What a fun fractured fairy tale! Reminds me a bit of Princess Academy, but more light-hearted. Includes some laugh-out-loud moments. I actually wish iWhat a fun fractured fairy tale! Reminds me a bit of Princess Academy, but more light-hearted. Includes some laugh-out-loud moments. I actually wish it was a bit longer!...more
I came into this book not knowing much about Paul Laurence Dunbar aside from knowing that the line “I know why the caged bird sings” was written by him which inspired Maya Angelou’s autobiography’s title; however, I didn’t know much else about his life or his poetry. Derby’s book does a fantastic job remedying that. Not only are you exposed to more than 20 of Dunbar’s poems, you are exposed to them in very specific ways as Derby tells Dunbar’s life story. Each poem’s inclusion is purposeful and perfectly timed. When finished, I wanted to read more of Dunbar’s poems and actually hear some of them being performed (his dialect poems are screaming to be read aloud). Qualls also does a brilliant job, as always, illustrating the tone of the text in beautiful black-and-white drawings.
This book not only can be used to share information about Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and his poetry, but it also includes fascinating information about what it was like to live after the Emancipation Proclamation then after Plessy v. Ferguson.
First, in an English classroom, this text truly puts Dunbar’s poems in a perspective which will allow more depth when analyzing. The way Derby set up the narrative of Dunbar’s life around his poems helps the reader understand the underlying meaning of his poetry even better than they would with a cold read.
Also, cross-curricularly while studying Dunbar’s poems, during history, a tie-in to this tumultuous time period would be easy and effective. The time period that Dunbar lived in is not often discussed as it is a time after slavery but before segregation that many students may not know about....more
I do not do creepy. No creepy books, movies, haunted houses…nothing. So, a creepy book had to sound really good or be recommended to me by someone I trust for me to read it. This one was both, so I agreed to give it a chance. Although it did scare the kajeebees out of me, I am very glad that I picked it up. First, the ghost story part of the plot is done so well. It isn’t over the top, it seemed real, and it really got me! Second, the book was so much more than a ghost story. It was a look at rural vs. urban, celebrity, the definition of family, mental disorders, filmmaking, and more. Third, the characters seemed real. You have four very different preteens/teens, but they all represent a different type of person. Each has flaws, and each is wonderful....more
Kristen Kittscher has done it again. I love Young, Yang, and Bottoms because they are extraordinary yet normal girls. I love the story because it is aKristen Kittscher has done it again. I love Young, Yang, and Bottoms because they are extraordinary yet normal girls. I love the story because it is a perfect middle grade mystery--with just enough suspense and bad guys. Thoroughly enjoyed it....more
What I think Ms. Rosengren does so well in this book is tell a real story with a piece of history as the backdrop. This is a Cold War/Cuban Missile Crisis story, but that isn’t what the book is all about. This book is about Joanna, her family, and her best friend. Her characters are very real and show the real emotions that must have been running through so many peoples’ veins during this tense time. Because of how well this book is crafted as a narrative within a historical time period, I believe it would be a great introduction to this time period for middle grade readers. Many will have never heard of the Cold War or Cuban Missile Crisis, so learning about it through Joanna’s story is perfect. ...more
I actually read the 2nd book first, but as soon as I finished, I went and got the 1st from the library. I love this pair! They remind me of a Calvin/HI actually read the 2nd book first, but as soon as I finished, I went and got the 1st from the library. I love this pair! They remind me of a Calvin/Hobbes, Mal/Chad, Salem Hyde/Whammy relationship. They are just so perfect for each other. Phoebe is a smart, quirky, unique young lady who doesn’t let bullies get her down and has such a great imagination and Heavenly Nostrils is the epitome of unicorn perfection because he is beautiful, knows she is beautiful, and will tell you she is beautiful. The two of them together crack me up. Also, this would be a great graphic novel to pair with Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal that I read a couple of weeks ago....more
I am so glad that I browsed Netgalley and found this title. I love Phoebe and her unicorn. Let me count the ways! 1) Phoebe is a smart, strong, uniqueI am so glad that I browsed Netgalley and found this title. I love Phoebe and her unicorn. Let me count the ways! 1) Phoebe is a smart, strong, unique little girl. She doesn't allow bullies to make her rethink who she is, and she is just so quirky. 2) Heavenly Nostrils is the epitome of unicorn perfection. She is beautiful, knows she is beautiful, and will tell you she is beautiful. She cracks me up. 3) This reminds me of a Calvin/Hobbes, Mal/Chad, Salem Hyde/Whammy relationship. They are just so perfect for each other. 4) I want Phoebe and Big Nate to meet. I think they'd be awesome friends. 5) Dana Simpson does what I heard Frank Cammuso talk about that he does with his Salem Hyde books: Each page is a part of a whole story, but is also a comic strip within itself. Each page has a punch line or a theme. Love this! Makes reading so much fun.
