I enjoyed this book, but it seemed a bit more unlikely than Frindleand No Talking. Clements deals in this book with the emphasis on testing in schoolsI enjoyed this book, but it seemed a bit more unlikely than Frindleand No Talking. Clements deals in this book with the emphasis on testing in schools and how it affects students' perceptions of themselves and others. It's humorous, it held my interest, and it dealt with an important idea, but I still found it hard to believe any students would go as far as Nora and Stephen did in their rebellion.
Although a genius might see the fallacy in taking testing results too seriously, I doubt if Nora would care so little about her future to go as far as she did in deliberately getting almost all D's and getting standardized test scores in the average range just to fit in. She seemed convinced it wouldn't matter because she was so smart she could just show them how smart she was when it became important.
Once again Andrews pits the students against the teachers in a perceived rebellion, though their real grievance is not with the teachers, who are really on the same side, as with the system. When the students saw they and the teachers really felt the same way and they were all fighting against a system they could not control, they stopped the rebellion. ...more
..the main character is the one who changes. (From Sahara Special spoken by Madame Poitier AKA Miss Pointy)
If the quote is applied to this book, we'd..the main character is the one who changes. (From Sahara Special spoken by Madame Poitier AKA Miss Pointy)
If the quote is applied to this book, we'd almost have to say that it has more than one main character, though it is written from the point of view of only one -- Sahara Jones. You might say that this book is several stories within a single story, and the teacher, "Miss Pointy," tells most of them. She is the inspiration and the catalyst for the changes in her multicultural students' lives. She loves telling Aesop's fables, but her original stories also help draw out the feelings students have so they can begin to deal with them. Her students come from many backgrounds. Some have been abandoned by one or both parents, physically or emotionally, or have been abused. Madame Poitier helps her students work through their emotional baggage -- even encouraging them to leave their problems in the "troublebasket" as they come in to the classroom evey morning, "since ..."Our troubles are invisible to the eye, but they are heavy. She practically breaks her back, holding all those troubles for us, but she says we can't carry them into the classroom ourselves or we won't be able to work." (p. 57)
This reminds me of when my adopted daughter was in counseling at the age of about 10. She was in special education , since she was not even reading yet when she came to us at age nine from another foster home. Her counselor, who was also head of the district's special services, said our daughter was bright, but her emotional baggage was keeping her from being able to concentrate on learning, and that once it was out of the way, she would begin to fly. "Miss Pointy" also knew that.
There is no way I can tell this story. It does not deserve to be summarized. It's got to be read. I think it should be required reading in education courses because it shows a superb teacher in action -- one who can roll with the punches -- in what I perceive to be an inner city classroom. ...more
Martha remembered Olive as a very shy, quiet loner. She had heard about Olive's bicycle accident. She'd been hit by a car. But Martha had never gottenMartha remembered Olive as a very shy, quiet loner. She had heard about Olive's bicycle accident. She'd been hit by a car. But Martha had never gotten to know Olive. Olive's mother had just delivered one of Olive's journal entries to Martha. Martha discovered in the entry that Olive thought she was the nicest person in their class and wanted to get to know her. But best of all, Martha finds they share a secret ambition -- to be a writer. She also learns that Olive had always wanted to see the ocean. Martha thinks it's more than a coincidence that her family is leaving to visit her grandmother the next day, and her grandmother lives on the Atlantic Coast, right by the ocean.
Martha tries to piece together a picture of Olive in her mind, even as she grieves for a friendship that might have been. She decides she will write a novel about Olive. She shares the secret with her Grandmother.
Over the course of her vacation with Godbee (her name for her grandmother), the two continued to build their relationship. Martha also deals with the pains of growing up and learning more about herself. She continues to think about Olive and decides that since Olive never got to see the ocean, she would bring some ocean back to give to Olive's mother. After burying her little sister in the sand except for her head, she goes into the ocean with the jar Godbee gave her, to fill it with the ocean water. She falls into the ocean when the sand bar she had been on disappeared. Though she was a good swimmer, she panicked and swallowed water and was sure she would drown. The thought made her kick and stroke until she broke through the water's surface and was able to make her way back to shore. Her world changed in that minute. She suddenly understood that the world did not revolve around her, and would continue to exist with her or without her. She began to appreciate life and even her family more.
The vacation ends too quickly. After a private last conversation with Godbee, Martha senses Godbee's fear that they might not see each other again. She arrives home more mature. She still hasn't written anything much, but she finally tells her dad she wants to become a writer and he encourages her.
Now all that is left for Martha to do is take the bottle of water, which she thinks of now as Olive's Ocean, to Olive's mother. She looks up the address, but arrives just after the family has moved away. She learns this by talking to the landlord, who tells her that Olive had never had any playmates over -- that she would just sit on the step, writing in her notebooks, all alone. Finally the landlord goes in, but gives Martha permission to hang around a while. The way she had dreamed of making her connection to Olive was now impossible. But she needed closure. She finally found a paintbrush in the garbage that Olive's family had thrown out, and she dips it into "Olive's Ocean" to write Olive's name on the step over and over, until the water was gone. She then throws the empty jar away and goes home, after saying goodbye to Olive twice. When she realizes suddenly that where she really wants to be in her grief is home, so she turned to take the short route there, saying loudly when she arrived, "I'm home."
