*This book took me a while to get into, but once I did, I had to know how it ended. I loved the unique narrator and the fairy tales throughout. I will...more*This book took me a while to get into, but once I did, I had to know how it ended. I loved the unique narrator and the fairy tales throughout. I will say half way through the book changes directions drastically and it surprised me, but the ending redeems and weirdness about the change. overall a beautifully written book full of mystery.(less)
*Loved this book. A perfect combination of Spinelli's Stargirl, a John Green book, and a rom-com. Loved the voice, quirks, characters, and plot. A sleeper title from 2013 that you should read.
A couple things I really loved about this book: -The characters are such good people. Although they evolve, they never were kids I wouldn't want my son to hang out with. -A romancey book from a boy's point of view! -Camilla is so cool yet so uncool and just shows how the labels and cliques and such of high school are just so stupid. Oh, and that you cannot judge a book by its cover. -The writing, music, and movie references. Just a bit of geeky, but not too much.
I think first and foremost, this book needs to be in libraries so that kids (and adults!) can get their hands on it. In the classroom, it can definitely be used as for a mentor text. I think it is perfect for an example of character development and voice. The characters in this book are so strong and there are lines and passages throughout that show the characters’ personality. There are also parts that deal with writing poetry/music and would be great passages to talk about writing with students.(less)
Overall a good book, but I just had some issues with it. First, I had a very hard time finding a connection to the protagonist. She is having trouble...moreOverall a good book, but I just had some issues with it. First, I had a very hard time finding a connection to the protagonist. She is having trouble with her identity and that is evident in the lack of voice in the book. I was impressed that as Cass found her "voice" so did the book. However, I think it was trying to do too much in one book: identity, religion, bullying, tarot cards, friendship, sexuality, first loves, etc.. It was just too much and I didn't feel like it was able to focus enough on one of them. (less)
Now, this is not a "normal" Chris Crutcher book, but like all of his books, it is raw, true, and sports plays a role of...more*Chris Crutcher can write. Wow!
Now, this is not a "normal" Chris Crutcher book, but like all of his books, it is raw, true, and sports plays a role of some sort. And this one is SO full of suspense for the last 25%. It is a hold your breath, read as quickly as you can kind of book there at the end. (I do wish that this suspense had been spread out to 50% of the book. This would have helped the pacing a bit and I think it would have given Crutcher more time to give information into the crime. Although the quick pacing at the end adds to the suspense, I think spreading it out a bit would have kept the suspense and given more time to delve further into the bad guys and the mystery.)
I, personally, really loved how he chose to tell the story in 3rd person. Although it doesn't give as much insight into one character, it gives you a little bit of insight into each one, and as you are trying to figure out what is going one, it is really fun to hear from all the different characters. (Some readers and reviewers have stated that having the multiple 3rd person point of views made it so the reader didn't really know anyone, but I think it actually helped me get to know everyone a little bit. It also allows for the reader to get snippets of not just the mystery but of the characters allowing you to build the complete character in your head.)
Another brilliant think Crutcher did was include foreshadowing scenes right at the beginning of the novel that did not make sense until the end and then I had to go back and read it. Well done!
Also, if you ever need a mentor text on complex sentence structure or descriptive language--Crutcher is for you!
Mostly, though, this book will find its home in teens' hands. It will be as loved as other Crutcher books.
We flagged: "He hits the water, involuntarily sucking air as the cold leaks in. The colder the better. He deserves this. Even so, he pees in self-defense, his only means to counter the ice-watery fingers creeping around his ribcage and into his crotch. He swims away from shore for about a hundred yards as his body heat warms the water inside the suit. He turns parallel to the shore and strokes, finding a candence he can hold over the next two hours. He knows how to play games to allay the monotony; fifty stroke hard, fifty strokes easy; a hundred strokes hard, fifty easy; a hundred-fifty hard, fifty easy, and on and on. An hour up and an hour back. He has taught himself to breathe on either side in order to keep the shore in sight and swim a relatively straight line. On this morning, working on zero sleep, he holds an even pace; no intervals. Just his sweet Hannah wedged in his frontal lobe. His gone Hannah." (p. 3-4) (less)
*A very unique idea and executed very well. I loved how the back story of the characters were revealed through "shots" from the past documentaries. Ea...more*A very unique idea and executed very well. I loved how the back story of the characters were revealed through "shots" from the past documentaries. Each scene gave a little bit of insight. I also really connected with the main character who was just trying to figure out who she was and didn't know if she wanted the whole world to be part of her search. (less)
You know a book is good when in the first 5 pages you already know and feel for you main character. Cath is like many college freshman--afra...more*4.5 stars
You know a book is good when in the first 5 pages you already know and feel for you main character. Cath is like many college freshman--afraid. She has known one world for so long and everything around her is changing. This book is about her figuring out her way. Anyone that went to college will connect with Cath and her struggles of finding a balance between who you were in high school and who you are becoming. I really appreciate Rainbow Rowell's main characters and how they are not perfect--this makes them so much more relatable. (I just give a shout out to the Emergency Dance Party scene--this made me love Cath so much!)
Oh, and the dialogue! I love the way her characters converse. The banter is hilarious and just perfect. Also, I cannot review this book without giving props to the secondary characters. They are so solid and thought out. Although Cath is the main character, no one feels like Rainbow Rowell didn't put love and time into them. I especially love their father who is probably the most flawed character but is so full of love. (Oh, and Levi. Who cannot love Levi?!?!?!)
