Real Friends is Shannon Hale's graphic novel memoir about her time in elementary school and the drama of finding true friends while trying to find herReal Friends is Shannon Hale's graphic novel memoir about her time in elementary school and the drama of finding true friends while trying to find her own identity and family drama also. Like Sunny Side Up and Smile & Sisters, many readers will find Shannon's story interesting and relatable, and Pham's illustrations make it even more appealing. ...more
I really, really, really enjoyed this book. First, it made me like Shakespeare more than I did before. Second, I think that it dealt with sexual identity in a gentle and realistic manner.
I must admit that Shakespeare is a fear of mine because I just never have felt like I got him the way I should as an English Lit major and English teacher; however, it is what it is. When I see Shakespeare plays, I am always transported into the story and understand what all the hoopla is about, but reading it cold, I just never get it. I worried that a story about a middle school putting on Romeo and Juliet would let the Shakespeare bog it down, but it did the opposite–it helped this story be what it is. The reader learns to love Shakespeare as Mattie learns to love him. And since we are in class and at rehearsals with Mattie, we also get to be part of some of the lessons about the play thus helping the reader understand the text as well as Mattie is supposed to. It was brilliantly intertwined.
Mattie’s feelings toward Gemma are obvious to the reader before Mattie even realizes what they are, but that felt truly realistic to me because if you are someone who has already crushed on boys, feeling the same way towards a girl could be confusing, but Dee never makes it seem like what Mattie seems is anything but natural which is beautiful to see in a middle grade novel....more
I didn’t know much about the Washington Territory. I knew that it had to have been settled quite like Oregon (I’m the Oregon Trail generation!) or California, but I didn’t know about the boat expeditions, or any expeditions for that matter, to the territory. It was fascinating to read about Jane’s trip to Washington as well as the complicated family that she traveled with. Jane’s story is not only a look at the history of America and Washington State, it is also a story of the perception about the role of woman in towns and families. Ms. D, in Jane’s story, is such an interesting character. She, as a very young uneducated woman, married Jane’s father who died in the Civil War. Now she is still young and pretty but has a preteen stepdaughter and a toddler son, both things that make you less of an attractive new wife. Jane also has us look at the idea of woman on the frontier because she learns to step outside of the roles her stepmother wants her to have and expand into a well-rounded frontier girl. ...more
Oliver Jeffers has a way of writing such thought-provoking books with beautiful artwork that are just a bit weird yet so brilliant that you can’t help but reading it over and over. I know that sounds like such a fan girl review, but if you’ve read any of his books, you know exactly what I am talking about. Jeffers’s newest book is no exception. This book is about how stories can carry you wherever your imagination can imagine. The brilliance of actually using words from classic books to carry the main character on her journey shows how all of these books have carried so many readers on adventures that only an author’s imagination mixed with the reader’s imagination could take them on.
I wish I had waited to get Trent a library card, so I could read this to him before we went to get his first one! I love that idea of a bunch of cards waiting around to be assigned to their destiny. Little Card is such an excitable character who just wants to know what he was made for. Although the book is about a library card, he could definitely symbolize kids figuring out what they want to be when they grow up and the journey to getting there. I also love the illustrations that are full of character, light in tone but loud in their meaning....more
What I am always amazed by when I read a book by Jo Knowles is her ability to tell the truth about our world, and this book once again fits this description. Jo has a way of making her characters ones that are so real that you can imagine them walking into a school and know exactly which kids they’d hang out with. Noah and his friends could definitely be middle school students at my school. Her stories always seem to include a bit of humor (see: hairless cat on the cover) while never taking away from the seriousness of the book’s topic. The emotions, specifically pain or sadness, she portrays through her characters radiates out of the pages, so the reader can feel it. ...more
Ms. Bixby is one of those teachers that you read about and you want to be (if you are a teacher) or you want to have (if you are a student). As you can see from all the praise it has been receiving, John David Anderson wrote a home run book with this one. Our three main characters are diverse, funny, sweet, and stubborn, and Anderson’s voices for each are unique and alternate beautifully throughout the book. Though I must warn: This is a roller coaster book. You will laugh, smile, cry, get angry, and cringe. It is all there.
Ms. Bixby is described as a “Good One” in the book. A “Good One” is a teacher who “make[s] the torture otherwise known as school somewhat bearable. You know when you have one of the Good Ones because you find yourself actually paying attention in class, even if it’s not art class. They’re the teachers you actually want to go back and say hi to next year. The ones you don’t want to disappoint.” ...more
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton was perfection! This is the graphic novel equivalent of Elephant and Piggie and is a ladder to Phoebe and hNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton was perfection! This is the graphic novel equivalent of Elephant and Piggie and is a ladder to Phoebe and her Unicorn. Filled with laugh-out-loud moments as well as thoughtful moments covered in friendship and cuteness, Narwhal equals such a charming graphic novel for all ages....more
Trent is a big fan of monsters. He loves Monsters, Inc. and Don’t Push the Button!, so it is no surprise that he loves Nibbles. He fascinated with following Nibbles’ trail throughout all of the books and it became like a game of hide and seek for him. Not only is Trent a fan of Nibbles, I am as well. I loved the creativity of this book. The interactive and 3D aspects of it really bring the book to life, and I love that the author incorporates actual fairy tales in the books that Nibbles enjoys. Such a clever book that will keep readers come back over and over....more
Cici Reno is a refreshing addition to middle grade romance. As a middle school teacher, I am always happy when there is a romance novel that actually features middle school kids instead of high schoolers. The thinking and feelings differ so much between 6th and 9th grade that sometimes the YA romance novels are a bit mature for the middle schoolers that want to read about crushes and dating. And Cici Reno is a book that middle schoolers will flock to not only because of the romance but because of the humor, Cici’s true voice, and the story of friendship....more
So good!! No wonder it is receiving many starred reviews! Sophie Quire is a special young lady, and you and your students are going to adore her advenSo good!! No wonder it is receiving many starred reviews! Sophie Quire is a special young lady, and you and your students are going to adore her adventure!
This is a picture book like no other. It is a love story to words and teachers and imagination and creative writing and childhood and fables. Pamela Zagarenski soars in her writing and her illustrations. She writes lyrically and her prose is just so poetic. Her mixed media pieces of art are just so beautiful and full of what is in a child’s imagination. I also think this is a must get for the classroom because it introduces the idea of adding our own words to wordless picture books....more