Anikwa and James are on two different sides in 1812. One is a Native American living on the Indiana Territory where his ancestors have lived for manyAnikwa and James are on two different sides in 1812. One is a Native American living on the Indiana Territory where his ancestors have lived for many years and one is a new settler who are traders as people move west.
I like this historical novel told in verse, though not quite sure the real value or significance of the shapes of the verse in each of their voices. And while I appreciate the solemnity of the words that pay homage to the situation and the boys' stories, it was missing just a little something more for me to call it a great read. ...more
In being so in love when Tricks came out, I've lost some affection for the characters in this heavy and solid sequel. While the importance of the topiIn being so in love when Tricks came out, I've lost some affection for the characters in this heavy and solid sequel. While the importance of the topic will remain and teen readers always love a sequel, I'm content to leave many of Hopkins' characters (from all of her novels) just as they are from the original stories. Tricks was a bit more complicated with more stories to keep track of including background, situations, family drama and personal drama and couple that with her dense writing that loses some of it's appeal by being written more like a novel than verse.
The early glimmer of the creativity of the verse novel is wearing off in favor of a more meaty story without the emotion that was read in between the lines with hanging thoughts and the more concrete poetry style.
It's an important work that needs to continue with books like these being written from a well-researched author such as Hopkins (and we're not just talking about book research but her time spent talking with teens, riding along with police and vice squads, etc.) and telling the stories from those whose voices aren't heard. In terms of this kind of reality, I'd much prefer it in a documentary rather than a follow-up to her first book. ...more
I'm finding it hard to find an enjoyable re-telling of the Salem Witch Trials and though Hemphill's comes closer than other recent ones I've read (ConI'm finding it hard to find an enjoyable re-telling of the Salem Witch Trials and though Hemphill's comes closer than other recent ones I've read (Conversion to name one), it still isn't what I'm looking for and maybe I won't ever find it because it's simple speculation at this point about what and why the girls did what they did that led to the deaths of many individuals accused of witchcraft.
The conversations it does bring up include pack mentality, power, heresy, and bullying, which I get. I'm going to recommend it as an alternative to The Crucible as much for the verse (being more manageable) but also for an update to The Crucible's text. ...more
Two lives that are forever altered are speaking out in this combined memoir about their lives and the lives of others affected by a heinous act in theTwo lives that are forever altered are speaking out in this combined memoir about their lives and the lives of others affected by a heinous act in the 1980s.
Jennifer awoke in her apartment and was raped at knifepoint. She went on to identify Ronald Cotton as the rapist but it was eyewitness testimony that convicted him, not once, but twice (after a second woman who was raped an hour later but was not part of the initial charges because she couldn't identify him from the lineup). Cotton spent 11 years in prison until the man, Poole, a convicted rapist finally confessed, though Cotton had known within two years of his imprisonment that Poole (similarly built and a convicted rapist now serving time for rape) was the man. Then blood was tested and DNA was finally used to overturn the conviction. No one wanted to see Cotton in jail longer than he had to once this all happened.
What I loved about the presentation of the book was that both Thompson and Cotton tell their stories "before" and then once the trials are finished, what there stories were like "during", and then all that happened "after" the exoneration including their blossoming friendship. There is so much to appreciate about tangible things like science, the justice system, and also the intangible things like friendship, redemption, and hope. ...more
Hearing Woodson read from the book at SLJ's Day of Dialog was exciting enough, knowing the book was based on her childhood and that it's written in veHearing Woodson read from the book at SLJ's Day of Dialog was exciting enough, knowing the book was based on her childhood and that it's written in verse was even better.
The story is beautifully detailed highlighting both historical facts of the time (growing up in both the south and the north and what that was like for black families in the 60s and 70s) and her family's personal relationships, and the sculpting of the renowned children's author based on what she saw around her.
