you turn to a certain text, religious or otherwise, for advice on how to lead your life?
6. Consequences play a crucial role in this novel; Ty discovers that no action is without them. Describe a time where you came to understand the meaning of consequences.
7. Discuss the character: Rob Monfrey. How does Ty's interaction with him over the course of the book show the evolution of Ty's character?
8. Discuss Ty's relationship with three teachers and/or school administrators. Can you relate to his interactions with them?
9. Discuss the character: Sonny. How do his best qualities also contribute to his death?
10. Ty believes that his intelligence is enough to keep him from falling victim to the possible downfalls of his line of work. Is this a realistic view, in your eyes?
11. Why do you think Alyse gives Ty another chance? Has she made a wise decision?
12. The ending of Street Pharm has been praised for being hopeful and redemptive, and criticized for being Hollywood and unrealistic. Why do you think the author chose to end Ty's story this way? How do you feel about the ending?

Creative Writing Assignments:

1. Write a deleted scene that might have been in the book.
2. Where do you think Ty will be five years down the line? Write a scene that could be added as an epilogue.
3. Rewrite a scene from the viewpoint of another character.
4. Write an alternate final scene to this novel in which Ty comes to a very different end.


1. Individually or in small groups, write a rap song or a spoken word poem about Ty's journey throughout this novel, and present it to the class.
2. Read reviews of STREET PHARM listed on websites like amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Make a list of elements that you think should be in an effective book review. Next write a book review of your own.
3. Create a graph reflecting statistics that relate to this novel: murder rates in various cities, teen pregnancy rates, prison statistics. Write a summary of what can be learned from your graph about social conditions.
4. Create a mini graphic novel or comic depicting the main events of the book.
5. In small groups, adapt a scene into a script and perform it in front of the class.

Hook To Hook Reluctant Teen Readers


Books that work for reluctant readers usually have:

-         quick pacing

-         short book length, short chapters, large or medium-sized font

-         sparse descriptions

-         dialogue-driven or easy-to-read diary style

-         highly appealing covers


Books that don’t work for reluctant readers:

-         are boring!

-         are in a style of English they can’t relate to

-         are books they haven’t had a part in choosing


What strategies can librarians use to sell teens on reading? 

-         create displays capitalizing on pop culture; books connected with music, books that have been made into movies (with celebrities on the cover), books connected to TV shows (Dexter, Gossip Girl, 24)

-         be careful not to offend them by choosing a “kid’s book”  

-         partner a book with its audiobook


How can we make this technology work for us?

-         create a library Myspace or Facebook account for the library teen section; you can easily update it yourself.  On that page you can: 

A) post a book of the month, showcasing the cover, description, and book trailer (if one is available). 

B) add widgets (such as a countdown widget) to build anticipation for new books coming into the library. 

C) use the page for book discussions and reviews, like an online book club. 

D) link the page to your online catalogue.

E)  list upcoming library events.

An example on Myspace: www.myspace.com/jacksonvillepubliclibrary

- If you’d prefer not to use Myspace or Facebook, you could create a library wikipedia page.


How can we involve authors in this? 

-         facilitate a personal connection between authors and teens; set up an author visit or webcam visit, encourage the teen to email the author, or have the author do an interview on the library’s Myspace or Facebook page


Use controversy

-         create a display for banned books

-         discuss with the teens why the book has been banned and ask for their opinion, or ask them to figure out why it’s been banned


Your Top Picks for Reluctant Teen Readers 


Four or more mentions:

Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

Go ask Alice by Anonymous

Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan

Naruto series (graphic novels) by Masashi Kishimoto

Acceleration by Graham McNamee


Three mentions:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

Bone series (graphic novels) by Jeff Smith

Ellen Hopkins’ books

Guinness Book of World Records

First Stone by Don Aker

Street Pharm, Snitch by Allison van Diepen


Two mentions:

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

Gravity Journal by Gail Sidonie Sobat

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn (graphic novel)

Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini

Dancing Naked by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Safe as Houses by Eric Walters 

City of Ember Series by Jeanne Duprau

Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar

The Circle series (graphic novels) by Ted Dekker

Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

Cherub series by Robert Muchamore

Maximum Ride series by James Patterson

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte


One mention:

Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Juice, Stars, and We All Fall Down by Eric Walters

Vampire Diaries series by LJ Smith

Mohammed Ali, Fallen Angel and Monster by Walter Dean Myers

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson

Book of Michael by Lesley Choyce

Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller

Airhead by Meg Cabot

Confessions of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good Looking) Hero by Maureen Foster

King of the Lost and Found by John Lekich

Just in Case by Meg Rosoff

Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Pena

Sun Signs by Shelley Hrdlitschka 

Maus by Art Spiegelman

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

Mercy on These Teenage Chimps by Gary Soto

Just Some Stuff I Wrote by William Bell

Awakening by L.A. Banks

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Wanted by Caroline B. Cooney

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis

Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul by Jack Canfield

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Scrapped Princess series (graphic novels)

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks

Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree

Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

Sticks and Stones by Beth Goobie

Charmed by Carrie Mac

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Foreign Field by Gillian Chan

Crabbe by William Bell

Dreamspeaker by Cam Hubert

More Than You Can Chew by Marnelle Tokio

Dragonball series by Stacia Deutsch

Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside by Holly Black

One Piece series (graphic novels)

Quid Pro Quo by Vicki Grant

Ironman by Chris Crutcher

Blood Brothers by Marilyn Halvorson

Zee’s Way by Kristin Butcher

Sandpiper by Ellen Wittlinger

Real, Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue (graphic novels)

Bleach series (graphic novels)

Nana series by Ai Yazawa (graphic novels)

Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman

Resurrection Blues by Mike Tanner

300 by Frank Miller (graphic novel)

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Rx by Tracey Lynne

The Blue Helmet by William Bell

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Mediator series by Meg Cabot

Tripping, Fighting the Current by Heather Waldorf

Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Zombies Calling! by Faith Erin Hicks (graphic novel)

Burnout by Rebecca Donner (graphic novel) 

Battle of the Bands by K.L. Denman

Silver Kiss, Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning

Bifocal by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters

Spud by John van de Ruit

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake

Bluford High series by Anne Schraff

Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen

Last Sam’s Cage by David Poulsen

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns by John Green

Sabriel series by Garth Nix

Blue Bloods series, Angels on Sunset Boulevard by Melissa de la Cruz

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Lisa by Carol Matas

Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Stoner and Spaz by Ron Koertge

Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg

Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers

Leslie’s Journal by Allan Stratton

Boldprint series

Shojo manga series

Skud by Dennis Foon

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

Hunted series by Walter Sorrells

Split Image (novel in poems)

You Hear Me (poems by boys)

In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton

Invitation by Cyndy Baskin

Fables series (graphic novels)

Y: The Last Man series by Brian K. Vaughn (graphic novels)

Authors mentioned without book titles: Eric Jerome Dickey, Lurlene McDaniel, Jennifer Crusie, Don Trembath


All content of this site is copyright 2008, Allison van Diepen.
This site was developed by Andrew Osborne.