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.
*Told in a very matter-of-fact tone and style, Hanna's story does not hold back from the horrors of the Holocaust and shows how one piece of good luck*Told in a very matter-of-fact tone and style, Hanna's story does not hold back from the horrors of the Holocaust and shows how one piece of good luck can change your life. (I am glad the name was changed for the US release. Much more about playing than boys.)...more
While reading this book, I had no question that it deserved the Schneider Teen Award. The Schneider Family Book Award honors a “book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for adolescent audiences,” and Girls Like Us take us into Quincy and Biddy’s worlds as they learn to transition from a special-ed classroom in high school to real life in such a true matter, it definitely meets the criteria for the award. In many ways, the book is like any book about girls who just graduated from high school: learning to live with a roommate you don’t understand, learning to be responsible, etc. However, the challenges that these young ladies face because of their disabilities puts the book on a whole different level. Although the book is primarily about Quincy and Biddy’s life, it does illuminate some serious issues towards the treatment of differently abled individuals. (P.S. I love the ending very much!)
There is so much to talk about with this book! Because it impacted myself and a few of my friends, we decided to have a Twitter chat focused around it (#GLUChat). If you have read the book (because there are spoilers) check out our conversation: https://storify.com/trkravtin/girls-l.... Thank you to Teresa for archiving and Michele, Carrie, Alyson, and Leigh for taking part in it with me!...more
This book’s ending was so shocking. I sat with my mouth hanging open, just shocked. It was so sudden and really caught me off guard. The emotion I felt starts with the characters. Jimmy is a nobody in his high school until Renee enters his life. Renee is special. She doesn’t care about what others think, she stands up to the bullies, and she actually befriends Jimmy. Renee is who propels our plot. She gets Jimmy to get out of his comfort zone, she is mysterious so I was always trying to figure her out, and she was smart and beautiful....more
This is a special book. First, because of the characters who tell the story. K.C. is a young girl with learning disabilities which have caused her to hate reading, writing, and school. Nawra is a refugee in Darfur who continues to have an optimistic view of the world even after she has been surrounded by horrors that I can’t even imagine. Both of these girls are not represented very often in books, and they are both so important to know. Through this book, the reader gets to see the intensity of the situation in Sudan and refugees’ power in overcoming however they can. They also get to see the brilliance of students with learning disabilities. There are so many students in our school just like K.C., and too many of their peers would judge them by their struggles instead of by their heart and soul.
Second, this book is special because of the way the author is able to intertwine these two stories in a flawless way, and a way that keeps the reader engaged in both stories simultaneously. Third, the lyrical writing of Whitman makes this story not only interesting and important, but also beautiful to read. Last, the power of this book lies in the book, and how the book will change those who read it....more
Dr. Bird’s is a very special book. On a Top Ten Tuesday list, I wrote that I wished there were more books about kids with chemical imbalances, and Dr. Bird’s is the closest I’ve read yet. Evan Roskos captures the feeling of a manic depressive state. The energy of the writing actually changes as James’s state of mind changes: anxious, manic, depressed. However, what makes it truly special is that even in the end, there is optimism. Although James is fighting his own chemical imbalance, he keeps doing just that—fighting.
Another thing I adored about this book is the idea of art and writing as therapy. James finds solace in photography and poetry, which is a positive lesson for teens because it shows the power of art, writing, and poetry....more
This book makes you feel. As Yaqui fills Piddy’s world with fear, Piddy begins to lose herself and get caught up in the terror. As a reader, you find yourself afraid with Piddy whenever she leaves her house, goes to school, or even thinks about doing either. A book that can do this is brilliant. Meg Medina has a way of sucking you into the world, and I think it is her use of imagery throughout. You can see the characters, hear the music Piddy listens to, feel the fear, etc. And Piddy’s voice is so crystal clear, that is something she never loses. When you finish reading, you can still hear Piddy’s voice in your head. I also feel that this is a wonderful diverse book in a time when the YA community is calling for diverse books (http://weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com/). This one should be in high school classrooms, and should be discussed as it has such important themes and beautiful writing (no matter what anyone thinks about it! http://megmedina.com/2013/09/04/autho...)....more
My Review: You have never heard of this book have you? That makes me so sad. How do such wonderful books fly under so many people’s radars? This is a special book that should be in the hands of middle schoolers everywhere! Heath is a character that so many kids will connect with, and his journey would definitely touch them like it did me.
Heath recently lost his father senselessly when he was hit by a drunk driver. The sudden loss of a man that Heath looked up to affects him tremendously, and he is struggling to find himself. Everything he does at his Grandpa’s house reminds him of his dad, and his mom and Grandpa are dealing with the death in a way that makes Heath feel alone. But during this summer, his coyote summer, he finds his own identity, makes an everlasting friend, and begins to figure out how to deal without his dad. And there are other subplots that run throughout he book that just add to the depth of the narrative such as Annie’s story and the story of Mrs. Baylis.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book just needs to be shared. It could definitely be read as a read aloud, but it will probably find its home the best in the right students’ hands either through the classroom library or lit circles. Students who love nature, have suffered a loss, or enjoy identity books will find this one is perfect for them.
Discussion Questions: How does finding Annie and the coyotes change Heath’s summer?; Why is Grandpa acting the way he is?; Why was it important for Heath to spend the summer with the coyotes? How did it affect him?...more
What I found most intriguing about this book is that Wilson was able to allude to Beowulf in a middle grade book without completely scaring away the reader. Although I have read in multiple reviews that this book will grab reluctant readers’ attention, I think that some of the allusions are hard to grasp without prior knowledge, so reluctant readers may need some assistance understanding thus making the book a great read aloud as it will grab attention and start deep discussion (see Tools for Navigation). In addition to the allusions, there are opportunities to discuss hero’s quest, abuse, and loyalty.