The interplay of her grandparents, their Jevoah's Witness religion, her mother's strong will to raise her family alone with the wishful thinking by Woodson of becoming an author while her brother loved science and her sister had her nose stuck in books makes for a richly painted portrait of the dynamics that created such a wonderfully creative individual. While, there are also the serious issues of race, lead poisoning (her younger brothers suffered from it after eating the paint on the walls of their apartment in NYC), crime, hard work, and religion.
I think it's a phenomenal story that Woodson shares intimately but publicly with her readers that demonstrates her gifts. ...more
I didn't make the connection that Hemphill also wrote Your Own, Syliva, which I adored until after I read the book. This one is similar in that it's aI didn't make the connection that Hemphill also wrote Your Own, Syliva, which I adored until after I read the book. This one is similar in that it's a verse novel, based on a literary figure, in this case Mary Shelley and her intriguing life.
Her family disowned her early on when she took up with Percy Shelley, who was still married with children when they pledged their love to each other. Mary's father disowned her and his friendship with Percy because of the indecency. Mary knew/thought she was in love, but they also escaped with her 'sister' as well, who became an important piece in her life, both for her annoyance as well as her moods and the fact that it was rumored most of their life that she and Percy were having an affair. It's about Mary's writing, Percy and her relationship that ran hot and cold for Percy seems like an intelligent, sickly, but provocative character who enchanted many, including other women, possibly. There was devastation as Mary ended up losing three children at different stages of their childhood to illnesses, that went almost unrecognized by Percy or other family. It was only after Mary and Percy's actual marriage (after his wife committed suicide) that her father, Mary's greatest influence, came back in to her life because their union was legitimate. It's about the literati of the time who wooed and spent extravagantly, but also had the craziest lives. Affairs, children, moving here and there, finances (mostly the lack of) and more.
A beautifully written verse that glimpses Mary's life and how Frankenstein probably came to be. ...more
**spoiler alert** This is a very accessible and very real book with African American characters that makes literature speak to common, every day kids.**spoiler alert** This is a very accessible and very real book with African American characters that makes literature speak to common, every day kids. Josh and Jordan are twin brothers who are good at basketball, naturally so since their father was professional, but now that they're father's retired, he dedicates his time to his kids, while the boys are dealing with girls and their own rivalry and their family. Particularly because their father's health isn't the best, but they succeed for him and for each other though it's getting tougher with a new girlfriend in their picture and some changes in behavior lead Josh to turn to his rhymes and away from the family. Though they're brought together upon their father's death, making them realize that family is everything. ...more
His verse is powerful, lyrical and hypnotizing and I loved every piece of his story. It was about struggle, about survival and it wasn't whiny, it wasHis verse is powerful, lyrical and hypnotizing and I loved every piece of his story. It was about struggle, about survival and it wasn't whiny, it wasn't sad, it was REAL.
I can see so many people getting behind him and behind his story because much is universal. He wants a closer relationship with his half-brother, it's about the devastation of losing a parent, in this case, Lemon lost his mother to AIDS during a stigmatizing time. It was about slinging drugs because a felon gets turned away when being truthful on a job application. It's about his own romantic relationships and how mothers get involved and try to force things that shouldn't be forced. Meddlers aren't welcome, you must live your own life.
Wonderfully unique, a great memoir with an equally awesome voice. ...more
A beautifully succinct memoir written in verse about how the speaker, Nelson, grew up in the 1950s, moving between states with her military father, soA beautifully succinct memoir written in verse about how the speaker, Nelson, grew up in the 1950s, moving between states with her military father, sometimes being the only black kid in class, and her love for words. Just as much great historical content, as sweetness, reality, and maturity....more
**spoiler alert** This novel in verse focuses on three voices: Brendan who comes to identify as gender fluid (not quite feeling like he needs to be a**spoiler alert** This novel in verse focuses on three voices: Brendan who comes to identify as gender fluid (not quite feeling like he needs to be a girl but not quite feeling at home in his boy body), Vanessa, Brendan's girlfriend who he loves dearly but cannot understand Brendan's distance lately, and Angel, a transgendered female who broke free from an abusive father to feel at home in a GLBT community center who befriends Brendan.