I loved book #2 so much that as soon as I finished, I went and got #1 from my library. You will not regret picking up this GN :) ...more
I really enjoy Duffy's anthologies. What a fun and accessible way to share fables (and fairy tales in the first anthology). I love seeing the differenI really enjoy Duffy's anthologies. What a fun and accessible way to share fables (and fairy tales in the first anthology). I love seeing the different artists' work and seeing a new version of old stories. P.S. My favorite were O'Connor's! ...more
I love books that promote girls being smart and doing well in school. This book goes even further and promotes girls finding a love in science and, specifically, insects. Nora is a girl that I hope that lots of readers find a connection with and strive to be like. She is a role model for all kids. She is smart, doesn’t mind being a bit different, and has great friends and family. I also love that she is at the heart of it a normal girl who just happens to be smart and like science. The story is more than just her science and ants. It is about growing up. There is so much you will love in this book: Nora, her parents, her teacher, her friends, and, of course, Precious Cupcake....more
It is not fair to compare this book to The One and Only Ivan. The only similarity is that they are both beautifully written and put a very special issue in the spotlight. Like Ivan made you think about animal’s imprisonment, Crenshaw makes you think about homelessness; however, it is more than that. This book made me think about so many things. First, this book shows the speed and brutality of homelessness. It can affect anyone and can come from no where. There is an extended scene from Jackson’s past that made me want to jump into the book to give him a hug and help his family in anyway I could. Second, this book looks at how much children sometimes have to deal with because of their home situation. Jackson had such anxiety and pressure on him because he felt like he had to be a grown up (specifically for his sister). Finally, the book looks at friendship–both of the imaginary and real kind–and how important they are. And specifically how the magic of both kinds are something you need to hold onto....more
Holy cliffhanger Batman! I love the cross-curricular aspects of this graphic novel and that smart kids are the star of the book. I did feel like thisHoly cliffhanger Batman! I love the cross-curricular aspects of this graphic novel and that smart kids are the star of the book. I did feel like this book was an introduction to the series and that this series is really going to pick up with book 2. This one is an introduction and the adventure/mystery is just starting....more
I do not know how I missed this book! Jonsberg has given us another book that will help readers build empathy for students around them that may be a bI do not know how I missed this book! Jonsberg has given us another book that will help readers build empathy for students around them that may be a bit different. Readers of Out of my Mind, Wonder, Rain Reign, and others will fall in love with Candice Phee.
Told as an Alphabet Autobiography, Candice goes letter by letter and shares about herself, her family, and her school life. Candice is unique and is proud of it and throughout the book we learn more about what makes her so special and also what has made her life so hard. By the end of the book, you will feel like you've known Candice forever and leaving her will be bittersweet. ...more
If I know one thing about middle school it is that it is a tough place. It can be a lot of fun, but at the bottom of it, being between the ages of 11 and 14 are just a rocky time for most people. Jeff Anderson captures that awkward time in Zack’s life perfectly. Zack has done everything in his power to stay under the radar at the school, but when he decides to do the right thing by standing up for a girl who is getting bullied, it pulls him into the forefront. I think this also shows how hard it is to stand up to a bully because it then puts a bulls eye on you, but Zack ends up handling it beautifully.
I did really like the easy diversity and true relationships in Zack Delacruz. I think it is such a real reflection of what middle school is actually like. Sometimes the bullying got to me, but that is how bullying is–it is uncomfortable and wrong, so if I felt that way that means it was written just right.
This is a book that will be a hit with middle school readers. They are going to so easily be able to connect with the characters and the story, and they will find some parts of it to be very funny. It also will make readers think about bullying, middle school, friendship, and more.
