I loved the creativity of all the characters, but especially Akilah and her "girl warrior" attitude! She reminds me of one of my students. I also trulI loved the creativity of all the characters, but especially Akilah and her "girl warrior" attitude! She reminds me of one of my students. I also truly enjoyed how up-to-date the book was with surfing on the Internet, having an international student population, instant messaging, etc. It provided a realistic contrast to what many believe is not modern – female genital mutilation. Williams-Garcia approaches this topic with honesty, but in a delicate way. I also really liked Ms. Saunders, the teacher, who encourages Akilah to be the person she knows she is. The teacher's faith in Akilah shows the positive influence that teachers can have, especially when they truly know their students. Another topic that is broached is friendship and I think the author's idea of a difference between a "best friend" and a "true friend" is important for girls in this age group. The book says it is intended for grades 7 and up and I assume that is more for the content than the readability....more
Wow! What a book! I admit that because of limited selection I simply picked this book from the library shelf without even looking through it. A coupleWow! What a book! I admit that because of limited selection I simply picked this book from the library shelf without even looking through it. A couple of weeks before reading it, I thumbed through the book and saw the free verse style it is written in and thought, oh boy, I don’t know if I’ll like this book. But I began to read it aloud to my husband because he was curious about the style. And then I couldn’t put the book down! I really enjoyed the author’s writing and the emphasis and subtlety surrounding different ideas. LaVaughn was a very believable character and the questions she has are ones I had and even still have today! I loved the fact that neither race nor ethnicity was mentioned. It makes the story more universal. Even though the backdrop of the inner city plays a part, I think most teenage girls could find something to relate to in this character’s attempt to sort her place in the world out. I also enjoyed the strong and inspiring spirits found in LaVaughn’s mother and teacher. What great role models! I think this book would allow for much discussion and discovery among adolescents who could really dig in and discuss the issues. I only wish books that so beautifully show children that they are not alone in their worries and dreams and desires were available for the youth here in Egypt. And now I must attempt to find the prequel and the sequel to this fantastic read!...more
Wow! Excellent story and writing that has you cheering the characters on until the end. But what was even more important to me was it's message aboutWow! Excellent story and writing that has you cheering the characters on until the end. But what was even more important to me was it's message about society and the importance placed on beauty and conformity.
"We don't have to look like everyone else, Tally, and act like everyone else. We've got a choice. We can grow up any way we want."
"If only people were smarter, evolved enough to treat everyone the same even if they looked different."
This book would lead to amazing class discussions!
The ending, however, left me hanging way too much and I was a bit disappointed - feeling as if the story was not complete. Which I guess it's not. I'm ready for Book 2!...more
The details about everyday life in Copenhagen during the war would truly personalize the story for young readers as they learn what life was like forThe details about everyday life in Copenhagen during the war would truly personalize the story for young readers as they learn what life was like for children their own age. The afterword in which Lowry explains exactly what was fact and what was fictionalized was fascinating. You would not learn in a textbook about the secret handkerchiefs that prevented the dogs from smelling hidden people! What an interesting fact! Actually, all of the facts are interesting BECAUSE of this book. I can imagine having to read these facts in a textbook – they would hold no interest to me because they have no context. This book gives them context. I usually do not pay attention to chapter titles, but made a point of it while reading this book. I found that they provided a great prediction tool and had me wondering what was going to happen next. And it was nice to be surprised but what the titles referred to. Chapter 13’s “Run! As fast as you can!” referred to Annemarie’s running to reach the harbor with the package. But Chapter 12 ended with Mrs. Johansen lying on the ground without us knowing why. So I thought the chapter was going to be all about her and how she had to run from the soldiers. The use of titles with students would be a great way to help them make and confirm their predictions. It kept me interested in the reading and I think it would for the students as well. The imagery and symbolism in this book are very moving and had me in tears several times, especially when Annemarie rips the Star of David necklace from Ellen’s neck and hides it in her hand while the soldiers question the family. When they leave, she looks at her hand and realizes that the star has left an imprint in her hand. This has me near tears just remembering it! To me, it was a symbol of Annemarie’s unending dedication to helping her Jewish friend, although at the time she was unaware of just what was in store. And I loved the ending when, after the war, Annemarie fixes the necklace and decides to wear it until Ellen returns. Wow! ...more
The characterization in the book models the type of adult books that I like. Curtis gives such vivid lives to the characters that you can’t put the boThe characterization in the book models the type of adult books that I like. Curtis gives such vivid lives to the characters that you can’t put the book down; you want to know what is going to happen. Curtis’ notes at the end of the book explain his great characters – they were based on his grandfathers! I like how he encourages young children to listen to stories from their grandparents as a way to remain immortal. The descriptions of the settings, characters and problems that came along with the Depression are sure to leave a mark on any young person’s mind. You can’t get a description of life in the thirties like this from a textbook!...more
An awesome combination of all things I love - historical fiction, a unique perspective, and camels! This was a great story told from Ali the camel's pAn awesome combination of all things I love - historical fiction, a unique perspective, and camels! This was a great story told from Ali the camel's point of view - about his capture and relocation from Egypt to Texas - and all of his adventures along the way as he dreams of regaining his freedom. You'll have to read to find out if he does!
