This book touched my heart. Anyone who is a cat person will connect immediately with Won Ton and love him instantly and the way his story was told through haikus was touching and brilliant. Wardlaw obviously knows her cats because each poem is reminiscent of cats' personalities. (less)
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. (less)
What a great mentor text for poetry! It will be a great book to use with students (mostly students who "hate" poetry) to introduce them to poetry that is not scary. I love how each word has each word's poem in two sytles- one is more concrete where the letter is put under the where the letter is in the word while the other puts it in the traditional style. A great addition to any poetry collection. Also will cause lots of word play in the classroom- FUN!(less)
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. (less)
To be a popular book in my classroom of mostly struggling and reluctant readers (specifically with my boys), it is essential that a story be fast paced, fun, action-packed and it is even better if it is humorous and a graphic novel so I am sure you can see that Sidekicks is perfect! It is being passed around like the loved graphic novels before it- Amulet, Bone, Ghostopolis, Foiled, Knights of the Lunch Table, etc. And as an homage to classic super hero stories, Sidekicks is perfect for students who already are in love with the stories by Marvel and DC or as an introduction to these classics. (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"]>(less)
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 elde...moreAn 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. (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)
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)
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 Ame...moreWhat 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. (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)
I love Zita. She is a good friend. She is brave. She isn't judgmental. She is smart. She is a girl that all boys will root for and all girls will long to be. And Zita doesn't let anyone down- she is a true hero and I love her story. It is filled with all sorts of fun robots and creatures. Zita's story is also a perfect example of the hero's journey, although Zita never backs down.
I found this graphic novel so easy to read, because Hatke's graphics and story lent itself directly to making a movie in my head. With the bold lines yet a soft-hue of colors and a story filled with conflict, adventure and emotions, I wanted to know how it was going to all pan out from the very beginning. Zita will definitely be joining my graphic novel collection.
And on top of it all, I have recently found out that Zita has her own website with webcomics that continue her story. She also appears in the graphic novel anthology Flight 4. (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)
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)