Summary: Humans are destroying the Earth at an incredible rate and probably don't realize the destruction that this is causing on the animal population. This book shares with the reader endangered animals that may not exist for that much longer if we do not change how we treat the Earth.
What I Think: There is something powerful at work in this book. It's format, it's facts, it's prose, and it's illustrations just all work together so perfectly and there is a perfect balance of each. If you read my Picture Book Month intro, you know that I use The Lorax to teach students about pollution and trying to change how we treat this planet; Can we Save the Tiger? would be a perfect addition to Earth Day because it shows how our treatment of the planet isn't only affecting us. This book will definitely start a conversation- are we willing to do what is needed to help save not only the tiger, but other species and even the whole planet?(less)
I read this book in one day, because it truly kept me on the edge of my seat when I was reading it. Not only was it a great...moreA fantastic Halloween read!
I read this book in one day, because it truly kept me on the edge of my seat when I was reading it. Not only was it a great horror story (scared the kajibees out of me at certain points), the characters were truly enjoyable (I also laughed out loud at certain points). Cas is quite snarky at times and Carmel and Thomas are great sidekicks.
However... I just wish that it hadn't reminded me so much of Meg Cabot's Mediator series (with a bit of homage to The Monstrumologist #2 as well maybe). Now, I might be reading too much into it and shouldn't be so hard on the book, but specifically towards the end I really just couldn't stop comparing Mediator and this book. I didn't see it at the beginning and was well on my way of rating the book a 5, but at about page 200 the similarities started and really made me question my rating. At least the books that I felt a comparison with are great books...
Okay, with that being said- I am still sucked in and will definitely read the sequel. (less)
What I Think: (view spoiler)[This is by far the most talked about book on Twitter over the last month. It has its own hashtag (#hatback) and people have been splitting themselves up based on Team Rabbit or Team Bear (#teambear #teamrabbit). And at first glance, this book seems simple, but after reading (& rereading) and reflecting, the book is so much more than that. It really takes you on an emotional journey. At first, of course you are feeling for Bear. Poor Bear has lost his hat. On his journey he meets some wonderful, funny, friendly wild animal characters. My favorite is the poor Turtle that just wants to get up on the rock. Oh, and the Armadillo... the poor, not smart, Armadillo. But then Bear runs into Rabbit and although the rabbit is wearing Bear's hat, he doesn't notice. Also, Rabbit's reaction to Bear asking for his hat is HILARIOUS- made me laugh out loud. Then after more exploration, Bear finally figured out that he had seen his hat and ran to confront Rabbit. However, no confrontation happens! Bear doesn't even let Rabbit explain, he just eats him! How dare he?! I don't care if you are pro- or anti- death penalty, this was the death penalty without a court of law. Then my husband says, "They are animals- he was just hungry." NO! That is not right! This is a book with talking animals, that means that they have a conscious that is past those of just a wild animal- they know right from wrong. If you assume that Rabbit knows that stealing is wrong than obviously Bear should know that eating someone is wrong. So, in the end, I have decided that I am #teamrabbit. So, although I loved this book and love the conversation that it has caused and I love the community that has been built around it, I hate the ending. But a book that can cause such emotional feelings must be a brilliant book. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Summary: Lupita's family came to Texas to follow the American dream when she was a child. Her father is always working and her mother's only job is to be a mother. Lupita had a life that she adored- She is the oldest of 8 siblings and has always had a set role in her family: a mini-mom helping her mother raise her siblings. She couldn't ask for anything else. But then Lupita notices her mother acting depressed and crying by the mesquite tree in the rose garden. Then Lupita eavesdrops and learns that her mother has cancer. Now, everything that was predictable and normal about her life are no longer her focus. Will her life ever return to normal again?
What I think: This book is a beautiful book in verse that not only has a touching narrative, but has exquisite verse. The narrative deals with a topic that many readers will have some sort of connection with, cancer, as well has coming of age in a household where the disease has struck. But what makes this book different than other stories about the effects of cancer is that it also tells the story of growing up as a Mexican-American here in America.
