Wow. I often worry about reading a book that has a lot of hype around it because I fear that I will not love it as much as others do. I should not have been worried about this book. It is beautiful. As Ricki said, I found myself rereading portions of the text just because of how well the verse flowed. By the end of this book, you will wish that you were Woodson’s friend and that you you could write as well as her. The stories she tells are so true and heartfelt that you live her life along with her through the pages. You experience with her the hardship of growing up in the 1960s and 70s during the Civil Rights movement; the challenge of religion and finding the truth in it; the loss, addition, and conflict of family and everything that comes with these changes; and trying to find an identity as a person, sister, daughter, student and a writer. It is only a truly powerful, well-written book that can make you feel all of these elements....more
This book has multiple levels going on at the same time. There is the story of Eleanor and Pearl’s friendship and their first speed bump. Then there is Eleanor getting the lead in the play, and dealing with the fear of singing a solo. Eleanor dealing with her puppy having trouble getting house trained. And finally, the Eleanor and Nicholas story. But Sternberg balances it all because it is just all part of Eleanor’s life. Julie Sternberg is so great at writing in an elementary student’s voice. It is so authentic and well done!
What I love so much about all of the “Eleanor” books are that they are written in verse, and Eleanor is an amazing poet. I love that it is free verse and includes such beautiful language, but it never comes off as anything but authentic. Teachers could definitely take Eleanor’s writing and use it as a mentor text for students to write about their own experiences....more
My Review: I am a huge baseball fan, have been for over 24 years now, so I am a sucker for baseball books. This one is special though. It captures the beauty of the baseball stadiums around the country, the intricacies of the sport, and the amazing history that baseball holds. I also love the choice of telling baseball’s story in verse. It made it rhythmic like the sport.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is a wonderful mentor text for free verse. The poetry is very rhythmic, but has no rhyme. The book also has some amazing vocabulary: craftsman, poise, spectators, finesse, etc. It captures the sport through imagery: “the crack of the bat,” “slow stride of the manager,” “groans or boos,” etc.
On top of the poetic aspects of the book, you can learn so much about baseball and history from the book. It discusses greats like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. Also talks about the Negro and Women’s Leagues. All parts of history in general, not just baseball....more
This book definitely brought back memories! I loved the idea of summer camp and many of the activities, but I hated the bugs and the food and the changing in front of other people. There are many times when I was away that I just wanted to go home; however, there were things that saved me- specifically, like Eleanor, the animals. I loved working in the barn with the horses and it is what saved me and then got me going back year after year. I remember walking into the barn and being able to be part of these horses' lives and the scene where Eleanor meets Cornelius the goat brought me right back to that moment. This book would be a wonderful read aloud for right before summer because even if students are not going to summer camp, there is probably something new and scary that they will try this summer and this book will definitely cause discussion about how something new may be scary, but that doesn't mean you won't like it eventually. Julie Sternberg's writing also lends itself to some amazing discussions about free verse poetry and, in this one, letter writing. Maybe use the letter writing part of the book to segue into writing a letter to next year's class. Finally, I love the idea of the Wall of Feelings! The Wall of Feelings is where the campers put up how they feel about camp; however, Eleanor is given the job of writing about how she used to feel about camp and then how she feels about camp now. What a great way for students to express themselves! This would be a great formative assessment for looking at how students feel about reading or school or some other topic at the beginning of the year vs. the end. ...more
I was a junior in high school at a fine arts school of choice when Matthew Shepard was murdered. My two best friends were both gay. I remember that they were afraid of going anywhere alone after Matthew was killed. We cried for him. However, over time Matthew has become one of a way too big statistic. Though his horrendous death got a lot of press, hate crimes on gay, lesbian, queer, transgendered, bisexual and transsexual people happen daily.
Leslea Newman takes us into the night of Matthew's death. Her poetry examines the smallest detail of the night (the buck lying near Matthew) to the motives behind his murder. The poems' narrator range from the fence he was found tied to to his mother to the murders to the reactions of the gay community. It shows how this crime affected a nation of people and what we can learn from it.
Not only is this a story that needed to be told to young adults, but it is done in a beautiful novel-in-verse. Also, she makes sure to make the poetry accessible- she added "Notes" and "Explanation of Poetic Forms" for each poem. Each poem was set up so methodically and were based on truths. Both of these elements make it even more powerful. ...more
When you hear the word refugee, most people will automatically think of refugees from Africa, but there are refugees from all parts of the world. This book shares a story of a young girl fleeing Vietnam during the war. It is 1975 and the war is threatening her city, Saigon, and life is getting worse and worse. When it was possible, her mother took her whole family to US where a family from Alabama sponsors them. This book is interesting because it deals with many different aspects- Vietnam war, refugee, ESL learners and bullying.
