This was a super tough book to read. Colby was surrounded by some of the most terrible "good" people I've ever met in a book. And the situation just kThis was a super tough book to read. Colby was surrounded by some of the most terrible "good" people I've ever met in a book. And the situation just kept getting worse and worse. I felt so bad for Colby. Thank goodness for a few shining stars. I also liked the tie in of The Scarlet Letter....more
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan‘s Willow Chance is one of the most amazing young woman I’ve ever encountered in a book. She is brilliant and somehow changes the lives of every person she encounters. And she is not the only well-crafted character in the book–everyone in the book is important and very well developed. This is a wonderful middle grade book that I now know why so many people love it....more
What I found in this book was a book of truth. While I normally find a book that has so many topics in it to be cumbersome (just some of the topics hit were: pregnancy, abortion, meth, family, religion, ethnicity, school, homosexuality, sex, death, poetry, college, rape, and gender expectations), I felt that Gabi was just truthful. Her story was just a story full of real life which just happens to be messy. I enjoyed the unique format, the diversity (not just race/ethnicity, but lbgt, body size, class, ELL, etc.), and the amazing cast of characters. Gabi’s voice rang true throughout, and even got stronger as she became more independent within the story. Well done....more
I am a sucker for books that celebrate books. I am also a sucker for books that celebrate teachers/librarians. This book does both. I love that the librarian never gives up and is such a book lover. I love that the little girl is real and someone that all teachers will encounter each year. And I love how the two come together with a perfect ending. ...more
I love a good book-tribute book, and this is a super-cute, silly one. A young boy wants a pet, and his parents take him to get one: a brand-new, frisky, red hardcover! The book then tells about the boy and book’s time together (and their time apart when the book disappears) in catchy, rhyming text. I especially think kids will like the illustrations because they are so vibrant and cartoon-like. A very fun book!...more
Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimble Witch is a Coraline-esque tone/mood with a mix of Wizard of Oz and Miyazaki. The illustrations were a bit mMaddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimble Witch is a Coraline-esque tone/mood with a mix of Wizard of Oz and Miyazaki. The illustrations were a bit messy, but in a purposeful way that made everything feel urgent. I am looking forward to the sequel....more
5 stars times 100. I adore so much about this book. Ally is so many students that I have had over the years that just needed a teacher to take the time. Mr. Daniels is the teacher that I hope I am, that I wish I could be, that I want all teachers to be, and that I want to be friends with. Ally's journey is one that I hope I inspire my students to have. Keisha is the friend I wish I'd had. Albert is so many student in our schools that are just a bit different thus leading to a life of sorrows. Shay shows that meanness often is because of meanness. Travis shows that it is never too late to change a kid's life. So many special characters and such a special story. Once again, Lynda Mullaly Hunt made me cry. Well done!...more
Wow. I often worry about reading a book that has a lot of hype around it because I fear that I will not love it as much as others do. I should not have been worried about this book. It is beautiful. As Ricki said, I found myself rereading portions of the text just because of how well the verse flowed. By the end of this book, you will wish that you were Woodson’s friend and that you you could write as well as her. The stories she tells are so true and heartfelt that you live her life along with her through the pages. You experience with her the hardship of growing up in the 1960s and 70s during the Civil Rights movement; the challenge of religion and finding the truth in it; the loss, addition, and conflict of family and everything that comes with these changes; and trying to find an identity as a person, sister, daughter, student and a writer. It is only a truly powerful, well-written book that can make you feel all of these elements....more
I loved how Andrew Smith sprinkles information into his stories that seem so unimportant then BAM is relevant. Brilliant plot craftsmanship. Great chaI loved how Andrew Smith sprinkles information into his stories that seem so unimportant then BAM is relevant. Brilliant plot craftsmanship. Great characterization in this one too. On a side note, I loved learning about the St. Francis Dam Disaster as well. An interesting part of American History. (The spoilers in the summary stink! So much of what is said happens in the last 25%.)...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 one of those quiet, special books that just goes straight to your heart when you read it. I loved so many of Natalie Lloyd's words I actuallyThis is one of those quiet, special books that just goes straight to your heart when you read it. I loved so many of Natalie Lloyd's words I actually pulled out tabs to mark pages for reminders and sharing. Beautiful writing....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
Andrew Smith sure knows how to write a teenage boy’s voice. He gets inside of adolescent male’s mind, and puts it all on paper for us. (It probably has something to do with teaching high school.) Ryan Dean’s voice and his story are so authentic. This book will make you cringe, laugh out loud, shake your head, and cry. I am also so impressed with all of the themes that are dealt with in this book without ever feeling over done. These themes include bullying, absent parents, peer pressure, identity, sexuality, prejudice, and friendship. In addition, Smith builds his characters, setting, and plot seamlessly. You fall in love with all of the characters, main and secondary. Even the antagonist. The setting itself is a character. And finally the plot arc was perfectly done, and was so unpredictable all the way to the end....more
My Review: In the world of illustrated novels, we have many a class clown: Greg, Nate, George & Harold. But now we have our very own genius, and he is a genius that kids are going to love! This book combines the humor and fun plot that Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Captain Underpants have, but adds in science (though the kids reading it will be none the wiser). The way that Sciezska combines humor, adventure, twists & turns, and science is perfection that will have a whole slew of readers waiting for the next Frank Einstein book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book has so much that a teacher could touch on while reading it. It would be a perfect book for a read aloud in reading with cross-curricular activities based on the book in science. I was very lucky to once again be able to write a teaching guide, this time for Frank Einstein. To see more specific class activities and discussion questions, view my teaching guide at the Abrams website. http://www.abramsbooks.com/academic/F......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 is such a great book! It is written well, very funny, smart, and has an important theme. What blew me away the most is how it was so humorous when dealing with a tough subject, but never lost its maturity and importance. Sometimes if you add humor to a novel, it becomes slap stick or more of a novelty, but Bill Konigsberg does it perfectly in Openly Straight.
As a teacher, what I immediately find myself connecting to was the journal entries from Rafe followed by Mr. Scarborough responses. Mr. Scarbourgh becomes quite an important person in Rafe’s life, and I feel that only through these journals, reflections, and responses that Rafe was able to make it at the new school. I think much of what Mr. Scarborough does with Rafe could be transferred directly into most classrooms....more