Weetzie Bat

Block, Francesca Lia (1989). [Kindle 2.0.3 version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. ISBN 978-0-06-165131-1

When the book begins Weetzie is a high school student living with her mother in a surreal Los Angeles that is part Nathanael West, part Candyland board game, part Elvis movie. Weetzie and Dirk, her handsome gay friend, are Pretty in Pink punks of the 80’s LA scene. Weetzie and Dirk are close to Dirk’s grandma, who gives them a magic lamp. Weetzie wishes for a “duck” for Dirk, a “Secret Agent Lover Man for herself, and a little house for them all to live in. All these things soon come true, but as always, it’s caveat wisher: the way they get the house is through the immediate death of Dirk’s nice old grandma. The other wishes also come true, but there are more problems in the cotton-candy world—Secret Agent Lover Man is not ready to bring Weetzie’s longed-for baby into this evil world; AIDS has arrived and brings darkness into the world of Dirk and his Duck, and Weetzie’s father is slipping away from her into drugs and death. When Secret Agent Man learns of a plot between Dirk, Duck, and Wetzie to make a baby against his wishes, he leaves the happy little Hollywood bungalow, and though he later returns, he is followed by a lanka—a witchy lady. The world of Shangri-LA has peril under its surface, but Weetzie and her little family protect each other with their expansive, unjudgemental, leopard-skin and sequin-sunglassed love.

Reader’s Annotation
The peroxide flat-topped Weetsie and her best friend, gay Dirk, form the nucleus of a growing family of unusual characters. Though darkness in the forms of AIDS and abandonment sometimes darkens the cotton-candy clouds, the sweetly punky characters remain united by an accepting love. Some genie magic is thrown in.

Weetzie Bat is a glam-punk poem of LA magical realism as much as it is any sort of YA narrative. Once the expectations are adjusted, Weetzie is very successful on its own terms. The kitschy LA aesthetic of the book is effective and enjoyable, its quirky vernacular is creative and fresh, and its overarching ethos of acceptance and kindness would seem to be just what the world needs. Apparently not, however, noting the ongoing tradition of challenges.

About the author
Block was born in 1962 and left her beloved LA only to attend UC Berkeley. She has many creatively named animals and two children. In 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the ALA.

Mythic Reality (Genreflecting)
Curriculum Ties
Excerpts in a Family Life/Living Skills class
Excerpts for LA descriptive comparisons--English

Booktalking Ideas
Why doesn’t Secret Agent Lover Man have a name?
Cast the Weetzie Bat movie in your mind.
What does the magic add to the story?

Reading Level/Interest Age
10th grade and up (SLJ)
Middle School/High School (Genreflecting)

Challenge Issues
Acceptance/tolerance for homosexuality/promiscuity/drug use

Be knowledgeable about the book and prepared to discuss it calmly. Provide complaint form per board policy; list SLJ and other reviews found at
http://www.amazon.com/Weetzie-Bat-Francesca-Lia-Block/dp/0060736259 and numerous awards listed on http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060736255/Weetzie_Bat/index.aspx

Why Included?
Famous YA book; always on the Best of YA lists; always meant to read

Selection Tools
Genreflecting,YALSA, ALA

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