Snatch of Text: These are just three of almost a hundred amazing snatches of text that would be great mentor texts for different poetic elements.
"and the moon in this place is wearing a pale, thin dress as it seems to jump from behind one cloud to another, hiding its exquisite face from us." (p. 144)
"For my sisters, senorita means having someone to worship: it is the wonder of seeing their oldest sister looking like Cinderella on her way to the ball." (p. 76)
"The other girls follow them, a convoy of high-heeled hyenas in mass migration." (p. 81)
Originally read: October 10, 2011 Reread: July 13, 2012(less)
Summary: Kate, Michael and Emma have been alone for 10 years. Kate's last memory of her mother is as the 3 of them were being taken away; her mother told her to take care of her siblings and that has been the center of Kate's existence since then. And she has done the best she could as the three of them have been shuffled from orphanage to orphanage never really finding home and always wondering why their parents abandoned them. But their newest orphanage is different- there are no other kids, it is run by a mysterious man named Dr. Pym, odd things are happening and it's in a town that seems more dead than alive. And the odd becomes odder when they discover a book, place a picture in it, and travel back 15 years in the past to a time where conflict is at the center of the town.
What I Thought: First, I am biased because I listened to the audio book and I love Jim Dale. Anything Jim Dale reads automatically is good. As a friend of mine said on Twitter, I could listen to him read the phone booth. So, back to the book... this book is EPIC! I can't think of much to compare it to, but the adventure is at the same level as Harry Potter, Lightning Thief, Peter & The Starcatchers, Kingdom Keepers, etc. Although a similar adventure-type book, it is a very much unique and stand alone novel.
The character building and development in this novel was phenomenal. I really enjoyed the three siblings, they were all very unique, but complete and likable as well. Kate is the responsible one who follows the rules, tries to keep the peace and overall does what she promised her mother. Michael is the scholar and dreamer. He loves dwarves and constantly is writing in his journal. Emma is our rebel, always picking fights and saying exactly what is on her mind. There were also some supporting characters who really made the book come alive such as Gabriel, a man from a nearby village who Emma befriends, and Robbie the dwarf king, who Michael is in awe of. The only character I never felt connected to was the villain, so that may not be a bad thing.
The plot development was also pretty flawless and in a book that has time travel, magic, changing pasts and three protagonists, it would have been very easy to become lost, but John Stephens mapped out his plot perfectly and it all comes together (including the end which was just enough conclusion to have closure, but just enough cliff hanger that you must read the sequel).
Another plus of this series, is that I believe that it will be loved as a middle grade and a young adult novel. It could easily be classified as both because it is just a pure fantasy adventure that will grip any reader.
Snatch of Text: "The tall man had moved into the glow of a streetlamp and was clearly visible for the first time. To a casual passerby, his appearance would not have inspired much confidence. His overcoat was patched in spots and frayed at the cuffs, he wore an old tweed suit that was missing a button, his white shirt was stained with ink and tobacco, and his tie - this was perhaps the strangest of all - was knotted not once but twice, as if he'd forgotten whether he's tied it and, rather than glancing down to check, had simply tied it again for good measure. His white hair poked out from beneath his hat, and his eyebrows rose from his forehead like great snowy horns, curling over a pair of bent and patched tortoiseshell glasses. All in all, he looked like someone who had gotten dressed int he midst of a whirlwind and, thinking he still looked too presentable, had thrown himself down a flight of stairs." (p. 3-4)(less)
This lovely picture book teaches the reader about the Marbled Murrelet (who was a mystery for many years) as well as Redwood trees and other animals w...moreThis lovely picture book teaches the reader about the Marbled Murrelet (who was a mystery for many years) as well as Redwood trees and other animals within the California forest that the story takes place in. I love when a book teaches me about something that I had no idea about! (less)
Set in short stories, you get to know Amanda and her Alligator and their friendship. (Reminds me some of an extended Knuffle Bunny story, but with dif...moreSet in short stories, you get to know Amanda and her Alligator and their friendship. (Reminds me some of an extended Knuffle Bunny story, but with different characters.) I love that Amanda is a reader as well and models visiting the library and reading daily. (less)
Summary: In this dual story told in words and pictures, Brian Selznick tells the story of two deaf children. One in 1927, Rose is trapped in her home and just wants to be free. One in 1977, Ben has just lost his mother and has recently become deaf from a lightning strike. Both looking for a parent, acceptance and a true home. Wonderstruck follows the two characters who live 50 years apart, but have both lost a mother- one is dead, one is not but still gone. Both of the characters want more than anything to find somewhere where they belong. So, both run away to New York City to try to find what they are looking for.
