I knew about the fighting in Beirut, but as it happened when I was very young and is not often discussed, I didn’t know much about it. This graphic novel memoir is an inside look at what it was like to live in Beirut during the fighting. The black and white illustrations are so unique and very much capture the tone of the book.(less)
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.(less)
Told in fragments, Judith's story slowly comes together leaving you on the edge of your seat until the reveal. A mystery mixed with romance and findin...moreTold in fragments, Judith's story slowly comes together leaving you on the edge of your seat until the reveal. A mystery mixed with romance and finding ones identity. A unique book.(less)
Can't decide between 4 & 5 stars--such a great book!
This is a book that keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself reading whenever I could (including times when I was holding my sleeping son or when I should have been sleeping). When you find out how Marina and Em are connected, it just blew my mind! I then had to find out how everything was going to turn out. I was just so impressed with everything:
First, the plot. It is so complex and intricate. You have to pay attention to keep up with the timeline, but it isn’t so bad that you’ll get lost. It is so admirable that the author was able to craft such intense timelines and intertwine them seamlessly.
Second, the language. I loved how Cristin Terrill wrote. The imagery throughout transported you into the story.
Third, the suspense. I just HAD to know what was going to happen!
Fourth, the characters. In a way that I’ve never experience before, Cristin Terrill truly gets you into the minds and hearts of the characters. You understand their motives, who they used to be, who they’ll become, all because of the way that Terrill tells the story and crafts her characters. You feel their heartbreak with them (and one particular realization that you find out in the very end just broke my heart and blew my mind), and you are so invested in everything they do.
Finally, the themes. The discussions that would come from this novel would be so interesting. Just the idea of power and corruption that is dealt with would lead to quite a debate.
Ricki also pointed out in her review how fun it would be to have students imagine what they would change if time travel existed.
This text would be a wonderful mentor text to discuss plot and character development, theme, and style. And most importantly, it will be a text that students will be intrigued with, not want to put down, and share with everyone.(less)
Imogen is broken and she must overcome this feeling of hopelessness that surrounds her constantly. What an intense way to introduce us to a character? We then go on a journey with Imogen as she tries to rebuild her life, her memories, her friendships, and her family.
At first I struggled with this book because the timeline was choppy, and Imogen was hard to pinpoint. But then, through the flashbacks, Imogen starts to become clearer to us, the reader, and Imogen’s memories start to become clearer to her. Then you are so sucked into wanting to know everything, and you can only know everything if you stick with the book and see Imogen’s memories as they are revealed. This is a pretty brilliant tactic in making the reader feel like they are in the protagonist’s brain.
Bruised actually reminds me a lot of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Both young ladies are thrown into a tragedy, let that tragedy eat away at their hearts and souls, and have to figure out how to find themselves again. Truly a remarkable journey to go on with a character. And, like Speak, there are some intense topics/themes dealt with in Bruised that will definitely grab a teen’s attention: sibling rivalry, a disabled parent, disconnected family, friendship, sex, love, survival, and martial arts. It is one of those books that teens need to read, so they can learn to become resilient and to overcome whatever is in their path.(less)
Ever since I read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, I’ve loved learning about this scary time in American history (also, the danger hasn’t ceased just because it happens less often). This book does a beautiful job of taking this time in history and laying it out for the reader so that it is very easy to understand. It includes background about the geographical area, information about the Depression, and then takes you through the Dust Bowl all the way to modern days. So interesting!
Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: First, this book will make a great companion to Out of the Dust. I think many readers struggle with Hesse’s book because they don’t have the background knowledge needed to understand the book and Don Brown’s book gives all the background needed. The Great America Dust Bowl can also be used as a resource when teaching the Dust Bowl, the depression, or agriculture.(less)
Cheryl delves into two very different tough subjects in this book. First, we meet Sarah who is a 16-year-old girl who was born with a port-wine stain. As with anything that makes you different when you are a teenager, it affects your life daily. Sarah has trouble fitting in, is bullied, and only has a few friends. Through this experience, though, she has also had a very narrow focus on physical appearance and pushes people away because she is focused so much on a surgery that would temporarily remove her port-wine stain. However, as she is dealing with not receiving her surgery, Sarah is thrown into the scariest situation a girl could become part of: she is kidnapped, locked away, and abused by her kidnapper.