The book was well-written. Martha had definitely grown into a more mature person by the end of the book, able to more fully appreciate her family, the brevity of life, the vulnerability of Godbee, and her own place in the larger world. The plot is mostly about Martha's internal life, though are is a subplot involving the beginning of what might be a potential romance later on. Someone who needs lots of external action might not like this book as much as I did, but thoughtful, introspective middle school girls, especially any dealing with grief issues, should appreciate it. ...more
Ten-year-old Winnie moves to Cisco, California, with her family in the summer of 1867 when her father, a mining engineer for the Central Pacific RailrTen-year-old Winnie moves to Cisco, California, with her family in the summer of 1867 when her father, a mining engineer for the Central Pacific Railroad, needs to relocate from Sacramento to help build the transcontinental railroad. Cisco is small, and there seem to be no other children at first. Most people were either miners or railroad workers, and many of these were Chinese immigrant laborers who were brought into the country just to build the railroad. The only friend Winnie makes is one of these -- a young Chinese tea carrier. The stories he tells are very different from the ones her father tells about the work. Sometimes Winnie doesn't know what to think. She has already seen plenty of prejudice against the Chinese in town. Later in the summer when the Chinese workers start to complain about their awful working conditions, Winnie needs to decide which side she's on....more
The main character, Philip Mallory, is entering high school. He wants desperately to be on the track team, but he's not so interested in studying -- eThe main character, Philip Mallory, is entering high school. He wants desperately to be on the track team, but he's not so interested in studying -- especially literature. And he's not about to read The Call of the Wild. Kid stuff. ('What can you say about a dog?') He's somewhat interested in girls, and strikes me as the typically unmotivated learner who lives for sports.
Philip has a habit that his homeroom teacher, Mr. Lunser, has tolerated in spite of the school directive that when the national anthem is played over the PA system, students will stand at respectful quiet attention. Philip likes to hum along to it. Mr. Lunser has never made an issue of it. In fact, Mr. Lunser reminds me of some teachers I've had who like to joke around a lot. He makes jokes between the principal's Today in History comments that immediately precede the playing of the national anthem. In fact, Mr. Lunser actually talks to Phillip during the national anthem, telling him to put his book away.
The book flips back and forth between the school directives as published,letters Philip's English teacher Miss Narwin writes to her sister, and conversations between Philip and his coach, Philip and his friends, and Philip and his teachers and parents. The real thorn in Philip's side is Miss Narwin. He's sure she has it in for him because he doesn't do any work for her class. She is constantly trying to find a way to motivate him. She is conscientious, but she is compelled to give him a D in English. And then Philip finds out that will keep him from trying out for the track team. Then the homeroom classes all change teachers, and Philip winds up in Mrs. Narwin's homeroom.
Mrs. Narwin is not anything like Mr. Lunser. When Philip begins to hum to the national anthem instead of standing in respectful silence, she calls him on it and tells him to stop. They argue about it. Philip finally stops humming. When he goes home he tells his parents Mrs. Narwin would not let him sing the Star Spangled Banner, which he claimed to do from patriotic feeling. His parents say he should stand up for his right to express his patriotism in this way. So the scene repeats itself the next day in homeroom, except Philip doesn't stop this time and Miss Narwin sends him to the principal. This happens again the next day, and over Mrs. Narwin's protest, the principal suspends Philip for two days, and his mother has to leave work to come get him.
In the background you have school politics. The budget is inadequate, and an election is coming soon for a new school board and to vote on the budget. Teachers are being urged to talk up the need for the funds with their neighbors and others. Administration is uptight. Then Philip is suspended, as he explains it, because he sang along, or hummed, to the national anthem. Philip's father's neighbor is running for the school board, and Mr. Mallory complains to him. This becomes an issue in the school board election. The newspaper reports on it. It gets onto the nationwide talk shows. Philip is transferred back to Mr. Lunser's homeroom and finally out of Mrs. Narwin's English class. Mrs. Narwin is put on administrative leave. Administrators keep passing the buck. It becomes a national issue.
The conflict appears to be that Miss Narwin believed Philip's humming was disrespectful and was out of line with the school rules about standing quietly at attention. She considered his humming a disruption. Philip told his parents and everyone else he was humming from patriotic feeling. By the principal's admission, Miss Narwin is one of the school's best teachers, and we see from her letters to her sister that this is true, and she's trying to find a way to reach Philip. When Miss Narwin is put on administrative leave for political reasons, even the coach and Philip's friends turn against him, because they all like Mrs. Narwin. Philip's parents finally put him in a private school where they sing the national anthem every morning. And on Philip's first day there, when he's asked to lead it, he says he can't. And if you haven't read the book, I'm not going to tell you why. But you might want to read the book. The edition I have has study questions at the back which go pretty deep. But for those of you who have read the book, I have a question. Do you think Philip was humming from patriotic feeling? Or was he trying to be disruptive? ...more
This book is set in a fishing village on the coast of China, where ten-year-old Li Lun trembles as he attempts to make himself invisible to his fatherThis book is set in a fishing village on the coast of China, where ten-year-old Li Lun trembles as he attempts to make himself invisible to his father. For this is the day the men take their sons who have turned ten to the fishing boats with them -- the man-making trip -- their first fishing trip. But Li Lun was desperately afraid of the deep rolling water where he was sure that the evil spirits swarmed, ready to drag him under. He was determined not to go.