The story is quite simple, but reaches an audience that is just starting to emerge about transgendered teens, not gay/lesbian issues. The confusing part (for Brendan) but for the reader is understanding his dilemma- does he want a sex change, does he just like dressing up as a girl, he's not gay because he enjoys sleeping with Vanessa, but he also doesn't feel completely like a boy... what is it? But that's the struggle that Clark wants to show to readers-- I learned a new word-- gender fluid. And what's common about the book is that it does show the isolation that kids feel. Brendan does have thoughts of suicide, though his family helps and hurts his decisions, Brendan does have friends that help and hurt him in feeling himself.
While I don't think the writing is stellar as verse or just writing style, I do think it serves a purpose. I could relate to the characters and that was good enough. So while he does "leave" Vanessa (with more questions than answers), we know there are examples he can follow to become comfortable (like Angel) to help guide him. ...more
I was disappointed in this one because I think Hopkins has written better verse and her story lines have been better chosen as well. My real disappoinI was disappointed in this one because I think Hopkins has written better verse and her story lines have been better chosen as well. My real disappointment was not connecting with the main character Ashley on her journey of exploration, in love with a soldier then falling for a professor and questioning herself along the way.
This "new adult" type story in which the main character is a twenty-something could be appealing for the right reader, just not myself. Hopkins has written better and I actually enjoyed Cole's verse far more, I just wished there was more of it! ...more
The subtitle captures the story: a song for Matthew Shepard as it's not truly poetry but it's also not truly a verse novel. It's somewhere in betweenThe subtitle captures the story: a song for Matthew Shepard as it's not truly poetry but it's also not truly a verse novel. It's somewhere in between like a prose eulogy where Newman takes the difficult subject matter of Matthew Shepard's death at the hands of two homophobic boys in Wyoming and turns it into the different voices (from quotes from the investigation and trial) to become close to the situation.
The songs are lyrical and capture the energy and emotion and the extra content including the notes, resources page, AND an explanation of the different forms of poetry make it so useful as a teaching tool.
Not as good as I thought it would be, it tells the story of Sudanese immigrants and their struggle for survival amid rape, war, and hunger written inNot as good as I thought it would be, it tells the story of Sudanese immigrants and their struggle for survival amid rape, war, and hunger written in verse. It's short and compact, but didn't hold the punch I thought it could, maybe less words would actually capture the story better?...more
I found her others better than this one and was disappointed that I didn't like it as much as the others. Schroeder crafts beautiful verse so maybe itI found her others better than this one and was disappointed that I didn't like it as much as the others. Schroeder crafts beautiful verse so maybe it was the multiple points of view or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a sappy love story where two people overcome their pain and grief to find love together? Again, nothing to do with the writing, that was not disappointing, I just wish I could have found a reason to get behind Brooklyn or Nico to be better entrenched. ...more
As Hopkins continues to weave unique characters with commonplace teen issues like sexuality, abandonment, non-parenting parents, sibling issues, and tAs Hopkins continues to weave unique characters with commonplace teen issues like sexuality, abandonment, non-parenting parents, sibling issues, and their own parents issues (as this is a companion to Triangles, her adult novel), I am starting to get confused with so many characters and their issues that I think it's taking away something from the beauty of Hopkins' writing and her creativity and real characters. Though I still value how Hopkins truly understands teen characters and can bring them to life. I'm sure teens as they read as thinking the same thing-- between promiscuity and teenage pregnancy to family issues and body image. ...more
A great epic adventure based on the true sinking of the Titanic, Wolf takes a large group of passengers, the iceberg, a ship rat, and the undertaker wA great epic adventure based on the true sinking of the Titanic, Wolf takes a large group of passengers, the iceberg, a ship rat, and the undertaker who ultimately pulled, tagged, and embalmed the dead afterward and created a historical verse novel broken in to parts that led to the final sinking. Creatively done, there are rich details, which Wolf explains in the afterward that are not always accurate, about the passengers, ambiance, and back stories that lead to a very personal relationship with the characters before their ultimate demise. Though we know that some survived, we know many more didn't, so there's a constant worry as you read more about each character as to who will perish.