[As a teacher, I also liked the look into Levi's struggle with reading yet his amazing intelligence. I think it is a great conversation starter and a great example of many of the students I encounter. Pg. 168 is Levi's explanation of his struggles--powerful.]
And all of the book love! Anyone who has ever loved a book or series will adore the fangirl moments. Although an obvious allusion to Harry Potter, Cath and Wren's love of Simon Snow will make any reader think about their favorite novel which they lose themselves in.
Also this book is about writing: the beauty of good writing and the struggle of good writing. Cath can write in the world of Simon Snow, but struggles in finding her own world. This actually runs parallel quite beautifully with her finding of her self. She is literally and figuratively trying to find her own voice. (And I love that a teacher plays a role in this.)
Overall, a just-right book. I read it in one sitting and didn't want to put it down. Does remind me a lot of Anna and the French Kiss (maybe that's what is keeping me from giving it a straight 5 stars?), but it really was a solid story filled with just enough love, nerdy, and soul searching.
Teacher's Tools for Navigation: I can see how many aspects of this novel could be used in a creative writing course. So much of Cath's story revolves around writing and different scenes or pieces of fanfiction could be pulled out to use in class. I especially like the discussion about "Why write fiction?" on pg. 21-23.
I also would love to analyze more the excerpts that are put before each chapter and how they connect with the chapter. Many have theme connections or direct character connections. They were placed very intentionally and discussing why would be so interesting.
We Flagged: "Cath wasn't sure how she was going to keep everything straight in her head. The final project, the weekly writing assignments--on top of all her other classwork, for every other class. All the reading, all the writing. The essays, the justifications, the reports. Plus Tuesdays and sometimes Thursdays writing with Nick. Plus Carry on. Plus e-mail and notes and comments... Cath felt like she was swimming in words. Drowning in them, sometimes." (p. 100)(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)
This graphic novel does for Shakespeare’s text what Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo and Juliet film did for the play. It makes it so accessible and helps the reader SEE what is going on in the play so that the Shakespeare’s words are easier to interpret. This graphic novel should be in every classroom and school library and should be used whenever the play is. I also found Garth Hinds’s afterword very fascinating and gives a deeper look into Verona.(less)
I own many of the Amelia Rules series, but I had not read them before; however, when I got Jimmy Gownley’s memoir graphic novel, I knew I had to read it. I am always looking for ways to get my students to read more nonfiction and a graphic novel autobiography (like Smile) is definitely one of the ways to get them more interested in nonfiction. And, like Smile, Jimmy’s story is one that students will definitely connect with and, hopefully, enjoy. It deals with not only Jimmy’s journey of writing his graphic novel but also many the transition to high school and first love.(less)
This book was NOT what I thought it was going to be! I had read Gulledge’s last graphic novel, Page by Paige, so I knew that it was going to be unique, but if you look at the cover you assume Will & Whit are the main characters and there is going to be some sort of romance. That is so off track of what the book is actually about. Will is actually Wilhelmina, our main character, who is dealing with some darkness in her life and fights it by making lamps (some of them are really beautiful and I wish I could buy them). Whit, on the other hand, is not her love interest. Whit is Hurricane Whitney who hits Will’s town and causes Will to really face some of the darkness. So, where does the romance come in? There is a little bit, but you will be so surprised as to what the cover means! I was.
There are also a wonderful set of supporting characters who make the book even more special. I also love the inclusion of art (visual and performing) and antiques within the novel.
This book is more than just a retelling of Cinderella, it is a look at our society and the importance (or lack there of) of physical appearance and celebrity. I would love to know which celebrities influenced Rudnick for some of the crazy characters in Gorgeous. I also loved Becky as a person—she is quite funny and a very good person, even after she dives into Rebecca. Readers who love romance, fashion, Hollywood, and royalty will find a winner with this book and will also find a book that delves into deeper issues than it seems originally.(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 can’t say enough great things about this novel as it helped me out of my latest reading slump! I also think it is interesting because I read Jackie Chan before reading Jumping Off Swings, and I think that may have changed my perspective. It is interesting to think about how the different order of reading can change how you view a book. I went in with no expectations because I didn’t even know what had happened to Josh, so I think that the reveal of that secret was bigger for me than if I’d read it in the other order. Because I was naive about the past, I went in with no past feelings for Josh and really just hoping for the best for him. I found myself struggling with him and crying with him because his hurt was so deep. Though Stella and Larry enter his life, I didn’t think he’d let them in, but instead, they become a huge part in him healing. I really loved Living with Jackie Chan (as well as Jumping off Swings which I read immediately after finishing Jackie Chan). Jo Knowles always impresses me with her ability to tell tough stories in ways that makes it so that the reader can connect.(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)
After reading Dallas Clayton's An Awesome Book, I knew that I wanted to read more of his work. He had a way of preaching goodness in a way that wasn't overly bearing but still definitely got the point across. So, when I saw that Candlewick had published an anthology of his poems with his illustrations I was very excited and I was not disappointed. Make Magic is filled with fun yet thought provoking poems (some rhyme, some free verse) accompanied by quirky (done in "two parts positive vibes and three parts watercolor rainbow sprinkles) this anthology will bring a smile to anyone's face who readers it. As a read aloud this summer, during summer school, I am going to bring Make Magic and read one or two daily so we can discuss them. Each poem teaches a lesson without being always obvious and are funny and weird enough that students will love them. (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)