*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)
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 will say that I struggled a bit with getting used to the British lingo, but once I did, it was free sailing. I loved Pearl. She was someone who I wish was my friend. She loved books, had a great imagination, was empathetic, and overall a good person. Jodie was harder to swallow. She was going through what many girls go through in their mid-teens, trying to find herself, and I wish the book had been from her point of view because I wish I understood her more. Instead, we see her from Pearl’s point of view and Pearl loves her sister, but just doesn’t understand her. Also, Pearl, once they reach the boarding school, is working on finding herself and finally making friends. Now, the one person that I probably flat out disliked was their mother. I’d love to talk to someone who has read the book to see if you took her the same way I did…
Also, just for fair warning, this book does elicit many different types of emotions—be ready!(less)
World War II is the most infamous war and it is taught to all students at some point in their career. They learn about Pearl Harbor and the Atomic Bomb and the Holocause and Hitler, but way too often what happened here in the US is not discussed. All of the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the US (62% were US citizens) were interned because our fear overwhelmed us so much that it was the only solution that seemed plausible. I felt that the fear that was felt after the Pearl Harbor bombings is very similar to what was felt 12 years ago today.
Barbed Wire Baseball does discuss the internment camps, but I think that the theme of this book is not about the camps but about how a love of something can turn a poor situation into something else if you are determined.
The story is just one part of the book. What moves it to a higher level is the author and illustrator. Marissa Moss has someone captured the tone of the story. It begins with hopefulness then to hopelessness and finally back to joyousness. Her ability to manipulate the tone throughout makes the story touch the reader even more. Yuko Shimizu’s illustrations are done with a Japenese calligraphy brush and ink adding to the connection the reader will feel with the story. Just beautiful.(less)
In 1856, John Price, his cousin, and a friend risked their lives to cross the Ohio River in hopes of finding freedom on the other side. As slaves, leaving Kentucky and making their way into Ohio was the only way to even hope for freedom. However, the real goal was to get to Canada since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 stated that slaves could still be returned to their owners if caught in a free state. On his way to trying to get to Canada, John was lucky enough to come across the town of Oberlin, Ohio. A town that did not believe in slavery and even embraced runaway slaves as one of their own. But what would happen when slave hunters came to town looking for John? What is the town willing to do to save their own?
I love how this book was put together. The best way to teach nonfiction, in my opinion, is to make it into a narrative that catches readers' attention and makes them want to learn more. The narrative in Price of Freedom was put together very well- a perfect plot arc- yet leaves you wanting more. It starts out with just enough prior knowledge (not too teachy yet makes sure that it teaches enough that the reader will understand) and takes us through what happens to John Price as a story and finally the end is a bit of a cliffhanger that makes you want to research more. My favorite type of nonfiction. And to add to this the watercolor illustrations bring the story to life and are so very well done adding even more depth to the picture book. This book puts the reader straight into a tense situation and invites them to take part of a historical situation that does not appear in history textbooks. While I'd been taught about the Fugitive Slave Act and realized that there were oppositions to the act, but I had never read a narrative like this one.
In the classroom, I think this nonfiction picture book is important to start conversations about the two sides of the civil war. It would also be a great jumping off point to start talking about people who stood up against laws, the Underground Railroad, and the transition into the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, etc. The authors even gave websites that are perfect to use as an extension.
Why do you think that the people of Oberlin and other Underground Railroad risked their lives to help escaped slaves?
What do you think happened to John Price? Do some research and see if your hypothesis was correct.
"Oberlin student William Lincoln was in his room when some classmates pounded on his door. He was the man to rescue John Price, they told him, offering him a gun. Lincoln hated slavery, but he also hated violence. Unsure what to do, he knelt on the floor with his Bible and asking himself: "if it were your own brother, what would you do?" His answer? "Rescue him or die!" Lincoln grabbed the gun and raced to Wellington." p. 23(less)
I found this book fascinating. It dealt with many different topics from stuttering to racism in the South and definitely shows the power of others in helping a young person find his/her voice (and in this book, that is a literal statement). I loved how it was written because although our narrator wasn't very vocal in his life, he loved writing and found his voice through his writing. It is through this art that he is able to tell his story. It is also quite interesting that though he is writing his story, he withholds his name until the very end because he has trouble saying it himself. He is referred to mostly as "Little Man" throughout the book.