You will also find some beautiful writing in this novel. Wilson has a way with words that made this novel lyrical yet easy to read. From the very first line: “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.” I was impressed with how literary the novel was. ...more
Now, this is not a "normal" Chris Crutcher book, but like all of his books, it is raw, true, and sports plays a role of some sort. And this one is SO full of suspense for the last 25%. It is a hold your breath, read as quickly as you can kind of book there at the end. (I do wish that this suspense had been spread out to 50% of the book. This would have helped the pacing a bit and I think it would have given Crutcher more time to give information into the crime. Although the quick pacing at the end adds to the suspense, I think spreading it out a bit would have kept the suspense and given more time to delve further into the bad guys and the mystery.)
I, personally, really loved how he chose to tell the story in 3rd person. Although it doesn't give as much insight into one character, it gives you a little bit of insight into each one, and as you are trying to figure out what is going one, it is really fun to hear from all the different characters. (Some readers and reviewers have stated that having the multiple 3rd person point of views made it so the reader didn't really know anyone, but I think it actually helped me get to know everyone a little bit. It also allows for the reader to get snippets of not just the mystery but of the characters allowing you to build the complete character in your head.)
Another brilliant think Crutcher did was include foreshadowing scenes right at the beginning of the novel that did not make sense until the end and then I had to go back and read it. Well done!
Also, if you ever need a mentor text on complex sentence structure or descriptive language--Crutcher is for you!
Mostly, though, this book will find its home in teens' hands. It will be as loved as other Crutcher books.
We flagged: "He hits the water, involuntarily sucking air as the cold leaks in. The colder the better. He deserves this. Even so, he pees in self-defense, his only means to counter the ice-watery fingers creeping around his ribcage and into his crotch. He swims away from shore for about a hundred yards as his body heat warms the water inside the suit. He turns parallel to the shore and strokes, finding a candence he can hold over the next two hours. He knows how to play games to allay the monotony; fifty stroke hard, fifty strokes easy; a hundred strokes hard, fifty easy; a hundred-fifty hard, fifty easy, and on and on. An hour up and an hour back. He has taught himself to breathe on either side in order to keep the shore in sight and swim a relatively straight line. On this morning, working on zero sleep, he holds an even pace; no intervals. Just his sweet Hannah wedged in his frontal lobe. His gone Hannah." (p. 3-4) ...more
Cheryl delves into two very different tough subjects in this book. First, we meet Sarah who is a 16-year-old girl who was born with a port-wine stain. As with anything that makes you different when you are a teenager, it affects your life daily. Sarah has trouble fitting in, is bullied, and only has a few friends. Through this experience, though, she has also had a very narrow focus on physical appearance and pushes people away because she is focused so much on a surgery that would temporarily remove her port-wine stain. However, as she is dealing with not receiving her surgery, Sarah is thrown into the scariest situation a girl could become part of: she is kidnapped, locked away, and abused by her kidnapper.
Though this is a very tough book to read, it was one that I couldn’t put down. It is amazing how Cheryl takes the tragedies she has been through and transports her strength and experiences into her characters....more
Marinating on this one. Many thoughts. Specifically on the ending. Need to put into words.
I love how slow this book happens. It is like a pot of boiling water. It started out cold and then got warmer before it began boiling. This book is not a Twilight romance of love at first site; it is a true romance about getting to know each other and realizing that first impressions aren't always correct.
Told in Eleanor and Park's point of views, you get a 360 degree picture of the intensity of feelings that are happening. It is also through both of these point of views that you get to know both characters quite well and not just one side of the romance. The only negative is that I felt that both sides were only partially explored because of the two points of view. I wanted to know more about Eleanor's past and I wanted to understand more why Park's dad was disappointed in him. However, I know that if the story was only told by one of them, the whole story would not have been told.
My only issue is the end. It is what kept me from giving it 5 stars. I cannot talk about it here as it is spoiler, but I wish it had slowed down and matched the pace of the rest of the book. I know there are many that disagree with me. After finishing I had a couple discussions on Twitter with tweeps who had finished the book and they all disagreed with me. But, as @katsok pointed out to me, "Books belong to the reader", so I am sticking with how I feel. I would, though, LOVE to talk to Rainbow about the ending because I am so intrigued to learn about her decision making.
In a high school classroom, I could very much see parts of this book being used as a close read. I took many notes while reading specific sections that had amazing author's craft and descriptive language. A good discussion could also be had by looking at how Eleanor and Park dealt/felt about a situation. It would also be so interesting to discuss how the romance of Eleanor and Park would be different in the 21st century vs. 1986. I'd also recommend this book for a classroom library purchase because there are going to be some romance fans out there that will eat this book up. ...more
(view spoiler)[2.5 stars It is so hard for me to write a semi-poor review for a book I know took so much courage to write. Mostly when part of my poor(view spoiler)[2.5 stars It is so hard for me to write a semi-poor review for a book I know took so much courage to write. Mostly when part of my poor feelings has to do with my own issues- I just couldn't help thinking about Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. And because of this comparison, I kept on wanting it to live up to Speak and it just didn't for me. Though it is in no way bad, it just wasn't everything I wanted it to be. It is still powerful and an important book (especially since that author is drawing from her own experiences to tell this story), but I just wanted it to be more. I will say I am a big fan of Valerie's surprising friend after the rape. (hide spoiler)]...more