Since the beginning of her freshman year, Melinda has been speaking less and less, to her parents, teachers, and to the friends who have abandoned her...moreSince the beginning of her freshman year, Melinda has been speaking less and less, to her parents, teachers, and to the friends who have abandoned her because she called the police at a party during the preceding summer. The silence represents the emotional paralysis she is suffering because of an unspeakable trauma she endured at that infamous party.This is an honest and real depiction of teen-age suffering, not only the physical pain caused by the trauma of a sexual molestation, but the emotional pain, isolation, and depression experienced by a high school freshman who has been branded an outcast by her former friends. A triumphant ending gives the novel a satisfying conclusion, and will hopefully inform the behavior of teenagers whose misjudgement of their peers can cause enormous suffering.
The rich language and honest depiction of the heroine, Melinda, makes this a very powerful novel. I describe it as a "cautionary tale," one that should make its teeneage audience perhaps indulge in a bit of self examination of the way they treat others. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote a memorable first novel, and somehow, was able to weave a strand of self-deprecating humor on the part of Melinda, the main character, into the story of her mounting pain and anguish. The bitter dilemma which Melinda faced was totally believable, and I am confident that the heroine's voice will "speak" to thousands of teenage girls who have endured abuse, date rapes, or molestation, and have been too scared, embarassed,paralyzed, or powerless to seek justice. (less)
This charming story is of Michael, a young African-American boy, and the close relationship he enjoys with his Great Aunt Dew, who is now one hundred...moreThis charming story is of Michael, a young African-American boy, and the close relationship he enjoys with his Great Aunt Dew, who is now one hundred years old. Michael does not think his mother understands Aunt Dew and the value of her precious hundred penny box, which holds one penny from each year of her life. Michael loves to pick a penny from the box, say, the year, and then listen intently to the memory which the year evokes. This lovely intergenerational story sensitively depicts the special relationship between children and seniors, and the uniquw bond which they share.
This simple yet rich story would make a wonderful addition to an intergenerational theme study, and would be a wonderful complement for books such as The War With Grandpa, Mrs. Katz and Tush, Blackberries in the Dark, and Wilfred Gordon Macdonald Partridge. A meaningful entension activity would be to have students collect a penny minted fom each year of their own lives, and to find a memory connected with that year. (less)
This is a simple but eloquent story of a young inner city girl who is searching for "something beautiful." After seeing the word "DIE" written as graf...moreThis is a simple but eloquent story of a young inner city girl who is searching for "something beautiful." After seeing the word "DIE" written as graffitti on the door of her apartment building, she takes a journey through her neighborhood, encountering family and friends, in search of something beautiful, and in the end decides that her good intentions will create beauty in her life.
Reading this lovely story would be a wonderful way to generate a personal narrative on what young authors would consider to be beautiful in each of their lives.As each character in the story identifies "something beautiful," (like a smooth stone, a baby's laugh, or a fish sandwich)even primary aged children can begin to think about what is valuable and precious beyond the materialistic choices that they may make without such an altruistic model.(less)
Jane Yolen's bittersweet tale of a child's impressions of her father's departure to war overseas captures all the tender emotions of a child who is se...moreJane Yolen's bittersweet tale of a child's impressions of her father's departure to war overseas captures all the tender emotions of a child who is separated from a parent. Told from 4 year old Janie's point of view, the reader learns how the entire family suffers from the father's absence, and the conflicting emotions upon his return.
Even though this simple but beautiful story is set during WWII, it would be timely read today for those families whose lives are interrupted by war. Jane Yolen is such a prolific author that I am constantly awed by her range of topics and genre. Here she employs realistic fiction in a picture book format to explore a very serious topic, yet the evocative illustrations and simple, honest text make it an accessible topic for students from primary through intermediate grades.(less)
This engaging story by the author of Ella Enchanted transports us to 1926 Manhattan, from the teeming immigrant neighborhoods of the lower east side t...moreThis engaging story by the author of Ella Enchanted transports us to 1926 Manhattan, from the teeming immigrant neighborhoods of the lower east side to the artistic Renaissance evolving uptown in Harlem. The sudden death of his father leaves David Caros orphaned and abandoned by his uncaring stepmother, so he is taken to the Hebrew Home for Boys, an "asylum" with a dubious reputation. There he suffers under the despotic rule of the headmaster, Mr.Bloom, but develops a close bond with his buddies, who protect each other from the abuse of the older bullies. He meets a strange character named Solly the Gonif who introduces him to the surreal nightlife of Harlem. A riveting plot and strong character development make this a fascinating read for upper elementary students.
This is a great choice for capable 4th or 5th grade readers. Colorful, well crafted characters, a well defined sense of time and place, and several cliff-hangar chapter endings make it an engaging read. I would describe it as a kind of "Annie" for boys, in which a likable, strong, clever, neglected, but hopeful orphan overcomes enormous obstables in order to realize his dreams and find a place to belong. In my opinion, the most fascinating aspect of the book is the subplot featuring the people that Dave meets in Harlem, such as a wealthy African-American patron of the arts and her adopted daughter, W.E.B. DuBois, and Langston Hughes. Further inquiry into the lives of these historical personalities would add a rich dimension to the study of this novel, especially if the reader investigated the poetry of Langston Hughes.(less)
Laura's most cherished possession is a memory string of buttons, each one representing a special memory from the time of her great-grandmother, her gr...moreLaura's most cherished possession is a memory string of buttons, each one representing a special memory from the time of her great-grandmother, her grandmother, and most importantly, her mother who had died three years earlier.One day when her dad and stepmom were painting the porch, Laura is recounting the memories to her cat when he suddenly jumps, spilling all the special buttons into the grass. After the buttons are recovered and Laura's eavesdrops on a private conversation, she is able to accept her stepmother's affection and decides to open her heart and maybe even one day, add one of her stepmom's buttons onto her precious memory string.
Eve Bunting is the master of broaching sensitive topics, and through her simple but eloquent text, makes these topics acessible to primary and middle grade students. Another example of Eve Bunting's ability to explore difficult but real issues is her book Fly Away home, in which a homeless boy and his dad live in an airport.For children dealing with the loss of a loved one, this book validates feelings of loss and resentment, but also encourages healing through its hopeful message.(less)