Though this is a very tough book to read, it was one that I couldn’t put down. It is amazing how Cheryl takes the tragedies she has been through and transports her strength and experiences into her characters.(less)
I am always impressed when an author can not only make an entire new world, but also new mythology. That is exactly what Paul Pope does in his new graphic novel (will be a series). Arcopolis is a terrifying apocalyptic-esque town where you cannot walk around at night and you are always being watched by monsters. The setting is what makes this story really able to happen.
When reading, I could tell that Paul Pope is a “comic mastermind” because this story is set up very much like a traditional comic (good vs. evil, superheroes); however, there is a new twist on it because our hero is an underdog. This makes the reader root for him even more.
Warning: Cliffhanger ending! Battling Boy better be the first in a series, because I am dying to know what happens!(less)
Three woman in the 1960s and 1970s took part in primatology research that would change the way that we think about primates. Three woman who took a chance and researched potentially dangerous animals in their wild habitats. Three woman who took risks when many did not believe that woman should be part of the sciences. Primates tells the stories of Jane Goodall, a researcher of chimps, Dian Fossey, a gorilla expert, and Birute Galdikas, an orangutan researcher, and how their lives overlap and differ.
I may be bias, but this is one of my favorite nonfiction graphic novels ever. Bias because I am a huge ape advocate and am fascinated by them. These creatures are amazing; their intelligence is so remarkable that it is hard to even fathom. The reason why I loved this book is because it takes you through the research of three groundbreaking woman scientists and what they learned about the three completely different apes. It makes sure to show how each ape is different and spectacular as well as how each lady’s research made an impact.(less)
A different kind of choose your path book. In a choice chapter book, you are still the protagonist (2nd person alert!), but throughout the book you are given choices (one is right and one is wrong; rational is given) and you only continue when you choose the right one. This book definitely would be a great introduction to camping and takes the reader through some really realistic situations. Though a bit didactical, it definitely works in teaching safety- I even learned a few things.
In the classroom, this book would be great in a 2nd or 3rd grade classroom to talk about cause and effect. You could look at what would happen if you chose the wrong choice.
Mentor text for: Cause/Effect, Point of View
Snatch of text: Choice 1 "The hand-crank radio: You tell Carla to pack her radio. Good choice! It doesn't have any games, but it will always have power. You just crank its lever. Then you can listen to music. You can also get weather reports if it looks stormy outside." Choice 2 "The smart phone: You tell Carla to pack her phone. It would be fun to play games. But the phone will run out of power. You won't be able to recharge it. And what if a storm comes? You might need to hear weather reports. You should tell Carla to pack the radio instead." (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)
So beautifully written. One of those books that you want to tell everyone to read because it is so literary and lyrical. While reading, I felt I had to keep stopping to take notes because I had so much I wanted to share with you all. In a way, Aristotle & Dante reminded me of John Green in that way. His characters are so intelligent, the voice so pure and mesmerizing, and the story so enthralling- all aspects of a literary young adult novel. I am not surprised at all of the awards that Aristotle & Dante took home from the ALA Awards as it deserved each and every one of them (Stonewall Book Award, Printz Honor, Pura Belpre Author Award). I know this seems mighty gushy, but I just really fell in love with this novel.
There was so many passages throughout that could be used for exemplar pieces of writing (specifically while reading I picked up on the literary devices, characterization, and voice) and can be used to practice reading strategies. The only thing I worry about is the teen appeal for this novel. I could see students thinking it was pretty slow because it is more character-driven than plot-driven. It is about Aristotle & Dante growing up and finding themselves (once again, reminds me a bit of a John Green Novel). Though I can see students who give it a chance being as touched by the book as I am.