But, by far, my favorite thing about this story is all of the characters our narrator gets involved with when he begins his paper route. First is Little Man's first crush, a pretty young wife who likes to drink and who Little Man cannot figure out. Second is a homeless man who bullies Little Man out of some of his possessions and is haunted by his past. Third, and most importantly, is a Merchant Marine who shows Little Man that there is more out there and that he can be whomever he wants to be. It is through these different adults that our narrator really starts to become his own.
In the classroom, this book would be a great discussion start about many different topics. Since it is historical, it gives a different perspective into many different topics including television and racism. Vawter also writes this novel with a great voice and makes interesting choices with punctuation that would be interesting to talk to students about.
Snatch of Text: p. 11 (simile), p. 101-102, p. 108-109 (poetry) Mentor Text For: Voice, First Person Point of View, Grammar, Simile, Making Predictions, Contractions (p. 30), Poetry (p. 108-109) Writing Prompts: There are some unexpected players in this young boys life that he would have never thought would affect him the way they did. Think of someone in your life that you thank for helping, influencing, or changing you and write them a thank you letter. Topics Covered: Candide, Voltaire, Speech Pathology, Baseball, Alcoholism, Anxiety, Infidelity, Genetics, Fathers, Heidegger, Existentialism, Segregation, Linguistics, Language, Race Relations, Faith, History of the Alphabet (p. 64-65), Myths (p. 66), Television (p. 44) (less)
LOVED this early reader graphic novel! A great story with a great message. Many of the issues that Luz deals with are so important and kids need to be...moreLOVED this early reader graphic novel! A great story with a great message. Many of the issues that Luz deals with are so important and kids need to be exposed to them. Elementary teachers definitely need to get this for their classroom. (less)
After reading this book the first time, I knew I was going to have to tackle it differently than just reading a picture book. I wanted to make sense of it and I knew that I didn't have the background knowledge and I know that the power of all of the words had not sunk in yet. So, I typed up the poem in Google Drive and begun doing my very own close reading of the poem. I started with research of terms and names that I didn't know building my knowledge of the culture and history of Harlem. Through this build up of knowledge, I began to understand the beauty behind Myers's poem. The voice of this poem is one of heartbreak, but strength; proud of not only what he has become, but where he came from. This poem is a celebration of the history of Harlem and its citizens- a celebration of its religion, music, poets, authors, and everything that made/makes it a hub for the civil rights movement and African America culture. While doing my research, I found an amazing website that I will definitely use when teaching this poetry book- Harlem: A Visual Interpretative Analysis- which takes an excerpt of the poem and an accompanied collage and takes the reader through an analysis of the excerpt and artwork. Fascinating! This book would be a great one to use across many different subject areas- history, literature, and art. (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)
4.5 While reading this book, I felt like I was sneaking a peek into a world that I didn't know much about. I was ignorant about the ways of the Amish before this book. I knew they had no electricity and they dressed in bonnets and dresses, but the extent of my knowledge ended there though this is also where my fascination began. Usually I find myself learning the most from historical fiction novels and I extend that knowledge by jumping on the internet and learning more about the history. This book did just that, but about a contemporary topic. I loved learning about their culture. Nancy Grossman allowed us a glimpse into their peaceful and anything but plain lifestyle. Though their lives seem so out of reach for us, isn't it just a culture about family, God and relationships?
For a debut novel, I was very impressed. It was well written, a great plot arc that kept me reading, good research and well rounded characters. I adored the ending that, though resolved, leaves you with a feeling of hope, and I loved being part of Eliza's adventure. It is, underneath it all, a coming of age story about a 16 year old girl filled with trials, tribulations, romance and hard decisions.
Would be a great book to read in conjunction with the study of the Amish culture (cross curricular with social studies?).
Read Together: Grades 10 and up
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Snatch of Text: "He reached inside his carriage and pressed a small package into my hands. Gently tearing away the newspaper wrapping, I smiled at the wood carving nestled in my curved fingers. "I made it," Daniel said, but I already knew that. I recognized the gleaming finish, the soft curves. It was a small nest with a bird rising from it, wings spread and head turned to the side. The bird's feathers were etched in tender lines, and the nest was a complex tangle of woven twigs. I cradled the carving, letting my fingertips roam across the different textures... "Enjoy your journey, Eliza," he said. "Then come back to your nest." (p. 75-76)
Mentor Text for: Plot development, Research
Writing Prompts: Eliza finds herself in a completely new situation in A World Away, what is a time where you found yourself discovering something new or not knowing what to make of a situation?