What I Think: Anyone who has read Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick knows how beautiful his work (both his words and art) is and Wonderstruck continues the tradition he set with his first novel. It always amazes me how Brian Selznick can tell a story completely through pictures, but yet the message is as deep and clear as the story he tells with words. Just like Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck has a very good chance at winning the Caldecott because of its beauty. Once again, I wish that Selznick's book fit the Newbery criteria, because it is good enough for that award as well.
Lastly, three things- 1) I didn't think Brian Selznick could compete with Hugo Cabret, but Wonderstruck does and it may even be better! 2) Dedicated to Maruice Sendack and feels as magical as one of his books. 3) As you read look for allusions to Konigsburg's Basil E. Frankweiler that Selznick mentions in his author notes. I am definitely going to reread both books and look for them!
Snatch of Text: "But let us pause here and ask ourselves, What exactly is a museum? Is it a collection of acorns and leaves on a back porch, or is it a giant building costing tens of thousands of dollars,, build to house the rarest and finest things on Earth?
'It's both!" Ben heard himself say out loud.
Of course the answer is both. A museum is a collection of objects, all carefully displayed to tell some kind of magnificent story." (p. 97)
"The street was a riot of cars and flashing signs and people. Buildings climbed toward the sky on either side of the street the way the trees back home surrounded Ben's house. Dirty cars and yellow taxis paraded by. Smells he couldn't place bombarded him... Everyone everywhere seemed to be a different color, as if the cover of his social studies textbook had come to life around him." (p. 264)(less)
Frankie is awesome! His imagination is infectious. This is my first Frankie Pickle book and I believe that it is one of the best early reader chapter...moreFrankie is awesome! His imagination is infectious. This is my first Frankie Pickle book and I believe that it is one of the best early reader chapter books I have ever read! Graphic novels + humor + imagination= fun! Also, a perfect book to integrate with math, specifically because it talks about practical, real-world applications of math. (less)
Summary: Max calls himself Max the Wolf because he is the leader of his Wolf Patrol of Boy Scouts. He's never been lost. There's not a mystery he can't solve. However, Max is stumped about his current situation. He woke up in the middle of a forest with no memory of how he got there. On top of that, he has met two interesting characters: Branderbock the Badger, McTavish the Cat, and Walden the Bear. Both on a normal basis would be not too odd, but his new companions can talk. Something that is quite unlikely in the world where Max is from. So, Max finds himself in a new adventure trying to find out where he is, why he's there and how he can get home. Sounds easy enough, but throw in troop blue sword wielding hunters who want to kill them and things get a little dicey.
What I Think: Bill Willingham has some of the most magical ideas and stories that I have ever read. I've had the honor to read his Fables graphic novels, Peter and Max the companion novel to his graphic novels and now finally his middle grade novel. I find all of them as magical as the last. In Down the Mysterly River Bill Willingham has made a world that is unlike any others I have read. Now, I can't tell you what the world is because that is not revealed until the end of the book, but I will tell you that I thought it was brilliant!
Another great aspect of Willingham's work is the humor he throws in. Some of the dialogue between the 4 main characters in this book were hilarious: '"I don't need a strange bear telling me what to do," McTavish said. "These two already think they know everything I should do, and everything I shouldn't do, and that's already too many folks with too many unwelcome nopinions." "Nopinions?" Walden said. "McTavish is proud of his elocution," Banderbrock said, with a wry smile. "What's that supposed to mean?" McTavish said.' The back and forth between the strong characters made for some pretty great conversations.