Paired with a nonfiction book about camels, this would be a fun read for students. I read it after I read The Camel Family and was excited that many of the facts about camels that I learned from the nonfiction book came into the story of Exiled....more
It is a very fast-paced book, helped along by Rowling’s use of language through varied sentence structure and interesting vocabulary. American studentIt is a very fast-paced book, helped along by Rowling’s use of language through varied sentence structure and interesting vocabulary. American students must learn a lot about Britain through this book, with words like tripe, knickerbockers, treacle, and Christmas crackers. These are not things I would know if my husband weren’t half Scottish! The study of this culture and the differences in language between “English” and “American” would provide interesting lessons. I have always thought Rowling’s writing to be quite clever, humorous, and creative. Her language truly allows the readers to visualize what is happening. And, I must admit, I was quite surprised at how well the movies were done – at least they did not destroy the images I had created in my mind, they were pleasant additions! One of my favorite things about this book is the focus on teamwork. Even though Harry is the hero, Rowling makes it very clear that he could not have done it alone. Each of the friends and other ‘good’ characters use their strength or talent to help others. Not one talent is considered superior – they must truly work together for best results. I love when even Neville wins points for his team at the end for the bravery it took to stand up to his friends. What great messages for children – first, that you sometimes do have to stand up to your friends and it’s not easy; second, that each person has a special talent and life works best when played together....more
In this book, the author has collected some of his zany poems about people from all over the world. The poems have great sounds and rhythms and are beIn this book, the author has collected some of his zany poems about people from all over the world. The poems have great sounds and rhythms and are better when read aloud! Zephaniah has traveled the world and this book includes poems about the Maoris, Chinese, British, Bengali, Cherokee, Kurds, immigrants, refugees, and just people. The poems are intended for children and teenagers.
I truly enjoy this author’s way with words! He uses simple words and sentences, but they have such great rhythm and rhyme that you can’t help but read them aloud to someone else. I think this a great book to use in a middle school or high school Social Studies class as a way to integrate language arts. The poems present all cultures positively. My favorite poems are “People Need People”, “Who are We?”, and “The Tourists are Coming” (I think I must have visited some of the same places he did!). The poems are all light, easy-to-read, and help us get over our stereotypes that we may have about others! This author has visited Cairo and was a big success at a local British school....more
This book turned out much differently than I originally thought it would. I was interested in the story frame – the following on an object throughoutThis book turned out much differently than I originally thought it would. I was interested in the story frame – the following on an object throughout time and places. This is a story frame that I would like to write about as well. The beginning detailed description of Cornish’s work on the rifle is a brilliant example of striving for perfection and the difference between an art and a trade. I did not understand much of the terminology involved, but that did not take away from my appreciation of the details and feelings described. The bits of history were secondary, in my mind, to the author’s point of guns killing people. I think this book, in the hands of the right teacher, would be an excellent resource for teaching about our right to bear arms, the current debate about this right, and the violence and killing that seem to result from guns. This is such a pertinent issue nowadays, and especially relevant, I think, in Texas!...more