Tanya Lee Stone tells the riveting, true story of the "Mercury 13," a group of women who took and passed the same physical and psychological tests tha...moreTanya Lee Stone tells the riveting, true story of the "Mercury 13," a group of women who took and passed the same physical and psychological tests that men took to qualify for NASA's astronaut training program. Even though these women aviators proved to be as fit, determined, and courageous as any man, they were barred from becoming astronauts because of their gender. Stone does a remarkable job of setting the scene, explaining to today's young women the gender roles of women in the late 1950s. This is narrative nonfiction at its best - absolutely riveting, fascinating, compelling. It would make an excellent addition to a unit examining gender roles, as well as just plain old gripping reading for any family. (less)
I just couldn't get into this story - it never gripped me the way I was expecting it to. But I'm really interested in the reaction it gets from kids w...moreI just couldn't get into this story - it never gripped me the way I was expecting it to. But I'm really interested in the reaction it gets from kids who like this sort of mystery. I do think it would appeal to 5th and 6th graders, especially more reluctant readers.
The diary entry format was pretty easy to read. I just found it pretty repetitive as Ryan described his fear and the story behind the ghost at the dredge. Now, I have to be honest - I did not watch the videos that are linked to the book. (less)
I really enjoyed the character and the setting, but I wish there had been more action driving the plot forward. I'm looking forward to more books with...moreI really enjoyed the character and the setting, but I wish there had been more action driving the plot forward. I'm looking forward to more books with this character.(less)
While we want to protect our young children from grief, we need to find ways to help them deal with losing something or someone they love. Tess's Tree...moreWhile we want to protect our young children from grief, we need to find ways to help them deal with losing something or someone they love. Tess's Tree is a wonderful, beautiful new book that does just this is a sweet, gentle way.
Tess loved her tree with all her heart. She looked out at her tree from her bedroom window. She swung its sturdy branches and read stories in its shade. But after losing branches in a big storm, the tree had to be cut down. Oh, how Tess was angry. Sad. Despondent. She cried for a long time, but then she decided to have a funeral for her tree - to celebrate the life of her tree.
Brallier was inspired to write this story after a friend's daughter held a funeral for a tree. “I think it’s difficult for kids to deal with loss,” he says. “It can be scary and lonely. They watch trusted adults being sad. I thought a tree was a softer way to explore that.” (Publisher's Weekly) Reynold's illustrations are perfect - bringing out all of Tess's emotions. I also love the multicultural community that she lives in - it helps us see ourselves in her story. This is a truly gentle book - it's one that will help children feel connected to the earth around us, and to people, pets and things they love.
My daughters have really liked Tess's Tree. My 5 year old listened with complete attention, with little smiles, frowns and sighs at the happy and sad places. The feelings came through so well in this book. My 8 year old said, "It's such a sweet book. But sad, too. It makes me think of Grandpa." She went on to talk about how she wished she could have gone to her grandfather's funeral (it was too far away) so she could have met some of the people who knew him when he was younger. It was a very touching moment, to have her recall her grandfather. His passing had a huge impact on her.
An interesting back story to this book: Tess's Tree started as an on-line book on the website FunBrain. You can now read the whole book online at the FunBrain site. Peter Reynold's company Fablevision created a TeleFable (FableVision's signature on-line book format). If you like reading books online, check out their site - they have great stuff!(less)
Have you ever finished a book and wanted to start reading it all over again, it was so intriguing? When I read this book, I was fascinated and gripped...moreHave you ever finished a book and wanted to start reading it all over again, it was so intriguing? When I read this book, I was fascinated and gripped by the ending. I didn't see it coming, and I just wanted to start all over again. My daughter and I just finished reading this, and she loved its combination of a realistic friendship story with a fantasy twist.
Sixth-grader Miranda's world is turning upside down. Her best friend Sal doesn't want to talk to her, for some inexplicable reason. Now Miranda (Mira for short) must find a new best friend at school. And tiny, mysterious notes start turning up in private places, like the pocket of her winter coat that's been in the closet since last March. The notes say things like “I am coming to save your friend’s life and my own” and “You will want proof. 3 p.m. today: Colin’s knapsack.” Miranda doesn’t know who is writing these things or where they are coming from but it is absolutely clear that the person who wrote the notes knows things that no one could know.
The good news is, Mira’s mother gets a postcard telling her she will finally get her shot on The $20,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark on April 27, 1979 – “Just like you said.” This is the first clue: something larger is going on here. The person writing these notes knew ahead of time that Mira’s mother would get her chance with Dick Clark on that particular day. Who could this be? Why are they doing this?
I found the interview with Rebecca Stead on Amazon particularly interesting. Here's a short excerpt:
Amazon.com: At the very beginning of the novel, we learn that Miranda’s mom is going to be a contestant on the 1970’s TV game show The $20,000 Pyramid. Without giving away the ending, why is this opportunity so important for them as a family?
Rebecca Stead: They need the money! Part of what’s happening for Miranda during this year is that she gets pushed outside of her formerly tiny world. Not far, but enough for her to start thinking about class, and the way other people live. She starts to see the way she lives in a new way, and has to deal with that. It’s the beginning of that kind of awareness for her, and so the money they hope to win has a lot of meaning for her, but it’s a meaning that changes.
This would make a lovely book to read with a book club for 5th and 6th graders. When You Reach Me, captures the interior monologue and observations of kids who are starting to recognize and negotiate the complexities of friendship and family, class and identity. It's a book they'll be able to relate to, but that will fascinate them as well.
Audiobook lovers: this is a wonderful story to listen to. We actually listened to some of it, and then read some of it aloud.(less)