And speaking of his characters, they are so well developed and you cannot help but fall in love with all of them (even McTavish the mean, disgruntle, ugly cat). They all have such strong personalities and are truly the heart of the story.
Lastly, I want to recommend this book even more because of the themes that thread their way throughout the novel. Friendship and goodness are central to the book. Max is always doing what is right for them, not always what is easy. While reading, it makes you feel like no truer friendship had ever existed than the one between Max, Walden, McTavish and Banderbrock. (less)
I was enchanted with this book from the opening pages when the descriptive language grabbed me! I could close my eyes and picture exactly what Anne Ursu was describing. Ursu also alludes to so many great novels and fairy tales throughout Breadcrumbs such as When you Reach Me, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, and The Little Match Girl on top of the main inpsiration for the story: The Snow Queen. Though I am not familiar with The Snow Queen either, it was easy to fall into Ursu's magical world.
On top of the language of the book, the protagonist is such an exceptional young girl. Hazel is someone that I wish I was friends with! She has the best imagination, but this also separates her from what is expected in "the real world" which is why she always navigates back to Jack- the one person who seems to get her. So, when Jack stops talking to her, you see Hazel having to mold herself to fit into a niche where she is not tormented- this devastated me! However, when she learns that Jack needed to be rescued, Hazel returns to her old self and knows that she must be the princess to save the knight (pretty empowering for a 5th grader!). (less)
This book poses many ethical questions since our main characters are in a life or death situation: What is family? What would you do to survive? If a loved one was suffering and asked you to kill them, would you? Is there such a thing as fate? When can you let go of loved ones who have passed?
The first chapter of Ashes pulls you in right away. Alex is a mystery- you know she has a deadly brain tumor and her parents are dead, but there are so many questions. At the beginning, it is her mystery that keeps you reading, but within the first 30 pages, the story expands to so much more. Suddenly, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) wipes out almost everything including most living things and electronics. Alex, who was camping in the woods contemplating life vs. death, falls into the middle of a cataclysmic event. Alex, along with Ellie, an 8 year old who lost her grandfather, and Tom, a young army veteran, decide to make their way to the ranger station to find help. They must survive in the woods of Michigan while not only scavenging for food, avoiding hungry wild life that survived the EMP, but also eluding cannibalistic zombies (the changed) that were somehow transformed by the EMP. The make shift family promises to protect each other and this begins a survival story straight from a horror movie. And a horror movie is just what you will feel like you are in while reading Alex’s story. Every time something happens, you just wonder how much more she can take and what else can happen to her.
One thing that makes this book stand out from others is that Isla Bick’s descriptions of some very simple things like pain and smells are so dead on that you can feel or smell what she is talking about. When the EMP first hits, Alex describes the pain and other side effects of the EMP so well, that the reader would have no problem understanding what Alex was going through. Then, after surviving “The Zap”, Alex regains her sense of smell that she lost because of the tumor, so Ms. Bick must describe the new scents that Alex smells and she is so precise in the descriptions comparing the smells to things like wet pennies and curdled milk. The precision doesn’t stop there, though. It is obvious that Ms. Bick has done her research when it comes to EMPs and other nuclear information. The physics within the book is not only detailed and specific, but understandable. It makes the possibility of the type of destruction that happens in Ashes seem reasonable which is a terrifying prospect.
