I loved this novel. It was warm, heart-felt, and magical. In a nutshell, it addresses themes of coming of age, empowerment, acceptance, and self-reliaI loved this novel. It was warm, heart-felt, and magical. In a nutshell, it addresses themes of coming of age, empowerment, acceptance, and self-reliance.
When I first glanced at the book, the back cover description didn't sell me, but I decided to proceed anyway. Perhaps it is because I, too, have a rather large and bold birthmark and have spent a lifetime with people staring and asking questions. On a side note, fortunately no one ever bullied me about it, although once a middle school classmate indicated I was marked by Satan, and the birthmark was the proof. Honestly, though, her comment didn't bother me. The only reason it stuck with me these 20+ years is because even at our young age when she said it (12? 13?), I found her logic to be, oh, a few hundred years outdated. ;-)
The story quickly engrossed me, however. Bee is such a likeable character who I wanted to hug, if not adopt. Her internal struggles seem realistic. I found myself filled with a sense of hope the entire time I was reading…hoping for the next kind gesture, the next twist of fate, the next bit of growth and acceptance… Although I could predict early on where the story would go and how it would end, it didn't detract from the novel. To me, this novel was about enjoying the story, not racing to an ending.
One reviewer commented on too much happening in the book. Isn't that life? A person can have more than one issue at a time, yes? A person has more than one friend/family member with issues, yes? Life isn't limited to only one person’s immediate situation. As for the coincidences, well those are part of the magic of the book. This novel isn’t realistic fiction, nor does it purport to be. There's a magical element to it. Another reviewer complained that it isn't realistic a 10-year-old child could survive on her own. Again, this book isn't realistic fiction, and one common trait of YA literature is the absence of parents so the protagonist can grow and develop without the hindrance of parents. Embrace the magic and whimsy, I say! Get lost in the story and enjoy fiction. I know I did. ...more
I am having a difficult time writing this review. I enjoyed this book. I studied Holocaust literature for children and young adults during my master’sI am having a difficult time writing this review. I enjoyed this book. I studied Holocaust literature for children and young adults during my master’s program. When I was teaching, I taught a 9-week thematic unit on human rights that concluded with the Holocaust. Jack Gruener’s story is important, and his survival seems to have defied the odds. I do wonder, however, since this is a fictionalized account, how many of the events he survived actually occurred. And, in having studied so much Holocaust literature for children and YAs, I feel like I have read all the stories, even though on an intellectual level I understand no two humans have the exact same story as we are all unique. The cover is misleading, as I’m pretty sure the Beatles popularized that haircut. I don’t know… the reading level is somewhere around 5th grade and up, but the content perhaps is more along the lines of 8th grade and up, depending on the student. So, if you have high school patrons reading below grade level, this would be a novel to recommend. Because Yanek survived (existed? Lived in?) ten different concentration camps and this novel is only 256 pages (I read it in about 2 hours), the flow seemed choppy at times. Again, I understand that details must be omitted or else the novel could have easily been 1000 pages or more. Telling this complicated of a story is so few pages is a difficult task – I get that. I don’t know…I just don’t know why I’m struggling with writing this review… Jack's story is one that needs to be told - he earned it. ...more
Honestly, when I first picked up this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The first few chapters, as I was getting to know the characters,Honestly, when I first picked up this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The first few chapters, as I was getting to know the characters, didn’t really pique my interests, but I kept reading. Once the little girls appeared, however, my disinterested attitude quickly changed. I was hooked. I wanted to know more. I kept reading. Faster. And then faster. I was intrigued at times and creeped out at times. And I enjoyed the ride.
Because I know little about the Hebrew language, I did struggle with some of the vocabulary; however, it was fun using context clues to guess meanings, and I learned a few new words. Also, I am wondering if this book will have a sequel based on a few words about Dahlia’s next adventure. I’m growing weary of this new series trend in YA lit. Yes, I get it: there have always been series books, but so many novels these days seem to be released as a series prototype. What has happened to the art of a story existing inside one novel? Then again, who knows: if there is a sequel, I may enjoy it just as much as The Path of Names. Only time will tell.
This novel is best suited for middle school students and perhaps a few advanced fifth graders. I’m guessing girls will be drawn to it more than boys only because the protagonist is a girl. I highly recommend including this novel in your library collection. ...more
fun, action-packed, and safe read for middle grades (or even a few fourth and fifth graders) who have enjoyed Harry Potter (adventure, special boardinfun, action-packed, and safe read for middle grades (or even a few fourth and fifth graders) who have enjoyed Harry Potter (adventure, special boarding school, chosen child) and/or Mission Impossible (spy, heists, quick thinking plus action) I agree with previous reviewers that the novel is a bit too scattered with a quickly and easily resolved ending. Good effort for the author's first book...more
Hide and Seek was a fun, adventurous, and mysterious read. This novel would be a great choice for a classroom read aloud for younger grades (3rd, 4th,Hide and Seek was a fun, adventurous, and mysterious read. This novel would be a great choice for a classroom read aloud for younger grades (3rd, 4th, or 5th) or perhaps a book study for middle grades (5th or 6th). There are a number of historical, anthropological, and science tie-ins that teachers or librarians could use for class or independent research projects. ...more
I agree with the previous reviewers. Vote is a light and humorous read for reluctant readers. It would be a great read aloud for middle grades prior tI agree with the previous reviewers. Vote is a light and humorous read for reluctant readers. It would be a great read aloud for middle grades prior to elections (school, local, state, or national). ...more
Typing this review makes me simultaneously smile and tear up, as it was a mixture of humorous (the stories shared in the first few journal entries, asTyping this review makes me simultaneously smile and tear up, as it was a mixture of humorous (the stories shared in the first few journal entries, aside from the pigeon) and sad (the pigeon and "Danley"). I'll spare you the summary, as you have probably already read several of those. I will paraphrase from the inside cover flap that Julian is a kid who isn't bad but just makes dumb decisions. He's growing up. He sometimes lets the moment and his friends and his emotions interfere with making the best choices. It happens. The catalyst for the story is a prank gone terribly wrong, but not in the sense of a Law and Order or CSI over-the-top-gone-wrong, but more of a realistic-for-sixth-graders-gone-wrong.