I will certainly recommend this. Though it's thick, its verse format makes it easy and accessible and the biographies and facts at the end make it more thought-provoking. As Wolf states, for true "Titaniacs" this isn't a nonfiction text, Wolf has created an entire story from truth and fiction. I would say invest the time in this book, not the booooring movie! ...more
**spoiler alert** Andy and Blake become "friends" during school only because they are both social outcasts. Blake's father was killed in combat in Ira**spoiler alert** Andy and Blake become "friends" during school only because they are both social outcasts. Blake's father was killed in combat in Iraq but has an obsession with being alone and possibly a gun. Andy is the janitor's son and no one lets him forget it. The two forge a bond and although Andy likes the feel of the gun that Blake is now carrying around and they're shooting out back of a store, he can't shake the feeling that Blake might do something with it.
The verse didn't flow as freely as it could have, it spent too much time up front explaining other social outcasts and trying to throw off the scent, but as the speed picked up and the social antagonism peaked, Andy decides to snitch to his father. And lucky he did, because as the SWAT team stormed the building looking for Blake, he pulls out the gun and shoots back.
Though no one ends up dead from the shooting, there are several monumental revelations that I appreciated. The fact that Andy struggles with being a snitch, the fact that he still enjoys the thought of touching and playing with the gun, and remorse that Blake's life (especially living without a father) might be left to rot in a mental institution. ...more
**spoiler alert** The prose was an inventive and unique way to tell the story of the Johnstown Flood from the late 1800s. For Richards' first novel, t**spoiler alert** The prose was an inventive and unique way to tell the story of the Johnstown Flood from the late 1800s. For Richards' first novel, this was epic and beautiful. I found myself in love with her rhythmic storytelling and beautiful imagery as well as her characters.
The story focuses mainly on Celestia and her lower-class love interest, Peter as well as Maura, whose youth is only a number as she's married to a railroad conductor and has many children already but enjoys the homestead and the company of her husband. And last, Kate, who loses her husband as a young bride and is hardened by the experience, converting to a nursing position where her precision-skill and unemotional persona work well in crisis as it did when all characters are affected by the Johnstown flood.
Celestia returned to Peter after being sent away to hopefully avoid her falling for him because of her societal position, Maura hears her husband's train whistle warning of an impending doom, and Kate is on the train moving to the next hospital to care for the sick when the flood hits. And from there, the value of love, family, and caring emerge. Celestia's father finds Celestia and Peter and take them both home where they are accepting now of their relationship, Maura all but loses her husband to the heroed spotlight of trying to warn others, and Kate realizes her goals and meets and comes to work for Clara Barton at the Red Cross. ...more
It has been quite a while since I read The Bell Jar and aside from a few poems here or there, I have never read many Sylvia Plath poems and though I kIt has been quite a while since I read The Bell Jar and aside from a few poems here or there, I have never read many Sylvia Plath poems and though I knew that she committed suicide and lived in NYC for a brief period, I didn't know much else either. This verse novel is perfect for introducing Sylvia Plath, both her biography and her poetry. It took some getting used to the verse and then a footnote at the bottom of each verse that explain the context of that specific verse. I'm still not entirely sold that it couldn't have been done in some other fashion, but nonetheless it proved to help guide the biographical part of Sylvia's story while still creatively expressing her insanity, love, passion, and madness.
Definitely suggest this! And, it makes me want to pick up some of her poetry!