This is a book that surprised me. I'll admit that I definitely judged a book by its cover and when I decided to read this book, I assumed it was going to be boring. I am so glad that I still chose to jump in and I am so happy to be able to share this book with others.
Alex is a boy much like many of the teens we know- a loner, over medicated, depressed, yet brilliant and talented and no one sees it. Also, he has a mother who just doesn't see that he should be a priority. Lucky for him, his mother's need for publicity and acceptance brought him face to face with a man that changed his life.
Even reading this summary, it almost sounds cliche and didactic, but it is more than that. It is a road trip book that doesn't fit into the fold of other road trip books. I am a fan of road trip books because they are definitely a way to help characters unfold and for hope, realization, epiphanies, etc. to play a part and although this book does do that, it's clicheness ends there.
And what makes this book so special? Lester Bray. Lester Bray is the man that changes Alex's life. Lester is a man that outside of our story, changed many lives. He is so real that I feel like I know him and also makes me wish I could.
Just as promised, Samantha Sutton is Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones. I love Samantha and love that she makes smart cool. I am also so glad to see archaeology play a role in a book. This is the second book from Sourcebooks that I read that had a great, strong female protagonist and dealt with a very smart topic that too often isn't found in our children's literature. Along with an adventurous journey, this book specifically will spark interest in the reader about archaeology and history.
I do want to say that there were only 3 things that hindered me from giving this book 4 stars: 1) Too often the Spanish was not translated and I got confused. I think that children would be even more confused. I wish there'd just been a translation dictionary in the back or footnotes or something. 2) I figured out the mystery long before it was revealed :( I wish I hadn't but I did and because of that, the ending seemed to take forever to get to. Now, I don't think middle grade students will figure it out as easily, so that is a plus. 3) Adam's research seems very teen to me, while the rest of the book seems middle grade. Sharing what the research is would be a spoiler, but if you read it let me know if you agree. (less)
I loved this book so much. I know that I love a book when I am listening to the audio book and I don't want to get out of my car. Also, I normally do...moreI loved this book so much. I know that I love a book when I am listening to the audio book and I don't want to get out of my car. Also, I normally do not bring my audio books inside, but with this one I had to because I didn't want to stop. I was fascinated by the modern history it shared with me about Philadelphia as well as the history about cowboys and horses. I was enthralled by Coltrane and his coming of age story. I loved most of the minor characters and I rooted for everyone throughout. The book teaches you to stand up to the man, but how to do it respectfully and maturely. I couldn't speak more highly of this book. I was so excited to get the book and book talk it (which I did as soon as I could and it was checked out right away). I also found a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcEMgh... showing the Horses in North Philly that I watched and shared with my students because I loved seeing the amazing reality of the setting that G. Neri shared with us. If you want to hear me rave more, just let me know :)(less)
A good follow up to the first Hereville. I praise Barry Deutsch for giving us Mirka, a strong young lady who has faith and a good family. And once aga...moreA good follow up to the first Hereville. I praise Barry Deutsch for giving us Mirka, a strong young lady who has faith and a good family. And once again I learned even more about the Jewish faith which is so well represented in this graphic novel. I also like how each book Mirka is given a situation where she has to use her brains to get her out of it even when her opponent is bigger or stronger than her.
Since the artwork was not finished in the e-galley from Netgalley which I was lucky enough to read, it makes me even more anxious to see the completed book. (less)
Although ultimately this book is a biography of King Tut, it also is a history book of Egypt. Not much is known about the child pharoah that a small amount of the book is actually about him. More is about his father and other aspects of Egyptian history.
I was a big fan on how the book was set up. There are chapters that are a bit narrative and within the chapters there are extra informative sidebars to add to the story being told. I will definitely get more books from the "Big Head Biography" series in the future. I think they make history and biographies so accessible to children.
This book piggie backed nicely with Athena's Son which I read a week ago and would be a great nonfiction connection with it, the Kane Chronicles, Aphrodite the Diva, and any other book with Egyptian mythology. (less)
A story about surviving in the Bronx and how violence has escalated over time from fists, sticks and knives to the guns that are found today. A gritty...moreA story about surviving in the Bronx and how violence has escalated over time from fists, sticks and knives to the guns that are found today. A gritty, truthful narrative. (less)