Goldblatt shares a coming-of-age story, and he shares it well. Through the journal entries, I could hear Julian's voice. I could, to some degree, understand a kid like Julian (I was nothing like Julian in the 6th grade). I enjoyed the way Julian’s recounts would move from reporting to speaking directly to his teacher (the audience of this journal assignment) to pouring his heart out to reflecting on the “what was” compared to the “what might have been.” When the “Danley” incident was shared, I felt the pain of both the victim and the bully (well, one of the bullies - Julian). When describing the ending to my husband two weeks after reading the book, I teared up yet again. I would agree with other reviewers that the story is timeless. Had I not looked at the date of the journal entry, I wouldn't have known that the book was set in 1969, as there are no pop culture, technology, or political allusions (refreshing!).
As much as I really enjoyed this book, I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 stars because of the shift in format. The first few chapters/journal entries were basically vignettes with Julian sharing some of the dumb things he has done, which I enjoyed. Eventually, the story shifted from these vignettes to a more linear presentation, with each chapter moving forward the story of romance and heartache, friendship and falling-outs (I didn’t enjoy the love story too much). The short stories of mistakes disappear and the coming-of-age story develops. I also found it hard to believe that 6th graders would be reading Julius Caesar, as I am a former 8th grade ELA teacher. That being said, I live in Texas, and our education system is ranked as one of the worst in the country, so I guess it is possible students in higher performing states are capable of reading and understanding Shakespeare at such a young age.
I think this book could be shared as a read-aloud with middle grades. Overall, I highly recommend it, especially since our culture seems to be heavily focused on bullying. On a personal note, I don’t actually understand this new-found concern, as bullying is nothing new. ...more
Stewig presents the events leading up to the Princess laying on the infamous pea through the perspectives of 10 related characters. This book would heStewig presents the events leading up to the Princess laying on the infamous pea through the perspectives of 10 related characters. This book would help students better understand point-of-view, but the younger listeners may struggle with the more complex language and sentence structure. Patrick the Pea is definitely my favorite character....more
I can relate to some of the incidents portrayed in this story: forgetting grocery store items (except I actually carry a list - go figure); dressing iI can relate to some of the incidents portrayed in this story: forgetting grocery store items (except I actually carry a list - go figure); dressing incorrectly for the weather: and not being able to find my car in just about any parking lot. ...more
A good selection when studying forests, forest animals, and seasons. O'Garden presents the idea of nature conservation without being didactic or seemiA good selection when studying forests, forest animals, and seasons. O'Garden presents the idea of nature conservation without being didactic or seemingly politically motivated....more
In this bilingual picture book, Brown, Lopez, and Dominguez rhythmically share the life of Mambo King Tito Puente. Each double-page spread contains ilIn this bilingual picture book, Brown, Lopez, and Dominguez rhythmically share the life of Mambo King Tito Puente. Each double-page spread contains illustrations, with text in both English and Spanish featured on only one page. The illustrations are fluid, bright, and almost whimsical. The language is written basically enough for PreK children to understand yet complex enough to hold the interest of older elementary (if not middle) school readers. The occasional sound words, along with the colorful illustrations, make me “hear” the music and “feel” the rhythm. A brief biography and one line of music conclude the book. ...more
Bryant and Sweet present the life of artist Horace Pippen, from his childhood in the late 19th century through his success as a respected artist. TheBryant and Sweet present the life of artist Horace Pippen, from his childhood in the late 19th century through his success as a respected artist. The mixed-media art is eye-catching and beautifully illustrates the well-told story of one man's artistic hobby-turned-career. Both Bryant and Sweet provide notes at the conclusion, and there are resources for further research (books, a film, and web sites), as well as a map of the US depicting the current locations of Pippen's work on display....more
In a small, predominately white town in Maine, Tom is an avid soccer player, strong student, and overall likeable guy. His eyes are opened to a worldIn a small, predominately white town in Maine, Tom is an avid soccer player, strong student, and overall likeable guy. His eyes are opened to a world beyond white, middle class America as more and more Somali immigrants take refuge in his town. Tensions run high at school and in his town, as people object to the recent presence of who they perceive to be outsiders. After engaging in a bit of mischief, Tom is assigned community service hours and chooses to work at the local refuge center, assisting children with homework. Between working at the center and playing soccer with the amazingly talented Somali soccer players, Tom begins to realize that there is much more to life than the stereotypical high middle-America high school experience of parties, popular-but-shallow girlfriends, and typical high school shenanigans. In this well-written novel, Padian presents a realistic portrayal of a teenage boy, as well as members of a town, adjusting to change. She presents Muslim customs and promotes understanding without being didactic. To me, the level of conflict (drama) seems realistic - there's no shocking violent episode to horrify the reader, but rather the conflict is more subdued...more of something most people would experience in real life. ...more