Whoa! Quite a book! Part swashbuckling adventure, part historical fiction, part folklore, part fantasy, part ghost story, Barry Wolverton has given us quite an intense adventure. I couldn't predict anything that happened in the book. There were twists and turns throughout, and I never knew who to trust (though I am happy to say my favorite sailor was trustworthy). There were some really gruesome parts (blood and guts and vomit) and there were some really beautiful fairy tales. Overall, quite an adventure! Fans of Charlotte Doyle, Emerald Atlas, The Graveyard Book, or The Dungeoneers are going to truly enjoy this one. (Though I warn: by gruesome, I mean gruesome!)...more
Hatke does such an amazing job with such little words. He is able to really impact the reader without saying more than a word. I love that the protagoHatke does such an amazing job with such little words. He is able to really impact the reader without saying more than a word. I love that the protagonist is such a unique, strong, little girl and that she is so innovative. Great theme of friendship and determination. ...more
Raine has moved from town to town throughout her life as her mother tries to find the man of her dreams; however, her mom promises that this last move is finally where they are going to settle. When Raine starts school though, she finds that this may not be where she wants to stay. On top of all of this, she has moved into a missing girl's home which throws her in the center of Emily H's disappearance. When Raine finds herself investigating Emily, she ends up in the middle of more than she bargained form.
I often find myself struggling with magical realism books because I can't grasp the magic that the author is trying to throw in the real world. With this book, however, I really liked the magical twist that was put on this mystery book. Raine has the ability to grab memories. She sees sparkles that show her where the memories lie, and she is transported into the memory. I really liked this addition because it reminded me a little bit of Medium the TV show--just some more clues in a mystery.
Overall a book that I read in one sitting and had twists and turns that made me want to keep reading, and the mystery itself had a satisfying ending.
(view spoiler)[I will say that there are things that were not believable in the book (outside of the magical realism) like Emily's disappearance itself, once we learn about it. I also wish the author hard delved more into some of the stories that we just got a taste of: Raine's mom's changes, Emily's family, Michael's bullying, Avalon, Jennifer's story, etc. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I liked Circus Mirandus from the very beginning, but as soon as the circus officially enters he story, the magic just engulfs you. I think it is the Lightbender that makes the story. He is a mystery, but also the person that I feel like I connected with the most. I truly feel that he is what makes this book as magical as it is. I also really liked Jenny. Jenny represents the main stream (which is odd to say because Jenny is a little bit odd), but Jenny has already moved past magic and is so straight forward. Convincing her to believe in anything past what she sees and knows was such a challenge for Micah. (But she is such a great friend!)
One of the things I really liked about the text is the theme of helping kids stay kids for as long as possible. Circus Mirandus is around to help keep the magic of childhood alive. That is something I can believe in!
Circus Mirandus was my informal Twitter book club’s choice for July, and I loved chatting with them about the book (and Ricki joined us this time!). To see the archive of our chat, you can view it here. (Warning: There are spoilers for the book in the chat.) Some of my favorite quotes from the chat were:
“I loved that Jenny was willing to go along on the journey even if she had trouble believing.” -Alyson Beecher
–“Yes! That is what made me love her. She was willing to support her friend.” -Kellee Moye
–“And Jenny needed a friend, found something in herself that “might” want to believe, too?” -Linda Baie
–“I love how great Jenny and Micah are for each other…helping each other find courage and comfort.” -Beth Sanderson
“It was interesting that the light bender just dismissed G., rather as we all should dismiss evil people.” -Linda Baie
“I loved the relationship between Micah and Gpa. He had so many words of wisdom to prepare Micah.” -Leigh Anne Eck
–“The wonderful relationship between Micah and his Grandpa is what I will remember the most about this book.” -Cynthia Alaniz
“I don’t think we should hide kids from life truths like death. Kids need to be taught healthy ways to grieve.” -Ricki Ginsberg
“The artwork is special! It is interesting to read the Ch then look at the art & find the reasoning behind the art.” -Kellee Moye
–“Yes! There is something special when physical aesthetic of book matches aesthetic of the language.” -Christy Rush-Levine
Favorite quotes shared from the book:
“Because when you try too hard to hold on to something, you break it.”
I love this entire series! Nathan Hale has taken history and made it accessible (with a dash of humor!). If you don’t the concept of the series, it revolves around Nathan Hale the Revolutionary War spy who, in the first book, was eaten by a history book so now knows all that has happened in history and is sharing it with the hangman and British officer who are guarding him before he is executed. The first book is Hale’s own story and then each of the following are his telling of different times in history.
This installment of Hale’s graphic novel series may be my favorite so far. I found it to be the most intense of his stories even though it is up against stories of wars, but Harriet Tubman’s story is one of one person’s resilience in the face of pure doom. Although it is evident through any story you hear of Harriet how truly brave she was, Nathan Hale’s story immerses you into Harriet’s life and shows you how much she truly did and faced....more