Not all of my questions were answered in this book, though, but based on the cliffhanger there will definitely be a sequel which will hopefully tell us more about the EMP, the changed, and what will happen to Alex next.(less)
The Holms continue to teach science through an entertaining story of Squish the amoeba. In this fun story, while learning about the make ups of a pond...moreThe Holms continue to teach science through an entertaining story of Squish the amoeba. In this fun story, while learning about the make ups of a pond, Squish also teaches about bullying and standing up for yourself. (less)
Told from 24 different perspectives in multiple genres such as verse, letters, undertaker's notes, telegrams, forms and booklets, this harrowing tale takes the reader through the journey that different people took on the Titanic. The points of view range from workers like lookouts and stokers, 3rd class passengers like an immigrant and refugee, 2nd class passengers like a tailor, 1st class passengers like a millionaire and socialite as well as the captain, ship builder, the business man, the ship rat and the iceberg. The story begins on April 1st, 1912 with preparing to sail and ends with the survivors aboard the Carpathia on April 18, 1912.
This novel obviously takes the reader through the complete tragedy of the RMS Titanic and the amount of research that Allan Wolf must of done makes this novel not only a wonderful piece of writing, but an essential part of Titanic-lore from now on. I specifically liked how after the story was completed, an afterword was added with Titanic information and a clarification of the fact vs. fiction within the novel specifically when it came to the characters. This novel will be used in classes learning about the Titanic for years to come because of the historical accuracy and the interesting and in-depth way the story is told. It is also a perfect addition to any English Language Arts classroom because it has perfect examples of different types of poetry (each character has their own style), using dialogue in poetry, historical fiction, figurative language and other literary devices and using multiple-genres. I feel that this book is a great way to teach these elements because the Titanic is such a well known topic which would lend well to students connecting with and understanding the text. This book truly makes history come alive.
Wow. In the companion to Impulse, Ellen Hopkins shares with us what is going on back home while Connor is at Aspen Springs. Puts his life into more of a context then you got in Impulse. Terrifying. Yet another book that left me crying at the end.
Summary: It is so hard to be perfect. Cara's parents have expectations for her that no one can live up to, Kendra pushes her body to the limit to reach beauty, Sean will do anything to be the best athlete he can be, and Andre is hiding his true ambitions from everyone. All 4 teenagers just want to please those around them, but is it worth the risks and consequences? What I Think: Perfect runs parallel to Ellen Hopkins's Impulse. While Connor is at Aspen Springs, the psychiatric hospital, in Impulse, Perfect follows his sister and some of their friends back home. In Impulse sometimes I couldn't connect with Connor and the way he was feeling, but Perfect gives you the back story I wished for- and more! I now truly understand why Connor ended up where he did.
One of my favorite parts of the book was whenever the point of view changed, the new section began with a very lyrical poem vs. the narrative ones that drive the story. It set the emotional tone for the section and character. Also, they are truly beautifully written.
Because this book has multiple points of view, there are so many different issues that are dealt with: Abuse, Alcohol, Drugs, Ambition, Race, Eating Disorders, Depression, Sexual Orientation, Rape, Expectations, Stalking, Love, Abandonment, Steroids and more. Although you may not be able to connect with all of the trauma within Perfect, everyone can connect to something. It is also because of all of the trauma that Perfect truly draws out emotions and causes you to physically react. If you have read Impulse, it is a similar experience.
My last thought is that I am glad that I don't live in the neighborhood/school district that Ellen Hopkins built for this book. (less)
Summary: Samuel is 13 and lives with his parents peacefully on the frontier in America. They live in a small settlement in a dirt floored cabin that backed up to the forest. Samuel loved the forest, he'd become the sole provider of food for the settlement and he enjoyed every minute he spent in the forest. They lived far from any town so that it took sometimes months before any news got to their ears, including the beginning of the war. It was not long after they'd heard about the war against the British that Samuel was out in the woods searching for deer that he noticed smoke coming from where his settlement was- way too much smoke. When he arrived he found destruction and death. All the cabins in his settlement were burnt down and bodies were everywhere; however, it seemed his parents were taken captive. It is now Samuel's only mission in life to track down and save his parents. On this adventure, he learns more about more about the horror of the war that America is now in.