Mentor text for: Characterization, Voice, Descriptive (p. 19 et al.), Compare/Contrast (p. 20), Dialogue, Literary Devices, Vocabulary, Literary writing, Metaphor (p. 261 et al.)
Topics: Poetry (Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams), Philosophers, Literature (Heart of Darkness, Grapes of Wrath, Sun Also Rises, War & Peace), Art History (Mexican Art, Edward Hopper), Comics (p. 19), Identity of 2nd Generation American Immigrants, Light Pollution, Mental Health, Teaching (pgs. 67, 165), Anger, Counseling, PTSD, Survivor's Guilt, Sexual Identity, Puberty, Family Secrets, Hate Crimes, Loyalty, Love (p. 247 et al.), Vietnam, Spontaneous Creative Writing (p. 21 et al.), Guilt/Shame, Family
Writing Prompt: Aristotle & Dante love to make up stories about the people on the bus (see p. 21); go and sit outside where you can people watch and spontaneously write short stories about a handful of them.
"The war changed him. I was born when he came home. Sometimes I think my father has all these scars. On his heart. In his head. All over. It's not such an easy thing to be a son of a man who's been to war. when I was eight, I overheard my mother talking to my Aunt Ophelia on the phone. "I don't think that the war will ever be over for him." Later I asked my Aunt Ophelia if that was true. "Yes," she said, "it's true" "But why won't the war leave my dad alone?" "Because your father has a conscience," she said. "What happened to him in the war?" "No one knows" "Why won't he tell?" "Because he can't."" (p. 14)
"I felt alone, but not in a bad way. I really liked being alone. Maybe I liked it too much. Maybe my father was like that too. I thought of Dante and wondered about him. And it seemed to me that Dante's face was a map of the world. A world without darkness. wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?" (p. 56)(less)
This book is such a compelling read and a great addition to the dystopian subgenre. When I started this book, I had never heard of it but I was intrigued by the concept and right away I was glad that this book had crossed my path. This book was non-stop action and was so hard to predict because of all of the twists and turns throughout. Just as you thought that things were going to get steady for Kris and Jade, something happens. I also enjoyed the back and forth between Kris and Jade. Whenever there is a boy and girl character who are blatantly flirting yet pretend they don't like each other, it makes me want to keep reading to see if they figure it out (and you'll have to read to find out if Kris and Jade do). I was particularly enthralled with this book because it seemed to be something that could realistically happen in the near future. The idea of killing off animals who spread a disease already happens and the extreme that the book goes to could definitely happen. It actually hurt me to think of a world where people couldn't have cats- the companionship that cats provide is something no other animal can. Also, I think this is another book that is a great example of "Don't judge a book by its cover" as the cover makes it look so boring! It isn't, I promise.
Read Together: Grades 6 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: The Girl Who Remembered Horses by Linda Benson, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Snatch of Text: "There was no way she'd let me touch her at first. Trust had to be built up slowly and painfully. I talked to her softly, offered her little treats, and took care not to make any sudden or threatening movements." (p. 10)
"There was one person, however, who found me endlessly fascinating. Kris Delaney. Kris was the bane of my life. It was the entire aim of his existence to test me. I don't know why I interested him so much. It certainly bugged him that I wasn't born in the neighborhood and had lived in a greenhome and, OK, we'd had a boat if only a small one. But Kris was different, too. You'd see him with other lads, kicking a ball about, but you'd see him on his own just as much. There was always a distance between him and his mates." (p. 17)
Mentor Text for: World Building, Conflict, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Jade goes on the run from the authorities to protect Feela. Do you agree with the choice she made? Use text evidence to back up your claim. What is something or someone in your life that you would risk everything for like Jade did for Feela?