I will admit, I wish that this book was in prose. I felt that I was missing some of the story by it being in verse. I am a big fan of verse as I feel it really shows emotion beautifully and this is true with Inside Out as well; however, I wanted more of the story than this novel had. I wish it was a mix of prose and verse actually with the story in prose and her true emotions in verse, but that is wishful thinking just because I liked it so much and wanted more. It is an interesting book that will find an audience and deserved the awards it got....more
After a classmate of Kana's commits suicide, Kana wonders if she is partially responsible as her and her friends were not kind to Ruth and since her death Kana has learned a lot about her. To help her get through her grief and away from the situation, Kana, half Japanese half Jewish, is sent to stay in her mother's small home village in Japan. Here Kana works in the orange groves and finds peace within the orchards. Though at times she feels out of place or that her grandmother is being too tough, she begins to heal.
When a novel in verse is written well, it can have such an emotional presence and this book is one that is and does. This book not only deals with grief, it deals with being conscious of your actions and being responsible for your words. Kana, being an 8th grader, says that the words were only words, but to Ruth, the words hurt her so much she didn't feel like she could live anymore. This intense novel, filled with beautiful moments (and some funny ones) keeps you emotionally attached throughout the whole novel. ...more
Summary: Quebrado finds himself a slave on a pirate ship after being traded around since his mother died and his father ran away. He doesn't even remember his own name, has just come to answer to el quebrado- half islander, half outsider- since his mother was from Cuba while his father was a sailor. He currently works for Bernardino de Talavera, the first pirate of the Caribbean Sea, who has recently captured Alonso de Ojeda, a brutal conquistador. However, Quebrado finally has his first chance of luck- Talavera's ship crashes in the middle of a hurricane and he is able to escape onto an island where he finds his first home in recent memory.
What I Think: If you follow my reviews you probably know that I am sucker for historical fiction and novels in verse, so I am a sucker for this book. Both aspects of the novel were well done- the poetry was beautiful and the historical element was interesting. I love walking away from a novel with more knowledge than when I started and it is even better when I learn about something I never knew about (like pirates of the Caribbean in 1500s). After finishing I went straight to wikipedia to learn more and have put a book listed in the references on hold at my library. I love how historical fiction makes me fascinated about a subject like no history class has ever been able to.
I also enjoyed how it was told from different points of view. It allowed you to get insight into the situation from different points of view. I will say, though, that I walked away wanting more. I wanted more conflict, more resolution, more action... just more. From the cover, I am assuming there will be more books, so maybe they'll contain the more I wanted. ...more
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...more
Any book that makes you physically react must be a great book, right? Well this one left me with a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes- I physicallAny book that makes you physically react must be a great book, right? Well this one left me with a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes- I physically felt the pain of these characters and wanted more about them. Maybe a sequel after the companion? ...more
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. ...more
One of my favorite nonfiction authors is Jim Murphy and he wrote about this same Blizzard in one of his books. Because of his book, I know how truly dOne of my favorite nonfiction authors is Jim Murphy and he wrote about this same Blizzard in one of his books. Because of his book, I know how truly devastating it was. City of Snow shows the blizzard as a fun thing more so than something that shut down the city and killed people. Now, I know it is a children's book and that it is told from the point of view of a wealthier young girl, but it could have shown the negativity of the storm more. Next to that, it is an educational, fun book that would introduce this piece of history before they can venture into Jim Murphy's book. ...more
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.
This book shows the healing power of poetry. Lonnie, who has gone through more tragedies than any 11 year old should have, writes poetry to help go thThis book shows the healing power of poetry. Lonnie, who has gone through more tragedies than any 11 year old should have, writes poetry to help go through the grieving process and getting used to living in foster care. ...more
This book shares Diana's feelings through a diary filled with poetry. It is touching at times (made me tear up), funny at times (made me laugh out louThis book shares Diana's feelings through a diary filled with poetry. It is touching at times (made me tear up), funny at times (made me laugh out loud) and all together enjoyable to read. ...more
I just finished One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones and I really enjoyed it. It is about Ruby, 15, whose mother has passe I just finished One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones and I really enjoyed it. It is about Ruby, 15, whose mother has passed away and she is being forced to fly across the country to live with her father who she has never met. She is leaving her best friend and first real boyfriend behind. On top of it all, this father she has never met is a very famous movie star. The book follows Ruby's transition from living in Boston to living in LA and learning to adjust to her new life.