Written in lovely, rhyming poetry with soft illustrations, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will quickly become a favorite of many a little boyWritten in lovely, rhyming poetry with soft illustrations, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will quickly become a favorite of many a little boy (and some girls) when crawling into bed. ...more
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I agonized about how to rate this book. I love Shel Silverstein and before this book I would have said "and everything he writes"; however, I cannot say that any more. Every Thing On It was such a mish-mash of poems. I think that Shel may not have put him in his other anthologies because he knew that they did not work. Some as fantastic, carefree and fun as I remember Shel, but others were not. Some were thought provoking. Some were depressing. Others were just plain weird. And I did not like the depressing and weird ones. Maybe in a different context- an adult poetry book where you are expecting Shel's darker side, but not in a book that is sitting right along side his other fun-loving children's anthologies. But then how do you rate something like this? There were some poems that were definitely a 1 star for me, more that were 2, even more that were 3, some that were 4 and some that were 5. So, I went with a 3. Average. But this 3 star, does not represent all of the debating that went on in my head very well. ...more
Anyone who knows me knows that I love chimpanzees. I teach Hurt Go Happy yearly and visit my friends at The Center for Great Apes. Chimpanzees are amazing creatures and it is because of the work of Jane Goodall that we know to what extent of amazing they are.
This book is simple at first glance, but it is so powerful. It shows the power of a dream and the power of a brilliant woman. This book is truly an advocate for imagination & curiosity and reaching for your dream. ...more
When the city suffers from a blackout, a family sees that spending time together is more important than the usual busy-ness. I loved the illustrationsWhen the city suffers from a blackout, a family sees that spending time together is more important than the usual busy-ness. I loved the illustrations in this book. Very colorful, loud and perfect for the story being told. ...more
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"]>...more
An amazing story about Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel. And Annie was anything but what you'd expect- an eldeAn amazing story about Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel. And Annie was anything but what you'd expect- an elderly charm school teacher. This fascinating book about a too often forgotten moment in history is also touching and sad. Van Allsburg knows how to perfectly balance a wonderful story with his phenomenal artwork and this book is no exception. ...more
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)...more
What a fascinating woman! Amelia Earhart is a legend, but there is a story of a miraculous woman behind the legend. Ms. Fleming's book delves into AmeWhat a fascinating woman! Amelia Earhart is a legend, but there is a story of a miraculous woman behind the legend. Ms. Fleming's book delves into Amelia's story. I really enjoyed the way that the book was formatted switching between the day she disappeared (including search and radio records) and her biography. ...more
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. ...more
Summary: In 1939 Stalin was expanding the USSR and invaded the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. He then started deporting anyone who he deemed a threat to his vision. This included scholars, reporters, or anyone that has been outspoken against him. Between Shades of Gray is about 15 year old Lina who, along with her mother and brother, is ripped from their home one night in 1941 and thrown into a truck to be deported to Siberia. They are separated from her father and their only hope is to stay together so that maybe they can be together as a family one day.
What I Think: This one is hard to put into words. This is such a powerful story with characters that you grow to love as they are put through hell. What makes the hell even more grotesque is that it is based off of stories that really happened during a time of history that does not get spoken of too often. Like Holocaust books, this book is one that will rip you apart as you read it. It starts so suddenly and you are breathless as Lina and her family are dragged from their home and put into trucks and trains with conditions none of us can even fathom. Since the book is told from Lina's point of view and she had no idea that her family was even in danger, the fear and shock that she feels resonates with you as a reader and lends the the horror that you will feel. But the true theme behind this book is love & hope and how important they are and how they can be found even in the most horrible of situations.
Ruta Sepetys did a couple really brilliant things with this book that I really appreciated. First, I loved the theme of art throughout the novel and how it is what kept Lina sane. How she weaved Munch and his artwork throughout the story really captured my attention. Second, I really appreciated the way that she would use a single word to trigger a memory that Lina would share with us. It is exactly how real life is when you make connections between the present and memories.
I will say that the only negative thing I have to say is that I wanted more. I really felt that it started to rush a bit towards the end and then it ended too suddenly. However, it was not done in a way that hurt the brilliance of the book, but just enough to bother me.
And now, I am intrigued by this time of history. As I've stated in the past, I didn't feel like I had a very good history education and often learn new things from historical fiction- this was no exception. I'd always known Stalin was evil, but I never knew why. This book taught me so much and has made me want to learn more. I was talking with a friend about it and she made a very good point- we often don't learn about genocides or other hardships within a country if the dictator doesn't cross borders. It is only when it starts to affect us do we begin to care. That needs to change and this history is one example of why.
Originally read: January 20, 2012 Reread: July 16, 2012...more
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 oWhenever 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"]>...more