Twelve-year-old Abby Hale’s waited years for her Judging Day and its festivities. Her siblings have all come home, even the over studious Jeremy. Ther...moreTwelve-year-old Abby Hale’s waited years for her Judging Day and its festivities. Her siblings have all come home, even the over studious Jeremy. There’s the family dress to wear and her mother’s special necklace. When she heads to the Guild for the Judging, she’s filled with anticipation. Why shouldn’t she be? Once she’s been Judged, she’ll finally be able to use magic like an adult. There’ll be no more waiting for an adult to come rescue her for the most basic of things—getting clothes out of the drawers, making her bed, getting the kitchen to cook. Her siblings all did well on their Judging Days, all 5s or higher, with her oldest sister Alexa receiving a very rare 9.
At the Guild the unthinkable happens. Abby doesn’t even pass the first level. She’s ordinary, an ord, and her parents are being advised on how to get rid of her. Thankfully for Abby, her parents defy convention. Their love for her can’t solve everything—the local school will no longer keep Abby enrolled. Its Abby’s sister Alexa who has a solution for this. She’s worked for the king for years in a job that she’s never been allowed to discuss. That job is working at a school for ords where Abby will learn how to live without the aid of magic. More importantly, she’ll learn how to defend herself for there are many people –and creatures—who would love to get their hands on an ord.
Why would anyone want an ord when families are encouraged to get rid of them and the majority of ords are treated like they are disease reason? It’s simple. Magic can’t touch them. The strongest, most expensive antitheft spells mean nothing at all to an ord. Booby traps don’t phase them all. For adventurers, there’s no greater tool than an ord. Before Abby even sets foot in her new school an unscrupulous pair of adventurers have tried to procure her as their newest ord, having lost their previous one to death. This pair doesn’t understand no for an answer and will use whatever means necessary to get an ord.
Abby joins a small group of first years at the school. All are children of magical families save Peter. Most of the students come from families that no longer want them. Many see the school as a refuge, but they will soon learn that safety is something they’ll have to fight for and not a comfort.
Ordinary Magic is an amazing middle grade fantasy. Not only does it twist many of the genre’s conventions but it is filled with well developed characters and relationships. Abby’s supportive quirky family is a joy to read about. The students struggle to come to know and trust one another with realistic stormy patches. This is a book to read and share over and over again.
I read an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley. Ordinary Magic comes out on May 8, 2012.(less)
A Leaf Can Be is imaginative nonfiction at its best. By exploring the different jobs a leaf could have from mouth filler to ground warmer, rain stoppe...moreA Leaf Can Be is imaginative nonfiction at its best. By exploring the different jobs a leaf could have from mouth filler to ground warmer, rain stopper to nest warmer this book is a great discussion starter to use with children to see if they can think of other jobs leafs play in nature or as an jumping to board to create fiction based on one of these jobs. This book also lends itself well to studying the seasons as all four seasons are represented in this book as well.
Violetta Dabija has created stunning illustrations for this book. Muted colors are used and layered to create an almost luminescent feel. The expressions on the animals and people throughout the book are charmingly expressive.
At the end of the book is a section called More About Leaves. Each leaf job is more fully explained here. These simple descriptions lend themselves to science connections and inquiry. A small glossary and bibliography of print resources about leaves complete this nonfiction offering that would be a great fit for any elementary school classroom or library.(less)
This picture book offers an accounting of the sit-in started at a North Carolina Woolworth's lunch counter on February 1, 1960. David, Joseph, Frankli...moreThis picture book offers an accounting of the sit-in started at a North Carolina Woolworth's lunch counter on February 1, 1960. David, Joseph, Franklin and Ezell, four college students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, ordered and waited for service. They ignored that the counter was for whites only.
Some treated them as though they were invisible, others ignored them. The four students refused to leave until they were served. A police officer came, but he could find no crime in sitting. When Woolworth's store closed for the night, the four sitting in also went home. The next day, more students came to sit at the counter. From North Carolina, the sit-ins spread to Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and more. People reacted in anger to these sitting students, but still the protesters sat, nonviolent. The book moves on to briefly cover other aspects of the movement leading up to the banning of segregation of public places on July 2, 1964.
Much of this book's message is conveyed will allusions to food and recipes with sentences such as "Segregation was a bitter mix" and "Integration was a recipe that would take time". There is a timeline of basic events in the Civil Rights Movement in the back. Here you find that the North Carolina Woolworth's where the sit-in started desegregated five months after it began. This book has an obvious connection to the teaching of social studies, both in terms of history and in current events.(less)