Annaleah is a pathetic girl (but not unlike all of her teen counterparts) who get wrapped up in a relationship that is anything but. Brian "sort of" dAnnaleah is a pathetic girl (but not unlike all of her teen counterparts) who get wrapped up in a relationship that is anything but. Brian "sort of" dated her and they certainly had sex a few times, but it didn't bother her that she never met his parents or his friends and vice versa... that is until he died. A freak heart problem killed him on the basketball court. She attends the wake knowing full well that no one knows who she is and spends the majority of the book wallowing in memories of a "sort of" relationship. It was sad, truly sad, to know that this does occur and annoying, but more sympathetic than annoying that she remembers only the good things when she discovers of course that she wasn't the only, that she never heard "I love you" and never will and will never know his family.
Luckily, her friends' persistence, a smart ol' grandma, and Annaleah's own desire to move forward release her from this so-called past to be able to move toward the future. Unfortunately the catalyst is another boy (which if you're empowering girls shouldn't be the only way to move on from one boy-- gaining the interest of another, but that's neither here nor there), yet it was heartwarming to know that she can literally bury that part after some serious depression.
"That afternoon, our conversation was like an epic road trip- but with no map to guide us and all the time in the world to get where we were going. We meandered, lost our way, doubled back."
"This is a poem by Henry Scott Holland. 'Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familar name...'"...more
Alice has to move on although she's not ready to with her dad's new wife and now their new baby, her half sister, Ivy. The death of her mother to cancAlice has to move on although she's not ready to with her dad's new wife and now their new baby, her half sister, Ivy. The death of her mother to cancer has left her feeling stung and Victoria isn't helping anything when she ignores Ali-- not that Ali wants to feel a part of the family.
But when Ali, Ivy, and Victoria get stuck in the outskirts of Oregon in a snow storm, they are forced to confront a scary thought, that they might die before being rescued. Ali wants to blame Victoria for pulling off the highway after a pile-up and getting lost and stuck in the snow, but an understanding develops (rather quickly for my taste) that settles the score and allows them to try to survive before Victoria leaves the car in search of help. So, Ali steps up to care for her half-sister and keeps herself alive by thinking of her loving punk boyfriend, Blaze.
Shroeder has great verse, but I was a bit disappointed in the lack of development and how quickly issues were settled or moved forward (while other details could have been left out completely).
"The short version / Mom got cancer. / Cancer sucks. / She died. / Dad remarried. / The end."
"It's underlined. ' Did she do that? / Has it been there this whole time, / and I never noticed? / I read the line out loud. / '... it's no use going back to yesterday, / because I was a different person then.'"...more
Beautifully written and skillfully illustrated, this biography of Muhammad Ali was enlightening and inspirational. I was not a big fan of the illustraBeautifully written and skillfully illustrated, this biography of Muhammad Ali was enlightening and inspirational. I was not a big fan of the illustrations, specifically the "fight" scenes where a starburst-like image appears where a hit would be, but the verse is direct, especially for boys, but still gives a wealth of knowledge. Even with an overview of his life, I want to know more, especially his smart talk with opponents and attitude toward life and his religion.
The concept of triangles and how many people's lives are a bunch of triangles is the backdrop for Marissa, Holly, and Andrea, three adult women whoseThe concept of triangles and how many people's lives are a bunch of triangles is the backdrop for Marissa, Holly, and Andrea, three adult women whose lives are made up of these triangles. One is struggling with a disabled daughter and a gay son with a husband who is all but absent because of the demands of his job (and more), one is dealing with an empty marriage, children, with no creative outlet as she begins to write erotica and thinks she may be in love, and last is a woman who is always picking the wrong men and raising a child single-- that's only a brief glimpse.
The novel-in-verse format works again, with a great transitional verse between the characters changing points of view that is philisophical and blunt. YA readers of her teen lit won't really find much to connect to with the adult characters, but obviously can connect to their children who are sometimes a large part of their stories. And I do believe that she is making a spin-off based on one of the teen characters in Triangles.