But the moment came when his father called him. And he had to respectfully tell his father he was not going and admit that he, the son of a fisherman, destined to be a fisherman, was afraid of seawater. His father called him a coward and angrily shouted, 'I will have no son of mine a coward!' At this point the mother intervened, begging the father to grant the boy's request for a job on the land. So he said, still angry, " 'Very well! I will give him a land task that will make him beg for the sea!' "He reached into his pocket and gave Li Lun seven grains of rice and sent him to the top of the high mountain, Lao Shan, to plant it. The father's anger left him almost breathless:" 'And don't come back until you have grown seven times as many grains as I have given you….You will be far enough from sea water on Lao Shan!' he scoffed."
As he returned to his home in disgrace, with his mother, to prepare to leave, his former friends jeered him for his cowardice. His father was already on his way to sea in the sampan. He believed in his heart that he was the coward they all considered him to be.
Lao Shan, which meant mountain of sorrows, was the highest mountain around. No one lived at its top except the rats and gulls. It was dry and hot. As Li Lun faced the prospect of his banishment he was afraid. To prepare himself, he sought the advice of The Old One, Sun Ling. He asked Sun Ling how to grow rice, and Sun Ling asked a few questions that brought out Li Lun's plight. He teaches the boy the basics of growing rice and surviving, and then tells him that there "are other things than fishing" and that there is more than one kind of courage. He also tells the boy that his name, Li Lun, means Inner Spirit, and that would keep him strong through all the trials and loneliness ahead. Li Lun returns home to bid his mother and siblings farewell, and his kind mother gives him some food and other necessities for the climb up the mountain and his sojourn there. Then he sets off, feeling very much alone.
The rest of the book deals with Li Lun's struggles and difficulties as he fights his fears, the rats and gulls who would steal and damage his precious plants, and the battle to find enough water for the rice in the scorching heat. By the time the grain is finally ripe, only one stalk has survived, and he takes it back to the Old One as he was told to do. The boys who had taunted him appeared as he arrived in the village and chased him, and he almost lost his last stalk to them. He arrived under the care of Sun Ling just in time. Sun Ling treated him like a celebrity in his home, and then presented him to the village in a new light, quoting the wise men of old who had said …"the production of a grain of rice is as great a work as the creation of a mountain" and informing them that Li Lun has done that. He asks Li Lun to teach the other boys how to grow rice,since no one else in the village had been able to grow it and they had to import all the rice they ate. Then Sun Ling oversees Li Lun's eunion with his parents, whose attitude towards him has finally, with the help of Sun Ling, changed.
This book would be a good complement to studies of courage, China,self-image, and rice growing. I highly recommend it as a family read-aloud for those with elementary children. The reading level is about third or fourth grade....more
Zach loves the three weeks he spends with his grandparents every summer, fishing Gramp's lake and eating Gram's good cooking. Fishing is so good the fiZach loves the three weeks he spends with his grandparents every summer, fishing Gramp's lake and eating Gram's good cooking. Fishing is so good the first day that Gramps calls it a "Memory Box" day. But when Gramps tells the story that explains the "Memory Box," Zach isn't quite ready for it. It's a box to keep written memories, forever, so that they cannot be forgotten. Gramps tells Zach he needs it because he has Alzheimer's Disease, and won't be able to remember some special things he's shared with family members without the box.The rest of the vacation is spent filling the box with memories, and the three who love each other give each other support as they confront the changes in Gramps, who sometimes can't find his way back home from the lake, or forgets his shoes when he walks outside. This sensitively written book may move you to tears as you contemplate the cruelty of this tragic disease. But it is just the book to explain it to a child with an afflicted loved one...more
The author shows us that a new pet can be a disappointment to a child at first, especially if it's different than a child is expecting. Felice has a lThe author shows us that a new pet can be a disappointment to a child at first, especially if it's different than a child is expecting. Felice has a long period of adjusting to Frosty, a very large dog, when she had hoped to pick out her own small, cuddly puppy from the animal shelter. She hates Frosty at first because she had nothing to do with choosing him and because he is so large and frightening. She wants nothing to do with him. He disrupts the household and the cats are afraid of him. It is only when she believes her parents might actually grant her desire to take him back to the shelter that she realizes she doesn't really want to see him go. After that she begins to see Frosty's good points, and by the end of the book she fully accepts and welcomes him into her heart. ...more