Sean Beaudoin's novels always have such a unique voice. His style of writing is like no others, and that is truly impressive. Although Infects is stilSean Beaudoin's novels always have such a unique voice. His style of writing is like no others, and that is truly impressive. Although Infects is still my favorite, this one was quite entertaining. ...more
This book is about depression, friendship, poetry, music, loyalty, teachers, and family.. It is amazing that through Sam’s interactions with Luis and introduction to poetry, he goes from trying to be invisible on purpose to having a whole different view of his surroundings. Luis changes how he sees the world because Luis ends up being everything he thought he wasn’t.
This book surprised me. I didn’t know what it was about when I started, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. At first Sam seems to just be a slacker that is hard to connect with, and I thought it was going to be similar to many other books with a bully that I’ve read. But it ended up being like Luis was to Sam–everything I thought it wasn’t going to be, and it was so unpredictable. From page 1, the author had me. The images just jumped out at me. And that was just the beginning of me being thoroughly impressed with the book. Both of the voices in this book resonated with me for a long time after (As much as I end up liking Sam in this book, I think Luis may be one of my favorite characters ever. He has a beautiful voice, and I felt privileged to meet him.). It was one of those books that I had to let marinate before I could pick up another one because it was still banging around inside of my head (and I couldn’t stop hearing Sam and Luis’s voices)....more
I must preface by saying that this book is not technically nonfiction. It is based on nonfiction, but the story is actually made up.
Too often our days go by without us slowing down and taking anything in. It may be that we are busy or stressed or late , but it has become too common to see people always rushing wherever they are going. This book shows how much we may be missing out on. It also shows the innocence of childhood, and how we need to allow children to explore and slow down even if we are moving fast. It is wonderful how the illustrations capture this for the reader. Combined with the story, this one definitely hits close to home....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
This book has multiple levels going on at the same time. There is the story of Eleanor and Pearl’s friendship and their first speed bump. Then there is Eleanor getting the lead in the play, and dealing with the fear of singing a solo. Eleanor dealing with her puppy having trouble getting house trained. And finally, the Eleanor and Nicholas story. But Sternberg balances it all because it is just all part of Eleanor’s life. Julie Sternberg is so great at writing in an elementary student’s voice. It is so authentic and well done!
What I love so much about all of the “Eleanor” books are that they are written in verse, and Eleanor is an amazing poet. I love that it is free verse and includes such beautiful language, but it never comes off as anything but authentic. Teachers could definitely take Eleanor’s writing and use it as a mentor text for students to write about their own experiences....more
My Review: This book is a love note to music and for finding a friend to share your love. This wonderful story is told in a way that makes you fall in love with the characters immediately and feel every up and down with them. Also, the illustrations in this picture book are probably some of my favorite ever. I love the cartoony style mixed with some mixed media. Beautiful.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I think this book will find its most love as a read aloud and as a wait to promote music and other passions; however, the book could definitely be used in other ways in the classroom. The tone and mood of the book takes a drastic turn about halfway through and would be a good introduction to these two narrative elements. It is interesting to look at how the illustrations helped drive the change. Also, there are onomatopoeias throughout that add to the imagery of the book....more
My Review: Marvin’s story reminds me of why I build relationships with students and help them find who they are and what books they will like. Marvin is forced to play certain music and he hated it. He never understood why he had to “play music by composers with funny names, like Wolfgang and Ludwig,” but he loved his own kind of music. Being forced to play the other music was making him not want to play piano anymore–this is exactly what we do to kids with books!
Overall, I loved the book and think it is a great read to promote following dreams and passions–a great read aloud!...more
*Loved this book. A perfect combination of Spinelli's Stargirl, a John Green book, and a rom-com. Loved the voice, quirks, characters, and plot. A sleeper title from 2013 that you should read.
A couple things I really loved about this book: -The characters are such good people. Although they evolve, they never were kids I wouldn't want my son to hang out with. -A romancey book from a boy's point of view! -Camilla is so cool yet so uncool and just shows how the labels and cliques and such of high school are just so stupid. Oh, and that you cannot judge a book by its cover. -The writing, music, and movie references. Just a bit of geeky, but not too much.