I hope she continues to write for the adult set because she sure knows how to put it out there. ...more
Camille is the unintentional "other woman" and Becca is the "it" girl dating Alec. But as they grow apart with work, sports, and getting-ready-for-colCamille is the unintentional "other woman" and Becca is the "it" girl dating Alec. But as they grow apart with work, sports, and getting-ready-for-college/end-of-high-school and Camille's move to yet another place, Alec kisses Camille and days later Becca discovers this through a camera phone picture.
The whole story felt blown out of proportion, I needed more! It took some getting used to when Camille spoke in the second-person with all lowercase, while Becca's part was first person and more to the point. But, once I adjusted I just kept waiting for more... drama? Dare I say? But, the nuggets of trite talk or little philosophical tidbits were worth holding on for.
"you remind yourself girls will be like baseballs to him: catch, caress, throw back out to the field, but when his eyes catch yours-"
"You are the flint. I am the fire, I type, Fanning it only makes it burn stronger." .. "I am today full of oxygen, am stoked high on kindling, and he helps me breathe."
"this is a mouth with momentum, a train on one track paying no heed to any warning clangs, a chemistry set just waiting for someone to put the wrong powder in the right tube and make something explode."
"You're swimming so hard in this ocean. Don't you know if you float, it will always hold you up?"
"And there is still a place inside me, an empty place where once a fire burned, and lava flowed. There may always be a trail of ash there."...more
I almost want to give it five stars-- thinking about it now-- Jayson is bi-racial, living with his white, drunk, part-time hooker mom who has a penchaI almost want to give it five stars-- thinking about it now-- Jayson is bi-racial, living with his white, drunk, part-time hooker mom who has a penchant for beating him even though he's nearly sixteen years old. There's a hold she has on him with her mood swings, alcoholism, and love. He lives in the projects around gangsters and druggies and has a friendship with a co-worker and friend who lives across the way. Jayson has always though, thought about suicide.
Eventually, learning that this mother and crack-addicted father he thought were biological are actually not puts him over the edge, literally, when he jumps from seven stories. And, he survives, but dies as well. An inspiring story of the "death of" the old Jayson and the start of the new Jayson when the woman who's always kept in touch is actually his biological mother who's never given up on him comes back. For whatever reason, the writing style, the well-rounded character, I loved Jayson and genuinely cared that he would eventually beat the odds and end up happy-- even with a halo and speech and PT therapy. ...more
Kevin is dating Mira who doesn't understand his love for poetry or sports. She cares about the environment and he doesn't really. So, when Kevin findsKevin is dating Mira who doesn't understand his love for poetry or sports. She cares about the environment and he doesn't really. So, when Kevin finds a poetry friend from a poetry reading, he begins a platonic relationship with someone who "gets him". Not only is the book entertaining as Kevin decides between his girl friend and new friend, but he's dealing with the death of his mother and his father dating again. Through the novel-in-verse/poetry story, teachers can use this as a way to teach different kinds of poetry from haikus to blank verse, etc. Teachable and entertaining. ...more
This novel in verse might seem thick, yes, it's thick with pages but also with a coming-of-age richness like Speak or How To Build A House. Anke is thThis novel in verse might seem thick, yes, it's thick with pages but also with a coming-of-age richness like Speak or How To Build A House. Anke is the "invisible" child who isn't abused by her father like her brother and sexually abused by her father like her sister.
Anke likens herself to furniture in the house, but because she isn't the target, she's able to secretly pursue her enjoyment in volleyball, friendship, and the attentions of a boy. Until, like Melinda in Speak, she finds her voice and speaks up against her father (who tried to rape her frenemy as well) and suffered a broken leg at the hands of her father to prove it. To Anke, it was worth it because her mother finally awakened, kicked him out, he was arrested, and her family can now breathe.
Wonderful and easy to read with the verse. ...more