What I Think: I love historical fiction! Well, good historical fiction and Woods Runner is good historical fiction. After first I was feeling so-so about the book, but then on page 20 the book becomes such a page turner. This book is only my 5 historical fiction book about the Revolutionary war, but it is the first that shows what happened from an American that live on the frontier. This book also showed me some of the side work the British army and its allies did. Being in war with someone and fighting them is one thing, but the British along with Iroquois Indians as well as the Hessians, the German fighters for Britain, were ruthless and often committed war crimes. This book is built to not only entertain you, but to teach you. Gary Paulsen puts snippets of historical information between chapters to help the reader understand more specifically what is going on in the book- I loved learning that little bit more!
Next to how much I loved the historical element of this novel, Gary Paulsen also crafts such an amazing survival adventure with a protagonist that anyone will root for.(less)
Summary: Rebecca is 12 years old and has noticed the tension growing between her parents. But when her mom decides to suddenly move her and her brother Lew to Atlanta to stay with their Gran, Rebecca is shocked and devastated. He doesn't know what to do without her best friend and is lost without her dad. She may never be able to forgive her mother for this. Then, just as things seemed like they couldn't get any worse, Rebecca finds a magical bread box that delivers anything that she wishes for. It seems too good to be happening.
What Kellee Thinks: I am not a big fan of magical realism, so I was worried when I began this book; however, I am happy to say that Laurel Snyder did just the right balance so that the realism didn't seem fake and the magic didn't seem far fetched. This just shows me that if the magical realism is done well, I am a fan. I love how Laurel used the magic element in this book. It is such an original concept!
You can tell that Laurel Snyder put much of her heart into this book because emotions that grab at your heart flow throughout the entire novel. Rebecca is such a truthful representation of a middle school girl, specifically one who is going through a tough situation such as a parents separation and sudden move. (less)
The symbolism on the cover showing that the wedding ring equals being captured in a cage is so evident and beautiful once you read this book. Because...moreThe symbolism on the cover showing that the wedding ring equals being captured in a cage is so evident and beautiful once you read this book. Because to Rhine, the forced marriage that she is now in is not loving and fulfilling, but a cage that has taken away her freedom. And in Rhine's world, only so much freedom exists since all females die at age 20 and all males die at 25. Rhine is 16 and doesn't want to spend the last 4 years of her life over 1000 miles away from home and her twin brother. But how can the bird escape its cage? (less)
After reading this book, the 5 stars of other books just don't seem justified. This little book is a piece of genius.
Also, I had a hard time putting it on the fantasy or horror shelf (although it is) because it is the most real book I've read in a long time. Books make me emotional very rarely (though it has been happening more often recently) and this one makes me cry even thinking about it. But it also made me laugh and be frightened. It truly is a journey. A rocky, scary, psychological journey for the reader as well as our protagonist, Conor.
Conor is a boy that is going through one of the hardest things any child could go through: his mother has cancer. On top of that, his parents divorced and his father is too busy with his new family to pay attention to Conor. Also, Conor doesn't exactly have the most pleasant time at school. At this point, he is okay being invisible. But then the monster calls. It comes shortly after midnight. It is not a monster that Conor fears, but the monster wants what Conor fears the most: the truth. (less)
Whenever you hear great things about a book and you go to pick it up, your first thoughts are, "I hope it doesn't disappoint." Well, Okay for Now is o...moreWhenever you hear great things about a book and you go to pick it up, your first thoughts are, "I hope it doesn't disappoint." Well, Okay for Now is one of the books that I've been hearing about for months now. It is on most people's mock Newbery and Printz lists. Everyone told me I should read it. Boy, am I glad that I listened to them. I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down and I know that it'll be a book I'll be thinking about for a while.
Doug. He is such a phenomenal character. He is probably at the lowest of lows when you start the book: alcoholic father, abusive brother, depressed mother, picked on at school, poor... But he quickly sees that the only way to go is up. After moving to Maryville, Doug meets Lil, a sassy young lady, who gets him a job as a delivery boy and introduces him to the library. I don't think the reader, or Doug for that matter, could foresee how much these two things would change his life. And for that matter, I think Doug ends up truly changing the lives of many in Maryville as well, showing them that they shouldn't judge people based on first impressions.
