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. (less)
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 ove...moreSomeone 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. (less)
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. (less)
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. (less)
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. (less)
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. (less)
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. (less)
I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, but I ultimately picked 4 because the topics and theme of the book resonated with me. First, why I finally picked a 4- A BOOK ABOUT BOOK CENSORSHIP!!!! (And it is on our side, not the other.) How awesome is that?!?! This book is a love letter to books. It shows how important books (and book choice) are to teens and all readers. Now, the reason why I almost gave a 3 is I do agree with a couple statements on here that the book seemed to be written for adults- it is definitely a book that some middle schoolers & teens will enjoy, but I see the primary audience as parents, librarians and teachers. Even the cover looks like an adult book to me. Also, I felt like the focus was often on the adults in the story- I wish I knew Neil better, but I really know the librarian and Danny's mother. I also felt bad for Danny after he gets sent to military school, but he seems to be quickly forgotten except a few mentions. I would have loved to see more of him. Now, I will book talk it and it may find an audience in my classroom because they are obsessed with graphic novels- if that happens, I will come and amend my post :) (less)
Rose's mom makes Survival Kits for those who need reminding of the good things in life. After she passes away, Rose finds a kit that her mom made for her. At first Rose avoids looking inside. Then, when she finally looks inside she finds a mix of things that at the moment don't mean much, but she knows will lead her to finding a way to make it without her mom.
This book was perfectly put together. I read it in one sitting. Sometimes I worry when a book begins during a tragic event and has no back story, but with this book it didn't matter. Though it begins with Rose's mother's funeral, her mother is very much a part of the book.
I was surprised when the book ended up being a romance. I wouldn't say that it is the central plot in the book, but it is definitely a big part. Mostly the book is about grief, so I didn't see the romance coming, but I felt that it worked how Donna Freitas did it. It helped that I LOVED the young man that Rose loves too.
I really loved the play list at the end of the book. I will probably reread the book with the intention of putting each song with an event in the book. I'm also going to make the playlist so I can listen to them when I get there. I can't wait to have this amazing experience with this book. (less)
I really enjoyed this book that illustrates Take Me Out to the Ball Game- will be a great addition to my book collection for my future baseball fan ch...moreI really enjoyed this book that illustrates Take Me Out to the Ball Game- will be a great addition to my book collection for my future baseball fan child :) (less)
*I hadn't read the first Tyrell book, but it didn't matter. Tyrell is such a real character that even without the descriptive back story that is proba...more*I hadn't read the first Tyrell book, but it didn't matter. Tyrell is such a real character that even without the descriptive back story that is probably in the first book, I connected with him. He has had a rough life and all he wants is to be a man.
Coe Booth brilliantly captures the voice of a teenage boy growing up in the Bronx. Never does the dialect seem forced, it just flows as if Tyrell was telling you his story.
I truly hope that there is a third Tyrell book, because I really want to know what happens to him. (less)
Probably my favorite Babymouse (this one and Dragonslayer) though I thought the ending was quite depressing. I am probably bias, though, because I lov...moreProbably my favorite Babymouse (this one and Dragonslayer) though I thought the ending was quite depressing. I am probably bias, though, because I love Phantom of the Opera and there is a nice allusion to Phantom in here. (less)
Kadir Nelson beautifully illustrates the spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in his Hands". This book reminds me of one of my favorite activities as a...moreKadir Nelson beautifully illustrates the spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in his Hands". This book reminds me of one of my favorite activities as a child. In 3rd grade our music teacher had us listen to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and we were all given a lyric to illustrate. I got the line "They'll learn much more than I'll ever know" and drew a child bringing home an A paper to their mom. Then all of the parents and kids got together and the music teacher did a slide show of our illustrations while the song played. I was so proud. Reading this book brought back that memory and I love it even more for that. (less)
Every girl dreams of being a guitarist in a rock band and Jasmine is giving up everything, including going to Stanford, to live this dream. But before...moreEvery girl dreams of being a guitarist in a rock band and Jasmine is giving up everything, including going to Stanford, to live this dream. But before she goes off to college, she wants to know if she can do it and her new band, C-side, is truly going to test her to make sure she is able to.
This book really made me reminisce about my high school years when I listened to live music every weekend, went to many big concerts a year, lived to buy new CDs, had googly eyes over musicians and truly breathed rock and roll. (less)
This book was a roller coaster of a ride for me. I had trouble at the beginning getting into the grove of the book, but then about 50 pages in I was s...moreThis book was a roller coaster of a ride for me. I had trouble at the beginning getting into the grove of the book, but then about 50 pages in I was stuck; however, the ending came out of nowhere for me. I am not going to talk about the ending at all because it is something that each person needs to experience on their own. (view spoiler)[But I felt that everything could have ended before the tragedy and it still would have been a good book. Why did that need to happen? Nothing came from it afterwards. Was it just to make me cry? If so, it worked. But if not, why else? (hide spoiler)]
I had trouble at the beginning and I think it stems to one thing- I don't like country music and I struggle with the whole cowboy/western culture. I lived in Austin, but it is not the same as the Texas that Paradise takes place in. Once I got into the book, I truly enjoyed the cast of characters that Alexander has created in this book. Each character is unique and believable. Paisley is a headstrong, kick ass female protagonist and Paradise is one sexy beast. I also loved that all of the minor characters were really well developed. One subtle thing that Jill Alexander did that I adored was she had Cal, a quiet guitar player who didn't really show his personality through the story, shine in lyrics that were in between random chapters. Through his lyrics you really got to see who he was.
Another thing I thought was done really well was all of the musical elements of the novel. There were times when it was described so well that I could hear the music. It was mesmerizing. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Summary: Pete the Cat is going to school and he is wearing his school shoes! Remember: Because it's all good!
What I Think: I like Pete the Cat and his positive outlook on life. He makes me smile. I think, though, that these books really need to be read with a child, because the singing and the interaction are what would really make it magical. Also, stop by Harper Collins Children's to get some Pete downloadable songs and other activities- it is very much worth checking out!(less)
Summary: Pete loves his white shoes and will sing to you about them, but what happens if he steps in berries or mud? He just keeps singing, because it's all good!
What I Think: What a fun book! Would be a great read aloud because you'd be able to sing as Pete. As I was reading, because I have a black cat, all I could picture was my cat Malcom playing a guitar or strolling down the street- made me laugh out loud. This book would be a great book to teach about colors and overcoming challenges. My one negative about the book was that when his shoes were red and he stepped in blue berries, they should have turned purple, but that is just a daughter of an art teacher and a museum director talking :)(less)
This biography, specifically made for middle grades, tells the story of one of the biggest music revolutions in history starting from the very beginni...moreThis biography, specifically made for middle grades, tells the story of one of the biggest music revolutions in history starting from the very beginning until present day. The book includes multiple genres throwing in newspaper articles from USA today, history or social science lessons, and graphs throughout the book. The author also is very conscious about the gap between the Beatles and present day because he makes sure to define things that students now may not understand like LPs and washboards. Overall, this biography would be a great addition to any library allowing the newest generation insight into the revolution of the Beatles. (less)