I think first and foremost, this book needs to be in libraries so that kids (and adults!) can get their hands on it. In the classroom, it can definitely be used as for a mentor text. I think it is perfect for an example of character development and voice. The characters in this book are so strong and there are lines and passages throughout that show the characters’ personality. There are also parts that deal with writing poetry/music and would be great passages to talk about writing with students....more
This year I am teaching a Developmental Language Arts class for incoming ESOL students who, when they enter my school, have been in the United States for less than a year or score low English proficiency on the CELLA test when they enter. I knew this class would be a challenge as I do not know any other language, but I also knew (and now know) that this class was going to very rewarding. With teaching a different group of students than I've ever had before, my thinking when searching for books to use in their class has changed and I am always looking for books that they'll connect to and books that celebrate world cultures. This book is perfect for my class! It'd be a way to build class community because many of my students come from Hispanic countries and they can share the music/dances with my non-Hispanic students. It also gives them the ability to share their language with me and the rest of the class. Finally, since it is such a well done biography, it gives them all an opportunity to learn about a fascinating young man. ...more
Someone described Skinny to me by saying that it reminded her of an episode of Glee and I completely agree: very realistic, easy to connect to and oveSomeone described Skinny to me by saying that it reminded her of an episode of Glee and I completely agree: very realistic, easy to connect to and overall positive. This novel is a huge hit in my classroom with the girls and I am glad I can now discuss it with them. ...more
My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I love The Beatles. There has never been anyone like them and that is what this book is about. It is about their popularity, their brilliance, and their humor. I liked how although the book is nonfiction and a biography of the Fab Four, it was about more than that. It was about how they changed over time and how they changed us over time. It was also quite funny to read some of their interviews and see how they dealt with the fame that enveloped them so quickly. All with illustrations that were a bit zany and like caricatures, but were so well done. This picture book is definitely an excellent introduction to The Beatles for our 21st century kids....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
I loved the mood of this book. It made you feel as if you are in high school with Quinn in the 70s. Quinn is such a music fanatic and I really enjoyed how Tashjian weaved his love for music in with the historical part of the book.
For What It's Worth is a wonderful introduction to the 70s especially because with the help of Quinn's articles scattered throughout the book. I felt was quite important because it gives the readers some great background information but does so without seeming like a lecture. Unfortunately, may middle and teen readers are not aware of the Vietnam War, the protests that went along with it or the 70s culture, so Quinn's articles definitely add that element that students would need to help them understand what is going on. The only thing that would have made the book better would have been a soundtrack that you could have listened to while reading. And Tashjian not only gave lots of love to the music of the 70s, but also discussed photography and the impact that a spectacular captured moment can have on the viewer.
On top of my love of the historical fiction and art/music aspect, I really liked the characters in this book. Quinn's story of his first love makes me reminisce about my middle school boyfriend because that crazy joy you fill for that first love is hard to duplicate and yet Tashjian captures it perfectly in this book. It is actually the realistic emotions throughout that drive the book- love, paranoia, fascination, sadness, anger, fear. ...more
Can math equations change or does every problem only have 1 answer? Tatum believes that Tatum + Lori = Best Friends is an equation that will never change; however, she cannot predict variables that may change the problem as she knows it.
Amy Fellner Dominy is such a realistic voice in the world of middle grade novels. Her humor, story and emotions are spot on to the middle school experience. I also love that overall the book is such a positive look at life even though it does deal with a lot of what is complicated at that age. It is so pleasant to have this type of novel available for middle grade students. The protagonist also represents a population of middle schoolers that are not usually found in literature- a smart, math & music "nerd" thus making it so another group of girls will see themselves reflected in a book. ...more
I am so glad that I picked this book up at my school's book fair. Jay-Z's life definitely fits the rags to riches saying and this book highlights his life as he transcended from being poor in Brooklyn to being one of the most famous rappers of all time. I like how the book was set up as an interview making it a bit more than just a timeline of his life. I also loved that the author made sure to throw in his rhymes throughout the book to add to the narrative. I think this book is pretty well done and will be a big hit in the classroom. ...more
Chase is a 6th grader who who dreams of playing cello in the school's honor orchestra, but recently the budget has been cut. The day begins with the Chase and the intermediate orchestra are preparing for a PTA fundraiser to raise money to continue supporting the music program by auctioning off a handmade one of a kind cello. The cello is guaranteed to bring enough to save the music program! However, when Chase is walking by the case where the cello is stored, he noticed it missing. The music programs only chance to remain has been stolen! It is now Chase's job to determine who took the cello and save the music program and his dream.
Fans of Scooby Doo, Encyclopedia Brown, and Hardy Boys will find a new kid detective to love in Steve Reifman's Chase mystery series. Chase's mystery is filled with multiple suspects and red herrings and leads to a one day back and forth and ends with quite a surprise.
I also find Chase Against Time is going to be a great bridge between juvenile fiction like Magic Tree House, Marty McGuire and A to Z Mysteries and larger middle grade books like Emerald Atlas, Liesl & Po, and The Unwanteds. It will definitely help transition readers from one to the other. Chase is in 6th grade, but the story still will very much be connect to elementary students more than middle schoolers.
I will say, though, that teachers/adults will need to suspend reality a bit because of the amount of responsibility Chase is given and how he is treated very much like an adult. He is given a lot of the free reign and control throughout the school. I do think, though, that this book would be a fun read aloud to follow the clues and try to figure who the culprit is. ...more