There are some things that Gary Schmidt does in this book that truly makes it superior. First, I love how starting from the beginning of Doug's journey in Junior High, he intertwines the NASA Apollo mission and has it parallel Doug's journeys. Throughout the book, we meet different Audubon birds and Doug uses the birds as analogies for situations in his life. Also, the way that Mr. Schmidt talks about art and drawing is captivating. Lastly, Okay for Now shows how important good teachers (inside and out of school) can be for that one student who has never had anyone to care before. This is a book that shows how art, reading and teachers (as well as other unexpected things) can really change a person's life.
I don't normally mark a book that I am just reading for fun, but throughout Okay for Now there were times where I had to mark a quote. Some may not seem important, but they really meant something to me. I want to share them with you (also to document them since the book I read was from the library, so I won't have the marks when I get my own :D). I am going to mark with spoilers, because some come from later in the book. (view spoiler)[ *Skinny Delivery Boy, you have it all wrong. Look how she's standing close to her little one. She's looking around to watch for the next spectacular thing that going to come into his life. (page 68) *It looks more like I'm showing what isn't the bird. (page 72) *That is why you are sitting here tonight, and why you will be coming here in the months ahead. You come to dream dreams. You come to build fantastic castles up in the air. And you come to learn how to build the foundations that make those castles real. When the men who will command that mission were boys your age, no one knew that they would walk on another world someday. No one knew. But in a few months, that's what will happen. So, twenty years form now, what will people say of you? 'No one knew that this kid from Washington Irving Junior High School would grow up to do'... what? What castle will you build? (page 83) *And then we opened up Jane Eyre and picked out words that pretty much looked impossible but we figured them out because of what we were learning about letters and their sounds working together. No one ever told me this stuff! How come no one ever told me this stuff? How come? (page 129) *I should tell you that I was revealing this terrible secret to Lil while Miss Cowper was trying to teach us the Wonders of the Adverb and that when she asked if Lil and I had anything we'd like to share with the whole class, we stopped, quickly understanding that Miss Cowper was watching us angrily and would beat us mercilessly if we did not cease immediately. And I'm giving you that last sentence to show that you can too talk and learn at the same time. (page 190) *Maybe the Snowy Heron is going to come off pretty badly when the planes come together. Maybe. But he's still proud and beautiful. His head is high, and he's got this sharp beak that's facing out to the world. He's okay for now. (page 202) *I knew that Lucas was awake in the dark that he carried around with him all the time. (page 222) *You know, there are good reasons to learn to read. Poetry isn't one of them. I mean, so what if two roads go two ways in a wood? So what? Who cares if it made all that big a difference? What difference? And why should I have to guess what the difference is? Isn't that what he's supposed to say? Why can't poets just say what they want to say then shut up? (page 235) *In the whole story of the world, bananas have never once been a special treat. (page 249) *Polly had this book about a house in a forest where Laura lives with Pa and Ma and her sisters. You'd be surprised how good this was, especially considering that nothing happens. (page 284) *You can't imagine an actor ever becoming the president of the United States, for example. (page 300) LOL (hide spoiler)]
Originally read: July 6, 2011 Reread: June, 2012["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
If you read my reviews, you know I love historical fiction because it teaches history in a fun, exciting way. Squish does the same thing, but with sci...moreIf you read my reviews, you know I love historical fiction because it teaches history in a fun, exciting way. Squish does the same thing, but with science. Although science is not the main focus of the book, I love how the Holms throw in lessons throughout the graphic novel teaching the reader some really interesting things about biology. And the science experiment with Pod at the end is awesome! I wish I taught elementary just so I could use this book :) (less)
Summary: Anya isn't exactly the most popular girl in school. She has one friend and they spend most of their time skipping class and feigning interest. She'd give anything to be more popular and be noticed by Sean, the basketball player, but that doesn't seem likely. She is ashamed of her Russian heritage and wishes she could look like Elizabeth who doesn't even have to try. But then when she falls down a well and spends 2 days hanging out with a skeleton and the ghost of a girl who has been dead for over a century, her life changes. At first it seems like a blessing because it is really helpful to have a friend no one else can see who can help you pass tests and get a cute boy's phone number. It all seems so perfect, but is it?
