This mini-biography of Eleanor Roosevelt was very creative. Choosing to tell her life story in poetry and ending each page with a quotation from her dThis mini-biography of Eleanor Roosevelt was very creative. Choosing to tell her life story in poetry and ending each page with a quotation from her directly (literally giving her the last word) worked really well. Most of the major conflicts in her life were covered at some level, and readers could easily identify with the problems she faced as well as the bravery and determination she showed. The illustrations were slightly dreamy, and they held my attention. Having the title on the back and Eleanor's image on the front was a little disconcerting, but I actually liked it. The end material, including a timeline and a list of resources in print and online, was also very helpful. For a comparison of biographies at different age levels, this could easily be paired with Russell Freedman's Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, which is written more at an upper middle school/high school level. On the whole, this was exceptionally well written and definitely worth a look....more
I liked the style of illustration in this, which in places reminded me of candy for some reason because the colors tended to be very bright, while theI liked the style of illustration in this, which in places reminded me of candy for some reason because the colors tended to be very bright, while the style was childlike without being cloying. The concept that this was written as a class project by an imaginary group of sixth graders worked very well, and I liked the idea that there were responses to each apology. The topic choices were very good as well, ranging from the funny (stealing jelly donuts from the teachers lounge) to the heartbreaking (putting a dog to sleep, a father who seems to be a drug addict and suicidal), which did make the poetry highly realistic. The response section was also very good as it had a bunch of honest reactions, from the parent who refuses to write a poem dealing with her son's over perfectionism to the custodian who wrote on behalf of the dog. There was also a deliberate attempt to be as inclusive as possible by including names of "students" from a variety of different backgrounds.
The one problem I had with this involved a couple language choices. The sister who refuses to forgive her sister does use the term "pissed off," which isn't a horrible word but is something that I don't think would be permitted in general talk inside a sixth grade classroom. As poetry really does need to be read aloud to be fully experienced, that causes a problem if a teacher wants to use the book in a class discussion of poetry. Still, that's not a massively problematic situation. The other one involved blasphemy, and that one is a problem. The casual use of it was in character for the father writing to his son, but it is a bit insensitive to some religious traditions and is actually a major problem for reading it aloud in class as many denominations would literally regard saying it as a sin. Honestly, without the last problem, this would have gotten five stars. I don't like the concept of censorship, but the word choice does raise issues for a classroom discussion at a late grammar school/early middle school level....more
This one of Sidman's I can say I liked unreservedly. On one side of each double page is a poem concerning some aspect of nature at night: owls (the emThis one of Sidman's I can say I liked unreservedly. On one side of each double page is a poem concerning some aspect of nature at night: owls (the emperor of the title), bats, the moon, etc. On the right hand side of the page is a small scientific explanation of the animal or other phenomenon. Frankly, I didn't know half of the things that Sidman explains, such as how snails make their own shells (though the thing about their tongues having teeth may give me nightmares) or that the moon only appears in the daytime sky when it isn't at the full stage, or that newts eventually regrow their gills and return to the water, or that a porcupette is the correct term for a baby porcupine. The illustrations were lovely and clear, with a good deal of detail while being eye-catching and generally fun to look at. The poetry itself, some rhymed and some not, was also a lot of fun. On the whole, I really liked this one....more
He's not really my thing, though I like Kaddish and Howl well enough. This is actually one of those books you kind of hope your mother never accidentaHe's not really my thing, though I like Kaddish and Howl well enough. This is actually one of those books you kind of hope your mother never accidentally starts poking through....more
Yes, yes, and sort of yes on all three. Gawain is the ultimate Arthurian side-story, I found the Pearl to be one of the most moving and honestly emotiYes, yes, and sort of yes on all three. Gawain is the ultimate Arthurian side-story, I found the Pearl to be one of the most moving and honestly emotional portraits of a Medieval person I have come across and Sir Orfeo... is basically just Orpheus, but a snazzy retelling that is essentially Medieval fanfiction of Greek myth....more