What I Think: My summary and thoughts cannot do this graphic novel justice. First, Neil Gaiman has a blurb on the front! He calls it a masterpiece, so obviously it is going to be good. And it was. This graphic novel is brilliant. It is funny, smart, real and creepy all rolled into one. Vera does a perfect job showing the angst of living as a teenager. Anya represents just about every teenage girl I can think of because she is trying to find her identity (even more specifically, her identity within her ethnicity). I knew the ghost was going to show up at some point and I was skeptical that it would work out, but it did. The ghost just gave Anya one more thing she had to overcome to find herself. I also love the artwork. It reminds me a bit of Raina Telgemeier's artwork (who is another one of my favorite graphic novel artists) in that it is clean and bold yet cartoony with minimal shading and looks like it could easily be turned into an animated work. Also, the format was easy to follow and the font was very legible. So, overall, I am a big fan. (less)
Most dystopian novels don't give you the date that they are taking place and they seem so impossible that we assume it is hundreds of years in the fut...moreMost dystopian novels don't give you the date that they are taking place and they seem so impossible that we assume it is hundreds of years in the future. Awaken is different. It takes place in 2060 and Katie Kacvinksy gives us a history that goes approximately to the present. And it is a scary, scary history, but mostly because it is probable.
In this world face to face schools no longer exist and all students go to Digital School. Our protagonist is Madeline, the daughter of the inventor of Digital School. Her day consists of interactions almost completely with computers. All of her friends are on the computer, she runs on a treadmill that projects scenery, and even when she "goes out" it is on the computer by watching movies with friends. And she doesn't question a day of it anymore. Then she meets Justin. In real life. He changes everything.
I love that Katie Kacvinsky gave a complete history to us, so that the present day in her novel seems so much more reasonable. It also showed one really negative way that our world could turn if we continue the way we are. The world Madeline lives in, doesn't even have real trees anymore, because no one wants to take the time to take care of them. That sounds so much like our society now, but a little more extreme. Though we have few that fight for the environment, how much would they fight if science finds a way for us to not need, say, trees? That is what has happened in Madeline's world. People stopped fighting.
I also enjoyed that throughout there were journal entries written by Madeline. Through these journal entries, you got to see a side of Madeline that she hid from everyone, including the reader. (less)
Laura Lee Gulledge is truly a talented artist. Because of the concept, Paige buys a sketchbook to help her deal with a recent move and teenage years, this graphic novel is a journal mixed with fascinating sketches as well.
This graphic novel also made me remember how hard being a teenager is, even a normal teenager. Paige has her sketching and I had my poetry- this graphic novel was very similar to reliving my teenage years. Yes, Paige and I are different, but I just remember how much my poetry journal meant to me and how glad I was (and am now) that I had it to put my feelings in. Just shows how important teaching kids how to express themselves is, because it can save them from bottling things up inside of them. (less)
Ginny Rorby is one of my favorite authors. Her other books, Hurt Go Happy and Outside of a Horse, deal with animal and human issues; although Lost in the River of Grass does talk about animals and animal issues throughout, this is Ginny's most human of a novel. It is about survival and finding the strength inside of yourself to stand up to anything- even something that has always terrified you. Throughout the novel, Sarah and Andy, who are lost in the Everglades, face things that are only in most of our nightmares. I learned, quite quickly, that I probably wouldn't survive if I was lost in the river of grass. But Sarah, who is scared of EVERYTHING, grows up right in front of our eyes. This book made me gasp, cry, laugh- go through the cycle of emotions, but that is what makes a book so wonderful. Ginny Rorby knows how to write characters that the reader can connect with and this is no exception- Sarah is just a normal girl and Andy is just a normal boy, but through their journey they found out how extraordinary they are.